When I create customer personas for my clients here at Fathom, I often get this reaction: “That’s great, but what now? How do I use my customer personas?”
Customer personas are crucial for understanding who you’re creating content for, but is that enough? Do you create personas simply to learn about your audience, then stash them away without another glance? Those personas should serve a higher purpose: they should be one of the key components (along with a content audit/gap analysis) to inform your content strategy.
Every company or agency is different and may have their own use for personas. One of the ways our content strategists use personas is by aligning them with the buyer’s journey and relevant content tactics. What questions are the personas asking, and what content can be created to answer those questions? How do those questions vary in the early stages of the buyer’s journey compared to the end stages? By addressing this, you can get more value from your customer personas.
Step 1: Pick one persona and put yourself in its shoes.
After creating your personas, you should be familiar with their pain points and motivators. The first step requires you to focus on one persona at a time and develop a list of questions he or she may ask as they browse your company’s website. When doing this, take into consideration how far the persona may be in the buyer’s journey.
For instance, if an individual is considering addiction recovery treatment, they might first ask: “Do I really need addiction treatment?” You may peg this question in the Research stage. Later, they might ask: “What’s involved in your addiction treatment program”, which is more of a middle-stage question. Eventually, they may ask “How much does your addiction treatment program cost?” Cost-related questions are often associated with the later stages of the buyer’s journey.
Compile three to four questions for each persona and each stage of the buyer’s journey. These questions could be similar from persona to persona or different, depending on how different the personas are. For example, a family member looking for addiction treatment on behalf of a loved one may ask very different questions compared to the example above.
Step 2: Determine each persona’s goals.
What does the persona need to accomplish to get them from one buying stage to the next? What will move them from research mode to consideration mode? Choose one goal for each persona and buying stage. Remember: this is something you want the persona to accomplish. For instance, the Research stage goal for the example above may be to determine that I need addiction treatment. From there, the persona can move to the next stage where they come across more specific information about addiction treatment. By assigning a goal to each buying stage, you’re deciding exactly what needs solved with your content.
Step 3: Identify each persona’s content touch points.
What content can guide the persona from one buying stage to the next by answering their questions? Be specific about these content pieces. If your persona is asking about general addiction treatment information in the Research stage, make sure the content delivers that information. For instance, a Quiz that helps the persona gauge whether or not they need addiction treatment could answer their initial question.
Make sure each question is answered by at least one content tactic. These will be the content touch points that will move the persona through your website and hopefully to your conversion action.
Step 4: Determine each persona’s conversion action.
Similar to choosing a goal, decide on the conversion action you want the persona to take as they move from each stage of the buyer’s journey. This is your website’s goal for each stage. Continuing with our initial example, the conversion action for the Research stage may be to sign up for an E-newsletter. The conversion action for the last stage should be your ultimate goal – for instance, signing up for addiction treatment.
Tip: The conversion action also tells you exactly what the call-to-action (CTA) in the content tactic should be.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1 – 4 for all remaining personas.
Step 6: Prioritize the content touch points with an editorial calendar.
Now that you have a clearly defined list of content ideas that specifically address your personas’ questions and needs, it’s time to take action. While taking into consideration the results of your content gap analysis, decide which content ideas are highest priority and create those first. Map the details of your content plan, like frequency of content creation, who will create the content, distribution and promotion tactics, etc. Then you’re ready to get started.
The above steps show how to use your customer personas by aligning them with your content strategy. What good is creating personas if they’re hidden away in a folder, never to be used for anything meaningful? After digging for research, interviewing stakeholders and compiling your personas, never hear the question “now what?” again.
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