The only thing more awkward than the office holiday gift exchange is having to buy something for “Maggie” and not knowing who that is. (You were in orientation together, apparently.)
The rules behind these holiday-centric gift exchanges are simple enough: Stick to the price limit so nobody’s overdoing it, and buy something that your giftee won’t avoid you in the break room over. But if this is the first time you’ve ever heard of Maggie, buying something she’d actually enjoy is an understandably herculean task.
Is she a cat or dog person? Does she already have a mug with a funny phrase on it? For content marketers, knowing who your Maggies are can be the difference between moving the needle and falling flat. In simpler terms, know who you’re selling to and home in. Creating a customer persona ultimately makes your content marketing go further—especially when you ask some deeper questions to better understand your audience’s motivations.
What is a buyer persona?
Let’s start by defining a buyer persona. It’s an avatar of a key segment of your audience. And it’s these key personas that’ll make your content marketing resonant and meaningful in digital spaces.
Creating a buyer persona starts with figuring out the key components of demographic details (or the who). Digging into customer data does two things in particular:
- It helps surface patterns in customer behavior. Are these real trends? Are specific tactics or messaging getting users to buy? When analyzed, the data can paint the picture of what turns users into customers—and what doesn’t.
- It helps inform marketing strategies that can reproduce ideal behavior. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Lean into the levers you can pull, especially when they’ve led to demonstrable results in the past.
It’s this laser focus that helps brands reorient their marketing activity around strategies that have the greatest impact. Without an understanding of who your buyer is, your content marketing team wastes their time trying to appeal to the masses. The proof is in the pudding: Persona-based content leads to lifts of 10% in email conversion rates, 18x in email-influenced revenue, and 24% in leads generated.
Customer persona development requires more than just the folks wearing the marketing hats in your organization. Tap into a melting pot that includes your sales team, internal strategists, stakeholders, and even current or prospective customers. (Yay, more Zoom meetings!)
These conversations are important because 71% of brands that exceed revenue goals have personas documented. In other words, get the personas done right and people are getting sweet holiday bonuses.
How building personas unlocks your content marketing wizards
Having documented customer avatars to sift through is great, but where they really come into play is how they activate your content marketing team to do great work. Accurate customer personas help your organization create content that cuts through the digital noise. Rather than broadcasting content to everybody and their brother, persona-directed content speaks directly to target segments.
This is especially important when considering how your audience uses specific digital channels and technologies where they’ll come across your content. There’s a world of difference between how users engage with LinkedIn versus Facebook, for example. Email readers consume content differently than podcast listeners. Mobile users have different demands than desktop users.
Targeted and curated content resonates with users. That resonance and believability is what your brand needs to begin building trust with your prospective customers—on their journey toward eventually buying your product.
Isolating your buyer persona will help the marketing team conduct better audience targeting, create more relevant content, and opt for the hard-hitting distribution channels.
Hack the buyer persona (by asking uncomfortable questions)
You could find out about what Maggie’s cupboard is lacking by asking people who know her best: friends, family, and coworkers (who didn’t forget her after sitting with her at orientation).
You can develop customer personas by gathering information from audience surveys, marketing automation and CRM data, feedback from leads, and analytics reports. Any recurring themes or patterns should rear their heads once you get going. Again, start with demographics. Zero in on themes that’ll help you understand some general characteristics of what the audience looks like—age range, location, job title.
OK, so you know how to set up the persona. But to make it work wonders, think deeper. Demographics only go so far.
The next step is asking why your audience segments make the decisions they do. Understanding the motivations behind their behavior unlocks marketing opportunities like tightening your brand’s unique selling proposition to reach them directly.
Use your tech stack and surveys to look deeper into the data:
- Look at behavior patterns. What channels do your audience segments engage with online? What kinds of messaging typically drive action? Seeing patterns helps you focus marketing efforts (and budget) on pulling the levers that actually matter.
- Know their goals and aspirations. Going beyond pain points to learn about what your audience is ultimately trying to achieve is powerful. This informs messaging tweaks, new content ideas, and paid social campaign iterations aimed at stronger audience nurturing.
- Identify your buyer’s motivations. Human beings feel stuff. Similar to goals and aspirations, motivations can also be the here-and-now drivers and reasonings behind individuals’ purchasing decisions.
And then dig even deeper:
- What keeps your audience up at night? Especially considering the pandemic-ravaged world we all live in, dive into the real-life fears, challenges, and objections your audience segments are grappling with.
- What value do you create for them on their journey to their ideal self? This only sounds like hollow self-help speak. Do they want to spend less time in Excel spreadsheets so they can spend more time building homes for their community? Articulate how you solve today’s problems and what that ultimately unlocks for them.
Build a customer persona to create content that hits different
Buyer personas help your content marketing hit your audience right in the gut. By asking surface-level questions and then peeling back the onion to go deeper, you’ll understand motivations and behavior patterns you can zero in on across digital channels.
Great content marketing happens when brands start speaking human. And to do that, they’ve got to be constant learners of their audience and the kinds of things that make them tick. At T3, we help brands elevate their content marketing in a complex digital world.