At its core, every great piece of content has one underlying characteristic in common. Whether you’re reading about the migration patterns of African birds or watching an over-the-top Logan Paul YouTube video — they know their audience.
The most successful content creators in the world have a deep understanding of who their audience is and what they expect from them as creators. They’ve mapped their audience’s needs in such detail that they’ve even nailed down who they are as people. It’s that intimate level of familiarity that keeps their audience engaged and coming back for more content.
This intimate knowledge of your target audience also extends to the marketing realm. You may have heard it under different names, such as buyer personas or target customers, but the idea is virtually the same. It’s about segmenting your audience into specific personas that you want to target through different marketing initiatives.
Simply put, marketers use these specific audience personas to reach their desired demographics on a more accurate level. In fact, 72% of marketers are already familiar with these kinds of personas and put them into practice on a regular basis. If you aren’t using audience personas in your content marketing strategy, we’re here to help break down what they are and why they’re important.
Defining Audience Persona
In order to understand the basics of an audience persona, it’s best to use an example. Let’s say you’re planning to open a boutique streetwear store in Los Angeles, California. To start, you need to do market research, which should always begin by identifying your audience persona.
So you’ve done some market research and found that the biggest portion of your audience is males from ages 16-30. That’s great, you’ve found your target audience. How you create an audience persona using that information is by building a larger and more personalized narrative for members of that target audience.
An audience persona based on this fictional boutique streetwear store in Los Angeles might look something like this: Jimmy is an 18-year-old male living in an affluent suburb of Los Angeles with his parents. He listens to Drake and is just entering college. He also likes expensive streetwear brands and watches YouTube videos to stay up to date with trends and releases. Instead of focusing on the audience itself, you’ve now created a specific persona that you’re catering to.
Building audience personas is rooted in a marketer’s understanding of their target audience through rigorous research. It’s about breaking down the vagueness of a more general audience and humanizing them in a way that can benefit business. Think about it this way: you’re no longer talking to an auditorium full of college students — you’re speaking directly to the freshman in the back row named Brandon, who is on his Apple laptop with Beats by Dre headphones.
You have to be as detailed as possible when it comes audience personas. The more information you compile, the more accurate you’ll be able to market to your target audience as a whole. Audience personas allow you to create engaging marketing initiatives that’ll build long-term relationships beyond the individual sale of a product or service. You’re building a sense of trust and forming lasting customer loyalty over time as well.
Getting to Know Your Audience Personas
As we mentioned earlier, audience personas are all about humanizing your target audience. You’re looking at them as individuals as opposed to a general group of potential customers. Because of this, it’s important to take that same human-centric approach to what kind of things you want to know about these individuals.
Think about it in terms of having a friend who you know very well. You’ve known them for years, and you know how old they are, the kind of music they like, and what their favorite food is. Equipped with this information, it’s easier for you to make plans with them. You know they love Italian food and would be thrilled to see that Ed Sheeran concert with you. That’s how you, as their friend, are able to choose them out of your larger group of friends. You can identify them as the best person to accompany you to specific outings.
We need to be answering those same kinds of questions in building audience personas. Where do they work? Do they have kids? What do they like to do in their spare time? By answering these questions, we’re not only flushing our audience personas out from a business perspective — we’re actually getting to know them as people.
The questions you ask to identify your audience personas also depend on the level of detail you’re looking for. If you’re only starting out and new to the process, focusing on basics such as age, gender, location, and income are good places to start. As your business grows over time, you’ll gain valuable insights that’ll help you create more detailed audience personas as a result.
How to Create an Audience Persona
The way you go about creating an audience persona generally depends on your business model. That said, there are usually two schools of thought you can use to identify an audience persona: talking to customers directly or evaluating digital analytics.
Talking to customers directly sounds pretty straightforward because it is. The idea behind this method is that you’d engage directly with members of your target audience and extract insights from those interactions. For example, you can invite past customers to partake in a questionnaire that helps you identify more specific information about who they are. This can be done in person or by sending out an online survey.
Social media is a great way you can extract insights from your audience on a larger scale. Creating a poll or survey for them can give your business answers to very specific questions. For someone scrolling through social media on a regular basis, it’s not a time-consuming task and makes them feel included as a customer.
On the analytical side of things, go through your Google Analytics to evaluate the demographics of who has visited your website and engaged with your business. Go into your Google Analytics account and click the Audience section to view Demographics. This will tell you the age and gender of people on your website.
In the Audience section, other useful categories we can view to find data about our audience are Geo and Interests. Geo tells us the location of our current online visitors, and Interests breaks down what online browsing categories they fall into. These browsing categories are called Affinity Audiences (the broad interests of a user based on browsing history) and In-Market Segments (a way to connect with consumers actively researching or comparing products and services). This can also be helpful when setting up targeting for Google Ads.
Why You Need Audience Personas for Content
Audience personas should always be the driving force behind any kind of content your business produces. Without understanding who your target audience is as individuals, you’ll simply be making educated (or not-so-educated) guesses about what they want to consume.
Content is also an invaluable part of any sales strategy. It determines the way your business is perceived by others. The ability to visualize individual customers gives your sales team additional insight into how they can guide customers through the sales funnel. They can also help them determine customer pain points. They can then pass that information along to the company’s marketing team, who are able to address these issues in different content forms.
One part of this sales strategy is securing organic traffic from Google and other search engines. A large part of SEO is understanding your audience by knowing the keywords they might search on Google that are aligned with your business. This can drive qualified customers to your site by optimizing your pages with target keywords.
Understanding the user intent of your audience personas is also important when adding the title tag, meta description, and keywords tag to your website pages. Is it a selling point to your audience persona that you are a local company? Are they bargain shoppers that want to see the words low prices and free shipping mentioned? Understanding the way your customers think before making a purchase or investing in your services is not possible without having detailed audience personas.
Similar to SEO, understanding your audience personas clearly can help map out a strong strategy for online advertising on Google or Facebook. The images you choose to feature in a display ad are based on what would resonate with your audience personas. It’s the same way that certain text can either grab their attention and click or be something that doesn’t apply to them and their needs.
This can also apply to any form of print advertising as well. A prime example is this IKEA ad from an advertising campaign they ran in 2013. They have clearly identified that one of their primary audience personas is young couples, looking for bargains, and who are expecting children.
Audience personas play a pivotal role in marketing. They allow us to identify how we should present information to customers in the most effective way possible. Be it your website, advertisements, or social media accounts, content created with specific audience personas in mind will help drive business and create a consistent brand style and tone. At Ghostit we build audience personas that inform the decisions we make for clients. Get in touch today and lets see who your dream audience is and if you're doing the right things to reach them.