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Audience Personas: What They Are and Why They Matter

Audience PersonasFor many, the concept of a persona likely conjures up images of false or created identities, often used in fictional stories to help super spies, evil villains or even dashing heroes foil their opponents. And while this concept is fascinating in this context, marketers know there are real-world applications for personas as well.

Known specifically as audience personas, this marketing tool can make your business more efficient, bring in more conversions and even help you make decisions for your business that extend far beyond just marketing. With all this considered, it's no wonder why 63 percent of marketers surveyed in a study by Curata noted that they create content with the use of buyer personas. But first, let's start off with the basics.

Audience Personas Help Marketing Strategy

Defined simply, audience personas are composite profiles of key segments of your customers. These constructed profiles are specifically designed to help marketers "speak" differently to individual demographics, with the goal of increasing sales by serving more relevant, highly targeted content — ads, images, blog posts — to targeted groups of people. This is extremely useful as different segments of your audience will likely be interested in your product for different reasons, and it's important to speak to them directly to increase the chance of conversion. As Forbes warned, you don't want to alienate your audience by misunderstanding them.

Let's use the example of a local pizza kitchen operating in an ocean-side suburb of Florida. Through extensive market research, the business owner may have found that there are three large demographics that patronize their business: young, working professionals who primarily use delivery services during the week; retirees who like to eat-in on the weekends; and tourists who enjoy having pizza delivered to their hotel rooms. Let's take a look at how creating personas for each of these demographics can help boost conversions in different ways:

  • Young professional - Marketers can create the persona of a young person in their mid-20s who's just starting a job, works long hours and doesn't always have time to cook. From there, it's a good idea to put ads on Facebook served to users under the age of 29 who use the site between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., and are likely to browse pages related to food delivery.
  • Retirees - This demographic might not be as active on Facebook during late hours or be as interested in pizza delivery. With this in mind, marketers can target individuals over the age of 55 who own a home. From there, they can create blog posts and email newsletters about specialty pizzas added to the menu and deliver ads on local media sites with special weekends-only or senior discount deals for diners eating at the restaurant.
  • Tourists - This group may span a range of ages, genders and online activity levels. However, it's possible to create a persona for this customer and use location information rather than demographic data. Creating a geofence around several local hotels and serving ads that emphasize special deals for hotel guests will help inform guests who aren't local about your business. This is important, as the average "tourist" persona you've created likely doesn't know much about the local area.

As you can see, using these personas to reach different demographics can have a tremendous effect on your marketing strategy and is a concrete way to encourage more conversions. But now that you've seen one example of how creating these personas can help one business, how can you put this technique to use for you?

Creating Your Persona

Though each business uses a unique combination of online, social and direct marketing, one of the most useful tools for determining who your customers are is Facebook's Audience Insights tool. By logging in to your Facebook Pages account, you can access data about customers who are connected to your page with broad information, such as gender and location, as well as more specific details like household income and online purchase behavior.

In addition to creating personas based on those linked to your page, you can use Facebook Audience Insights to look at overall trends for your competitors and Facebook users in a specific area. While Facebook is one of the best tools that marketers can use to quickly learn more about their audiences and create personas, suggested marketers look to tools such as Google Analytics and social networks like Twitter and Pinterest as well to get the most well-rounded picture of their customer base.

Of course, all this data will take time to synthesize into concrete personas, and some trial and error will be required for even the most experienced marketer. However, once these personas are created, there are ways they can go far beyond just marketing campaigns.

Using Audience Personas Beyond Your Marketing Strategy

In addition to creating ads and content for your website, you can use personas to determine your physical location's opening hours, what kind of prices you should set, when to offer sales and even when and how to expand your business. Personas can inform many of your business decisions beyond just marketing, and once you take a deep dive and really get to know your customers, you might be surprised how this new knowledge will inform other parts of your business.

Audience personas aren't easy to create. They take, time, capital and plenty of effort to create and use effectively. However, with a keen marketing professional gathering, compiling and analyzing data for the specific purpose of making usable personas, business owners can rest easy knowing that this proven marketing tactic will be used not only to get more customers to convert but to make their marketing investments work harder for them.

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