As marketers, we are always wondering how to make our marketing messages more appealing to the target customer. What is the best way to engage our audience on social media platforms? Which platform to use for building brand awareness? The answers to all these questions can be found by creating audience personas.
Whether you call them audience personas, customer personas, marketing personas, or buyer personas, they are the essential building blocks (or foundation) of your marketing operations. By investing the necessary time in creating audience personas, you’ll be able to align your marketing activities with the needs of your target audience. This will help you find more qualified prospects and high-value customers that you’ll be able to retain over time (again with the help of audience personas).
So, the question remains – how do you build detailed audience personas?
We’re here to break down the whole process for you. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the essential steps for creating audience personas that will be practically useful for your streamlining your content marketing efforts.
How is your audience persona different from your target audience?
Many marketers often confuse audience personas with target audiences. It’s important to understand here that your target audience is always much broader than the audience persona. When you think of your target audience, you would have a group of people in mind that share similar behaviors and demographics. With audience personas, on the other hand, you would be honing in on a fictionalized person that will best represent your ideal audience. It is not just a broad overview of your audience, but a finer examination of their unique demographic features, behaviors, challenges, interests, goals, and more. When you create an audience persona, you’re thinking of a distinct person, their thoughts, feelings, and interests.
Audience Persona – Traits
As digital marketing expert, Ardath Albee, defines it –
“A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience.”
Here are the traits that go into making an audience persona –
- Demographic details: This consists of your ideal audience’s median age, occupation, financial status, family system, marital status, etc.
- Behavioral traits: There are certain behaviors that your ideal audience is more likely to exhibit when they’re faced with some circumstances. By understanding their behavior, you can influence your audience’s buying decisions.
- Interests: Your audience persona is a representation of an actual person, which means that they’ll have some hobbies, interests, and things that capture their attention. It’s important to understand the interests of your ideal audience, even if they are not related to your product/service.
- Pain points: This is probably the most important aspect of your audience persona, as it is their pain points that will drive them to indulge or avoid certain things. The pain points are essentially the problems your ideal audience encounters every day. Understanding their pain paints will help you devise better ways to attract and engage them.
- Motivations and goals: Your audience persona should also have some goals, both short and long-term. These dreams and motivations also affect their buying decisions.
- Name: If you are creating more than one persona, it’s always useful to give them a name. By giving them a name, you’ll be able to dive into the marketing psychology of targeting more effectively. The audience persona name can be anything, as long as it allows you to differentiate them from the rest.
- Face: This is not a necessity, but giving a visual identity to your audience persona can make it more realistic. The face can even be from any of the stock images that you’ll find online. The whole point of this exercise is to design an ideal customer as a real person so that the marketing messages can be decided accordingly.
Other Personas Besides Audience Personas
While creating an audience persona is our main goal here, it would be useful to look beyond the traditional marketing personas. Here are some other personas you might want to consider –
- Influencers: These are personas that don’t buy a product directly but influence the buyers in their purchase decisions. Because of the influence they wield on the buyers, it’s a good idea to invest some time in developing influencer personas.
- Detractors: These are people who have the power to derail sales even when the buyer persona is all for it. You can think of them as the antithesis of influencers. Detractors are quite common in B2B sales because of the multiple people involved and the longer sales cycle.
- Anti-Personas: The name probably explains it all. Anti-personas are those that are left after you’ve identified your audience personas. These are the people that you wouldn’t be targeting in your marketing efforts.
How to build audience personas?
Here is the step-by-step process of building your audience personas –
Step 1: Conduct in-depth research about your target audience
To build your audience persona, you would first have to find out exactly what makes your marketing audience tick. And that is not a small task by any means. But it’s not very complicated either. Researching your target audience is mostly about expanding your reach even as you narrow your area of concentration. You would essentially have to gather useful data that will help you build your audience personas. Here are the sub-steps for audience research –
a. Collect data from your existing customers and audience: You can start your audience research by looking into the audiences and customers you already have. Start by compiling the data from your followers on social media channels and those that are buying your products/services through offline or online channels. The important data points to collect are –
- Spending powers and patterns
- Their concerns and challenges
- Stage of life
b. Use social listening to monitor your audiences’ conversations: Social listening takes into account, hashtags, keywords, product mentions, and more to find out what your audience is saying about you and your competitors. With social listening, you can uncover your brand mentions online and respond, analyze and track those conversations to better understand your audience.
c. Research the commonly used channels of your audience: Find out where your audience is hanging out online, especially the social media channels.
d. Research your competitors: Most likely, you and your competitors will share the same audience, so it would be a good idea to research what your competitors’ audiences. This exercise will help you uncover some audience segments that you might not have even considered previously.
Step 2: Identify your key customer segments
If your product/service caters to a particular market segment, then this step can be skipped. But if your use of your product/service applies to many industries, then it’s important to segment your target audience. After you’ve decided on your audience, you can narrow it down it identify the key customer segments in the following way –
a. Compile customer list: Start by compiling the list of customers with the information collected in the previous steps. Include their demographic information, the percentage of sales that come through them, and their engagement information.
b. Examine the list at the industry level: After you’ve compiled the list, the next thing you need to do is analyze the information according to the average revenue (by industry), number of customers (by industry), number of customers (by country), etc. The goal here is to identify the trends and gain valuable insights about the most profitable customer segments.
c. Evaluate the list at the individual level: After identifying the customer segments at the industry level, you can narrow down the list further by identifying the customer segments at the individual level. This can be better understood with the help of an example. For instance, if your target segment at industry level was marketing agencies, you would need to identify people in the marketing agencies that would be the primary users of your product/service. Identify their department, job title, and seniority.
Step 3: Identify your target customers’ goals and pain points
As we’ve already stated before, you need to understand the pain points and goals of your target audience segments to build your audience persona. Start by learning about the challenges faced by your potential customers, and what’s stopping them from achieving their goals. Their goals can be professional or personal, depending on the type of product/service you offer. So, in this step, it’s all about learning your customers’ problems, motivations, and end game. When you understand the challenges and goals of your customers, you’ll be able to create an audience persona that is a true representation of your target audience.
So how do you gather this information? Here’s how –
- Social listening to understand the concerns of your customers
- Customer service teams can provide you with audience insights
- Interviews and surveys can be useful for learning the pain points and motivations of the customer from the customer directly.
Step 4: Decide how you want to pitch your product/service
By now, you must’ve developed a better understanding of the goals and pain points of your customers. This will help you decide the best way to pitch your product/service so that it can address their concerns. This is the main reason why you are creating your audience personas. To get a clearer picture, create a clear outline based on these questions –
- How your product can help your customers?
- What are some of the purchasing barriers that your audience will face?
- At what stage of the purchasing journey are your prospects
Once you have a clearer picture of your product/service as a solution to the audience’s needs, you can start building your audience persona.
Step 5: Creating your audience persona
After you’ve completed all your research, it’s time to gather all the audience information to identify the common characteristics. By listing the commonalities, you’ll be able to build a consumer archetype from the collected data. After identifying the commonalities, segment them into groups to separate different audience personas. By segmenting the marketing personas, you’ll be able to customize your marketing message to fit their needs. And the last step of this process is building a story around the audience persona. Up until now, you had audience personas built on certain common characteristics. By composing a story for each group, you’ll be able to give them a face, name, and identity.
And that’s it, you will now have some audience personas to guide your marketing strategy. You can get to creating value propositions around these audience personas to connect your product/solution to your customers’ problems and needs.
This covers everything you need to know about building audience personas. It’s important to remember that content marketing works best when you write specifically to address the needs of your audience. By crafting your audience personas meticulously, you’d be able to better identify the motivation and interests of your audience. You’ll also be able to ensure that you’re communicating with them on their own terms. So use the tips given in this article to get started with your audience personas today!