How to Build Better Buyer Personas to Drive Killer Content

    by Sarah Goliger

    Date

    January 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM

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    Pick any day of the week, and there’s one thing on every inbound marketer’s to-do list:  creating new content . Marketers used to create content only when it suited their company’s internal needs – say, when they had a new product to promote. Well, inbound marketing forces you to give up that approach. But constantly coming up with new content can be overwhelming, and if you panic and start pushing out content that’s a bad fit for your audience, you risk attracting the wrong kind of visitor while driving away high-quality prospects.

    That's why, like publishers, inbound marketers must have a detailed picture of their target audience in order to create optimal content for them. The best way to understand your audience is to build buyer personas with these 3 steps: segment by demographics, identify their needs, and develop behavior-based profiles.

    1. Segment by Demographics

    Who are your ideal customers and prospects? What are their biggest concerns, needs, and interests? Where can you reach them – on search engines , social media , or blogs – and what kinds of content do they prefer? These types of questions will help you develop buyer personas.

    Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

    Start developing personas by researching your existing customer base to identify the most common buyers for your products and services. You may have several different types of buyers, so give each one a detailed description, including name, job title or role, industry or company info, and demographic info.

    For example, a community bank’s biggest customers may include small business owners and mothers managing the bank accounts for a family of four. In this case, the bank’s marketers might name these personas “Business Owner Bob” and “Martha, the Busy Mom,” and extrapolate details about their responsibilities, the typical size of their business or household income, what geographic region they’re in, and so on.

    2. Identify Their Needs

    Based on those profiles, you can outline the pains, needs, and challenges of each persona by asking yourself several important questions:

    • What are the biggest problems they are trying to solve?
    • What do they need most?
    • What information are they typically searching for?
    • What trends are influencing their business or personal success?

    Analyzing the path that prospects take on the journey to becoming a customer is a great way to get insights about the needs and challenges of your target audience. If you use a marketing platform like HubSpot , you can see which search terms brought prospects to your site, how long they stayed on your site, which pieces of content they viewed, and which forms they’ve filled out. Such lead intelligence will help you make better decisions when identifying the characteristics of your ideal customers and ways to nurture your new prospects.

    3. Develop Behavior-Based Profiles

    Next, develop a profile of each persona’s typical online behavior. You know who they are and what their needs are, now think about all the ways they research a potential purchase on your site or on others. Here are suggestions of the questions you should ask:

    • What do they do online? Do they read blogs? Are they active on  Twitter , Facebook , or other social networks? What kind of search terms do they use? Are they email newsletter subscribers?
    • What kind of information do they tend to consume online? Educational pieces? Trend articles? Interactive tools like calculators or worksheets? Do they watch videos or listen to podcasts?
    • Which of your products do they spend the most time researching? How do they use those products?

    The result of this process should be a detailed description of your personas’ demographics, needs, and behavior. The more detail you pack into your persona development, the easier it will be to create content for each of your target customer segments and know where to promote it.

    Don't look now, but you just put yourself on the path to a killer content strategy.

    This post is an adapted excerpt from our free ebook,  A Practical Guide to Killer Marketing Content .  To learn more about keeping those great content ideas flowing,  download the free ebook here!

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