How to Create Content Personas – AKA – Who are you Talking to?
Personas are fictional representations (characters) of your buyers/your website audience. When you conduct audience research and create personas, you learn who your online audience is – and how best to market to them via content.
A persona is a representation of the following elements:
- Who your buyer (audience) is
- What they are trying to accomplish on your website
- What goals drive their behaviour
- How they think
- How they buy products
- When and Where they buy products
- Why they make buying decisions (motivations)
Your purpose in creating personas is to give yourself a deeper understanding of your audience and their behaviours so that you can target them with your content.
It’s not enough to only know the demographic information about your buyers (i.e., 18-35, female, lives in Sydney etc.), you have to understand the psychological factors that influence their decision-making and buying habits to help you make smart decisions for your content strategies.
Six steps to creating user personas
1. Define your segments
Start with a list of the various segments that you deal with on your website. An example of a Real Estate company might be: First Home Buyers, Expanding Families, Media, Builders.
2. Define demographics
Demographics are not personas. It’s difficult to create content that resonates when all you know is the gender and age of your audience.
For example, I might be a 42-year-old male living in Sydney, however, with only that information I fit into three of the four segments mentioned above.
Even though you can’t build targeted content only off demographics, it is still good to have this information included in your personas.
Look in your Google Analytics for demographic data on your website:
- Where do they live?
- What gender are they?
- What age are they?
- What are the most common ‘in-market segments.’
- What devices are used most (tablet, desktop, mobile)
- What is the source channel they come to your website (i.e. via Google, Social etc.)
3. Unpack and explain their values and beliefs
This step is super important and is critical to your success in meeting customer needs via your content.
You want to find out what their values, opinions, and beliefs are.
It sounds a little deep and meaningful but knowing this information will give you an idea of what will be going on in their heads when they visit your website and also how to sell to them.
How to get this sort of information?
Start by conducting some face-to-face interviews (if you’re flying solo, use your family, friends, an online survey or sign up to a user testing website like UserZoom).
Discover the below information about your audience types:
- What are their passions and interests?
- What are their dreams and goals?
- What kind of job do they have?
- How much money do they earn?
- What kind of study have they done or do they do?
- Are they politically conservative or liberal?
- What are their personality characteristics?
- What motivates them to share information with others?
4. Unpack their emotional drivers
Next, you want to unpack and explain what motivates them on an emotional level. This element sounds hard, as suggested it is best to use a subject matter expert to conduct these types of interviews face to face on your behalf.
Start by asking some of these questions:
- What’s their self-image?
- What are their day-to-day worries and goals?
- How are they trying to create a meaningful life?
- What behaviours are they trying to change?
For example, using our Real Estate scenario. Questions to the person might return answers like the following:
Q: How are they trying to create a meaningful life? A: I want to be healthy, fit and provide these values for my family.
Therefore the real estate company creating content targeted at this persona might base it around the proximity to Health & Fitness centres or outdoor space areas.
6. Get feedback on draft Personas
Once you have your base (draft) personas created and in a template, share them with anyone in your company (or friends) who have direct contact with your audience types and get feedback on accuracy.
Telling your Persona’s Story
Once you’ve gathered all of the information, it’s time to turn that data into a story. Personas may be fictional, but the more “real” you can make them, the more effective they will be.
Use the information you’ve gathered, and create it into a narrative. This should be a story you can tell your entire company about the people who you market to.
Elements to include:
- Persona’s responsibilities
- Persona’s demographic information
- Persona’s typical day/week/month/year
- Persona’s characteristics
- Persona’s biggest challenges
- Person’s device preferences (i.e. mobile)
Using your Personas to Design Content
Once you’ve developed your personas, ideate how each persona would behave on your website.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What would create trust in this person? (look at their values, beliefs)
- What are the top website pages they’d view? (look at their drivers, motivations, interests)
- What call-to-actions are they most likely to complete?
- What keywords would they use in Google?
- Why would they share our content?
Once you have a confident understanding of who your personas start to plan the base of your content strategy on meeting the needs, values, and desires of your different personas.
And don’t forget to include some hypothesis to test in your content structure too – testing different content types on personas help you refine them as you learn.