Audience personas: Who are you talking to?

We talk all the time about targeting your audience and shaping content around them. But how do you do this? Well, audience personas are a great tool to help you out.audience personas

But how do you go about creating a persona? And how do you know if it’s accurate?

With a few handy tips from us, you’ll be well on the way to creating effective customer personas and using them to visualise your reader and angle your content towards them.

What is an audience persona?

Remember when you were a kid and had an imaginary friend? Well think of audience personas as your imaginary customers.

These fictitious figures represent key segments of your customer base and help you make sure you’re targeting them correctly.

They’re a wonderful blend of raw data, educated guesses and real-life experience that will quickly become a key part of your marketing strategy. By putting a name, personality and background to the person reading your content, it will be much easier to target that demographic’s needs and pain points.

Some personas will have different priorities to others, so they become a really useful tool when you have a varied customer base. Take a look at this example:

Say your product is a pack of tissues. For Kelly, the stay-at-home mum, it’s perfect for wiping snotty noses and cleaning up spills in the car on the way to whichever crazy hobby the kids are into.

For Bob the builder (we never said names have to be original) it might be good for wiping the grease off your fingers after the morning bacon sarnie, or the grit off your hands after a long day.

By knowing the key differences between the two, you can create content around them and improve their customer experience. Here are just a few factors you should consider about them:

FactorKellyBob
Age35–4919–35
GenderFemaleMale
InterestsReading, yoga, bakingComputer games, football, DIY
Family statusMarried, 2 kidsSingle
JobStay-at-home parentBuilder
Household income£70,000 pa£25,000 pa
Where they liveSurreyClapham
Social networksFacebook, Pinterest, Instagram, WhatsAppOn Facebook, doesn’t really use it.
Pain points concerning productKids often have runny noses, making a mess. Need something to deal with everything that can fit in handbag.Needs to be portable because on the move. Nothing too fancy, but needs to do the job.

So, as you can see, these two personas are very different but have a place in the same audience. There are many more factors to consider, especially if you’re targeting B2B audiences:

  • Industry
  • Are they a decision-maker?
  • What skills do they have?
  • Business goals
  • Budget

You may even want to add in your own factors to provide specific insight for your businesses.

Audience personas are valuable assets for any marketing team. They allow you to accurately target your customers, and provide insight into how to create valuable and relevant content for specific demographics. So why not try to make one today?

How to create audience personas

Start off with just one persona – your core target market – and let it build from there. You don’t need that many so don’t go crazy! 1–4 is usually a safe bet.

1. Find out about your customers

Don’t make any assumptions about your customers. Come to creating an audience persona with a clear mind. Let the data do the talking.

Look for key trends in your existing clients (age, gender, job role, location etc). Use site analytics to discover how they find/consume your content and which content resonates with them the most. Try talking to your sales team about the leads/clients they talk to the most – they’re bound to have some great insights.

Why not talk to the customers themselves? There are plenty of ways to do this:

  • Phone call
  • Email
  • Forms and surveys
  • In person

Ask about what they like and don’t like about your brand, and why they came to you in the first place. What were the selling points that made them choose you over other brands?

Make sure to ask them all the same questions so it’s easier to work out patterns.

2. Pick out the most common trends

Which trends are most common within your customer base?

Focus on your main customer type and start picturing someone who represents that demographic. Don’t be afraid to use generalisations – for once they’re very useful!

Jot down everything you think of when you see this persona – a mindmap is a great way to do this. Simply draw a circle in the middle of a page, fill in the core demographics within the circle, and then use lines to branch off to ideas about the persona and even branch off from those ideas.

3. Fill in the blanks

Once you have a page full of scribbles, you need to convert this into something all of your marketing team can use quickly and easily.

Use a table like the one above, or audience persona software, such as HubSpot, to help you out.

All audience personas must include:

  • Name: Makes them more real, approachable and easier to differentiate
  • Job title: Information about their role, company (size, type, industry) and whether they’re a decision-maker
  • Demographics: To help identify key features that you can target
  • Goals and challenges: Outlines key ways your product can help improve circumstances

You may also find it useful to use quotes from real customers. Let’s go back to Kelly’s statements:

“My kids always have colds and sniffles from school.”

“I need to fit tissues in my bag, my car and pocket. It’s always useful to have them around.”

So the tissue company’s marketing team know that they need to centre their campaigns around being kid-friendly, portable and reliable.

Including an elevator pitch for each of your audience personas can be helpful. Basically, this is a quick, succinct and persuasive sales pitch that you can deliver within the time of an elevator ride (usually 20–30 seconds). Here’s an example for Kelly:

“Our tissues are great for kids. The soft balsam soothes poorly noses and makes sure they’re not red and blotchy. They’re also great for cleaning up spills and messes that the kids swear they didn’t do! You can take our pocket packs everywhere, so you’ll never be without them.”

By creating individual pitches like this for each persona, all your team will know the key messages for this demographic.

Not everything will be clear about your personas straight away, but you can always go back and add more detail as you gain data/insight.

4. Keep updating

Your audience personas, like real people, will evolve and change – especially as new information comes in about them.

Set up your website to gather as much information as possible. You can use lead forms to capture important persona information such as:

  • Company size
  • Social media channels used
  • How they found you

That’s it. There’s your first audience persona. Not too tricky in the end! Specifically target these customers and you’ll start reaching similar audience members, who will become much more likely to convert.

Start using audience personas today, and reap the benefits from highly targeted marketing!

More from: Blogging / Content Strategy / Digital Marketing / Marketing / Web Copywriting