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Defining Audience Personas: How to Understand your Target Market

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Picture this: your SEO analysts and writers have crafted amazing content. The grammar is flawless, the topics are relevant, and high-quality photos break the monotony of the text. It would seem that these articles and web pages will bring in huge traffic and conversions once launched.

Days, weeks, even months pass by, but it’s not generating the results you hoped for. Your team scrambles to find out what’s wrong. However, nothing seems to be out of order; you seem to have done every due diligence involved in your SEO services. Except you missed one crucial point: who exactly are you talking to?

The Buyer Persona

In this scenario, the main culprit is your buyer persona. This is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. It’s a profile that contains characteristics of the people who are likely to transact with your brand.

If your content is geared towards the wrong buyer persona, your articles won’t be read, accepted, or appreciated by your target market. No matter how ingenious and well-written your content is, if it’s not of interest or value to your target reader, it won’t deliver any significant results for your company.

The buyer persona has far-reaching consequences for your content SEO strategy, from the umbrella topics of your blog to the minute language differences in every article.

Part 1: Importance of Buyer Persona in Shaping SEO Strategy

Think of the buyer persona as the first bricks you lay when building a wall. If they’re fragile or wobbly, the rest of the layers — the keywords, web copy, blog posts — will come tumbling down.

It Serves as the Foundation of Content Mapping

Content mapping refers to the process of planning content pieces that correspond to each stage of the buyer’s journey — Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. Quick recap:

  • Awareness Stage — This is where the prospects have a problem but don’t know what it is. The goal of the content is to help them understand their problems and more importantly, nudge them to the next stage.
  • Consideration Stage — Here, the prospects seek solutions for the problem. The goal of the content is to educate them about the optimum solution and, similarly, nudge them to the next stage.
  • Decision Stage — The prospect is ready to commit to a solution, so the goal of the content is to present your brand as the vendor that can offer the optimum solution.

The content you produce should be carefully calibrated to facilitate a smooth conversion.

The buyer persona, therefore, plays a crucial role because writing for the wrong reader can be catastrophic.

For example, you want to target personas in the Awareness Stage, but you randomly wrote copy about cost-effective solutions. How can the reader appreciate the solutions you’ve laid out if they don’t even understand their problems in the first place?

It Determines the Language of Your Content

Rules of grammar may be universal, but local terminology spells the difference between engaging and alienating. Say your target is customers on the East Coast; a single word from the Midwest vernacular will turn your coastal readers off. This damages your local SEO services.

The location alone dictates the differences in:

  • Dialect;
  • Sentence structure;
  • Colloquialism.

You also have fundamental persona differences that determine the terminologies in the content:

  • Fields of Expertise — Proper usage of jargon makes the copy valuable to a buyer persona who’s an expert.
  • Hobbies — Does the reader value the difference between a latte and a cappuccino? A half and full Windsor knot? Woods and iron golf clubs?
  • Age Copy that targets Gen Z decision-makers requires a solid grasp of the modern digital lingo.

In sum, the buyer persona shapes your content, which in turn appeals to the buyers. You get more qualified leads and better opportunities for conversions.

It follows too, that building such a vital part of content strategy can’t be done overnight. It takes rigorous research and analysis to create an accurate and effective buyer persona.

Part 2: Building a Buyer Persona for Your Brand

A company can have several buyer personas, depending on the products or services offered, as well as the stage in the buyer’s journey. Here’s an example of how to craft a persona for B2B businesses.

Step 1: List the Details You Need

The first step is laying out the details needed for a comprehensive buyer persona.

A. Demographics

Demographics are personal characteristics of your target buyers. It’s safe to say that demographics are more important in B2C profiles than B2Bs. After all, a B2B buyer isn’t making a personal decision — they’re making a choice on behalf of their organization.

Still, there are fundamental differences in the way different groups of people communicate. For instance, a 32-year-old start-up CEO vs. a 60-year-old seasoned counterpart would have different perspectives. So these pieces of information are still valuable:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Address
  • Household income

B. Professional Role

The professional history of a B2B buyer largely determines the tone of the copy. The web content and articles must resonate with the persona’s:

  • Industry — Focus on the nature of the industry (fast-paced vs. relaxed; professional or whimsical, etc.), which impacts the decision of the buyer persona.
  • Job Title — Take note of the persona’s job title, which dictates his or her role in the purchase process.
  • Company Size — Remember the size of the organization the persona is working for, since this determines the type of solutions they need.

C. Goals and Values

The deeper aspects of the persona paint a picture of his or her decision-making process. By aligning your content with the persona’s goals and values, you are more likely to strike a chord and nudge the reader into conversion.

  • What values does the persona hold dear?
  • What personality traits (results-oriented, punctual, meticulous, etc.) can you incorporate in your copy?
  • What are the buyer persona’s professional goals? How will your copy help them achieve these goals?

D. Pain Points

Finally, determine the main pain points of your buyer persona. These lay at the heart of your web copy and blog articles — the pain points are the main motivations for transacting with your company.

  • Productivity — Is there something that prevents their organization from achieving maximum productivity?
  • Process — Are there issues that affect the optimum process flow within their company?
  • Financial — Is there a way to increase their bottom line without sacrificing the quality of their offers?

Step 2: Gather the Information

Once you have a blueprint of all the information you need, you need to fill in the blanks.

A comprehensive buyer persona doesn’t pull information from one source; multiple references are needed to build a complete picture of the person you’re targeting.

Conduct a Survey among Existing Customers

You don’t have to go too far to extract the data you need. Send out online questionnaires to your existing customer base. To increase your response rate, offer a small incentive to your respondents. For instance, everyone who answers the survey gets a free coupon or a small discount.

You can also analyze the information you’ve already captured from your existing customers to reveal trends, especially in demographics. Lead capture forms (web pages or dialog boxes that ask the visitor for information) can also generate data about your customers’ job titles, industry, and company size.

Hold One-on-One Interviews or FGDs

One-on-one interviews or focus group discussions (FGD) require a significant amount of resources, but they also generate huge returns. Face-to-face interactions can reveal rich information about unique pain points and motivations for specific products or services.

Some questions you could explore are:

  • What organizational problems made you seek out the solutions that we offer?
  • What made you switch to us?
  • What difference did our solutions make for your company?
  • How did our solutions make you feel?

Another tip: avoid leading questions. These are questions that suggest an answer and consequently, skew the views of the interviewee. For example:

  • Were you relieved when you found our company?
  • How frustrated were you with your previous vendor?

Collaborate with Your Sales Team

Your client-facing employees have a wealth of information to offer. Consult your sales team about frequently asked questions from customers. These shed light on the customers’:

  • Preferences;
  • Habits;
  • Interests.

Similarly, you can also work with your employees who generate business data, like points of sale systems and website analytics, to further enrich your buyer persona.

Listen on Social Networking Platforms

If your customers spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, then these social spaces are a goldmine of customer information.

Key in target terms and phrases related to your industry and the problems you seek to solve. Survey how people talk about them. Better yet, be proactive and ask them about their specific issues.

Step 3: Build the Buyer Persona

Now that you’ve gathered hefty information about your buyer persona, it’s time to build a profile. Simple as it may sound, there’s still a systematic way to put together the results of your research.

  • Choose a Template for Your Profile. There are countless buyer persona profiles available online, which provide a ready-made, attractive file that you can easily cascade to your sales and digital marketing team.
  • Give Your Persona a Name. Make the name as real as possible to condition your teams that it’s a real person.
  • Sketch Out the Details. Group the following items together:

○       Demographic Details — Lay out everything in a list-like manner, similar to a resume.

○       Professional Role — Paint a clear picture of the persona’s role in the company.

○       Goals and Motivations — Write a paragraph that summarizes what moves the persona towards a decision.

○       Pain Points — Enumerate their main concerns and add a description.

○       Hobbies — Throw in a little more color to your persona by stating their hobbies.

  • Give the Persona a Photo. The final touch of the profile is the photo, which makes it easier for your marketers to craft tailored content.

Incorporate Your Buyer Persona into Your Strategy

Once you’ve polished your buyer persona, you’re ready to incorporate it into your marketing efforts. With a clear picture of the person you’re talking to, your marketing team is better placed to create content that piques interests, solves problems, and converts readers into loyal customers.

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