Creating great content that provides customers with real value through entertainment or education is the key to successful content marketing. Unfortunately, knowing what kind of content will be most effective can be difficult for marketers to determine. With so many options and delivery methods, marketers need some way to direct their efforts to ensure they produce content that is the most likely to resonate with their target customers. Customer personas provide exactly such a tool, allowing content marketers to build generic pictures of their average customers to help them direct and shape their content-creation efforts for maximum success.
What are Customer Personas?
Customer personas are fictional profiles that lay out the story of an example customer or web visitor. These profiles provide content marketers with a target to focus on when creating content and developing campaigns. These personas are developed by examining the demographics of existing customers and using them to create a set of models that provide a general representation of common customers. Once customer personas have been developed, marketers can then reference them to determine what types of content are most likely to appeal to them and most effective in promoting and selling to them.
Digging Into the Data to Create a Character
Personas are built by digging into available data to determine the characteristics and demographics that make up a company’s customer base. That data can be sourced in a number of different places. Web analytics are a great place to start, since they provide information on web visitors to whom most content marketing will be directed. Website analytics packages, such as Google Analytics, are highly useful, as are social media analytics such as those provided by Facebook. Existing data published on the web can also be used if it’s carefully selected, and marketers can use customer surveys to fill in any gaps that may exist in their overall picture of their customers.
Creating a Customer Persona
There are no hard-and-fast rules for what kind of information goes into a customer persona. Some are more detailed than others, and what gets included is often a function of the data available to the marketer creating the profile. Here is an example of what the customer profile might look like for a male customer in his late 20s:
“Tom is 27 years old, single, works in the financial industry, and is a renter in a large urban center. He is highly technologically savvy and spends three or more hours a day online in his leisure time. Tom spends most of his time online on a mobile device or tablet. He is highly engaged in social media and regularly interacts with brands on Facebook and Twitter. Tom spends a significant amount of his disposable income on travel and technology. Tom is highly trusting of online merchants and makes purchases online whenever convenient.”
The information in the profile of Tom might seem far too specific for any marketer to know about a web customer, but it’s important to remember that this description is a fictional composite based on data. For instance, the web analytics might show that most customers visit on a mobile device, are between 25 and 30 years old, and come from major cities. Facebook and Twitter might make up major traffic sources, and a customer survey might show a large percentage of visitors prefer to shop online. All that information can then be combined to help build the persona of Tom. This data can all be sourced through web and social media analytics packages, and information that isn’t available can be omitted or inferred through educated estimations.
Customer personas represent an incredibly effective way for content marketers to focus and direct their content-creation efforts to ensure their materials resonate with their target customers. By utilizing available data through social media and web analytics platforms to develop generic, fictional, composite characterizations of their average customers, content marketers can then tailor content specifically for those personas. While no persona will ever be a perfect representation (a consequence of their generalization), creating materials to cater to these personas provides direction that makes for far more effective marketing efforts than simply creating content without direction and hoping for the best. The result is that content marketers will have an easier time coming up with content ideas and choosing delivery mediums, and in the end, they will see greater returns on their efforts and more successful campaigns.