Here at Engaging Partners we’ve used personas for many years to help us design inbound marketing campaigns that resonate with our clients' target audiences. Helping our clients understand and develop personas is a vital first step in developing their inbound marketing strategy. So, what exactly is a persona? How does it aid the creation of relevant content? And how do you create personas?
This popular blog has been refreshed and updated, May 2020.
Understanding personas is a crucial component in successful Inbound Marketing programmes, and vital for customer acquisition and retention.
A marketing persona (also known as a buyer persona) is a semi-fictional representation of a group of customers who have similar goals, buyer journeys and personal profiles. Personas help you internalise the ideal customer you're trying to attract. They help you relate to your prospects as real humans. The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.).
Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10. If you’re new to personas, start small! You can always develop more personas if needed later.
How do personas aid the creation of relevant content?
At the most basic level, personas allow you to personalise or target your marketing for different segments of your audience. For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.
In Inbound Marketing, a persona is used to help determine the appropriate and relevant content a buyer will value at each stage of the buyer's journey. For example, a persona is used to determine the best content to attract a buyer who is at the top of the purchase funnel, which is typically something like whitepapers, infographics, or an eBook.
How do you create personas?
Before you start persona development, it’s important to collect as much background information and research as you can. Then, with that information at hand, ask yourself the following questions.
To make this process easier you can download our Free Buyer Persona Template.
1. What is their demographic profile?
Demographic information is a great place to begin. It's easy to obtain and establishes a clear picture of who your customers are.
2. What is their job and level of seniority?
If you're a B2C company, this information is another way to better understand nuances of your persona's life. If you're a B2B company, this piece of information is more crucial. For example, if your persona is a senior executive and well versed in the intricacies of your industry, they'll need less education.
3. What does a day in their life look like?
Now that you have an idea of some of your persona's personal characteristics, try to piece together a typical day in their life. Are they spending more time at work, or at home? Where would they rather be? Who are the people in their life that matter most?
4. What are their pain points?
You're in business because you're solving a problem. How does that problem affect their day-to-day life? This is vital component in your persona development, so go into detail, and focus on the nuances that illustrate how that problem makes them feel.
5. What do they value most?
What are their goals? Now that you know their pain points, it's a little easier to understand what they value and just as important, what they don't care about. Ask yourself what would make your persona get really, really excited about your product or service.
6. Where do they go for information?
To market and sell to these personas you need to understand how they consume information. If they're online information seekers, what social networks do they visit? Which sources do they trust the most; friends, family, co-workers, or industry experts?
7. What shopping experience are they looking for?
The shopping experience should align with your persona's expectation. What kind of features do they expect your product to have? What should their sales experience feel like? Is it consultative?
8. What are their most common objections?
Anticipating the objections your persona may have can help you prepare for them in the sales process, and perhaps even educate them in your marketing collateral to help allay fears right away.
9. How do I identify this persona?
Now you know what makes your persona tick, you have to be able to identify them so you can tailor your communications. Is it their job title? Their pain points? How they found your company? Once you've established what to look for when you encounter them, you will be able to develop and maintain a consistent voice.
What is a negative persona?
A negative persona is a representation of who you don't want as a customer. This could include, for example, professionals who are too advanced for your product or service, students who are only engaging with your content for research/knowledge, or potential customers who are just too expensive to acquire (because of low average sale price, propensity to churn or their unlikeliness to purchase again from your company).
It's equally important to understand who you don't want as a customer, as it is to know who you do want! If you take the time to create negative personas, you'll have the added advantage of being able to segment out 'bad applies' from your contacts to help achieve a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer.
With thoroughly prepared personas you’ll be armed with the understanding you need to confidently make decisions and develop your content plans. If you need any advice or support to help to develop personas or your Inbound Marketing strategy, you can reach out to us at anytime.
Don’t forget you can download our Free Buyer Persona Development Template to get started!