Making Your Content Count: Defining Your Customer Personas

By | February 18, 2014
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Don BroekelmannBelow is a guest post from Don Broekelmann (@dbroekel), executive vice president at Influence & Co., a professional branding firm based out of Columbia, Mo. Don works with Influence & Co.’s brand partners to develop content marketing plans to create authentic engagement with specific customer segments.

When it comes to marketing, we all want the biggest bang for our buck. But there’s a common misconception that “the biggest bang” simply means reaching the most people.

It’s tempting to develop content that appeals to everyone. When it comes to content marketing, however, the key is quality — not quantity. Reaching the right audience through the best channels is the linchpin of a successful strategy.

Why Bigger Isn’t Better

Big-name websites have millions of readers. That exposure means it’s easy to think of them as the best option, even though most big websites don’t have a very targeted reach. Niche sites, on the other hand, guarantee a specific audience for your product or service.

For example, if you want to reach tech enthusiasts and parents, it might be tempting to write one article that appeals to both groups. Of course, many tech enthusiasts are also parents, but that doesn’t mean writing a one-size-fits-all piece of content will be the most effective way to reach them. Instead, just as you would segment Google ads based on factors like geography and keywords, it’s more effective to publish two separate pieces of content on separate sites focusing on issues that are relevant to each group. That guarantees you’ll hit spot-on topics that resonate with both groups.

It’s essential that your content not only be highly targeted, but also be placed in the right publications. This ensures the highest possible level of engagement, and it guarantees that the most qualified traffic is directed to your site. If your content is on the wrong site, you won’t get quality engagement or responses from leads.

Identifying and Reaching Niche Audiences

Identifying your targeted segments and reaching them effectively can be tricky. Here are some tips for your agency and clients:

1. Talk to Current Customers

One of the easiest ways to understand your audience is by talking to people who already use your product or service. The more you learn about your existing customers, the better able you’ll be to segment potential new customers and develop specific content.

2. Look at the Data

Demographic data from your site’s analytics can provide insight into segmenting your customers. What age group is the majority of your conversions coming from? What does searching by region or device type reveal? You can learn a lot about your segments just by researching site data.

3. Check Out What They’re Reading

Once you identify your segments, look at the type of content they’re already reading or watching. Check out relevant publications, and identify current issues. These can provide inspiration for topics relevant to your audience.

4. Join a Conversation

Another great way to reach specific customers is by joining groups where they actively gather. LinkedIn groups are especially good for establishing yourself as an expert, but be careful not to be promotional in these groups — you could be kicked out or ignored altogether.

Success through Targeted Personas

Creating distinct personas to maximize your content marketing strategies is essential. Companies like Allstate have done an excellent job of targeting specific audience personas. The insurance giant, which has typically targeted a more mature demographic, introduced the “Mayhem” character in its advertising as a strategy to reach first-time insurance buyers. The company continues to run both its “good hands” and “Mayhem” advertising, effectively reaching two separate demographics.

Likewise, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority sponsors content on local news and other traditional media channels, and also regularly publishes lists on BuzzFeed with promotional material aimed at younger vacationers. By addressing these different personas, Las Vegas encourages a wide variety of visitors to celebrate the city.

Even if your agency or clients aren’t the size of these organizations, it’s crucial to consider your most valuable segments and come up with a plan to effectively reach each of them. Throwing a catchall article at a large pool of readers isn’t likely to be worth the time or effort you put into creating that content. By identifying effective niches and targeting your personas, you can find your perfect audience.

How does your agency target content by persona for itself and clients? What strategies have you found effective? Share your best practices below.