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Whether you’re designing the layout for a new website or creating a content strategy: you can’t let your target group out of sight. Because at the end of the day, a marketer’s personal taste and preference means nothing–all that matters is what appeals to potential customers. Of course, finding colours, elements, or text for ‘single women between 25 and 35’ or ‘middle-aged stay-at-home men’ isn’t always so easy. A much more practical way to achieve this is to have a representative of this group as an example, someone who knows and understands the interests and preferences of your target group. With the help of a buyer persona, you can get much closer to your target group.
What are personas?
Buyer personas are basically fictitious personalities that serve as examples for potential customers. Some marketers also describe these as prototypes of defined user groups. These example characters are representative of a firm’s target group. The exact make up of these people might be fictitious, but their background information is comprised of real data on sociodemographic characteristics, user behaviour, shopping habits, interests, and general patterns.
In online marketing, buyer personas are a crucial component of conceptual and strategic planning for all types of marketing measures. These personas help marketers to keep the end customers in mind at all times. By using these personas, you can learn to understand your users better and coordinate all marketing measures to meet their needs.
Creating a buyer persona
Employing personas only makes sense if the personality profile for each one is as detailed as possible. The first step here is to form a comprehensive definition of your target group. By using empirical data, which you can collect through the help of web analysis and tracking, you’ll be able to form individual characters. A combination of both demographic and socioeconomic information should be used to form your final personality profiles.
The following target group information is essential:
- Marital status
- Place of residence
- Level of education
- Employment status
- Level of income
Usually, marketers define several personas for each target group. Between two and four are created on average, but more are possible with very broad target groups. The number of personas depends on the complexity of the product, or the scope of the product range.
The starting point for fictitious customers should always be real people. Marketers conduct interviews with existing customers, initiate surveys or draw upon market research reports. Using this real knowledge as a basis and combining it with data obtained by analysis, you can create detailed and realistic profiles. A buyer persona description should contain the following information:
- (realistic) Name
- (realistic) Photo
- Demographic data
- Interests and hobbies
- Preferences and dislikes
- Habits, especially buying habits
- Demands and expectations of the shop or company
- User behaviour
- Search history
All this information is then copied down in the form of a flowing text, 1-2 pages long, like in a narrative CV. This narrative form is important, as it makes the profile more memorable, captivating, and emotional than a simple bullet point list. Real quotes from customer interviews also help to make the personas more believable and tangible. There are certain tools to help you create a buyer persona, like Xtensio. This free tool creates a comp card, containing the most important information for each persona.
Focusing on the customer
By setting up buyer personas, you can improve the accuracy of your marketing strategies. This is because you can find out exactly what makes individual customers tick. Creating personas means focusing intensely on what it is that potential customers are looking for. Considering this will help you draw important conclusions on the content that you provide, the two main questions that marketers must ask themselves are:
How do I satisfy my target group?
How can I fulfil their expectations?
These questions are of the utmost importance in content marketing, particularly when it comes to planning content strategy. Here, buyer personas are crucial to understanding the target group and offering them exactly what they're after. They help you coordinate all policies accurately according to the target group’s needs and so contribute indirectly to achieving company goals.
When should I use buyer personas?
Generally speaking, personas are always useful for companies trying to optimise their performance. This could be for a website relaunch, to improve individual functions, or to increase a content or product range. The aim here is to use these fictitious personalities to try to guess how real users will receive the changes being made. This should be a critical examination as to whether the ideas are really useful.
Often, an idea can seem good from a business perspective but actually inadvertently neglects the target audience. But by using these profiles, particularly to evaluate the expectations and wishes of the target group, you can quickly prove whether or not an idea is sensible. This allows you to easily identify to what extent the proposed measures will benefit potential customers.
SEO: define search personas
Personas appear in almost every discipline of online marketing – because all marketing measures, whether they’re content, social media, or newsletter based, are designed to reach potential customers. These profiles are equally useful in search engine optimisation (SEO).
The first step is to find out what users are searching for. Here, you have to decide: Are you dealing with well-informed users who know what they want, or users looking to understand more about the product or topic in question. This is how you identify search personas and their corresponding searches. You can separate transactional keywords (buy running shoes, buy sneakers online) and informational keywords (running shoes comparison, best running shoes).
It’s not just landing pages that you can build using these search personas: you can also adapt all of your SEO content, including topics, construction, and design. The profiles of these personas are similarly useful for all of the seeding measures that follow, like SEA, link building, and social media. Through these methods, you can discover which channels your target group use most and how to reach them.
Summary: target group analysis is just the start
Target group analysis is an important step and should be treated very diligently: but ultimately, it’s only possible to group people this way using more or less superficial traits. To adapt your marketing strategies specifically to different user groups, you need to know exactly what these individuals need, what they are searching for, and what really interests them. Buyer personas do just that. They help you to successfully target potential customers by helping you to get to know your end customers personally–and this is the basis to enable marketers to get closer to their target group.