Just like starting your startup, with marketing you shouldn’t just dive straight into content marketing without a proper strategy. Without knowing who is the actual audience that you are writing for, you are sure to write content which is not engaging if targeted to the wrong buyer personas. You need to always understand your audience’s top concerns!
Creating buyer personas and journeys will help you determine what kind of content you need; set the tone, style, and delivery strategies for your content; target the topics you should be writing about, and understand where buyers find and consume information.
There is a lot that goes into effective content marketing. You need a lot of different kinds of content, you have to figure out how it all fits into your buying cycle, and your content has to adjust to the different media through which you share it.
So how do you do all that effectively? You start by creating buyer personas.
Understanding Buyer Personas
So what are these “buyer personas”. According to Wikipedia personas are “Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behaviour set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way.”. In other words, personas are a kind of imaginary persons, with a name, a history and certain story who have a way of doing things.
A persona should have enough psychological detail to allow you to conveniently step over to the persona’s view and see your products and services from his or her perspective. A persona can function almost like another person in the room when making a decision—It is “Mary.” She looks at what you’re doing from her particular and very specific vantage point and points out flaws and benefits for her.
You could say, your personas are your ideal customer.
Creating Buyer Personas
When just starting out with your company it is very difficult to come up with the right personas, so you can understand that in the beginning these personas are mostly based around assumptions. By doing “customer development” and talking with potential clients about your new found business you can sharpen your assumptions and help to validate them.
To start off easy try writing down all characteristics of your customers, there are some nice online tool available like personapp to help you get started with this process. Try to describe this person as detailed as possible, write down:
- Facts & demographics (Name, gender, age, education, occupation?)
- Behaviours (What websites does he or she visit? Where does he or she get her information from?)
- Problem & needs (What service, similar to yours, is he/she using but unsatisfied with?)
- Goals & dreams (What is he/she trying to accomplish? What is most important to him/her?)
- Places (where online and offline can you find him or her?)
- Key influencers (Who does he or she considers a thought leader?)
Using Google Analytics for creating Buyer Personas
After writing these down, you should already have a clear view of whom you are writing your content with. Are you already writing content for some time you can turn to your Google Analytics to get an even more concrete overview of your customers?
Step1: Research Your Website Traffic by Keyword
Begin by logging in to your Google Analytics, then go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Campaigns > Organic Keywords.
This will show you the keywords your visitors are using to arrive on your site while using search. Nowadays the vast majority of referring keywords will be “not provided”, however, the data which is in there should be enough to get you started.
Next step is to export this list to a spreadsheet so you can work with this data.
Step 2 Find User Similarities in Search Traffic
After you copied the list into your favourite spreadsheet program, sort through all these keywords and start grouping them into similar categories or themes. For example, if you are marketing alcoholic beverages, you can divide the keywords into categories such as wine, spirits, beers and other drink. You might have categories for location-specific searches or maybe even cocktail related questions.
Use these categories you just created to determine what types of people are searching for these terms. With this in mind, you can start asking yourself the earlier mentioned questions to come up with accurate representations of your ideal customer. Now it is time to attach a face to your list of personas, these are your “a little less” rough buyer personas.
Step 3: Refine Buyer Personas by Social Channel
Want to get into more details? Use the referral traffic data from Analytics to create more advanced audience members for each of your social media channels. So let’s go back to Google Analytics, now go to Acquisition > Social > Landing Pages. Choose Second Dimension and click on Social > Social Source Referral.
If you export this data again into your favourite spreadsheet program and group the landing pages by social channel. By doing this, you can figure out which kind of content works best on which of your social media channels. This spreadsheet will help you create a more precise persona for each of the social networks you have a presence on with your brand.
For example, a beauty salon might find that Twitter refers more people looking for reservations and that Facebook refers more people looking for special deals. With this information, the beauty salon can install a custom tab on their Facebook page to better help to promote their special deals and begin promoting for their existing customers better on Twitter.
Bonus step: If you have a Universal Analytics property with your Google Analytics ID, you can enable Demographics & Interests Reports. Enabling this setting will give you the Age of your viewers, their Gender, their Affinity Categories (identifies users in terms of lifestyle), the In-Market Segments (identifies users in terms of their product purchase interests) and “Other Categories” (provides the most specific, focused view of your users. For example, while Affinity Categories includes the category Foodies, Other Categories includes the category Recipes/Cuisines/East Asian.).
Advantages of Aligning Content With Buyer Personas
Now that we know who your customers are, it is time to start aligning your content with your personas. Because by improving your content to meet the needs of your customers most likely to use it, a brand can be sure that when new buyers arrive, they’ll have a good experience. By using these buyer personas you can now make sure that your content will have similar messages in every blog post, in every social media update, paid advertising and sales.
Every day you spend driving a marketing campaign down the wrong path is a day wasted. Your messages are being sent but ignored and you’re probably wasting work hours from your team members or even money on your paid campaigns. If you refine your content strategy to start focusing on your potential buyers your company is less likely to waste time and effort on content that doesn’t connect with your target audiences. Each campaign you do will have better results, with the improvement visible in your conversions and click-thru rates.
So go out there and start writing content that matters to your audience!
How has creating buyer personas improved your content marketing? What other resources have helped you? Please share in the comments below and help others!