How to Create Persona-Informed Content

Customer personas informed by accurate data allow companies to craft better content and spend marketing dollars more effectively.

What do Andy the Adventurer and Gerry the Grandparent have in common?

Not much.

As personas, they are fictional characters birthed by research to represent a composite of the company’s target audience. And for these two, their needs, experiences, goals and behaviors are wildly different. What speaks to one may seriously offend the other.

Don’t Make Gerry Angry

Providing great content can not only engage, connect and create a community of loyal customers who feel appreciated, understood and cared about — it can also infuse your organization with a solid reputation of authority on topics important to your clientele.

In contrast, providing the wrong content not only wastes your company’s precious time and resources, it also makes the people represented by Andy or Gerry feel angry and unappreciated.

And you really don’t want to see the review Gerry leaves when she’s angry.

Good Content Is Non-Negotiable in Marketing Efforts

As Director of Content Marketing for ChartHop, Sharon Shapiro-Rusinowitz said providing good content is a non-negotiable part of any marketing strategy.

Because content flows throughout all of marketing (and beyond,) it needs to be good to have any impact.

“Churning out content just for the sake of it won’t serve an organization well,” Shapiro-Rusinowitz said, “people will see right through it and won’t return. It’s a quick way to lose trust. First and foremost, good content is relevant to both the individual consuming it and to what’s currently going on in the world or their environment.”

She emphasized that while there’s a lot that goes into “good” content, it’s important to consider a few questions in advance, such as:

  • Is it memorable? Does it elicit some sort of emotion?
  • Does it actively engage the audience as opposed to a more passive scrolling experience?
  • Does it demonstrate expertise by offering a clear and confident point of view?

Related Article: Content Marketing: Develop Your Omnichannel Strategy in 9 Easy Steps

The Struggle Is Real

Coming to understand who your unique customers really are and what they care about typically depends on sifting through an accumulation of accurate consumer information.

Unfortunately, many marketers still struggle with deciphering data. According to a 2022 survey of more than 800 content marketers, nearly half of respondents were unsure if they were tracking metrics correctly. And incorrect insights can lead to flawed preconceptions of who your customers really are.

“The more teams rely on preconceptions about their target audience, the more content takes on that ‘inside-out’ mentality and becomes more about what the organizations want to push out than what the audience wants to hear,” Shapiro-Rusinowitz said.

“That can be a trap, as you always need to lead with how your organization can solve problems that your audience cares about, not who you are or what you do. And the best way to understand what your audience cares about is to ask them directly.”

Perfecting Customer Personas

Accurate customer personas — somtimes called buyer personas — provide a path for any organization to create good, effectively directed content. For Shapiro-Rusinowitz, personas are essential to creating good content because they help you understand your audience, who they are, what they’re interested in, what they’re struggling with and where they typically consume content.

“There’s a lot of different ways to think about personas, but no matter how you slice it they’re critical to creating relevant content that really speaks to your audience,” she said.

In her opinion, content focused on something unimportant to an organization’s personas is usually not worth creating.

“If the target audience doesn’t care about the topic, then who is that content for?” she asked. “Who’s expected to engage with it and what action are they expected to take as a result of doing so?

“For content to deliver true marketing results, it needs to be hyper-focused on what the target audience, as represented by personas, cares about. That’s what will build their trust and keep them coming back.”

The Laws of Attraction

Aaron Beashel, B2B SaaS marketing consultant and co-founder of Simul, said personas should fundamentally guide your overall content strategy.

Previously Director of Demand Generation and Head of Content Marketing for Campaign Monitor, Beashel’s team conducted interviews of existing customers to build personas and better target users. They learned that their ideal customer was a marketer in a small team of two to three people who were still growing their lists, writing email copy, etc.

Also important was learning who their customer wasn’t — the big CMOs with huge marketing teams who no longer did the work.

Using this user research, the team focused their content strategy on creating actionable content pieces on how to write and design better emails, using buttons or text links and the ideal length of subject lines.

“These are the kinds of things that marketers in two- to three-person teams care about,” said Beashel. “They’re not thinking about digital transformation or macroeconomic forces, they’re thinking about how to make this email campaign they are creating successful.”

“If we didn’t do the customer research and build personas,” he added, “we wouldn’t have known what our target customers cared about and could have ended up spending a lot of time and money writing about the wrong things.”

Without doing customer research and building personas, you simply don’t have the knowledge you need to create a marketing strategy that works.

Related Article: Personas and Analytics: Unlocking What Motivates Your Customers

The Challenges of Creating Customer Personas

One of the biggest challenges in creating personas can be deciding how many to have.

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