Here at Active Internet Marketing (UK), Workshop Wednesday is our chance to comprehensively explore and examine digital marketing techniques, old and new, that could be applied within our own practices to perfect the services we can offer to our customers. Our team of content marketers share the responsibility of running individual workshops, each in turn bringing something new to the table for discussion.
This week, I decided to look at a topic which the team here have been considering implementing for a while now: client personas. But first, I’d like you to meet Keith.
Keith has just turned 48, and works as a forklift driver at a company he has been with for over 23 years. He enjoys a pint of cold beer on a Friday evening and supports Arsenal fiercely. He lives with his wife, Julie, who works in admin for the NHS. They have one son and one daughter, and like to take trips to France in the summer in their estate car.
Keith is a client persona I created for one of my clients. He does not exist.
But, when typing the above paragraph, I can picture Keith clearly: his slightly greying stubble, his breakfast preference, his hands which are coarse from many years of manual labour. I can see him, as clear as day, driving a forklift and jostling his work colleague about the Arsenal vs. Spurs score from last weekend’s game.
A client persona, or a ‘buyer persona’, is a term used in the marketing world to describe a semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer which has been created through real life data and extensive market research. To some digital marketers, it may seem like an unnecessary process – we already know our audiences, why should we invest time in carrying out a strategy which initially seems to offer very little return?
In fact, persona creation should not be considered a throw-away technique at all. Aberdeen University recently reported that a study into effective content marketing found that marketers who use personas enjoy a higher conversion rate of 73%. As evidenced by my mate Keith, persona creation is wholly useful for content marketers as we can then tailor our copy and content to a designated persona to ensure that a consistent voice is used across all elements of the client’s online profile. As digital marketers, it is rare that we will come into contact with our client’s audience, immediately creating a barrier between our intended audience and the content we are creating. With the formation of a persona, with a name and a family and numerous hobbies and interests, we can write content and run campaigns that are genuinely crafted for a specific audience, with the hope of increasing conversion rates for our client.
Have you ever tried Google Feud? It’s an entertaining game which asks you to guess what people around the world are browsing on the search engine giant that is Google. At the workshop, I posed the website to my colleagues, and tested them on their knowledge of the world and the people that inhabit it. Turns out, we’re much better digital marketers than we are world travellers, so our scores weren’t quite up to scratch. The point of the Google Feud game in relation to this workshop was to get my colleagues wondering, ‘do we truly know what people are searching for?’ The answer was a resounding no, which highlights our absolute need for client personas in order to entirely understand our audiences.
In order to make sense of the world of client personas, I effectively broke the process into three steps, which I have detailed below.
Before pen goes to paper and a client persona is crafted, one must take the time to research. Have a look at site analytics, which can offer insights into aspects such as pageviews, bounce rate, time on site, conversion rates, and much more. Data from site analytics such as this can be used to directly identify what the audiences’ top priorities and requirements are. In-depth R&D (Research and Development) and competitor analysis will help to establish how similar companies are reaching out to their audiences, whilst conversations with your clients will help to gauge what kind of audiences are physically visiting or using your client’s services.
The second step to knowing your audience is the actual creation of the client persona. Building a persona is important because it creates a voice for the intended audience that can be constantly tied to the content and social media posts coming from the digital marketer. When crafting a profile, try to include as much detail as possible, such as behaviour and lifestyle information. Consider how many distinct audiences you wish to target through content, as this will inform how many client personas you will need to create. We can all make assumptions, but it is only when these assumptions are backed up with quality data and research that a legitimate persona is born.
Finally, take a look at the influencers of your intended target market. For example, if you were looking at promoting a particular product or service to teens, you could choose to reach out to particular YouTubers or bloggers. If these appropriate influences can get on board with the product you wish to digitally market, then you are hitting your ideal target demographics in a less obvious way that absolutely considers your established client persona.
As important as persona creation is to the content team, do not be afraid to share your persona across all teams. Sharing your persona with the web developers, for example, may help with website designs and updates, helping to promote a consistent voice and style across the board. I would also urge that you share your created personas with your clients, allowing them to amend as they see fit. The extensive research into competitors and analytics will also help to push campaigns and will generally enhance your understanding of their business for the better.
Ultimately, you do not need to back yourself into a corner when it comes to persona creation. If something isn’t working, or if the client disagrees with the persona forecast, then it should be changed. The audience receiving our content is growing and changing constantly, and the chosen persona should reflect this growth and react accordingly.
In our role as digital marketers, we have to be responsive to the technology changes surrounding our industry, but we cannot lose sight of our main goal: we will always be marketing to people. That is why the importance of client personas should not be forgotten anytime soon.
If you are looking for an expert digital marketing company that can provide in-depth market research and industry or persona-targeted content, get in contact with Active Internet Marketing (UK) by calling 01604 765796 to talk to a member of our friendly team. Whilst you’re on our blog, I’d also recommend having a read of our previous Workshop Wednesday posts for comprehensive explorations of topics such as business tone and the importance of sentence structure.