Good web content should convince people to buy your products or choose your service. But what makes ‘good content’?
(Go to the bottom of the page to download the Buyer Persona template)
Whatever medium you are using to communicate, your content needs to do two things (assuming it is already reaching your audience): be relevant to the reader and compel them to act.
Getting to that point is a process of understanding your customers and then saying the right things to them. But it’s often harder than it seems. Sometimes we make assumptions or have preconceived ideas about our customers and what motivates them. If these ideas are wrong, you are potentially wasting a lot of time and money saying the wrong things.
So how do you ensure your content is effective? One proven strategy is using audience personas. An audience persona is a customer profile of sorts. It summarises who you are talking to, what they want from you and how you can motivate them to act. You may have one typical buyer or you may have many; but once you know what makes them tick, you can work out the types of messages that will convert them from prospect to customer.
Creating an audience persona
The good news is, once you create accurate audience personas, you’ll find communicating with a given audience easier. The not-so-great news: personas are not that easy to do well and a bad audience persona is potentially worse than none at all, because it guarantees a poor message if you keep using it.
The most effective method is to actually talk with customers to glean genuinely useful information. Adele Revella at The Content Marketing Institute has some very useful information on mistakes to avoid when creating a persona.
The reality is that not everyone has the time or ability to do this kind of research. If you have very good insights into customers through experience, you may be able to create a useful persona, but I recommend doing it as a brainstorming exercise with a few people from various positions within your business.
The key parts of an audience persona
Search Google for ‘audience persona template’ and you’ll turn up all sorts of guides. We have included a template at the end of this post for your reference but, whatever type of template you use, the following information is most important.
- Demographics (age, marital status, occupation and income) – You’ll also notice most personas are given a name and an accompanying image – this helps further set the scene
- Objectives – All customers have objectives, which describe their goals as a buyer. Examples are ‘obtain the cheapest price’ or ‘find a company I can trust’
- Pain points – Like objectives your audience has pain points, or fears, usually gained from previous experiences or what colleagues have told them. For example, a person buying shoes may fear they will get blisters or not have the latest fashion. A company seeking an outsourced IT solution may worry about cost effectiveness or response times
- Buyer status (or conversion funnel) – This is a simple diagram that shows where the buyer is in the sales cycle. For example, they may be ‘unaware’, ‘researching, ‘ready’ or ‘already engaged’
- Habits – This sort of information is valuable for online marketing, to determine how much time they spend searching for information, on social media or offline.
Our template audience persona also includes some handy sections to ensure you’re prepared.
Using the information in an audience persona
The information in an audience persona can be very helpful if used correctly. Even if all you do is list the top three pain points and objectives and use this as a basic structure for your writing, you will be far better off than simply writing the first thing that comes to mind.
Here are a few examples of how you can easily use the information in a buyer persona in your writing.
- Writing a blog post: Use a pain point as a blog topic. Better yet, break down the pain points into logical chunks and then you’ll have series of posts
- Writing a product brochure or website content: Use pain points and objectives to structure your web content. Pain points are a great way to grab attention, while pain points and objectives will both help you elaborate on the benefits of your product or service
- Creating a powerful headline: Use a pain point as a motivator, to inspire fear or create urgency. Or, use objectives to provide evidence
- Writing an interesting lead sentence: Use the biggest pain point and ask a question of the reader
- Researching keywords: Start with objectives
- Writing a convincing call to action: Consider the buyer conversion funnel and aim it appropriately based on their status. For example, a buyer in the ‘research’ stage may respond to invitations to find out more information, or some unique advice they may find valuable. A buyer at the ‘ready’ stage may be looking for pricing information or the ability to actually buy
- Using appropriate tone of voice: Age and occupation will help determine the language and level of complexity in your content
- Getting the level of detail just right: Occupation will give clues as to their position in the buying chain – whether they are making a buying decision or providing information to someone else. Also consider their habits and adjust your explanations appropriately
- Responding to queries or quoting a job: Consider objectives and make sure you are clearly responding to their needs.
Free Audience Persona Template
We’ve included a template in Word to help you create a persona below.