Psychographic Targeting Unhinged: The Cell Phone Battery Backup Case Study

The case study we’ll use to illustrate persona modeling is for a product that many of us can use: a battery-backup appliance for when our mobile phone runs out of juice. Psychographic modeling works for any product, literally. We chose Brookstone because its physical world marketing inspired this post, as I’ll share in a bit.

There are many different types of people who might be interested in a Brookstone battery backup for their cell phones. The marketer need only look to his or her intuition, as they map physical human behavior to psychographic targeting. There are many physical world inspirations when it comes to summoning the intuition necessary.

“Look to the real world, friends! Defining online personas is often as simple as amplifying that which already exists in the physical world. Map the physical world to online psychographics.” 

The Back Story
The original display advertising is physical walk-by traffic, contextual targeting personified.

In the Minneapolis airport, there is a prominent sign in the Brookstone retail window designed to attract the attention of people passing by. The assumption is that air travelers have a high likelihood of having cell phones that are running out of juice. After all, traveling can take many hours and power outlets are sparse, especially on planes. It’s a kick-ass banner.


The picture below, taken from inside the Brookstone store, is very interesting. Note the two travelers to the left, who have stopped to look at the store. Are they looking at the yellow and black high-contrast sign because it caught their attention? I know they are air travelers because this store is behind security. That’s fabulous targeting and messaging.

I hung out inside for the better part of an hour, counting the “users” (impressions) as they passed by. I also kept track of how many users entered the store (clicks), including the one person (other than me) to buy a cell phone charger (conversion). The CTR and conversion rates were strikingly similar to those we see at scale from one-touch display network traffic.

The traveler persona is an obvious persona for the marketer selling battery backup/chargers for cell phones!

Literal Personas
Before we get too deep into the specificity of our traveler personas, we need to define the literal keywords and social segments that are so specific that they describe the literal persona. There are people that search for and are interested in exactly the product we’re marketing. The most focused form of online marketing is still search, when keywords targeted are filtered by query intent.

We’ll begin with search and then let our hair down, getting multi-channel social. Start with brand terms that mention the exact product we’re selling. Is that literal enough? You bet!

Next up in specificity are category searches, queries for the general class of products we’re marketing. The category searches need be highly specific to be included in the cross-channel attributes that make up our product’s literal persona.

After category search, users searching for the exact type of product we’re selling, we move into tips and usage type searches and competitors’ products, such as Energizer, Celltronix and Mophie. These types of queries need also be highly specific. I know this search stuff is a review, but let’s play it out.

Wind up synonyms with keywords like “rechargeable” and “portable” and build out your literal keyword research baskets.

There are also YouTube search KWs directly seeking mobile battery charging hacks. This is great inventory because, these days, YouTube converts really well when driving traffic to conversion funnels.

Literal social is obvious inventory to consider. Loosely wound contextual inventory with straight up semantic relationships to the product are obvious first considerations.

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  • re targeting

    Retargeting is awesome, and just like you said the strategy can and is used for email. Now, what’s recently evolving is Search Retargeting. Where you can target based off of search query, which means users don’t even need to land on your site/page!

  • Barry Tubwell

    Over the top, outstanding post Marty. Posts like this on aimclear is the reason I follow your twitter, facebook page and the blog its self. Thanks a ton.

  • Kath Dawson

    Marty this is fascinating stuff! I have thoroughly enjoyed digging into this and repeating some of your searches to test that I am doing the right thing. My Facebook Adcreator give me “audience” rather than “estimated reach” and while some of the numbers I get are very similar to your others are way less. Am I doing something wrong or could there be a different explanation as to the discrepancy?

    Now I want to see how I can use your process for persona research on other sectors that are not nearly as interesting as the one you have described, wish me luck!!

  • Liang Chen

    Saw your post SEOmoz, and followed through to here. This one is gonna take me weeks to digest, so I will be coming back as often as possible in the next few weeks.

  • Brian Jensen

    Marty, huge kudos to you for this beyond comprehensive resource on psychographic targeting, personas and for exposing the sheer power from utilizing multiple platforms to mine this data. The number and combined reach of the various persona possibilities that you uncovered was staggering to say the least. Innovative, exciting, brilliant, thanks.

    • Marty Weintraub

      Thanks Brian, We’re glad the post resonated.

  • Warren Whitlock

    Finally, a good way to target all the SEO experts who lost there way with the newest Panda update 🙂

    • Marty Weintraub

      Warren, TOTALLY 🙂

  • stephen

    Great post and information pointing us all the correct direction. Loved you book by the way ‘killer facebook ads’ 🙂

  • Eric Scism

    Absolutely incredible. I came here to check some demographic targeting info for a retargeting campaign that I was setting up. Now, I’m having to completely re-structure/re-think the campaign. Thanks Marty this was absolutely incredible.

  • Maryan Pelland

    When I read, and I read a LOT each day, I tend to skim. An 8 page post usually sends me clicking off to somewhere else. THIS piece had so much useable, understandable, and current info that I read each page, each word, and bookmarked it. I’ve been doing a lot of these things intuitively, but you drew me a road map. Right on.

  • Laura

    You should consider a print this article button. There is no good way to print this out and for longer content it’s so much easier for me to absorb when I get away from my computer….

    • Marty Weintraub

      Thanks for the feedback Laura.