Marketing Personas : What are they and why are they important?

How well do you know your customers, I mean really know your customers?

If you’re anything like the majority of businesses out there, you have a vague idea who your target market is.  You might have even written it down once or twice, filed it away and forgotten about it. To take your marketing to the next level you need to use Marketing Personas.

A good business owner or marketing manager will have identified their target audience so they have a reasonable idea who they want to attract and focus their online marketing towards.

A better business owner or marketing manager will have segmented their target audience into smaller categories. Helping to improve the quality of their marketing decisions.

However, the business owner or marketing manager who wants to take their marketing communications to the next level will go the extra distance and create personas.

As business owners, marketers and advertisers, we must take the time to understand what our audience wants to hear, not what we want to say. An important first step to this is creating ‘personas’ of our prospects and customers.

You can’t be effective with your marketing without truly knowing who it is you are marketing too.  Personas go a long way to help alleviate this.

Read on to find out exactly what personas are and how to create your own and how to put them to work.

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What are Marketing Personas?

Personas are an incredible tool that makes it easier for you to visualise your audience in detail. They help you understand your customers better.

Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different needs, goals, motivations, and behaviours of your prospects or customers, that might use your site, brand, product or service.

Personas are names, faces, personalities, families, traits and more which helps you to conceptualise what that person would need or want in real life. They are depicted as a person but they are not a real person.

One of our first tasks when working with a new client is fleshing out the different personas.  This allows us to produce highly relevant content that’s used to create our SEO strategies or write highly targeted copy for PPC advertising campaigns.  Just think how powerful it is to be able to write ad copy with a distinct person in mind.

Personas help us to understand the emotional and behavioural triggers behind individual customers within that market.  If we can personalise our messaging and user experiences we can improve our rate of persuasion and ultimately conversion.

It is important to note that personas are not a single user. They are a representation of the different segments of your target audience.

marketing personas can help increase sales and conversions

 

Types of personas

As you’ll read below, there are a couple of different types of personas.

The persona that you use will depend on your position.  For example, a UX or web designer would use a UX/Web Persona.  A UX/Web Persona helps designers understand what different users of a website are going to be doing at various stages.  Helping them design a website that is user-friendly, intuitive and that will convert more visitors to customers (or whatever the ultimate goal of the site/application is).

Marketers use Marketing Personas so that they can better communicate and nurture their prospects and customers through their sales funnels more efficiently.

Type Purpose
Marketing Personas Helps with developing Marketing Strategies and messaging
Web/UX Personas Web designers use personas to get a better understanding of who they are designing for.  Including the wants, needs, and motivations of various types of site visitors. The creation of personas is necessary in order to build user flows that improves the user experience and website results.

What information do Personas contain?

Personas generally include the following information:

Marketing Personas

  1. A fictional name
  2. Demographics such as age, education, ethnicity, occupation, income, location and family status
  3. Psychographics such as goals, motivation, frustrations
  4. Values & fears
  5. Brands that they use
  6. A short bio
  7. Marketing message

For UX/Web Persona, you would also include

  1. Persona group
  2. Webographics – Web experience, usage location, device (desktop, tablet, mobile), usage frequency, social media sites, favourite sites in and out of category
  3. The goals and tasks they are attempting to complete using the site
  4. A quote that sums up what matters most to the persona as it relates to your site

In many cases a persona will be a 1 – 2 page document including a photo that includes the above and a few fictional details to make the persona a realistic character (not to much fiction though, you want to use as much real data as possible when creating your personas)

Multiple Personas

It is likely that you will develop multiple personas for your business.  3 – 5 personas are usually enough to represent your audience. These will reflect either the different stages of product, application or web development or the various stages of your sales funnel.  For example, a prospect that is in the ‘research’ phase is going to have different goals and seek different information to a prospect that is further down the funnel and in the ‘buying’ phase.

Are Marketing Personas useful?

I hope you’re starting to see the power that personas can provide a business owner or marketer.  By being able to communicate effectively to your prospects or customers and deliver relevant information at the most opportune time is going to have a significant impact on your conversions and bottom line.

Personas were once the secret of large organisations, but as the online marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, savvy business owners and marketers are starting to adopt them.

Largely because when done right, they work.

For anyone who is doing or has done Facebook advertising you will be familiar with the level of targeting that is now available to all business owners.  Even on a small budget, you can target your customers down to location, age, gender, language, relationship, language, education and much more.  You can see how useful personas are going to be for you here. No more guessing.  You can create highly targeted campaigns to different personas with different messages, relevant to that persona.

Benefits of using personas

Personas enable designers, marketers and business owners to consider the goals, motivations and limitations of your prospects and customers.  They help guide decisions about your products/services, marketing communications all the way through to the user journeys on your website. They help make your decisions objective instead of subjective by being able to make decisions on data instead of assumptions.

For Designers

As I’ve already said, personas enable us to visualise our target audience better, which helps us design and create better user journeys for them. They can assist in determining a need or goal for a particular persona, so that you know precisely how to target them, and what will resonate.

  1. They will represent a major user group on your website
  2. You can then focus on the primary needs and expectations of the most important personas.
  3. They provide a clear picture of the user’s expectations and how they’re likely to use the site
  4. Help with uncovering universal features and functionality

For Marketers

For SEO and Content Marketing they help us understand the person behind the search, this helps us to create content for marketing to our customers, prospects, peers and influencers which are relevant and valuable.

  • For Online Advertising they help us to write adverts that speak directly to our audience.
  • They provide further insight into your various market segments.
  • They help when developing marketing strategies
  • They will help you achieve consistency with your marketing communications
  • They will give everyone in your business a better understanding of your customer’s needs, wants and desires
  • They help to craft Content Marketing strategies from having a clearer understanding of where your customers are spending their time
  • You can create improved lead nurturing programs for the different personas

Personas will help retain visitors longer once they are interested, and ultimately encourage them to convert into customers

 

How to create your own Marketing Personas

If you’re still here, that’s great! You obviously can see how useful personas are going to be to your business.

So let’s get stuck into creating your personas.

I have created a Persona Template for you that you can download below.

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Even though there are different types of personas, I’m going to focus on the Marketing Personas.  These are the ones that we use when developing Content Marketing Strategies, SEO or PPC Advertising campaigns.

If this is the first time you will be creating a persona, and you’re a relatively new business, you might not have all the data that you would like available to you. If that’s the case, don’t worry too much your personas will evolve with time.  At first, you will have to be more fictional than is ideal but as you collect more data you will be able to update them.  For personas to be truly effective there needs to be some relevant and real data used. The main thing is they can be as basic or complicated as you like but at the end of the day they need to be effective at illustrating what drives the different types of buyers of your products or services.

Questions to ask when creating your Marketing Persona’s

  1. Location – Where do people from this persona live?
  2. Age – What is the age range of this persona?
  3. Gender – What is the gender of people in this persona?
  4. Interests – What are the interests of people in this persona?
  5. Education – What is the education level of this persona?
  6. Job Title – What industry does your customers work in and what types of job titles do they have?
  7. Income – What is the income range of this persona?
  8. Relationship – What is the relationship status of this persona?
  9. Brands – What brands does this persona use, wear, relate to?
  10. Goals & Challenges – What are their primary and secondary goals? What challenges do they face and how do you solve them?
  11. Motivation – What are this personas reasons for buying your product or service?
  12. What websites/Blogs do they read?
  13. Short Bio – A short paragraph that provides a quick overview of the persona.

If you’re building UX Personas you would also include the following –

  1. What is the purpose of this site?
  2. What are the goals for this site?
  3. What devices does your persona use to access the internet?
  4. What other software is your persona regularly using?
  5. How much time do they spend online?

You can include any questions that are going to help provide you with clarity and understanding around your audience and serve them better.

Where to find information to build your Marketing Personas –

CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)

If you are already using a CRM, there is a good chance that it has some segmentation built in that will enable you to break your contacts down into different categories.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great information resource for learning about people who frequent your website.  Within your Google Analytics console, you will find information on demographics, interests, language and locations.  Just login to your Google Analytics account and select Audience on the left-hand side, in the dropdown you will see options for Demographics, Interest, Behaviour, Technology and more.

using-google-analytic-insights-to-help-create-personas

Google Analytics will also inform you of what keywords are used to find you, time spent on the site and what devices they used.  This information can reveal the motivation behind what led them there.

Social Media (Facebook/Twitter etc.)

If you have a Facebook page, you can select ‘Insights’ located at the top of the page.  The first tab will display a summary of activity on your page. Down the left-hand side you will see a menu with options that provide more information.  Such as the People tab which will give you an overview of age, gender and location of your page fans.

how to find information with facebook

You can also utilise your social media accounts to listen to what your customers are saying. It is also the perfect platform to ask your fans/followers some questions.

Useing Facebook Demographics

If you want to take Facebook a little further, you can use Facebook Search to delve further into your fans interests.  Try the following 6 Facebook search queries (just swap out the words in capitals) –

  1. Favourite interests of people who like PAGE NAME
  2. Pages liked by people who like PAGE NAME and PAGE NAME
  3. People who work at PLACE and like SOMETHING
  4. TYPE OF BUSINESS in LOCATION visited by people who like PAGE NAME
  5. Brand pages liked by people who like PAGE NAME
  6. Pages liked by GENDER who like PAGE NAME

Surveys

Services like SurveyMonkey or Google Surveys allow you to create surveys which can be readily sent out to your mailing list.  When creating your survey be sure to use open-ended questions. The goal is to understand what your customers are thinking.  Giving them yes/no questions limits the feedback you’ll receive.  I would recommend asking 5-10 questions, too little and you won’t have enough feedback, too many and you might not get any feedback.  Such as –

  1. When did you realise you needed a product/service like ours?
  2. What challenge does our product/service solve in your life?
  3. What concerns did you have before buying our product/service?

And of course, ask your customers, pick up the phone and have some conversations.  Again use open question and let your customers speak.

Examples of Personas

The following two examples are from MailChimp and Smart Insights..

smart-insights-persona-example

Image Source – SmartInsights

mailchimp-persona-example

Image Source – MailChimp

How to put your new persona into action

Now that you have your new marketing personas, here are five ways you can put them into action –

  1. Check your marketing communications and ensure you are using the same language that your personas use
  2. Segment your contact list into personas so you can send out more targeted messages
  3. Review your online advertising and ensure they are targeting your personas most effectively
  4. Optimise your landing pages to suit your personas, again look at language and imagery
  5. Develop your Content Marketing Strategy around your personas so you are delivering relevant and timely information to them

Conclusion

Hopefully, I have been able to illustrate the power of using personas and how they can help improve your online marketing efforts.  They can provide insights into how to create better user experiences, persuasive copy, or pricing models.

By improving the way in which you understand and communicate with your customers you will improve your conversion rates.

The key is to create them out of actual, relevant data as soon as you can.

What is most important, is to remember your personas should reflect real people with real motivations, desires, and concerns.

Now it’s over to you, download the below Persona Template and have a shot at creating some personas for your business.  I am positive that they are going to change the way you communicate with your audience.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this post, so please leave any feedback or questions in the comments below and please feel free to share.

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