Many of us view pay-per-click advertising in strictly quantitative terms. Those who hold this viewpoint look at PPC management as a continuous loop of analysis and optimization narrowly based on “what the numbers tell them to do.”

Although this is a logical and often necessary philosophy, there’s a more sustainable approach, which I call ‘Persona Analysis.’ Persona analysis provides the ability to construct models based upon paid search data that identifies what your organization or client’s ideal customer key attributes are.

Let’s dive in and discuss where you can find persona related information in your PPC accounts and how to turn it into actionable account work. When we get ‘beyond the numbers’ and tap directly into the demographics and psychology of our customers, it leads to more targeted strategies and ultimately better account performance.

Performing Persona Analysis

There are numerous data points within your PPC account that can help identify who your ideal customer is. Persona’s can be uncovered by analyzing some key areas such as:

Order History

Order history is valuable because it represents who’s officially engaged with your brand as represented through completing a lead form or making a purchase.

Below is sample data from a client I manage. I started by looking at the first and last name. I then created a custom field called ‘gender’ and assigned an ‘m’ or ‘f’ to denote female or male. This provides me the base knowledge of knowing what percentage of leads or sales are driven from males vs. females on an aggregate level.

I then filtered my lead data by program of interest. Included within this filter is the gender information I assigned to each lead. From the order history, I was able to determine by program if the client’s ideal customer is either male or female. Based on the data your client’s back-end collects, there are probably thousands of data points that can be extracted and analyzed to develop personas.

Google’s Dimension’s Tab

If you don’t have access to your client’s back end information, Google’s Dimensions tab provides a treasure trove of information to build your personas. The views listed below are examples of how this tab helps identify key attributes about your ideal customer.

Distance View

This view shows performance based on how far away your clicks are from the address on your location extensions.

Time View

This view provides insight into the time of day, day of week, and hour of day your account receives traffic and conversions.

Location View

Not only do we know what country traffic and conversions are originating from, but also the location view shows the specifics like state and city.

Dimensions tab data paints a picture of what your ideal customer’s preferences are. Although the Dimensions tab does not provide demographic data, you can learn about their habits such as days and times they’re researching your product and services, how far they’re willing to travel to a physical location, and whether or not your customer base lives in a city or suburb.

Google’s Display Demographic Data

GDN provides valuable data from a demographic perspective. For instance, in the screen shot below GDN provides information concerning based on gender, age, and parental status.

I’ve personally found that taking bits and pieces of persona data and analyzing them separately does not tell much of a story. However, when marrying all the data together, an accurate composite of your ideal customer begins to form. At this point, the trick is to turn your analysis into actionable account work.

Turning Your Persona Analysis Into Actionable Account Work

Now that we’ve analyzed the data and developed our ideal customer personas, how do we take what we’ve learned and turn it into actionable PPC account work?

Below are examples of how to apply persona data to optimize and grow your account.

Keyword List Development

Most keyword research generates permutations of basic root keywords. However, data uncovered during the persona analysis can be applied to expand your keyword list by identifying previously untapped keyword themes.

A client I manage consistently seeks new keywords to target with the intent of generating additional leads for their nursing school program. For this example, we’ll assume the persona of their ideal prospect is a female, late 20s, has children, and is looking to change careers. Based on this information, we can develop a keyword list that specifically speaks to the needs of this audience by purchasing words such as:

  • ‘changing careers’
  • ‘prepare for a new career’
  • ‘train for a new career’
  • ‘start a new career’

These keywords provide additional intent that directly aligns with the persona of their ideal customer. Targeting your customer’s specific needs will increase the chances of attracting higher quality traffic vs. targeting overly general keywords where the intent is not completely clear.

Intent Based Ad Messaging

Aligning ad copy based on customer attributes creates a more stirring message. Creating ad copy that taps into your customer’s persona will reach them on an emotional, rather than intellectual level. Reaching customers on an emotional level more often leads to a conversion action than just applying a standard benefit and call to action.

Using the same persona profile as above, we can create copy centered on benefits such as ‘flexible schedules’ or ‘child care available’ (If applicable). Take a look at the example below to show how we can take standard ad copy and turn it into a more powerful message by including learning’s from the persona analysis.

Intent Based Landing Pages

Using persona information to improve the intent of keywords and ad messaging will surely attract better overall traffic. However, failure to integrate personas into your landing pages reduces the chance for conversion and significantly reduces the chance of this approach succeeding.

For example, let’s say a conversion is defined as someone signing up for a membership at a local fitness center. The persona analysis revealed the ideal customer as 20-year-old males that are into bodybuilding. Using that knowledge by including images of bodybuilders lifting weights and content focused on building muscle can lead to conversion. A direct connection has been made between the needs and wants of the identified audience and how your product or service can help solve that need or want.


In my experience, the key to a successful PPC program is to fundamentally understand the audience you’re targeting. Although behind a computer screen or mobile device, our markets are made up of real people with interests, likes, dislikes, and problems to solve. A deeper understanding of the people behind our clicks will lead us to more impactful, sustainable strategies and optimizations.