Buyer personas. User personas. PPC personas. Are these just marketing buzzwords? Do they mean months of planning before you can even begin your PPC campaigns?
The answer to both questions is a straightforward no. 'User personas' don't require months of extra work to build, and they aren't just another marketing buzzword. If you follow my suggestions below, you can quickly create personas to help target and optimise your next PPC campaign.
Start with brainstorming
Brainstorming should come at the very beginning of your process. What do you already know about your audience?
This can be old-school brainstorming with a pen and paper, or a more business-like approach with a whiteboard in your conference room. If you do this with a team, hand out some Post-it notes for jotting down ideas. The Post-it notes approach makes it very easy to move your notes around and begin grouping by identified themes.
Quickly create simple personas
The key here is simplicity. There is great content out there on creating more complex personas, by using a resource such as Hubspot’s 100 Questions. For the simple approach, I look at three areas to kick things off.
- Describe the audience by their demographics: gender, location, age, parental status, income, etc..
- Identify the biggest problems they want to solve. If you are unsure how to define this one, start with 'I want' or 'I need' to put yourself in the position of your audience. For example, as a marketer, my ongoing problems include automating mundane tasks and creating simple personas.
- Ask how your offering specifically solves the identified problems. When it comes to creating personas, Littledata can help by automatically building personas with existing Google Analytics data.
With this information, create a very short narrative with the key descriptors and needs of each identified persona.
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Find the perfect image
Do this after you finish the above steps. You do not want to start with image and then create a persona to look like that person. (There’s some great discussion on that on UX Mastery).
One step I often recommend is to look at images of people in existing marketing materials to see if they represent the personas created from this exercise.
Digital tools to help you create user personas
After you do some brainstorming and jot down initial notes about personas, you can next turn to digital tools to help you. MakeMyPersona.com is aptly named because it helps you do just that. It is a way to organize some of the thoughts that came up in the earlier steps.
Those in the B2B market can try Up Close & Persona. It meets my criteria of simple and takes you through questions that help you think of appropriate messaging for your audience. However, some of the questions have only a few preset answers so I would not start this tool. It could box you into narrow thinking.
Littledata’s buyer personas feature helps you identify the website visitors that are most likely to convert. We know that Google Analytics does not do all the work for us, but there is a lot of data available for analysis. Compare these findings to what was uncovered during brainstorming.
Develop your PPC campaign around the user persona
Take your 'I want' and 'I need' statements and pull out some of those phrases as keywords. When it comes to choosing PPC keywords, stay away from your corporate lingo, and instead think about how your prospects talk about you.
These keywords will help you match your message to each persona. Is your persona trendy with a sense of humor? Maybe you will get a little snarky with your messaging. Is the need something serious, such as a health issue? Stay away from the snark and instead be really clear about your benefits.
Create an offer that matches the persona. An intellectual, highly educated executive may take the time to download and read your white paper. A busy single parent with four young kids wants a solution. And wants it quickly.
Segment personas by channel. I like Littledata's buyer personas because they let you see how to adjust your ad spend based on specific marketing channels beyond Paid Search. PPC is not the only place to reach your audience. You will - hopefully - have a multi-channel approach and need to understand Organic Search, Email, Referral, and Social in addition to PPC.
Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget, you may not be able to reach every persona and on every channel. One consideration for your PPC spend is to focus on the longer tail or brand name keywords. This is definitely a smaller audience, but it will capture people further down the funnel who are more likely to buy.
What to do next
I hope that you find this simplified approach to developing personas useful in kicking of the next stage of your digital marketing! My goal is to provide steps for you to take action and not get bogged down by the prospect of developing personas before kicking off a campaign. You may want to refine this approach over time, but the important thing is to get started now.
Even with the best planning, you may find some surprises in your campaigns after you get started which is why I always watch new campaigns closely, especially in those first few days. Monitor your performance by channels in Google Analytics and be prepared to adjust your ad spend. Your ROI will vary by offer and user persona, so focus on actionable analytics from this wealth of data to make the right decisions for your particular business.