Posts

Creating Buyer Personas: 3 Simple Steps

Two distinct customer personas

Create distinct buyer personas for targeted marketing content.

Buyer personas are important to every business with an online presence, that’s a fact.

We also know that personas are always evolving and should be updated on a continual basis. Keeping up with your consumers’ interests and needs will prove to be a smart content marketing strategy in the long run.

Think of personas as templates from which you can craft all of your marketing content.

So how do you go about creating a buyer persona for your target customer?

Below are three resources to help you get started.

1. Ask the Sales Department

Enlisting the help of your company’s sales representatives is probably the easiest way to get to know your clients. Sales representatives are often on the front lines when it comes to obtaining new clients, so they routinely field a lot of recurring questions.

Ask the sales representatives for a list of questions they receive most frequently. From there you can take the top five most common questions asked and use them to start a persona.

The sales team can also give you insights about the type of people that call in most frequently: job role, level of education, interests, pain points, etc.

That information is going to be important when building your personas since you need to define precisely who it is you’re targeting.

Pro Tip: This also presents a great opportunity to create content based on the email and phone replies to customers from sales representatives.

2. Use Buzzsumo and Social Media

Buzzsumo is a great (free) tool you can use that will show how many times a particular piece of content in your niche or industry vertical has been shared.

From there, you can take a look at the social media accounts of the people sharing the content.

This will give you direct insight into your target audience and will help you assign a gender, education level and job role to your personas.

Head over to Buzzsumo, then using the “Most Shared” content research option, type in the search term that you’re looking to use to optimize a particular piece of content. Depending on the query, you may be supplied with a lot of results.

The best thing to do next is to sort by Twitter shares. This will allow you to see which piece of content has been shared the most. Then click on “View Sharers”:

view-sharers

 

 

 

You can now see the Twitter handles of the individuals or companies that have shared this particular article:

buzzsumo-twitter

From there you’ll be able to view the profiles of each person, or company, who has shared this content

Pro Tip: Limit the amount of profiles you use as you can spend hours or days on this part. To get started, begin with 3 to 5 profiles.

3. Speak With Customer Service

As with the sales department, the customer service department holds scads of data about your clients beginning with the moment they became customers. Here you can learn about customer likes and dislikes and apply that knowledge to your personas.

The best approach would be to ask each customer service representative the five most frequently asked questions he or she receives and start from there.

This will help you to not only build your personas but to create strategic content for them as well.

After all the information has been collected, take 3 simple steps…

Now that you have a stockpile of info on your existing and target audience, here are the steps you can take to create your personas:

1. Assign a gender and name to each persona.

Doing this will help you in the content creation process as you can write as though you’re speaking to an individual.

2. Give that persona a job title, responsibilities and pain points.

This step is crucial, as you need to know at what stage of the buyer’s journey potential customers are.

Pain points will inform you as to what their specific needs are. Addressing your audience’s pain points is a great way to capture their initial interest and guide them along the buyer’s journey.

3. Add a location.

Geo-targeting your audience is very important, as doing so allows you to generate content that can speak to local events and use the vernacular specific to that region.

To recap, researching buyer personas is a great way for you to get to know your audience. Once built, customer personas can help you create content that can be used to attract a new audience. Finally, keep in mind that once a persona is created, it should be updated to remain relevant.

Connect with Joe on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+

 

Keyphrase evolution: from seeds to ripe fruit, grow your list!

Hello!  Glad you’re here, because today’s how-to “SEO It” is both essential and creative! We’re gonna get into how to grow and refine our killer keyphrase seed list using fun, free tools!  The words for today’s lesson are specificity, seasonality, and trends.

Last week, we dipped our toes into the murky SEO waters and fished out our core, killer keyphrases, then organized and prioritized them into an Excel (or simple legal pad) list.  That accomplished, with some satisfaction (yes?) let’s look at how to grow and refine that list to round out our overall smart keyphrase strategy to optimize conversions!

Ready?  Open up that Initial Seed Research spreadsheet, in whatever form, where you should see your seed keyphrases, their respective search volumes, and the relative priority you assigned to each one, from 1 (highest priority) to 5 (lowest, yet important).

Now, we’re going to run those keyphrases through — yes — our search engine of choice one more time. This time, we’re tuning into keyphrase specifity:  just because a keyphrase may be relevant to your business, it may not be the best one to use on your site.  For example, think of a payroll service where companies can outsource their accounts payable. Although the keyphrase “accounts payable“applies to the company, the search results are not specifically focused around someone looking to outsource their accounts payable.

Refining the search with the term “accounts payable outsourcing,” the results are much more targeted and potent for this website:

At the bottom of the search engine results page, you should note additional keyphrase suggestions, under “Searches related to: your keyphrase. If these additional search terms are applicable and specific to your site, then congratulations! You’ve just found even more keyphrases!

Next, let’s run a few of our keyphrases through Twitter to get insights into our product/service’s market seasonality, trends and real-time buzz. (We reviewed this strategy in a previous post, but it’s well worth a revisit here.)

Recalling our “leather bracelets” example, from the keyphrase brainstorming post, let’s see what comes up when we run it through Twitter Search:

Going back to our original keyphrase list, the term “leather snap bracelets” may well not have been on it!  If it’s an up-and-coming trend that you hadn’t thought about, voila! You’ve found a new keyphrase that you know people are talking about!

Finally, let’s take a deeper look into our keyphrases using Google insights. This free (and yes, fun!) tool is another way we can anticipate keyphrase seasonality, focus our marketing message, and determine market trends.

For instance, let’s say that you run a clothing store.  Notice the trend difference between “men’s clothing”and “women’s clothing”:

There are more searches for “men’s clothing” during the holiday months, while traffic remains fairly flat the rest of the time. So,  as a clothing retailer, you should make sure that your men’s clothing pages are written, uploaded, and optimized before the holiday months.

If you look to the right of the Google insights page, you will see “rising searches” — another source of additional, trending keyphrases that you’ll want to pay attention to for your ongoing, evolving keyphrase strategy!

So are you about done with all this research?  Does it seem to be taking forever? Take heart:  that means you’re doing it right!  The good news is that once the hard, grinding work is over, with the completion of your initial “seed” keyphrase list, you’ll be able to easily update and refine your list every few months or so by checking for new terms and deleting those non-performing ones.  Yay!

Next week, we’ll talk about how to fill in the other tabs of your Excel (or legal pad) keyphrase document, divide up your keyphrase list, and start creating your per-page SEO strategy!  From there, you’ll have everything in place to start writing.