Quality is an important component of content marketing. Creating targeted content that is valuable to your customers is an essential piece of any successful content marketing strategy. So, how do you ensure your content is relevant and useful to your audience?
The answer: Build buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional character used in marketing to represent an ideal customer base. They help content creators build highly targeted content marketing strategies. From blogging to social media, buyer personas can be used in all forms of content creation. Are you ready to revamp your content marketing strategy? Let’s get started!
According to Content Marketing Institute, “A buyer persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.”
It’s hard to guess what content your audience wants without a buyer persona to guide you. And, as Content Marketing Institute puts it, you run the risk of “creating content around what you know best (your products and company) instead of around the information your audience is actively seeking.”
This phenomenon has also been called the “Curse of Knowledge.” Harvard Business Review explains “that once we know something…we find it hard to imagine not knowing it…We have difficulty sharing it with others, because we can’t readily re-create their state of mind.”
Buyer personas help you see your brand from your customer’s perspective.
In content marketing, this can result in content your audience finds uninteresting and irrelevant. Companies can overcome the Curse of Knowledge by using “concrete language and stories,” such as buyer personas, to govern their content marketing strategies. Harvard Business Review pointed out that, despite the unique shopping experience Trader Joe’s offers, its mission differs little from other grocery retailers. This is because their buyer persona, an “unemployed college professor who drives a very, very used Volvo,” guides their messaging.
When it comes to content creation, use what you’ve learned from your buyer persona research to write blog articles and craft social media posts. Speak to their pain points and offer solutions. Engage your audience by speaking their language.
Allowing buyer personas to guide your content marketing strategies will keep you focused on your customers needs, resulting in targeted campaigns.
When you create content for individual buyer personas, it will result in content that is highly relevant to a key segment of your audience.
Marketing software provider Hubspot created Enterprise Erin, a 30-year-old Director of Marketing Operations who aims to increase pipeline generation. She struggles to work with her sales team, however, and is overwhelmed by data and technology.
Though Enterprise Erin is not real, Hubspot likely has real-life customers who are similar to her, so Hubspot uses Enterprise Erin to create blog and social media content she would care about, such as this article: “How Data in Sales Can Transform Your Sales Team and Performance.”
As Hootsuite puts it, “Buyer personas remind you to put your audience’s wants and needs ahead of your own.” This, in turn, will help you create content that will engage your ideal customer.
Still not convinced buyer personas are an essential part of any content marketing strategy? We’ll break down the benefits below.
Targeted content not only engages your audience, it transforms them into loyal customers.
According to Forbes, “A strong buyer persona can help you focus your marketing and sales efforts.” They can be used to identify targeted keywords for your SEO strategy, as well as inspiration for drafting compelling marketing copy. When blogging, for example, choose a topic your persona would care about. If you’re creating content for social media, choose the platform your target customer uses. These are just a few simple, intuitive ways you can cater to your buyer persona’s interests.
An important part of your content marketing strategy is getting your audience to trust you. Just as you cater to your buyer persona’s interests, show them you understand their pain points. According to Social Media Today, “When choosing a product or service, people naturally gravitate toward businesses they know and trust. And, the best way to build trust is to show genuine understanding and concern for the other person – in this case, your customers.”
Create content that focuses on the customers’ needs, rather than just your products or services. This can actually help create a market niche and tag your business as the expert in that niche. The result will be targeted content, and your customers will reward you for it. According to Business 2 Community, when customers trust a company, they “will turn to the brand first when making a purchase decision, are more loyal to the brand, will advocate and also defend the brand’s reputation when necessary.”
When your organization adopts buyer personas, everyone has an understanding of your ideal customer.
Buyer personas act as guidelines for content creation. This helps mitigate one challenge the Content Marketing Institute identifies for companies without personas: “Does everybody who is creating content in your organization have that same vision of your ideal audience?”
Using standardized buyer personas across your organization will ensure everyone involved in content creation is thinking about the same audience and engaging with them in the right ways. This will also ensure all marketing investments are targeting the audience most qualified to become customers.
Building a buyer persona is a multistep process that requires extensive research and thorough analysis. Let’s break it down step-by-step.
Creating accurate buyer personas requires interviews with real customers. When recruiting interviewees, offer incentives to participate.
According to HubSpot, “The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as insights you gather from your actual customer base.” Some of this information is available through social media and Google Analytics.
Keep in mind that you’re looking for data such as:
This step requires you to gather data straight from the source: your customers. Conduct surveys and interviews with existing customers to learn what drives them. According to Hootsuite, “These goals might be directly related to solutions you can provide, but they don’t have to be. This is more about getting to know your customers than it is trying to match customers exactly to features or benefits of your product.”
During interviews, be sure to ask customers about their pain points, too. If a content marketing strategy is about providing solutions, you must first determine what’s keeping your customers from achieving their goals.
It is also a good idea to consult customer service representatives and salespeople. Customer Service can speak to common challenges customers face and which groups they affect, while the sales team has insight into your customers’ goals.
After researching your customers’ aspirations and challenges, it’s time to figure out how your product will help them overcome roadblocks and reach their goals.
To understand a customer’s point of view, Hootsuite recommends considering the benefits your product offers beyond its features, noting, “A feature is what your product is or does. A benefit is how your product or service makes your customer’s life easier or better.”
Once you have adopted a customer’s perspective, determine how your product can help customers reach the goals you have identified. Do this for each challenge and each goal.
Once you have finalized your personas, use them to revamp existing content. If you find some content doesn’t align with any persona, consider retiring it.
The most important step in your new content marketing strategy is to actually build your buyer personas.
Start by reviewing the data you’ve collected for patterns that point to distinct group types. Once you have identified customer groups and the characteristics they share, build their personas. According to Hootsuite, “You want your persona to seem like a real person.” Name your personas and assign them individual demographic characteristics, such as age, job title and income. Determine what their goals and pain points are based on these details, as well as the feedback you’ve collected from existing customers.
Treating each persona like an individual will make it easier to create content that is highly personalized. Once your personas are complete, use them to guide your content marketing strategy.