In order to get positive results from content marketing, you must first know your audience. This is why creating audience personas should be the first step when developing a content marketing strategy.
Audience personas are representations of brands' ideal customers and based on data and demographics from their current audience base. Once developed, the personas help content marketers produce material that guides consumers through the sales cycle. This means that the more details marketers know about the customers within his or her target audience, the better he or she will be able to market exclusively to that audience.
Luckily, content marketers have an abundance of analytics readily available, making it a perfect starting point for developing audience personas. Learn more about the process below:
1. Dig through Data
Demographic data is key when creating audience personas. Marketers should sift through their analytics to discover the most common attributes of their regular buyers, such as age, gender, location, education, job title, industry, salary range, etc.
It is important to note, however, that marketers will likely need to make multiple personas in order to represent their audience base adequately. For example, if data reveals that a natural food store's main customers are stay-at-home mothers and single men who recently graduated from college, marketers should create personas for each group, such as "Mommy Mary" and "Graduate Greg." By doing this, content marketers will be able to identify the needs of each persona in order to produce content that targets each group.
2. Solve Some Problems
Once the user personas start to take form, the next step is to identify the needs of each group. A combination of hypothesizing and leveraging analytics can answer a few basic questions, such as:
1) What does a specific group need?
2) What is the group typically searching for?
3) What is a common problem for people within a group?
While an educated guess can answer some of these questions, it is best to use proven data (analytics) whenever possible. For example, if search data reveals that individuals within the "Mommy Mary" persona frequently land on your site while looking up "healthy and kid-friendly recipes," marketers could create an article titled "5 Yummy Broccoli Recipes that Kids Love." This article is not only relevant to mothers, but it also solves a common problem for members within this persona.
3. Study Digital Habits
The next step in developing user personas is to study the digital behavior of each group. This is important because it helps marketers identify where and when each group prefers to consume its content.
Members within the Graduate Greg persona, for instance, may be the most likely to interact with content on social networks, especially visual content like videos. Content marketers should consider this data in order to target this group with videos when producing content. Furthermore, this content should be sent out on social networks at the time of day that Graduate Greg would be most likely to interact with it. This gives the content the best chance of reaching the right audience at the right time, which should increase the content's engagement metrics and conversions.
4. Add It All Up
Once all of the aforementioned questions are answered and the appropriate data has been attributed to each group, content marketers should add up all the information in order to optimize their content production and distribution strategies.
For example, the data may reveal these attributes about the Graduate Greg persona:
1) He is health conscious
2) He tends to purchase frozen dinners
3) He frequently interacts with videos
4) He is most active on Facebook and Twitter on weekdays between 3-5 p.m.
This information helps marketers produce and distribute relevant content to Graduate Greg. For instance, marketers could produce a series of video tutorials titled "Meals for Men: 20-minute Recipes with Five Ingredients or Less." Once this series is created, the marketer should distribute one video a day within every channel (email, social, blog, etc.). However, in order to target Graduate Greg specifically, the marketer should post the video on Facebook around 3 p.m. and on Twitter around 4:30 p.m. (or vice versa). This not only provides the content with the best chance of being seen by the right audience, but it can also influence Graduate Greg to purchase the ingredients for one of his favorite tutorial's tasty recipes.
As you can see, developing robust audience personas is arguably the most important step of the process, because content marketing is easily the most effective when there is a strategy behind it.