A successful content marketing strategy should generate greater brand awareness, increased engagement and - ultimately - improve sales figures.
Sounds like great news for all kinds of businesses, right? But how exactly do you get there?
A crucial first step on the road to attaining these goals is to clarify and define exactly whose attention you are trying to gain.
This highly sought-after audience - to whom you are marketing your products and services - is defined as your target market. Beyond defining this demographic, the next step is to deep-dive into a segmentation, or categorisation activity, to understand what makes each of your personas tick - so you can better tailor your marketing program.
What are buyer personas?
Ardath Albee of the Content Marketing Institute explains: “A buyer persona is a complete sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes you need personas to help deliver content that will be the most relevant and useful to your audience.”
An effective buyer persona should avoid generic ideas often associated with your target demographic and focus on specific insights.
The more detailed understanding you are able to gain about your customer base, the more likely you will be able to utilise these insights to create highly-targeted marketing strategies and campaigns.
What data should inform your buyer personas?
To create a robust buyer persona is to understand who they are, and exactly what triggers are likely to influence their purchasing decisions.
Using this information to inform your content creation will increase the chances that your audience will listen and act.
According to Adele Revella at the Content Marketing Institute, a buyer persona should "leap beyond the demographic data and examine what your chosen market segment thinks about your product, what alternative solutions are available on the market and what finally convinces them to make a purchase."
For the greatest impact consider:
The problems or objects that your buyers devote their time and budget toward
Social or political issues that interest or impact them
General interests: the topics that dominate their social conversations
What obstacles do you face in selling your brand: the barriers that may prevent buyers from engaging with your solution
The buying process of your personas when determining the best product or service to purchase
What metrics or rewards are commonly associated with success for your target market - a promotion, discount coupon, etc
Don’t make assumptions about your buyer demographic.
A sound buyer persona therefore includes both social and demographic factors, interests and hobbies as well as deeper insights into buyer behaviour.
How do you create the right buyer personas for your business?
For the greatest success when creating your buyer personas, focus on the most important segments. No more than three to five personas are recommended for one business during any campaign.
To work out who exactly these three to five buyer personas should represent, go straight to the source.
Consider your ideal client or - if you are a more established business - break down your CRM. Check out who is engaging most with your content. Keep an eye out for any clear and consistent trends including how certain groups find and consume your current content.
Don’t forget data is everywhere: examine your existing social profiles, website analytics and any current digital marketing data or sales figures. If you have the budget, consider focus groups - an great way to glean excellent and honest insights.
When creating each new persona, start out with the basics. Take note of age, gender, job title, job description and location. Once you have determined the top groupings based on these demographics, it is time to go back to the data.
Examine how each of these groups of buyers or prospective buyers work through your current buyer journey. Take the time to conduct interviews and build surveys to gain as much information about your chosen market segment as possible.
Broader market research is vital to generating a highly targeted buyer persona.
Here is an example of a persona we created here at Content Empire:
Client: A Melbourne-based university targeting prospective female student enrolments in their undergraduate Bachelor of Health Promotion degree course.
Year 12 student completing the Victorian Certificate of Education
Works hard at school and generally achieves above average grades
Maybe studying a science subject, as well as PE or Health and Human Development. She enjoys research-based projects more than tests and exams.
Resides with her parents in the Melbourne metropolitan area
Works part-time, in a retail environment (eg supermarket, chain store)
Is known among friends, family and at school to be an effective communicator – both written and verbal
Uses Snapchat as her preferred communication method, also Instagram and Facebook, especially group chats and Facebook Messenger
Enjoys an active lifestyle by going to the gym or playing a team sport in her spare time; is health conscious
Contributes to her community by coaching a junior sports team (eg netball, basketball)
Searching for a career that balances her interest in health and fitness with her personal desire to work in a socially conscious field
Once you have done the hard yards, your newly created buyer personas will ensure you are well equipped to create content, brand messaging, products or services tailored to appeal directly to your targeted audience segment.
Highly targeted content marketing that utilises a strong buyer persona can reduce the cost-per-lead/customer of your digital marketing strategy and result in greater sales productivity.