Creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey can help to convert leads into sales. By capturing your audience in the early stages, and keeping them captivated through the following steps, you’re building your expertise by providing valuable information and a solution to their problem. Using buyer personas can help to create this content and keep it relevant to your audience to help convert sales.
Have you ever found yourself putting hours upon hours of work into creating content for your audience, just to have it flop? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Content creation that meets your target’s needs can be difficult, but by employing personas, you can navigate through this roadblock with ease and ensure your content going forward will hit the mark.
Persona-based marketing is a way to modify your marketing approach to appeal to your audience better. By understanding who your audience is outside of just being a consumer, you can personalize your content to them. It’s essential to understand before starting your persona-based approach is that this is not about who you want your audience to be, but about who your audience really is.
What are buyer personas?
It’s easy to get caught up in ideas when creating a marketing strategy and lose sight of the end goal. Buyer personas provide a guide to follow to keep content relevant to your audience.
Instead of creating content that is mildly relevant to everyone, you’ll have content that is hugely relevant to a smaller population. Now, I know that seems backward, and you might think that a larger audience is more important. However, are you more likely to pay attention to a brand that has a general or vague message, or one that answers the specific problem you’re looking to solve? Chances are it’s the latter.
Buyer personas give you a personalized view of your audience. By determining your target demographic, their pain points, and what they want out of a product or service, it gives you an advantage on how to market to them. Buyer personas take your target audience and give you a template to refer back to.
For example, creating content for young adults may be too generalized, and you could lose sight of your goals. But creating content for Joey, a college educated engineer who likes to spend his free time hiking and is ready to start a family with his wife, should help you to stay relevant and on-track throughout your marketing process.
Additionally, while buyer personas not only help you by creating relevant content, you also help your audience. Targeted audiences find a persona based website 2-5 times easier to use and more effective1.
How do you create buyer personas?
Now that you know the advantage of creating personas, it’s time to learn how to actually do it. The first step is to gather as much data as possible about your target market. Look at your Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter data, and LinkedIn Analytics. A pro tip is to use Google Data Studio to build a report from all of these data sources to make it easier to analyze.
It might be a good idea to have an in-house data scientist, if possible. Data scientists will be able to find patterns and anomalies that you might not be able to, and be able to make better sense of the data you collect.
Most importantly, look at your consumer data. These are the people who are actually buying into your product or service. Look at what is common between them, and ask yourself what it is about what you’re offering that sets you apart to this specific type of person.
Segmentation is a key factor in this. You want to divide your market into multiple smaller groups with more defined characteristics. This will help you to establish a basis for building your personas off of.
After analyzing this data, you can begin to create 3-5 personas using the information. Make it as in-depth as you can, including names and a photo. Ask yourself if they’re married, what their career is, their education level, what they enjoy doing in their spare time, and any other personal information you can give them to make them as realistic as possible.
Most importantly, ask yourself what their pain points and goals are. All of these steps help you to empathize with your audience and understand their needs better.
How the buyer journey affects content creation
The buyer journey is the steps a person takes before purchasing a product. It follows from their awareness of their problem, their consideration of solutions to fix their problem, and their final decision on a product that will deliver that solution. It’s essential to create content for each of these steps to grab their attention.
The infographic below shows the steps and some mediums to use to deliver information for each.
Awareness Stage Content
During the awareness stage, the user becomes aware of their pain point. Through creating personas, you should have determined what that pain point is. During this stage, they are focused on gathering information on possible avenues to solve their problem or meet their need. It’s vital to create content that addresses these pain points so that you catch buyers at the beginning of their journey.
For this part of the funnel, blog posts are great. They are an easily accessible way for people to learn information regarding their problem. Keep in mind, however, that people like learning in different ways. It will be helpful to your audience to have different mediums to gain information for each step, including blog posts for those who prefer to read, or videos for those who are visual learners. It’s important to keep this content purely informative, easy to comprehend, and free of sales pitches.
Instead, you can gently mention that your type of product can help with solving their problem without directly mentioning your brand. By providing great informational content, it gives you a position of expertise in the area and raises your value in the potential consumer’s eyes.
Referring to your personas will help you to create this content. Think about how they would take in this information and relate it to them. For example, a younger demographic might like to have a more light-hearted approach than an older demographic would. If your buyer personas include people with children, they may want information on how these different solutions could affect their family.
Consideration Stage Content
At this point, consumers are starting to lay out their resources to answer their problem. They’ll begin to gather more information comparing their solutions and the pros and cons of each. During this stage, it’s good to start creating content that gives them a resource to differentiate your specific product.
Look at your buyer personas and try to determine how they might like to learn. Different audiences may prefer a comparison video over an e-book. Again, use this stage to show your expertise and drive value to your brand. Think of any other solution they might explore and include information for each.
Like earlier, cater your information to your buyer personas. If you have parents in your personas, highlight the safety of different products to give them a peace of mind in case their little ones are curious. If your personas include people who are very busy, show how time-efficient each one is. Make sure your information matters to them.
Decision/Purchase Stage Content
When the decision stage is reached, people are ready to make a purchase. At this point, you should pull out all the stops to show how your product will better meet their needs. You’ll want to give leads examples of how you’ve helped others, including reviews, case studies, etc. Include tutorials as well to show how to use your product if there could be a learning curve.
Think about what your unique value proposition is. This is what sets you apart from your competitors, and provides your consumers with a unique benefit that only you provide. Include this in your content so that the audience has a clear understanding of why they should choose your product.
Don’t make your purchase process difficult. On your website, make sure your consumers don’t get stuck in the shopping cart and add a feature to allow them to navigate easily to other pages to continue their shopping experience. Also, don’t ask too many questions during the check-out process. Only ask what is necessary to finalize the purchase.
Think about what concerns your personas might have about your solution and create content that combats these. In the previous parent example, give proof that your product is harmless to children or that you have child-proof protection to keep their little ones safe. If your personas include people who may be tight on money, you might want to consider including free trials, demos, or samples. Again, address their pain points you determined and relate your decision stage content to fixing those.
A great example of using buyer personas to create content through the buyer journey is On Q Financial. On the main page, there’s a section that asks “Are you a….” and lists options such as “first time home buyer”, “refinance qualifier”, “realtor”, or “mortgage consultant.” This allows the user to choose which of these is the best match for them, and guides them through a funnel of content to inform the user of their options, comparisons between lenders, what sets On Q Financial apart, and then provides links to apply.
What to Do After Creating Content
After putting all that hard work into creating content for your personas, it still isn’t time to relax. Before releasing the content, make sure you’re implementing keyword optimization for each stage to help drive traffic to your content. After all, great content is useless if it doesn’t appear in search engine results.
Track your data using Google Analytics to make sure your audience is being reached. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your content and keywords as well if it isn’t performing as well as you’d like!
Finally, keep in mind that creating personas and implementing a marketing approach using them can take months. Don’t be discouraged if things aren’t going as quickly as you had hoped! Great content takes time to create, and it will pay off.
1Siu, Eric. (N.d.). The science of building buyer personas (infographic). Retrieved from: https://www.singlegrain.com/blog-posts/content-marketing/science-building-buyer-personas/