Everything You Need to Know About Audience Personas
By Sashi Carnero, Content Intern
Engagement is everything. You know your ideal audience is out there, you just don’t know how to connect with them. Sometimes it isn’t enough to have a fabulous product or a kick-ass service, consumers want more. They want to feel like a brand cares about their desires and well-being, all while answering their concerns. It can be tough to decipher those connection points, especially when your audience is made up of a range of different people with individual wants and needs.
With the right tools in hand, you can get to know your customers on a deeper level. It isn’t a simple process to acquire those tools, but once you have them, you’ll know your audience intimately. You’ll know what they eat for breakfast, what they’re afraid of, what their favorite color is…would you take on the challenge if it meant creating an incredible digital strategy for your business?
The key to having this understanding? A set of well-developed audience personas. Read on to find out what you need to know about audience personas, and how to put them to work for your marketing strategy.
What are audience personas?
Audience personas, also known as buyer personas, are detailed representations of your target audience as fictionalized individual characters. This fictional representation allows you to visualize your ideal customer as if they were a real person and work to understand their wants, needs, values, and frustrations. Personas usually include a quick way to refer to the persona (like a nickname), demographic characteristics, buyer behavior, and most importantly, their interests. Some audience personas can even become as descriptive to explore your customer’s deepest desires and darkest secrets.
Audience personas help provide your marketing strategy with the customer-centric lens it needs to thrive. In fact, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies who are more focused on product sales. The purpose of customer-centricity is to find out what customers like or dislike, tailor products and services to fulfill their needs, and eliminate sources of irritation. It’s the perfect way to increase customer satisfaction and connect with your audience at a deeper level.
How are audience personas used?
Audience personas allow you to craft personalized messages your audience will resonate with. 70% of a customer's buying journey is based on an individual’s feelings—they want to feel catered to.
Think about your audience as if you were having a conversation with a friend. You know what your friends are interested in, and you wouldn’t mention a topic to your friend if they have no interest, or are unfamiliar with it. You choose subjects they enjoy or have a connection with, to show them you understand and share their personal interests! And, of course, when talking to your friends, you know whether they prefer a quick text, an email, a message on social media, or an in-person conversation—and you’re going to choose the channel they’re most likely to respond to.
Audience personas are a way of taking that information you’d know about a friend and formalizing it so it can be used in this same fashion when building marketing messages. The persona functions as a guide to anything from overall brand voice development to ongoing product development, and should be used to inform your ongoing marketing strategy and the channels you use to syndicate your message.
Audience personas are most commonly used when developing a content marketing strategy because they allow you to focus on what matters to your audience and develop content to those interests. Your customers want to see relevant content that speaks to their needs, answers any questions they may have, and shows how your product or service works to solve their frustrations. The buyer’s journey can be a lengthy process for some people, so you want to provide the reassurance they need to make a purchase they can feel confident in.
Using your personas to target customers during their buying journey is easily accomplished through a digital advertising campaign. The best thing about using the personas you have crafted, is that you understand where they look for guidance or information online. You can configure your digital ads to target the specific areas or topics your audience looks for the most. Audience personas are the perfect starting point for your digital efforts and can ensure you are allocating your budget where it can be used most efficiently.
The key to crafting audience personas is remembering the different kinds of people who may purchase your product. Audience personas are not a one size fits all, because customers purchase for different reasons or have unique buying behaviors. Segmenting your personas is a great way to ensure you are speaking to all of your customers in an engaging and highly personal way. Customers want to feel like you understand their wants and needs, so why not speak to them in a way that reminds them of that.
What goes into developing personas?
Getting to know your audience can feel a bit like dating. When meeting someone for the first time, you ask them about their interests, their family, what they value...and all sorts of questions that give you insight into who they are. Using these same questions lets you familiarize yourself with your audience and develop personas as if they were real people.
Understanding their personal goals, frustrations, concerns, and buying patterns can affect your business model exponentially, so it’s important to hit these points as you develop your personas as well.
Here are some tips to consider when developing your audience personas:
1. Start with the basics.
Using broad topics to build your persona may seem too generalized at first, but they serve as your customer blueprint, a vital pillar in persona development. Develop a list of demographic considerations such as age, gender, income, location, etc. are super helpful when targeting your ideal consumer. To find this information, you’ll want to start by analyzing your past and current customers and looking for trends and groups.
At this point, you’ll also want to start coming up with questions you’d like to know about the mindset of the individuals in these groups.
2. Get social.
The best way to get answers to questions? Ask! Once you’ve started to identify groups and trends among your audience, you’ll want to talk to them where they’re spending their time. Conduct some customer surveys to gather information from the contacts you have in your database. If possible, select a few customers to conduct a more detailed interview with—you’ll get a better look into their mindset when you’re able to have a person-to-person conversation.
It’s not enough to just look at your past and current customers. Conducting an analysis of the social media platforms your customer base uses is vital when developing your audience personas. Don’t just look at your profiles, either—you’ll also want to peek at what competitors are doing, hashtags and topics related to your offerings, and key influencers that your audience looks to. All of this information will give you insight into what your audience is interested in, and the types of content they engage with most.
3. Use your resources.
Analyze your performance history and customer feedback to get a sense of how your business has performed in the past. Knowing what has worked to get your audience’s attention is great to consider when developing your personas.
Once again, your competitors are also a great resource, considering they have likely consumer research of their own. Take a look at the way they’re positioning themselves, and the messages . Collecting all kinds of audience data will allow you to form a more thorough and detailed image of your ideal persona.
How your agency can help you develop personas
Getting to know your audience can feel a bit intimidating and is far from a simple process—it takes time, and sometimes requires an outsider to know what questions to ask. A good agency will conduct the research, gain the insight, and do the work that needs to be done to develop audience personas.
As strategy experts, we know where to look to get the insights needed to develop great audience personas and put them to use. An agency can Most importantly your agency will provide you with a badass digital strategy to implement your audience persona’s in your upcoming content plan or big campaign. They’ll guide your customers towards thought-provoking, relevant content that will ultimately convince them your product or service is the thing they need.