This is part 3 of our content marketing and digital PR series. In this section, we will talk about how you can build audience personas that will help you write a more targeted content. In part 1, you learned about digital PR and how to implement it from seo perspective; in part 2 we talked about setting goals for your digital PR and content marketing campaign.
You are doing content marketing so that you can not only attract more prospective customers to your website and into your sales funnel, but ultimately, your content marketing should be helping you maximize your conversions and get the best ROI.
You’ll be more successful in generating great content if you can systematically break down your audience into different personas and develop content and digital PR.
What is an audience persona?
You probably know your organization, its product lineup and your customers pretty well. However, you need to think from a perspective of someone who might be consuming your content. You should remember that every business out there is either actively building an audience and on the flip side, they themselves are an audience for someone else.
As you are sitting and reading this article in trying to figure out content marketing, someone else is conceptualizing content that will appeal to you.
remember the saying “put yourself in their shoes”? thats exactly what you are trying to do when trying to design content: putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience. We do this by using something called audience personas which are fictional people with very real needs that you come up with in this brainstorming process so that your “target audience” now has a placeholder person that you can visualize better when you try to put yourself in the shoes of your audience persona.
Let’s take an example; instead of thinking about all soon to be mothers, its better to think of a lady named Jessica who is in her early 30s and expecting her first baby while having an active outdoors lifestyle and loves to eat protein rich diet. The last part is important if your content is driven towards targeting audience with vegan dietary needs.
Content Persona Research
You should start brainstorming with writing down all the distinct features of your audiences. The information here will partly come from audience surveys, customer surveys, focus group results for your products, feedback from event attendees etc. Basically everything you know about your current customers and their backgrounds will be a starting point in developing broad strokes of your audience persona.
Once you have exhausted existing data, you should glean some more information about your potential audience from web forums, comments section on popular youtube videos in your field, searching Twitter, Reddit, latest news based on keywords etc.
Dont be afraid to step out in the real world and hanging out in same places where your potential audience visits and ask them questions in real world. I meet too many businesses who mention that they haven’t done a focus group or an in person audience feedback session in years (or never) since its too expensive. Well, you can always take a notepad and ask questions at trade shows, events, etc. and get some raw data on building your audience persona and get some demographics data on how old your potential customer is, what time of day job they have, etc.
Once you have everything written down, you should start to segment them into distinct subgroups. You may think you know your audience well, but once you start creating audience personas you will see patterns starting to emerge.
If we are taking the example above, our persona Jessica has another counterpart called Maria who is a mom to two kids in middle school and is trying to find healthy snacking alternatives for her kids. Her needs are distinctly different than Jessica and you need to create targeted content for both these personas.
Content persona research will allow you to disengage from thinking of yourself as both content consumer and content’s target audience whereas in reality, you personally may know too much about the field you are producing the content for, and that clouds your judgement.
Creating audience persona works pretty well for B2B too however, you need to think about it a bit differently. Your target audience now is a corporate buyer who serves as a gatekeeper and decision maker for a huge corporate order that can be getting your products either on retail shelves or putting it in wholesale distribution. This is especially true if you are trying to selling a product like a protein bar which can not only be sold direct to consumers through your own website and ecommerce channels such as Amazon but also through wholesale and retail stores by working with buyers from grocery stores such as Walmart, Publix etc.
In these cases, create multiple audience personas targeting, not just the key decision maker (aka corporate buyer in this case) but collaborators (local store managers, etc.) too that advise and consult with key decision maker. This will help you gain visibility throughout the corporate chain and when time comes, helps your key decision maker on acquiring your offer.
Nailing down Audience personas into their life resume
Alright, now you have all the data you can find through an exhaustive persona research. This is the fun part of the excercise, you get to name your fictitious audience members and create their life backstory as well as fill in their resume with the data you have collected.
You can type up a page containing their imaginary name and following details:
- Martial status
- Geographic location
- Number of children
- Top channels where they find and consume content
- Top pain points and things they are actively searching for online
- list products you are selling that are most likely to be bought by this persona
- How many times do you think this persona will buy your product (potential lifetime customer value). This will help you dedicate marketing budget for this persona.
we should be aware at all stages of this process to differentiate buyer personas aka people who might potentially buy your products from content consumer personas that are people who might consume your content but are unlikely to convert as a buyer due to various reasons such as your products being too expensive for their current income levels. In these cases, you can file away content consumer personas till the time when you expand your product offering that has a better value proposition for these audiences.
Remember, our goal is not just to increase audience engagement for our content, that will be good but that doesn’t help our overall goal of content marketing aka creating content to boost sales.
For many products, the buying cycle is long enough that your content will meet a potential buyer early on in the cycle when they are still researching the topic; these people will actually come back to you when they are ready to pull the trigger and these convertible sort of content consumers are very important to you. This becomes even more important in B2B case when the gratekeeper can take months to actually convert from the time of first contact.