So a few weeks ago I issued my wife with a stern warning. Cease and desist watching the bachelor or fall into the same prime time crap-trap we fell into watching MKR and Masterchef. Ok, maybe crap trap is a little harsh, but by god there’s only so much repetitive exaggerated climax/anti-climax music I can take. Read more…
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A man walks into a local health store..
Customer: Hi, I’m looking for a diet supplement that helps suppress my appetite
Sales Guy: Howdy! Welcome to Vitamin Wizard! Your one stop shop for vitamins, protein and health tips!
Customer: Yeah, so I was looking for..
Sales Guy (interrupts): Hey! Would you like to sign up for our daily newsletter! Jam packed with junk you probably won’t read absolutely free!
Customer: Uhh.. Just the dietary supplement today.
Sales Guy: We’re 100% family owned and operated and won’t be beaten by our competitors. This month we have a sale on mass gainers and multivitamins and… (continues with 6 other messages that eerily sound like website banners)
Customer: (walking away) Nevermind..
In addition to what not to do when a prospect walks through your front door, unfortunately, the above scenario would be shockingly common if you brought most online user experiences offline.
The moral of the story is online experiences often fail because websites haven’t taken the time to identify and become familiar with their target audiences, or more specifically, their personas. In fact, one of the most overlooked root causes of a poorly converting website is that it has failed to define and find affinity with its personas.
One of the first questions I ask before commencing a CRO audit is: Do you know your targeted personas and have you defined what makes them tick as real people?
But I have a segmentation strategy, that counts right?
Nope. And here’s just one fundamental reason: Marketers have long touted that the fastest way to get a prospect to brand adoption and advocacy is via an emotional connection as opposed to a rational, features & benefits kind of one. This is part of the brain that takes care of this is known as the limbic system. Knowing a segment’s age, location, industry or size of business however simply doesn’t allow you to determine what makes prospects tick at an individual level.
..the limbic system processes information 200 times faster than the cognitive brain! – Katharina Kuehn, Smart Company
Just like the health store sales guy’s approach didn’t come to close to determining the customer’s motivations, situation and pain points, segmentation ignores the simple fact that b2b and b2c customers essentially are people.
Persona definition is the tool that allows to you to actually start treating them human beings.
Knowing a few more details of our above prospect may have revealed that he is a busy white collar professional who in addition to being very time poor would also benefit from a natural de-stress valerian root supplement that works well with a particular variety of appetite suppressant.
How to define your Persona’s
First (due to way too many years at University), a theoretical definition:
Personas are a tool designed to create empathy with a group of real users. Personas are fictional characters (based on research!) designed to represent a group of people with similar characters, values and behaviours. The purpose of personas is to mix demographic information with archetypal behaviors in a believable and data supported harmony. Personas are most useful when they are paired with scenarios to provide context and lead to insights thus guide design decisions – Brandito
At its core, defining personas allows you to identify what they really care about when trying to solve a real world problem, what context that problem lives in and factors that affect (or compromise) their decision making.
Before you can start creating ‘Conversion Conversations’ with your persona on your website via Content Marketing and other fancy strategies such as Social Media and SEO, you need on paper, a clear definition of who your personas are.
Now there’s not right answer on how comprehensive your persona definition needs to be. I’ve seen people create persona definitions as short as a paragraph and as long as 8-10 pages. The key is to start and only include the pieces of information you think is important initially and evolve it from there.
Possible Persona Outline
- Name: Bring your persona to life and start viewing them as a person by giving them a name and a face!
- Typical Age & Gender: E.g. family man in mid 40’s, stay at home mum between late 20’s to early 40’s.
- Job title or Key Role: E.g. Business Development Manager
- Personality: Are they introverts/extroverts? Are they creative i.e. Marketing Managers or Analytical i.e. Engineers.
- What are their key problems: Mention 1-6 and rank these e.g. Time, price, convenience. Be sure to provide details and use persona language to adapt to their mental model.
- How do we solve their problems: Your business model, brand and products/services likely have a bunch of core competencies that are valuable to your target audiences. Obviously not all of them are important to all personas and don’t all hold equal important. Use the above mentioned problems to customise how you solve their real world problems in a language that makes sense to them.
- The 30 second elevator pitch: This one is my favourite. It wraps up in simple paragraph the key persona problems, how your offering helps and how it helps better than the competition. All in a tone of voice that is familiar and aligned to your persona.
- What are their key hobbies or goals that make them unique: This should promote you to do more research, either primary or secondary, to really help understand what your persona’s are as people. The implications of this data are powerful i.e. social media strategy, Content Marketing, Corporate entertainment ideas.
- Top 5 websites your persona frequents: This helps to understand where your persona’s actually spend time online. Hint: It’s not your website! The data here can help immensely in defining sites to target on the Google Display Network and can also help you emulate a tone of voice.
How many persona’s do I need?
In regards to how many persona’s you need to create will vary wildly depending on your industry and type of business. This could be just one or as many as 6 or more.
The key point here is to identify and group your audiences into similar, characteristically homogenous groups that you can realistically develop strategies to service. Most brands I speak to are about to identify between 2-4 persona’s.
ACTION ITEM: Write down and identify as many persona’s as you deem relevant to your brand and answer all the above questions for each. This could be as few as one or as many as 6.
Key Caveat: Do the Research!
If there is one principle you need to keep in mind before and during persona identification it is: Remember YOU are not your target audience.
What you think is a value driver isn’t important, neither is what your peers and friends think is important. The very fact you are selling to your persona’s excludes you, in a conclusive way anyway, from being an impartial source.
I mentioned a few times above the idea of matching your persona’s mental model. The only way to truly identify their mental model, speak your persona’s language and subsequently develop fantastic outputs such as Content Marketing, Social Media and SEO strategies is do the research.
This includes primary research such as asking customer service staff at the coal face and secondary research including twitter, Quora and LinkedIn Answers to mention just a few sources.
Latest posts by Moby Siddique (see all)
- Marketing Lessons from a closet Bachelor Fan - September 7, 2015
- What on earth are personas and why do they matter? - December 3, 2014
- How to Optimise your website for Google Local Search - January 6, 2014
As SEO affectionados have been aware for some time, Google places an overwhelming importance on local businesses and geographically serving businesses.
Local search also goes hand in hand with mobile search and it’s no wonder Google has placed such prominence on local and mobile search simultaneously when you consider the following: Read more…
Business lessons and inspiration can often come from the most unexpected places. Case in point: the young, formidable and in-his-prime Mike Tyson.
Yes, that’s right. Business lessons from former Heavyweight Champion, knock out slugging Mike Tyson. Read more…
The Google hummingbird update is the latest algorithm change in a string of recent updates designed to apply more meaning and context to search queries.
Already live for about a month, the update is meant to improve search results particularly for more specific or long tail queries i.e.semantic search. Hummingbird aims to address previous algorithm limitations of not being able to identify the context of words strung together.
The astute search marketer can see where Google is going with SEO ranking factors.
Taking nothing away from inbound and non-interruptive content marketing, which have cemented their place as digital success staples, sometimes you just can’t beat the old school way of business, that is, speaking to a real person over the phone.
For some industries, particularly B2B based, telesales and cold calling is still one of the best way to source leads into your sales pipeline which also come with the added benefit of having a personal touch – not always commonplace in digital marketing. Read more…
As the regulator of all things search, it pays to pay attention to Google’s algorithm updates as they are punched out.
Businesses survive and prosper on the web if they do it well. When Google means the web world to them, many businesses simply cannot afford to ignore updates and changes because the repercussions could be charring.
Google’s latest algorithm change, the Google Penguin 2.0 update went live just over a month ago. The algorithm will keep a check on websites that do not act in accordance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and has already dished out punishment to deviators. Read more…
Most savvy brands in 2013 know Content Marketing is the holy grail of attaining/maintaining thought leader status as well as being one of the last ways to establish brand differentiation.
What brands are still struggling with however is ‘what do we say?’- which also happens to be a frequent question we are asked when the topic of Content Marketing is broached.
Enter the Content Marketing mix. Read more…
With over 88% of Australians belonging to a loyalty program and the millions of dollars spent to service them, it is hard to believe no Australian research study has been conducted on loyalty programs and their actual effectiveness until now.
In what is believed to be the first research study of its kind in Australia, Directivity and Citrus, together with First Point Research, recently published their insights into consumer relationships with loyalty programs in Australia.
And the insights are telling. Here are the top six insights of the study: Read more…
- Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.
- B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads on average than non-blogging companies.
- 90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe companies who provide it are interested in building good relationships with them.
According to a recent report by the Content Marketing Institute, over 96% of Australian marketers are currently engaged in content marketing and 61% plan to increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months.
However despite the buzz around content marketing in recent years, only 29% of Australian marketers believe they are currently effective at it.
The real question here is: why is content marketing so important and will the heavy time resource required to pull it off, really help in the battle of online supremacy?
The short answer is yes.