How much do you know about your target audience? Content marketing still remains one of the most popular ways to communicate to target audiences and sell brands, with 82% of marketers actively investing in content marketing in 2023.
But, the difference between good marketing and great marketing is understanding exactly who your target audience is - even down to their psychology.
If you want your content to drive valuable leads and customers, you’re going to need to invest some time into creating your content marketing personas.
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What Are Marketing Personas?
So first, what exactly are they?
Marketing personas (otherwise known as content personas or buyer personas) are fictional representations of your perfect customer.
They exist so that you have something to refer back to when it comes to your marketing efforts, meaning that you know exactly who you want to target your content to.
They’re an in-depth description of your ideal customer, including things like:
A good marketing persona is developed by conducting thorough customer research, direct communication with customers and analysis of trends.
The benefits of marketing personas are:
You will understand your ideal customer
Connecting with your audience is important, not only to humanize your brand but also to truly understand them, their problems and how you can fit in with a solution. Knowing your target customer’s habits will help you connect with them on a deeper level.
You can target your marketing efforts
Probably the most important benefit of marketing personas is that they help you to implement targeted marketing campaigns so you reach the right person, at the right time in all the right places. By truly understanding who and where your target audience is, you’ll get a better ROI from your campaigns.
All departments are on the same page
Creating a marketing persona not only helps the marketing team but it can also be used across all departments of your business, including sales, product development and customer service, so that everyone knows exactly who the ideal customer is.
Helps you be more customer-centric
Knowing exactly who your ideal customer is will ultimately ensure that you can focus on customer outcomes, and boost and personalize customer experiences.
Know who aren’t your ideal customers
Because of your thorough and intricate marketing persona, you’ll be able to sieve out the wrong customers. In turn, this will save time, money and resources from targeting the wrong people with your marketing campaigns.
Differences Between Personas and Demographic Profiles
While you will need to include demographics to give a true reflection of your ideal customer, content personas are a little different to demographic profiles.
Content personas will mainly focus on the personality, like their hobbies, their fears, their traits whilst demographic profiles consist include:
While demographic profiles are super important for a buyer persona, they’re not the only things that should be included - revenue information and engagement information should also be considered.
Core Characteristics of a Good Marketing Persona
To get the most out of your marketing persona, it’s going to have to be concise, precise and useful.
While you want to be thorough, you can sometimes get bogged down in data and information that might not actually help at all. Clarity and brevity are key! It’s important to paint a full picture of your target customer but you should only really focus on their core needs and how your product or service can help them with their problems and pain points. So other information - like what their favorite cereal is (unless that’s totally relevant to your business of course!) can be kept off.
Your buyer persona needs to be precise - avoiding accuracy in your buyer persona could mean this activity and the result is counterproductive. The details in your marketing persona could make the difference between targeting the right people and not. Without precision your marketing persona is actually pretty redundant. To make sure you’re getting the most accurate information, you need to conduct good customer research and delve into what makes your customers tick, and what they consider to be their biggest pain points.
You shouldn’t consider creating a marketing persona to be just a tick-box exercise - a clear and precise buyer persona is a resource that you should always come back to when you’re planning out content and marketing campaigns.
Creating a Marketing Persona
Step 1 - Visualize Your Ideal Client
Use your imagination and picture your dream customer - this will provide a base point for your marketing persona.
Give them a name, a job title, the sector they work in, what their hobbies are and how they spend their day.
Step 2 - Research About Them
Here, you need to think about how they fit into your business and customer journey.
What motivates them?
What frustrates them and what would help bridge those gaps in the frustration?
What scares them?
Are they the main decision maker?
Step 3 - Think About How You Could Fit Into Their World
You’ll need to think about their preferences when it comes to content consumption so you have an idea on how to strategize your marketing campaigns.
How do they prefer to find and read content?
What platform or device do they use?
When and where do they consume content? During work time in the office or when they’ve got a bit of downtime at home?
Which platforms are they likely going to engage with the content?
How much time do they spend on different channels per day?
How often do they consume content?
Learn about their needs and how you can help them with your product or content. This is probably one of the most important parts of your marketing persona. Your product or service is a way to solve one or more of your customer’s problems so researching where you can fill the void is crucial for the success of your business and content marketing efforts.
Also consider how you differ from competitors - what will make your marketing persona choose you over your competitors? What is unique about your solution or content that will be more desirable to your ideal customer?
Researching the Data for Your Marketing Persona
Whilst your marketing persona is technically a fictional representation, all good marketing personas are backed up by thorough research and existing data from your target market.
Here are some ways to get started with your research:
1. Analyze consumption patterns
This is also known as customer behavior analysis and will help you predict customer value, personalize customer experience and improve customer retention.
A good way to do this is by breaking your customers up into segments, perhaps by different demographics.
You can then use Google Analytics and social media analytics to work out where and who the traffic to your website and social media profiles is coming from.
You’ll find out who is most likely to engage with your content or website, how long they stay on your website and other metrics such as customer lifetime value.
There’s so much you can do with analyzing customer patterns but as you’ve broken down your audience with segments, you should be able to quickly identify who your customers are, what they look like and how they consume your content.
Testing is important! This can be done on a small scale with a small budget but is definitely worth doing, even after you think you’ve nailed the customer behavior analysis. That’s because there can be variances between your audiences - it might not necessarily be a one-size fits all approach when it comes to your content marketing campaigns.
Testing different audiences will give you a better idea of what works, where it works and who it works with so you can focus on that and incorporate the results into your marketing personas.
3. Progressive profiling
Progressive profiling is a way to gather information and first-party data from your customers throughout each part of their customer journey, without invading their privacy.
Now more than ever, customers are reluctant to give companies their data and with new data protection laws.
With progressive profiling, you’re essentially asking for data from your customers. But, it’s important that your strategy encourages your customers to give you the data so it’s best practice to ask for little information and not too often.
Progressive profiling can come in different forms - surveys, quizzes and forms are some of the best, and least invasive, ways of collecting data.
You can then analyze the data you collect to create your marketing persona.
4. Analyze customer emotions with social listening tools
There are certain social listening tools that can monitor the conversations around your business, different topics and even your competitors, pulling information and keywords from social media channels, blogs, websites and forums - basically anything on a public platform.
With the insights pulled from these tools, you’ll be able to see what customers are saying and thinking about your brand. It’s a great way to recognize what your customer’s main frustrations and pain points are, even with your business, so you can add this into your marketing personas and look to maintain or improve this with your targeted content marketing campaigns.
Customer interviews are also a fantastic way to get feedback and information from your existing customers, to get more of an understanding of your audience’s needs and wants from your product or service.
An interview may sound formal, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of them as a conversation with your customer to catch a glimpse of what motivates them and what their pain points are. Ask them questions about how they use your product or service, how they engage with your content, where they’re likely to see your content etc.
You can then use the answers you get from participating customers to inform your marketing persona.
Overall your marketing persona is what’s going to help you deliver and drive better content marketing, products and/or services, customer service and connection with your target audience. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition, you’ll need to invest some time into creating your marketing personas to enhance your content marketing strategy.