How to Use Personas in Digital Marketing

Jonathan Rhoades / September 11, 2019

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Your brand’s marketing strategy is only as effective as its understanding of your target audience. The better you know your customers, the better you’ll be able to create messaging that speaks to their needs.

This is where personas in digital marketing come into play. Many brands use personas as a way to humanize the group of people that they’re speaking to and to better tailor their marketing efforts to the needs of their audience. Here’s a look at how personas work, and how you should use them to shape your marketing strategy.

What is a digital marketing persona, anyway?

A marketing persona is a fictional profile of someone who represents your target customer, or at least one of your target customers. A business may have one persona that encapsulates their entire audience, or they might have different types of people they’re speaking to at the same time.

What makes these personas distinct from one another are the specific pain points and challenges they face, and the benefits they would receive by doing business with your company.

The goal of creating these personas is to do a better job of creating marketing content that speaks directly to each persona’s needs, in hopes of increasing your marketing ROI and improving customer satisfaction.

Why personas should come before strategy development

Some business owners misunderstand the role of personas and believe they’re something that should be created during the course of developing a marketing strategy. In reality, these personas should be created before strategy development takes place.

As Social Media Today points out, the reason for prioritizing personas ahead of strategy is that the personas dictate the type of strategy you will create. Your marketing content and campaigns will all be targeted to specific personas, so if you’re developing a marketing strategy without personas, you’re essentially developing campaign ideas without an end goal in mind.

Personas provide structure and focus to your marketing strategy, helping you build campaigns and content that directly address your audience’s pain points.

Types of buyer personas

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating personas, but a general approach to creating these personas is to talk about the different types of customers you’re looking to attract. For example, if you’re a toy or family entertainment brand, you probably want to create personas that target both the parents and the children.

Demographic information such as education, income level, career type, age, and gender can be helpful in creating personas and crafting content that connects with those audience members. For B2B companies, you want to create personas that target different decision makers in an organization: small business owners, SMB and enterprise executives, managers, and so on. Given the unique role, professional challenges, and decision-making power each persona has, the marketing strategy used to generate appeal with each persona will be different.

A combination of research, customer surveys, and first-party data can be used to create informed, accurate personas.

Using personas in digital marketing is the best way to ensure that your marketing is relevant to your audience and focused on driving ROI. In general, the practice of sitting down to better understand your customers is always a good thing for any business. The more you listen and seek to understand the deeper pain points and motivations of your target audience, the better you’ll become at providing the perfect answer to their needs.

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