In today's fast-moving world, companies are trying to automate sales and marketing processes wherever they can keep the pace and not being outmaneuvered by their competitors. This is reflected in the B2B marketing automation system revenue growth over the past years. Between 2016 and 2019 the market grew from 2,5 to over 6,1 Billion USD.

The same applies to marketing and buyer personas. Only those companies that have a clear understanding of their customer base can tailor their marketing and products in a way that gives them a competitive advantage.

And it makes total sense looking at some statistics. 76% of marketers achieve a positive Return on Investment within a year after implementing marketing automation tools. Moreover, 44% of them see a return already within the first 6 months. 71% of corporations that exceed lead and revenue goals have personas in place already. 47% of corporations that exceeded lead and revenue goals frequently update their personas.

So how do marketing automation and persona creation correlate with each other?
Apart from speed and efficiency, the automation of sales and marketing processes has one major advantage - it allows companies to collect a vast amount of information about their customers to create detailed, data-driven marketing and buyer personas. Chatbots, CRM systems, web analytics, social media channels all contain valuable information about the market and the customer base.

Theoretically, this collected information enables marketers to paint a clear picture of their customers, but it appears many companies are still struggling to use this information properly. Why is that case? The answer is simple, they are overwhelmed by the amount and structure of the data. The amount of data in the World is estimated to be roughly 44 zettabytes by the end of 2020 of which 80% is unstructured and can not be analyzed with traditional methods. This often causes frustration within the organizations since on the one hand, the information is available but on the other hand, can not be used.

According to a PWC study, 94% of CEOs consider customer data as the most valuable data within the company. That being said, it is crucial to identify these psychographic traits no matter what in order to maximize the value of marketing automation tools. Most automation tools are based on demographic data and segmentation, which is already an important step towards delivering the right message at the right time. However, psychographic traits like needs, pain points, preferences, etc. will allow you to really deliver the right message.

Therefore, most companies still follow a manual approach based on assumptions when creating personas. And here lies a major problem. Many marketing automation tools presuppose a clear understanding of who the customers are. If marketing automation tools are being put in place based on false or superficial personas, you might deliver messages fast but do not match the needs and requirements of your customers. Therefore, to make automation successful, you need to understand for whom you automate.

A shift is required away from the slow and phlegmatic process of traditional persona creation over to a fast, data-driven approach that works and adapts at the same speed the market and customers change and to achieve the ultimate goal of automation which is delivering the right product, with the right message at the right time. The fuel that makes automation successful is data and the ability to analyze it properly. The same applies to persona creation. With the power of deep learning, for instance, various external data sources as well as internal data sources can be used to create personas that 100% reflect the needs and requirements of the customer base.

Therefore, before adding more and more marketing automation tools to your portfolio, you might want to invest in data science to harvest the most out of your tool in the future.