How to Build and Use Personas to Support Digital Marketing

When marketing teams need to promote a product, they need a clear vision of the person who might buy it. Building clear personas can help. Personas are representations of the potential buyers and users of a product. Marketers can ask themselves these questions to create and benefit from powerful personas.

What types of personas are needed?

Marketing teams should evaluate whether they need combined or separate buyer and user personas. For some products, the buyer persona and the user persona are the same, which is common for B2C products. For instance, someone who buys a gym membership is also the person who uses that membership.

For other products, the buyer persona and the user persona are different. For example, an office manager chooses a video conferencing service for all of a company’s employees. One person decides on a restaurant for dinner for a group of six friends. Or a parent sends birthday cupcakes to an out-of-state college student.

How many personas are needed?

There may be multiple buyer and user personas marketers would like to reach. For example, think of the range of personas needed to represent a grocery store’s shoppers. Some are price conscious, while some choose the store closest to where they live without considering cost. Some value fresh produce; others want hot-prepared meals. Building personas to represent these customers helps target marketing efforts.

Marketing teams need to engage stakeholders to help identify the various personas. Representatives from a company’s various departments and teams all have insight about customers and what’s behind their motivation to purchase products. Ideally, marketing teams should gather a representative sample of stakeholders, from top executives to customer service representatives, to share their thoughts about who buys the product and why.

What characteristics should be included in each persona?

A well-written persona gives marketing teams insight into customers’ demographics, motivation, and pain points. Personas will be different for every company and product. Commonly covered characteristics include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Income
  • Household size and makeup
  • Location
  • Race/cultural background
  • Hobbies/activities
  • Social media activity
  • Preferred methods for accessing information (video, audio, text, etc.)
  • How and why they need the product
  • Challenges or pain points with the product

If existing customers have provided data in online surveys or user profiles, marketers can use that information to flesh out the personas. Ideally, personas should include a lot of detail so marketing efforts can be tailored appropriately. Marketing teams often include stock photos of people who represent their personas.

For example, consider a marketing team wanting to drive new customers to a gym. One persona might be Rebecca Runner, a woman in her 30s who typically runs a few miles in the mornings before going to her job as a teacher. She needs another place to exercise when there is bad weather. She has two young children, so a gym with childcare is a must. She doesn’t think she will use the gym frequently, so she doesn’t want to spend too much money on a membership. She’s active on Instagram and likes to listen to podcasts when she drives to and from work, as well as when she runs.

Once personas are created, what happens next?

How marketing teams use personas depends on the personas’ characteristics and where they fall in the marketing funnel. Marketing to someone who is unaware of a product is different from marketing to someone who is ready to make a buying decision or to someone who is in between those stages.

At the awareness stage, it is imperative for marketers to get their products noticed. That might mean posting regularly on the social platforms where their personas — and customers — are active, exploring other digital platforms, and potentially seeking strategic partnerships. At this stage, marketers should focus on their differentiators to grab prospective customers’ attention.

How should a persona evolve?

As marketers sell more products and gather more information about their personas, they may find that personas change. They might discover their personas use different social media channels, are willing to spend more money, or make buying decisions more quickly. With this data, marketing teams can change personas, add new personas, or remove personas.

Let Imaginari help

For marketers trying to build effective personas, it helps to work with an experienced team. Imaginari is here to help. Reach out for more information.

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