Personas Become Key to Successful Marketing
By accurately representing current audiences, companies can fine-tune their content marketing program. Keeping the buyer persona in mind allows them to create content that is designed for a specific person and present it to that person in a relatable manner, like talking to a friend rather than a conglomerate.
Personas also act as a sanity check and provide an opportunity for enhancements. “In a best case, the research confirms what you already understand, but it may make a finer point, so you can take your planning to the next level,” Dick says. “We have used Marketing Mary to do more advanced email targeting and automation. The insights we gained let us create content with features most suited to her.”
WHY PERSONAS ARE NEEDED
In the modern marketing landscape, competition is intense. Consumers are exposed to up to 10,000 marketing messages daily, making it necessary to stand out from the crowd. Ideally, customer personas should help firms do just that.
Personas provide more continuity among marketing elements. “Companies are relying on data to personalize the interaction,” Pinto Fryman says. “The buying journey is not as simple as getting from point A to B. It involves multiple layers and individuals involved in the decision process.”
Creating targeted messages has also become a customer expectation. A vast majority of consumers say they are likely to abandon companies that don’t personalize their communications. Building detailed personas and journey maps are ways to identify exactly who the customers are, what they need, and how the business should engage with them.
Personas bring more cohesion. Many business units, including customer service, marketing, sales, and product design, can use them to improve operations and outreach. Ideally, personas unify efforts so everyone has an understanding of each customer, shares common business goals, and talks the same language.
Personas help companies respond to their clients more effectively. Once a company identifies customer pain points, it can speak more clearly to them, help them solve problems, and illustrate how its products or services will benefit them.
Personas also play a role in helping new employees understand potential customers. “We have been using personas for onboarding,” says Raul Perdigão Silva, global head of sales at Pipedrive, a sales technology provider. “When we get new reps, they understand right away who to talk to and how to talk to them. They are empowered and get results.”
Based on the personas it was able to identify, Nealon Solutions changed some of its sales copy and imagery. “In one case, we found that that we were targeting the wrong age group of buyers. We thought they were 20 to 40, but they were 50 to 55. After making a change to our content and presentations, our conversion rates doubled,” Nealon says.
Other benefits are just as profound, according to Pinto Fryman, who cited research by marketing association ITSMA that found 44 percent of marketers use customer personas. Additional research from Cintell, a customer intelligence platform provider, found that companies that exceeded their lead and revenue goals were more than twice as likely to create personas and to use those personas for demand generation than companies that missed their goals
“A customer persona is a great way to make sure that you engage your prospects in the right way,” Pinto Fryman says.
TAKING ON A TOUGH CHALLENGE
But there are challenges in leveraging customer personas. For starters, personas alone are of little use by themselves. Organizations need to integrate the findings into their larger marketing efforts and campaigns.