Responsible use of data is more than process, it's about context. It's a truth universally acknowledged that the more personalized the message, the better the results. Technology allows us to customize any aspect of the copy with details from that particular customer's behavior, life stage, or contract. Less is usually more in this area.
Messaging overpopulated with data attributes can feel like a staccato beat to customers as we rattle off the details of their interactions with the brand without any context to the promotion. If we want our digital marketing to sell, we have to tell a story. Thus, the data customization alone is not enough. Our content customization approach must also include a way to recognize and “know” the person behind the database record.
Personas are a good way to get closer to the individual behind the bits and bytes. We've all used personas in some way, even if it's just to illustrate a point we are making in a presentation. As in, “Meet Joe. He's got some problem that is in need of a solution. He's our customer.” You know, that guy.