by Carly Reeves
Developing a digital strategy can be an overwhelming task. A quick search on Google will yield thousands of results about what to do, when to do it, and where to put your focus first. Before you consider which tactic you will pursue first, you must first do your research about your audience – how they use the internet, what they are interested in, what types of content they consume, and how you can answer their questions or solve their problems. This is accomplished by creating marketing personas.
A persona is a singular profile of a target segment of your audience. This profile includes specifics about this persona that ring mostly true, and will symbolically represent the audience segment. Creating personas is a key step in understanding who your brand is speaking to online and will help you create a custom strategy around that persona. When you know your audience, your marketing strategy will connect with them on a deeper level and build trust.
A persona should answer general questions about how you relate to this customer and be used as a reference touchpoint when creating content and strategy. Consider how each of your personas would answer the following questions.
- What is your job title?
- What is your income?
- What do you value most?
- How do you spend your time when you are not working?
- What is your relationship status?
- What are things you worry about?
- What are things that make you happy?
- What websites do you frequent daily?
- How do you communicate with others?
You can add more questions as it relates to what information you believe best finishes an accurate profile. Do this for each of the major segments of your audience that you would like to target with your online strategy. Track your progress with each segment and adjust your strategy as necessary.
Here are some things to remember when creating your personas:
- Create multiple personas. A retired couple looking to renovate their kitchen will have different needs than a newlywed couple wanting to buy their first home. They consume information differently online, they have different online shopping habits, and how they connect with others will be different as well. If you target both of these segments, you will need different strategies for each. Creating varying personas will help you flesh out your strategy.
- Name your personas. It sounds silly, but naming your personas will allow you to relate to them as people and not generalizations. It also becomes easier to refer to them in planning meetings, rather than listing out all their details. Millennial Molly, Boomer Bob, and Veteran Vince are all examples of persona names that use descriptors and personal names for reference.
- Add a picture to your persona one-sheet. Just like naming your persona, adding a photo is a way to help you relate to the persona as actual people rather than a generic profile. You can use stock photos or Google image searches to find what you think your persona would look like as a real person.
- Alter your personas when you receive new information. With research and knowing your customer base, you will get pretty close to creating accurate personas; however, new information may become available to you that changes something for that specific segment.
- Use free tools like the Hubspot Marketing Persona generator to create persona one- sheets that are easy to reference, and walk you through the steps in an easy to use application.
- Don’t get too specific. Personas are meant to represent the major segments of your audience, not the outliers.
By creating personas, you set the foundation for your overall strategy. Understanding when, how, and where to connect with each segment of your audience will be key in fleshing out a thorough and effective online marketing strategy.
Carly Reeves is the vice president for digital advertising agency 2930 Creative. Based in Dallas, the agency specializes in creating insightful content aimed at millennials and underserved markets.