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The Ultimate Persona Canvas To Help Create Targeted Content For Better-Performing Marketing Campaigns

by Marije Schreur, on Nov 21, 2020 3:05:49 PM

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“Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books,” says children’s author Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, discussing why children seem to enjoy books about relatable characters doing every day, mundane activities such as going to school, or to the library. The persona canvas created for the character fits perfectly with the day-to-day experiences of these children. Kids enjoy reading about themselves. 

Today’s customers are the same. They engage more with content when that content is relatable; when it’s been tailored to them with personalised messages that resonate. Targeted content is the key to improving marketing campaign performance, but unless marketers know who their readers are, it’s difficult to tell a story that meets their needs. 

Knowing Your Customers

Understanding the customer is the core foundation of the inbound methodology, and the first step towards gaining this understanding is to develop buyer personas that incorporate what you know about your audience from the marketing data you hold. The truth is that you may have more than one possible target audience pool that you’re striving to connect with. Does that mean that you need to develop personas for each pool?

No. Instead, you can work to develop a strong persona framework that can be adapted for each potential pool that you want to engage with. When done right, the overall buyer persona shouldn’t change much, but it may allow you to account for minor differences between buyers that facilitate the creation of highly targeted content. 

Building a Persona Framework

A persona framework is a set structure that allows marketers to form detailed pictures of potential prospects. While different organisations will undoubtedly use different frameworks, insights firm Forrester outlines four core elements making up any good base:

1. Functional Attributes

This is what most people automatically think of when they hear ‘buyer persona’; the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ of the target audience. Determining functional attributes, such as age, location, employment, relationship status, financial status, and other basic demographic information, is the natural starting point of any good persona framework. Functional attributes provide a foundation on which to further develop into niche areas. 

2. Emotive Attributes

Looking into the emotive attributes of potential customers allows marketers to gain a more in depth understanding of what customers want, what they’re looking for from businesses, and what ultimately drives them. This is a good opportunity to determine the current challenges, needs and expectations of prospects, which can form the basis of a targeted content marketing strategy that addresses challenges and offers solutions. 

3. Decision Process Attributes

This stage of the framework incorporates decision making behaviours into the structure, forcing marketers to question how their target audience makes decisions, and what processes they use to form, qualify, and justify their opinions. This can be useful in creating content that specifically guides customers through the content funnel from the initial awareness stage through to evaluation and consideration, and finally to conversion.

4. Behavioural Attributes

Finally, marketers can finish building their persona framework by considering what behaviours their target audience employ in order to make their decisions. For example, how do they engage with businesses? What channels do they use, and where are they most likely to look for the information they need? Who do they ask for help and assistance? Again, this can all go a long way towards developing a tailored strategy.

By combining all four of these attributes, marketers can create an accurate representation of their customers, allowing them to tailor content to their needs. 

Creating Targeted Content

Building a framework isn’t enough. In fact, creating a customer persona is a largely pointless activity if it’s not going to be actioned. Understanding the customer is just the first step; the second step is to use this understanding to deliver personalised messages that attract, engage, delight, and convert customers using the inbound methodology. 

It’s reported that an impressive 79% of customer experience leaders have created customer personas, yet insights firm Gartner questions just how many of those personas are actually actioned. Personas are only as valuable as what you do with them, and one of the most effective ways to action personas is to create highly targeted content. 

Why? Because building personas answers questions such as:

  • What problem does the customer have that they are trying to solve?
  • What obstacles are standing in the way of making a purchase?
  • What channels do customers use for research?
  • What processes do customers use to make a decision?
  • What methods of evaluation do customers use?

Answering these questions is key to developing content that engages with customers at each stage of the buyer journey, to building high performing strategies and campaigns, and allocating both human and financial resources to the most impactful activities. 

Frameworks are Meant to be Built Upon

One of the most important things for marketers to remember is that a framework is just that: a framework. While a persona framework is essential for gaining a better understanding of your customers, personas can change all the time… in fact, some personas may not even exist at all. Incorporating the inbound methodology into your marketing approach means being flexible; it means using personas to form the core foundations of your targeted content strategies, yet still adapting as needed to the real people journeying through the funnel, and meeting their needs at every stage. 

Topics:Inbound MarketingMarketing Strategy


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