Creating “audience personas” is an effective way for businesses and marketing professionals to get to know their potential customers. Thoughtfully-constructed personas allow you to access your audience’s perspective, helping find common ground with customers, tune in to their fears and vulnerabilities, and help you critically analyze your digital marketing strategy from your customer’s point of view.
To develop an audience persona, your company has to shift into a different mindset. You have to be equal parts insightful and empathetic, considering your customer beyond the income they provide. To help get you started, here is a rough guide to using audience personas to relate to your customers.
Getting Started with Audience Personas
Think about your ideal customer. Who are they? What do they do for a living? What about in their downtime? What values are most important to them? What types of traditional and digital media do they consume? How do they access information online? Are they social-media-savvy?
Once you’ve built up a decent-sized biography of your ideal customer, you can begin looking at how they’ll potentially engage with your business; What services are they looking for? How would they describe these services in their own words? How does your company meet their needs better than your competition? Where will they typically go for information about your industry? Will they turn to Google, or are they more likely to ask their Facebook friends?
Many businesses have more than one type of customer; don’t be afraid to build more than one audience persona. However, avoid trying to reach too many different kinds of customers at the same time. Especially if your customers are radically different, attempting to reach every customer at once typically results in weak messaging and complex, ineffective marketing strategies. Establish “priority” customers early to ensure your marketing efforts target audiences who will allow you to grow your business.
Relating Personas to Real-World Data
Until your audience personas are connected to quantifiable data, they’re essentially fictional characters with no value to your business. Market research is a critical step in breathing life into your audience personas and being able to leverage them effectively in your marketing strategies.
Conducting research will help you discover your customers’ priorities, what kind of language they use, what digital platforms they favour, and what types of marketing tactics will influence their purchasing behaviours. These factors will help you develop marketing strategies catered to your audience that will deliver consistent results.
During this stage, you might discover that some of your presumptions about your audience were misguided; that’s okay! However, when it comes time to develop and execute a marketing strategy, the numbers very rarely lie. The marketing decisions that deliver the most consistent results are almost always rooted in real-world data.
When starting with data analysis and market research, you should be looking at information from both first- (i.e., your website/social media analytics) and third- (market reports, consumer trends) party sources. Understanding both your own business and prevalent market conditions will allow you to develop a personalized marketing strategy that resonates with your audience in the world they live in.
Google Analytics products are an excellent way to monitor your website’s performance. Most social media platforms have built-in tools for tracking audience behaviour, while content management tools like Sendible can provide more detailed reports. Depending on your industry, you’ll probably know more than a few credible sources for third-party research. In addition to these, HubSpot’s blog is an excellent resource for the latest in digital marketing trends, along with the plethora of experienced digital marketing agencies working in the field.
Using Audience Personas to Build Marketing Strategies
Making well-crafted audience personas can be a time-consuming process. However, they afford a great deal of insight and nuance in the planning and execution of reliable marketing strategies.
Audience personas give you insight into how your products and services will be perceived, what services should be introduced (or altered), and how business decisions will impact the customer. By incorporating audience personas, your company will have to ask themselves: whether or not your customers will value a service, how much they are willing (or can afford) to spend, and whether bold moves would alienate your customer base. When audience personas are leveraged effectively, they will keep you in touch with your customer base without having to consult them on every decision.
As a part of a complete persona, you should thoroughly consider the vulnerabilities and fears of your ideal customer. These “pain points” often affect many areas of their lives; a successful marketing strategy can position your products and services as part of the “cure” for their challenges. Your company may even realize some concerns that hold your customer back from buying. This helps you meet customer needs proactively and overcome objections before you hear them.
Finally, your audience personas can be used to turn a critical eye to the company website and social media presence. Analyzing your digital platforms in the mindset of your persona might result in some useful insights and potential improvements. Maybe your eCommerce provider was chosen for its cost-effectiveness, but it’s not user-friendly. Your persona would want that fixed, making the purchasing process more accessible and convenient. Your audience persona might “see” that your website and blog are full of industry jargon that isn’t pleasant for the persona to read. These are countless other examples of using audience personas to empathize with your potential customers and create products, services, and marketing tactics that cater to their needs.
Evaluate and Optimize for Consistent Results
As with any digital marketing strategy, personalized marketing efforts are most effective when their results are tracked, continually optimized, and improved. Tools like Google Analytics will allow you to monitor the effect personalized marketing has on your web traffic. Using this (and other tools, depending on platform) will let you see what content is most successful, and will enable you to refine your approach to achieve consistent results.
When launching a new personalized marketing strategy, it can be helpful to roll it out in phases. Not only will this ease you into the process, but it will make the results of your efforts easier to track and monitor. By focusing on specific tactics (at least in the beginning), it will be easier to see what works (and what doesn’t) and adjust your strategy accordingly over time.
Knowing your audience is your biggest asset when creating marketing material. The first steps in developing any marketing strategy are all about getting to know your potential customers. Developing “audience personas” will allow you to determine your customers’ needs and how your business can help. Once you have a defined image of your target audience in mind, you can start tailoring your marketing to attract and engage them specifically.
However, audience personas are only the first step; marketing professionals know that how you apply this insight that will dictate how successful your business is in creating a consistent marketing system that generates reliable results and facilitates growth.
If you’re unsure of what to do next, consider enlisting the help of an experienced digital marketing agency to achieve reliable marketing performance. With your audience personas in-hand, an agency can help you build a consistent marketing system that will resonate with your customers in the future.
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