We have all heard the mantra: content marketing is only successful if your content is catered specifically to the customer. This isn’t new; your content needs to speak directly to the pain points and challenges your ideal customers are facing, offering the solutions that help them through the buyer’s journey.
A study conducted by Aberdeen Research showed that marketers who use personas and map content to the buyer’s journey enjoy 73 percent higher conversions over those who did not.
To realize this 73 percent, though, you truly need to understand your targets and understand exactly what their challenges are in all areas of the buyer’s journey. That’s where persona-based marketing is best utilized. Here we take a look at the process for creating a persona-based campaign.
Buyer personas are fictionalized representations of your ideal customer, using information developed from market research, customer interviews and trends found in current customer data to categorize contacts into specific marketing segments. Depending on how your company targets specific segments, a buyer persona could be developed based on a number of criteria, including:
You can also exclude people you do not want as customers by creating negative buyer personas. Creating a negative buyer persona allows you to identify those contacts you feel will not make the best fit as a customer and exclude them from persona-targeted campaigns.
The number of personas you have will depend on your specific use case. Generally, it's good practice to identify and focus on two to four personas that are tightly aligned with your business goals.
Knowing where your persona sits in the decision-making process can provide you with vital insight that will help you develop campaign strategy. It is also important to consider the level of influence each persona might have; they might not be the one pulling the trigger but maybe their boss asked them to prime it.
There are many moving parts when it comes to creating a persona-based campaign. Your campaign assets can range from simple batch emails, calls to action and blog posts to more advanced PPC campaigns, dynamic Web pages and automated workflows. Each asset plays a different role in the buyer’s journey, so it is important to understand the role of each asset as you create your campaign.
Before you can create the number of assets that will make up your campaign, you first need to define two things:
These are often challenges or events your persona is facing or a number of actions the prospect/contact has taken. You will want to identify these events (for example, a client project falls through due to poor project management) to provide the persona with the appropriate content/solutions at the time they experience it. Understanding these events and having the content that provides a solution allows you to get in front of the persona when they search for a solution.
Understanding the persona trigger events will then allow you to identify keywords associated with the persona needs. You will want to search for keywords that relate to trigger events and incorporate those keywords into your content in all stages of the buyer's journey.
Once you have a good idea of your persona pain points, the trigger events and the search terms they might be using to look for possible solutions, you need to lay out the campaign elements that will offer the insight your personas are looking for. Here are the main elements required to successfully create a persona-based campaign:
You need to determine what offers or conversion points are most appropriate for the trigger events you have identified. They need to relate to the specific stage of the buyer’s journey the lead might be in.
Blogging is still one of the best ways to generate new leads. Blogs provide rich content indexed by search engines like a webpage. This allows you to essentially create highly targeted webpages tied to the specific pain points or challenges your persona faces.
Some key areas to focus on when trying to develop content for a persona-based campaign include blog topics and blog post titles. Blog topics help you categorize your content with search engines but will also keep you on track with the content you are writing.
Defining blog titles that speak to your persona is also important and warrants a good amount of time to refine. The blog title often will be the determining factor that dictates whether a person clicks to your post. Blog titles should be clear and concise and incorporate the topics, content and keywords your persona might be searching for.
Email can be used to nurture existing contacts and help move them through the buyer’s journey. You will want to create emails segmented according to your buyer personas that provide relevant content offers in a tone that is appropriate to the audience. (If you want to get fancy, you might even step it up with an automated nurturing campaign based on a trigger event!)
Like your blogs and emails, you also want to create a dynamic web experience with your website pages. HubSpot as well as other COS/CMS systems have the ability to create smart content on the pages of your website. You might add some personalization to your services or solutions pages, display specific messaging when a certain persona visits the page, or you might implement smart CTAs that change based on the persona viewing it or the stage the contact is in within the buyer's journey.
Once you have identified your content pieces, you will next need to consider how to get that content in front of your personas. You need to identify an owned, earned and paid media strategy you can utilize to successfully distribute your campaign assets. So far, we have mostly looked at owned media sources—your website and your blog—but owned media also includes social media pages and owned brand communities. Obviously, you will want to harness owned media sources as much as possible since there are limited barriers and your owned sources are a great way to further nurture existing customers. It is important to note that even though you might own these media sources, owned media is not free.
You might also look into paid media sources like paid search, direct mail, partner association opportunities or more traditional forms of advertising (print, television, radio). These paid media sources will help you connect with your buyer, make an impact, then bring them to your site and convert them to a lead.
Lastly, there is earned media and your super fans. Simply put, earned media is the result of your other efforts. Write great content that your target market loves, and they will share it within their networks. Earned media includes everything from social media mentions to Web discussions, guest blog opportunities and buyer reviews. It is important you monitor these mentions and engage in the conversation.
There are many moving parts to create a persona-based campaign. You first need to have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is and what attributes make up that customer. Then you need to determine ways to segment your database into specific personas.
Once you have your personas, you then can identify the trigger events they face or perform, understand what those mean, and develop a content strategy around these events. It should offer the right solution at the right time at the right place. Once your personas engage with your offers, you need to continue to provide relevant, solution-based content, that aids your personas with their challenges while helping them progress through the buyer's journey. But it all starts with creating your personas. Begin crafting yours with this guide.