When it comes to developing a marketing strategy, it’s the right time to start observing your target audience. After you’ve already defined your customer base, you might have realized that it won’t be reasonable to talk to everyone in the same way. You need to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. To help you nail this, we’re coming with a series of articles on how you can use buyer personas to understand your target market better, what personas exactly are and why they are such a powerful tool.
What Exactly Is a Marketing Persona?
Buyer, Customer, or Marketing Persona represents a modern tool for a deeper understanding of customer or user group. You can create a fictitious person for each customer or an archetype representing a target group’s key traits.
“Personas are detailed descriptions of imaginary people constructed out of well-understood, highly specified data about real people.”John Pruitt, Tamara Adlin: The Persona Lifecycle
The primary purpose of marketing personas is to identify what lies behind customers’ purchase decisions. You can think of them as a bridge between the worlds of marketing and product development. Once you understand what your customer’s buying intentions are, you get the opportunity to design a perfect product and propose a perfect message of how this product fits into their lives. What’s more, personas development is an excellent tool for personalizing the target audience’s experience to build trust and foster stronger consumer loyalty.
When explaining the term “personas,” you can often run into the definition of “ideal customers.” However, such a definition leads to a false idealization of the consumer. Even if the people of the imaginary profiles represent the target group, they should never be just a fantasy product. On the contrary, they should be the result of working with data-driven research. Conducting such consumer research is time-consuming and challenging, but obtained data are undoubtedly worth all your effort and investments.
Why Are Marketing Personas Important?
Every marketing and product team member must be well acquainted with what their goals and priorities precisely are. To achieve this, the understanding for whom they create the product or service is crucial, which is where marketing personas come into play.
In order to retain your customers over time, you have to gain a thorough insight into their lives. Therefore, empathy is one of the core pillars of successful alignment with your target audience. To become an effective and empathetic marketer, you must become an excellent listener. The main goal is to craft messages tailored to the customer’s interests and needs. Hence, you need to understand how your customers think and how they perceive the world around them. You need to comprehend what their attitudes, beliefs, desires, needs, and pains are. And whether you realize it or not, imagining people is a fundamental part of every marketer’s job so that you can perfectly match your portfolio to your customers’ needs.
Personas in the Age of Personalization
More than any other department, marketing must constantly evolve to consumer trends to maintain its efficiency and consistency. Decades of research have shown us that we truly live in the age of personalization. Consumers express a desire for a personal touch in communication and want to feel like they “matter.” They become more emotionally involved. The desire for customization and flexible consumption has never been greater. Using the personas approach contributes to producing such relevant content. Keyword overstuffed and sales content, clickbait media posts, and email blasts are not enough anymore, thankfully.
“Personalization is impossible if marketers don’t have the means to understand the needs of high-value customers on an ongoing basis. Top marketers are constantly developing systems that can pool and analyze data that can identify behavioral patterns and customer propensity.”
McKinsey & Company
The Fine Line Between Target Audience and Personas
After reading previous lines, you may have asked yourself a question: “OK, but what’s the difference between a target group and a persona?”
“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time.”Ann Handley
Let’s look at the following example:
Our customer base represents married women aged 30 to 40 living in urban areas in Czechia. They have two children and a net income above 1,000 EUR. However, this rather demographic segmentation description is insufficient when you try to create a proper promotion with relevant content and targeting. That’s when psychographic segmentation variables come to the fore.
On the other hand, personas refine your customers’ perception and help you to understand their behavior patterns. Imagine a 40-year-old potential female customer from Prague who values her job above the needs of a family, likes reading fashion magazines and spends 5 hours a day on social media. Then think of another 35-year-old woman who lives in the suburbs, finds fulfillment in family and community, enjoys reading self-development books, and lives an active lifestyle. Although both belong to the same target group, you’d probably focus on different communication styles and promotions to meet their preferences and affinities.
Clearly, your target audience will never consist of only one type of persona. It’s necessary and widespread to create a number of specific personas within a particular segmentation group to whom you want to appeal. The difference may, for example, lie in different job roles or the different purchasing process.
The Benefits of Creating Marketing Personas
Adele Ravella, author and CEO of Buyer Persona Institute, states that creating personas means identifying buyers’ insights to help you make effective and defensible marketing decisions. She lists some of the benefits that the personas approach brings along:
- Creating effective messaging
- Generating high-quality leads
- Shortening the sales cycle
- Resolving ties between your company’s products and those of the competition
- Identifying which types of buyers you need to influence and how to reach them.
We want to add that thoughtfully using personas may also facilitate user-oriented communication within the organization and improve its bottom line.
If you still feel a bit skeptical about persona perspectives, here are a few reasons to believe:
- 98% of marketers said personalization helps advance and nurture customer relationships
- 90% of the top-performing B2B content marketers put their audience’s informational needs first, precisely through buyer personas
- 86% of consumers claimed that personalization impacts their buying decisions
- Buyers are 48% more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues
- Using personas increased customer engagement almost six-fold when targeting cold leads and increases email open rate 2-5 times
- 56% of companies have created higher quality leads using personas
- Personas based content increased website generated sales by 124%
- 20% revenue increase through personas.
Well, these are quite the arguments, right? Creating a buyer persona simply makes sense.
…marketing personas unify your marketing strategy and specify audience definitions across all involved departments. They prevent undesirable and ineffective communication with your consumer base and help you rally everybody around a customer-centric vision. Last but not least, personas enable you to deliver a tremendous and personalized experience that boosts your company’s sustainable growth. All that’s left is to go and make them.
Our next article guides you through a six-step process of creating an amazing marketing persona template.