Before developing content for a new client at our agency, our content team asks whether or not the client has buyer personas. It’s an important first step because buyer personas — otherwise known as audience personas or customer profiles — are critical to online marketing success, and specifically to content marketing success. In fact, they are a key element to a strong content marketing strategy. Without a clear understanding of who you’re trying to reach, you’re taking a shot in the dark.
Over the past few weeks, we have been exploring how a persona’s impact affects your social media marketing as well as your overall marketing strategy. From a content perspective, personas increase the likelihood that you’ll reach the right people with the right message at the right time, which in turn means you have more success connecting with your audience and engaging them. Put simply, buyer personas have a critical impact on your entire content marketing strategy and will put you ahead of the game from the start. Let’s take a look at some of the ways our content marketing team uses buyer personas and how you can use them to strengthen your content marketing strategy.
Consider how you would write a letter to a stranger versus your boss, your mom, or even your best friend. They would all sound a little different, wouldn’t they? The same goes when writing to your target audience. By asking the right questions and conducting research, personas allow you to better understand exactly who you’re writing to on a deeper level. In turn, that allows you to craft content that addresses specific needs, which helps foster loyalty, trust, and sales.
When our content team puts together a client’s content strategy, our personas serves as a baseline for all research, writing, and editing — from topic research and the editorial calendar to the content development and search engine optimization process. Personally, well-researched personas allow me to put myself in the customers’ shoes. I consider what’s really important and identify topics that would interest the audience I’m trying to reach. Then, when writing the content, I have a clear concept of what questions, problems, and hesitations my readers may have and I am able to address those concerns in a tone and format they connect with. When readers then resonate with the content piece, brand awareness, trust, customer loyalty, and sales are a natural result over time.
You will leverage more bang for your buck with content when you have a solid distribution strategy — and personas are a key component of that. Researching how and where your target audience is spending time makes it much easier to determine what social media and traditional platforms you should target to reach them and how much of your advertising budget you should put behind each piece to increase content success. A clear understanding of your target audience will also help you determine what industry influencers, organizations, and external partners you might want to collaborate with to boost your content and support your brand. Personas make it easy for our content team to quickly and accurately make recommendations to both our partners and fellow team members about when and where content should be shared and distributed.
In addition to serving as a foundation for more targeted and engaging content, personas come in handy in other ways too. Content tends to change hands a lot, so it’s easy for things to get lost in the shuffle. After I write a piece of content, our SEO team, advertising team, and social media team also offer their insights. That doesn’t even mention graphic designers, web developers, freelancers, or influencers we may be working with on the project. Personas help keep everyone on track, no matter whose to-do list the content piece lands on. Since everyone involved knows exactly who we’re trying to reach with the piece, the whole strategy naturally aligns and falls into place more cohesively. It also gives everyone a similar point of reference, which improves internal communication and feedback.
Personas are a work-in-progress
Personas are not a one-and-done project. If the last time you developed your brand’s personas was several years ago, it is time to give them a fresh look. What works today may not work six months or a year from now. At E/Power, creating buyer personas is our first step to any content strategy. However, we’re constantly tweaking, discussing, and adjusting our clients’ buyer personas throughout our ongoing client partnerships based on feedback, new data, and trends in the industry.
So, how do you know when it’s time to update or re-do your personas? Best practices are to give buyer personas a big-picture revamp at least on a yearly basis to make sure they align with your goals, data, and best practices. Analytics, social insights, marketing research, and feedback from customers and employees are key to refining your personas on an ongoing basis.
Not sure where to start with creating buyer personas or just need a fresh perspective on your existing audience profiles? Our team of dedicated online marketers is here to point you in the right direction.