How to Use Personas to Maximise Your Content Marketing
Build real, meaningful, authentic connections through the persona technique.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
― Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!
You have spent sleepless nights creating your content marketing plan, launched your campaign with high confidence, anticipating a tide of leads.
Then, reality hits.
Instead of getting a glut of leads, you get only a trickle of interest.
What went wrong?
A common mistake is creating content that people think is good, rather than content that meets the customer’s needs.
To determine whether your content is relevant, you need to know your audience, how and when the content should be delivered to them, as well as the means to reach them. Your content must address your customer’s needs and pinpoint their challenges and attempt to provide a solution. You need to know what makes them tick before creating content that works.
You do this by creating Personas.
What is a Persona?
Hubspot defines it to be a “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer” based on the actual data about your existing clients, including customer demographics, behaviour, goals, and motivation.
In its most basic form, a buyer’s persona is a client profile that ensures that you target the right people and their needs accordingly and help you deliver content that your audience is actively seeking.
Typically, personas are based on both individual and market research, encompassing information from your customers (gleaned through interviews and surveys) with the insights you get from what’s trending in the market.
How to get accurate customer information for your personas
There are many sources you can rely on to get specific information about your audience, from a real-time interview with your clients to the tiny details logged away in your site analytics. Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. Speak to your client
Conducting a one on one interview with a client is one of the most efficient ways of getting buyers information. Interviews can reveal a lot about them since you can dig deep into the answers as well as understand their goals and challenges — there is no better way of extracting information from a client or a prospect.
2. Ask your team
The customer service team interacts with customers on a daily basis while the sales team communicates with them throughout every stage of the client purchase decision. Try involving many parts of the organisation, e.g. the business development team or support team who interact with the clients directly. These teams are like gold mine and can give many insights about the customer.
By taking into account the opinions of different teams within your business, you can build up a more detailed picture of the target audience.
3. What are people reading
Content platforms have evolved so much that they can give you a full analysis and performance report of any content posted.
There is data everywhere. It is all around us. For instance, you could look at your website to see where visitors came from, what keywords were used and what they downloaded. You could also look at your EDM and newsletters’ open rate and click through rate. All these data will reveal vital information such as favourite topics, preferred content and insights on what your client’s interests and needs are.
4. Listen to what they are saying about you
Social media listening tool is one of my personal favourites. These tools allow you to listen in to what people are saying about your brand, your company reputation and give you all sorts of feedback about your products and service. People are reserved and tend not to tell you directly what they feel about your products, but they will never shy off from posting on social media.
Social media listening can also help you identify potential customers who are posting questions and concerns; your products can potentially solve. The goal of social media listening is not just to hear what people are saying about you, but also to inform you of your plans and take action.
5. Run A/B testing
A/B testing involves adapting your messages or creative to see which one performs better, so you can engage your target audience more effectively. It can give useful insights into what type of content works for your target customer and what doesn’t.
6. Take a look at the competition
For you to create informative personas, you will also need to examine the competition both in the real world markets and online.
There are tools available out there that could help you to determine what your competitors are posting online. They could show you the type of content that is performing well in terms of article shares and social media engagement. Using such tools can determine which keywords are in demand so that you can choose your topics wisely. It also reveals the medium with the highest number of shares, to help you decide which channels to focus your distribution on.
Their blog comments, social interactions, and the simple act of sharing can help you create a richer audience profile.
How to create content marketing personas
The persona is where you will map out all the information you have gathered into an easy-to-read chart. This table will contain the knowledge you need about a particular target audience.
A Persona needs a name and a face
Give each persona “a name and a face” to match their business segment. An effective way is to use easy-to-remember names such as “Adventurer Jo” or “Data David” and attach an image to your persona so you could relate easily and distinguish one persona from another.
Next, you want to compile the information you have gathered about them, such as their buying habits, their job roles in their organisation, demographic, their goals and their challenges; all in one place.
As you gather the data, you would need to make the information clear and easy to read, to distill the pertinent points that feed into your content marketing strategy.
You can also identify ways that your brand can do to assist them in meeting their objectives and overcome their pain points. Try to listen to the customers with deep empathy — and connect with them as people.
There is no limit to the number of Personas you can create. A good approach is to start with around 3 to 5 Personas, then reevaluate if you need more as need arise.
Once you have built these Personas, you can apply these insights to your content marketing strategy, by mapping the Persona to your customer buying cycle.
In a client decision-making journey for any product or service, the client begins with researching and seeking information on possible solutions, and a shortlisting process follows, where your brand is evaluated against competitive brands. At every step of this consideration and evaluation process, you would want your brand to be top of mind and be of help to the client. You do this by providing relevant, engaging and useful content to them throughout the buying cycle. You want your brand to be the go-to brand, to meet the needs of the customers.
“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.”
- Katniss Everdeen in ‘The Hunger Games’.
We now live in a time where we are connected with each other in every way and at every second. Ironically, the more wired up the world is, the more we seem to crave real, meaningful, authentic connections. When we think about people whom we want to engage with or those who matter more to us, it is not the ones who are always making promises; it is those who listen to our pain with deep empathy and try to connect with us, as people.
The opportunity in succeeding in any marketing plan lies in not just knowing your customers but also understanding what their pain points are — and being there to help at every step of the way.
Have you been involved in creating personas? Share your story.
This article was created by the author in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of her employer.
About The Author:
Norliza Kassim is a data-driven marketer at a global bank. Norliza is a frequent speaker at digital conferences in the region and has been a judge in several reputable Digital, Marketing and Mobile awards. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.