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Top tips for creating a marketing persona

Top tips for creating a marketing persona

Posted 13th December, 2018 by Aidan

Marketing and buyer personas are nothing new. However, it’s believed that less than half of small businesses currently have them in place.

Below is a guide to how businesses can benefit from personas and how they can develop them without going to too much trouble or expense.

What is a marketing persona?

Marketing personas are representations of a business’ top customers. Of course, all businesses have a general idea as to who they sell to, but the persona develops things further than a simple statement such as females, aged 21 to 30.

Most companies give their personas names and create illustrations or photographs that show what they look like.

Fully developed personas have:

  • ages
  • genders
  • geographic locations
  • jobs
  • salaries
  • marital status
  • family status
  • values
  • hobbies

They also have specific reasons for using a company and expectations of the experience they want to have when they interact with a business.


They have preferred ways of communicating with a company.

Some businesses also create negative personas that represent the type of customers that a company doesn’t want to attract. These negative personas might relate to customers who don’t have the budget for products or those that close on deals but only with a very low sale price.

What are the benefits of a marketing persona?

Research by MLT creative found that a company that used their personas to inform the content of an email campaign doubled their open rate and upped their click-through rate by fivefold.

A study by HubSpot found that tailoring a marketing strategy around personas increased a company’s online leads by 97 per cent and raised site traffic by 210 per cent.

Investigations by Marketing Sherpa discovered that tailoring a marketing campaign around personas could increase the length of a visit to a company website by as much as 900 per cent and double the number of pages customers visited.

Intel, meanwhile, concluded that marketing campaigns that took personas into account were 48 per cent more cost effective than those that did not.

How do I create a persona for my business?

Of course, you can’t just pluck a persona out of thin air as if you were creating a character for a book. Developing accurate personas involves research.

If you are a small company, you can source opinions from your customer-facing team. Get them to jot down facts and information gathered from customers during their dealings with them.

A top tip is to get your customer-facing teams to write these facts and observances down on post-it notes and then get together to do some affinity mapping to spot patterns and similarities in what each team member has observed.

More formal interviews with customers can be invaluable, too. These can be carried out over the phone, through email surveys or through hosting focus groups. Just offer customers a small incentive for taking part in the interview, such as entry into a prize draw, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting people to participate.

In addition to finding out the details mentioned above in the ‘what is a marketing persona’ section you may want to find out:

  • what blogs or publications your customers read
  • more about their educational background
  • what their goals are in life
  • what their major challenges are

Always follow up your initial fact-finding question with a further ‘why’ where it’s relevant. You can also use social media analytics to gain insight to develop your personas. If you don’t have much of a budget you can analyse the interests of your social media followers manually or using free tools like Facebook’s Audience Insights. If you’ve got a little bit of money to spend you can use sites like Followerwonk and SocialRank to deep dive into your audience’s likes and dislikes.

How do you use a persona?

Emails: personalise your email straplines and body content to show your customers that you know them and understand what makes them tick.

Blogs: use what you have learnt about your target customers to populate your blog schedule. Add a few articles into your calendar that relate to your customers’ hobbies and interests outside of your specific products.

Website content: while conducting your persona research you’ll get a good idea of how articulate your customers are and the style in which they speak. This can help you review your tone of voice. Are you talking to your customers on their level? If not, you need to tweak the tone of your website copy.

Social media: use your personas’ likes and dislikes to tailor your social media output to your customers. You should find that engagement with posts goes up.

You might also ask customers during the interview stage how they best like to consume content on sites like Facebook and Twitter – do they prefer videos over images for example – and tweak your content offering accordingly.

Three golden rules for companies that have personas

Don’t stop at one: most businesses will have at least two or three personas. Take a hiking equipment store as an example. Their personas might range from Mountain Climber Mike who has his eye set on climbing Everest to Sunday Walk Sally who likes to go on weekend ambles with her dog.

Make sure you keep your personas up to date: as your company grows and develops it will inevitably attract new customers. Ensure you refresh your persona research once every year or two to ensure you’re still on the right track.

Keep the personas at the forefront of everyone’s minds: once you’ve created your personas don’t leave the results in a draw. Find a stock image that sums up your persona and make it visible around the business. Keep referring to your persona by name in internal comms. Maybe even save a space for your personas at the company Christmas do. In other words, don’t let your employees in any department forget who they’re selling to.

Categories: Tips, Marketing, Small Businesses

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