Developing Digital Personas
The topic for this issue of Studio News will focus on ‘Developing Digital Personas’. I have decided to write about this topic in direct response to requests from companies I have spoken to over the last number of months. Quite a number of these companies were very dubious about the effectiveness of social media communication, due to the low response rate or engagement they were achieving themselves.
When we looked into this with them in more detail, it was clear they were blanket posting 3-4 times per week with no sense of strategy, targeting or action behind the posts. There are a number of challenges within this statement, but for the purposes of this article, I will focus only on the importance of beginning all digital activity with the customer in mind, followed by a very clear, systematic and measurable targeting strategy.
So what is a Digital Persona?
A persona is a fictional character that has been developed to capture the main characteristics of your target audience. A Digital Persona takes this one step further, and includes how the target market use and interact online. The Irish Digital Marketing Institute defines a digital persona as “a profile that represents your ideal customer. By creating your own buyer personas, you’ll gain the ability to tailor your marketing efforts and connect with your target audience to meet their needs and solve their problems”. The objective of developing a detailed persona is to facilitate effective communication, engagement and action – it really is that simple!
Its important to bear in mind that most companies and products have a number of different target markets, all with very different needs. With that in mind, it is critical to develop a persona to represent each of your target markets. Remember however that three to four buyer personas usually account for over 90% of your company’s sales, so your focus needs to be on these.
So where do I Start?
Your first task will be to give each of your personas a name; while this might come across as a bit corny and perhaps not even relevant, by actually naming your persona, you bring them to life. This will encourage you to humanize your marketing efforts. Don’t worry about having every characteristic 100% correct – even within clearly defined target markets, individual behaviours will vary. Go with what you feel are the most representative characteristics and the insights will emerge from these.
Once you have chosen your persona names, get going on the following data:
• Within the business context, focus on their company size, sector, etc
• Within a personal context, focus on their role – working mum/dad, stay at home mum/dad
• Salary or combined household income
• Location: urban, suburban or rural region
• Level of education
• Family size
Goals and Challenges
• What drives your target market in their work life?
• What drives your target market in their personal life?
• What do they find challenging?
• How can you/your business help them?
• Main personal and work values
• Common objections during sales process
• Online behaviour
• Where they get their news
• Blogs they read
• Social media channels they use
Well done – you have now defined your 3-4 business personas! Think about how you might describe or communicate your product or services to each of these personas. Put your knowledge and information to use and determine the best ways to meet the needs of each type of customer.
Where do I get all this Information on my Target Audience?
If you’re reading this thinking, all very well, but I actually don’t have access to a lot of that information, fear not! Most of this information is readily available (If however you find you really don’t have access to some of the resources below, it might be time to review your market and customer intelligence systems).
A very good tool to help you with defining your digital persona’s is Social Bakers. This tool provides artificial intelligence software which can analyse your social media and website audience to provide you with some very accurate insights.
Your web developer is likely to have set up google analytics when your website went live; if not, this is something to ask them to do immediately. Google Analytics is a free tool, and provides a wealth of information about your customers across a wide spectrum of variables. Key information that Google Analytics will tell you includes your digital customer’s age, gender, affinity and technology (and loads more besides).
These statistics will give you a fantastic start on developing your personas – you can see where your visitors came from, what keywords they used to find you, and how long they spent once they arrived. You will also be able to discern the key reason your audience visited your site as well as the tools they used to get there.
Social media Channels
You can also find out a lot about your various customer groups on your social media channels. Use social media listening to find your potential customers asking questions or airing problems your product can solve on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.
Involve your Team in Creating Profiles
Get your entire team together — all disciplines should feed into this process. Anyone with interactions with customers and customer data should be involved in sharing their perspective on what makes your customers tick.
Ask your Audience Questions
While this can be time-consuming, there is nothing better than asking your customers direct questions when developing their personas! Who knows your customers better than they know themselves? Surveys and interviews are often a critical component to building a useful marketing persona. In particular, interviews can reveal deep insight into your customers since you can really dig into their answers and follow up with the goals, values, and pain points that will resonate the most with them.
So get started on defining your target market personas this week – it will take some time to master, but keeping the ‘reason why’ close to your process will allow for a really effective outcome.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on personas and any experience you have had developing them; any queries you have, we’d be delighted to have a chat with you.