October 23, 2014

How to Create Buyer Personas for Your Content Marketing Strategy

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Many small business owners are revamping their content marketing strategy this year. While there are lots of different ways to alter your strategy and stay safe being discussed among the Webmaster and SEO community, one of my favorites is by creating buyer personas. It’s creative and it’s a great way to try something new, so there’s really no reason not to get started.

How Buyer Personas Work and Why They Matter

Creating buyer personas essentially means you’re really digging into the buyer habits and patterns of everyone in your audience. Typically, you’ll have several different buyer personas in order to fit everyone in your entire audience into at least one group. Everyone is different, but usually you’ll find trends among your audience in terms of where they search before they buy, for how long, and how they form their decision.

The reason I like buyer personas is because they can work directly with many editorial calendars, so you know exactly which content you should show which people and/or make sure you have a good mix of content that’s really targeted (more on this later). Creating buyer personas is an excellent way to compare audiences and determine the content each would want to read most. This might mean more work because you may have to create a different piece of content for each of your five buyer personas, but it’s more personalized which will get you far.

How to Get Started Creating Buyer Personas to Help Your Content Efforts

Below are three different ways to create buyer personas and how to use them to your advantage:

1. Talk with your audience through surveys, phone calls, and user accounts.

Unless you have a company with only 20 customers, it is unrealistic to talk with every single person in order to fit him/her into the right persona. Nonetheless, you can ask customers or visitors of your website to take surveys and answer questions. If you have a system where visitors can create a profile or account, this is a great way to get a lot of information about a potential client. If you work for a big company, having a team of people call everyone who signs up for your service is a great way to get some key information.

When talking with your audience, you’re going to want to get demographic information as well as information about their buying process and interests. Remember that you want to learn about them as buyers, so ask questions such as:

  • How much did you know about the product/service before researching?
  • How do you like to shop for this product/service?
  • What was most important to you about this product/service?
  • How long did it take you to find this product/service? Make a final decision?

Of course, there are other questions you can ask depending on your specific company, but try not to ask too many. If you’re talking with someone on the phone asking more questions is a good idea, but sometimes surveys online can seem daunting if they last more than 5 minutes.

2. Look at your marketing funnel and try to segment your audience into personas.

Segmenting your audience based on the information they gave is how you’re going to determine your main personas. It typically helps to look at your marketing funnel and determine where he/she would fit. This helps you understand how each buyer acts at each step in your marketing process. Once you have your information/audience segmented into your marketing funnel, you should look for trends within each funnel to potentially create even more personas.

In the end, you should have groups of people who act similarly when it comes to buying your product/service, which means not only can you improve your paid marketing efforts or other marketing strategies, but also your content marketing.

3. Think about the content needed to help each persona make a final decision, and use and editorial calendar to schedule content and create these personas.

When thinking about content, you not only want to think about content to be published on your blog or your website, but also what type of content will be published on other channels like YouTube, social media, etc. You will want to take a look at your buyer personas and see which group uses YouTube the most to find information, for example, and then create content that fits in with some of that groups other buyer traits.

I highly recommend using a tool called “CoSchedule.” This is a standalone app that syncs with WordPress. (Extra tip: It does quite a bit more than work with personas.) It allows you to create your buyer personas and then lets you mark which content is best for which personas so that you can target them specifically and make sure you’re putting out an even amount of content for each persona.

Do you have practice working with buyer personas? What was your process to find these buyer personas like, and do you have any tips for using personas to jump start a content marketing strategy?

Persona Photo via Shutterstock

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HigherVisibility HigherVisibility is part of the Small Business Trends Publisher Channel, offering a full range of professional interactive marketing services. The mission of HigherVisibility is to provide clients “Valuable Solutions with Visible Results.” HigherVisibility works with companies of all sizes, offering advice on topics ranging from keyword research to algorithm updates.

7 Reactions

  1. Very practical advice on how to get started with buyer personas and ensure they are actually used in marketing efforts. Some approaches I have seen complicate the creation process and don’t take into account the limited resources and mindshare most marketing teams have at their disposal today. The result, it becomes an exercise never gotten to…better to simplify and leverage the info you have at your disposal than wait for the time to tackle the creation of a perfect set of personas.

  2. This is a really informative article, and your explanation of buyer personas is really helpful. It can be challenging to set up an effective content marketing strategy without understanding the habits and “personality” of your consumer base. Thanks for the post!

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