How To Build Customer Personas To Yield Stronger Content Marketing
By Lianne Wade (Vice President, Customer Insight)
Our agency wanted to develop a content marketing strategy that would resonate with customers, in order to increase engagement and drive leads for new business.
Since I am responsible for gathering customer insights that will inform strategic recommendations for our clients’ businesses to help them meet their goals, I took this challenge seriously.
We needed to talk to our customers and prospects!
In fact, I wanted to develop “personas” – composite sketches of customers based on validated commonalities and differences in orientation, shown through their decision behaviors, attitudes, goals and motivations.
Customer personas provide rich and actionable insights, because they provide a story-line for who are customers are as individuals. They help marketers empathize with our audiences, which in turn can drive more effective strategy, messaging and tactics.
OUR APPROACH & FINDINGS:
First, we interviewed agency team members to gain their input, perspectives, and alignment around our priorities and challenges. There were two findings from these interviews which were integral in providing direction:
Finding #1: Although Wilde Agency has a competitive edge as pioneers in applying behavioral science to marketing, we needed to amplify our positioning in this increasingly popular space by demonstrating thought leadership and showing how we provide strong results for our clients.
Finding #2: We needed to increase visibility of our newer services and expertise, to help solidify us as a modern marketing agency, specifically:
With these insights in hand, we then interviewed a select number of customers and prospects, which were representative of our target audience. Since we deal primarily with clients in the financial services and insurance verticals, our findings were slanted toward these two industries.
Through individual, deep-dive discussions – which were organic and conversational in nature – we covered areas such as…
- What is your role?
- Day in the life?
- What skills/traits are needed to be successful?
- What are your priorities and challenges?
- What are your content needs and delivery preferences (including gaps)?
- What are your primary information sources?
Here’s a snapshot of our findings from these interviews:
We asked them to rank specific content topics; three of which were found to be most important:
Lastly, we wanted to understand what content they wanted to receive from our agency. Not surprisingly, the majority wanted content on how to apply behavioral science to achieve stronger results and ROI in marketing efforts. Respondents also expressed interest in customer experience and the latest trends in marketing.
Below, you can find a few quotes from our interviews with customers and prospects:
• “Anything that’s going to tell me something that we can take action on that doesn’t take an act of God to approve.”
• “What if this [the marketing strategy/plan] is not the best way to do things? Do I know enough to make the most targeted strategies to get the optimal outcomes?”
• “How do we produce strong marketing? We don’t build products, so there aren’t very many concrete messages. For my team, we have the same products as others, but trying to improve the way we serve – how do we say this without making it sound like we were doing a “bad” job before?”
• “From an industry perspective, I am very interested in things that are happening with our segments that matter to us.”
OUTCOMES ON PERSONA DEVELOPMENT:
We crafted two personas based on key differentiators in orientation that were noted in our findings.
1) Marketing Manager: Their key challenge is dividing their time between strategy and tactical work, while focusing on measuring how marketing drives sales.
2) VP of Marketing: A leader who is focused on the customer experience, tasked with transforming their organization to be more customer-centric.
INFLUENCE ON CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY:
First, we honed our agency value proposition to more accurately reflect our experience in applying behavioral science to marketing, but also to be as relevant as possible to our target audience’s needs.
The VP of Marketing persona is our primary lens for content marketing, as they are the key decision-maker for agency engagement and new business. Ideally, we would segment our communications based on the two personas we developed, but initially, we wanted to streamline our efforts.
After refining our website and social media content, we created a monthly email newsletter called “On Your Mind”, which focuses on our most popular blog posts and relevant third-party content. It delivers content based on what our customers asked for:
- Focusing on how to apply behavioral science and marketing
- Covering customer experience, digital marketing and marketing stats
- Including actionable tips which can be used immediately
- Providing short, consumable and visual content, with links to learn more
Here’s a link to our latest “On Your Mind” e-newsletter. The series has consistently garnered strong engagement scores from customers and prospects. In fact, several clients have told us that they’ve used this content to help drive recommendations within their organization. (So I guess it’s working!)
A QUICK, SIMPLE CONCLUSION:
In summary, here are 5 tactics to refine (or build) your content marketing strategy:
- Talk to your customers and prospects to understand their decision behaviors, attitudes, goals and motivations. Make sure the ones you select are a wide representation of your audience!
- From this process, build personas based on validated commonalities and differences in orientation among your customers.
- Hone your value proposition to align with your unique advantages and your customers’ needs.
- Use your personas to develop story-lines for content and marketing strategies.
- Continually refine your strategy based on results and feedback.
Are you interested in receiving our monthly “On Your Mind” email newsletter? If so, head to our blog’s main page and submit your email address in the top right column.
Of course, if you’d prefer to increase your dosage of marketing and behavioral science tips, we invite you to follow our social media accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. We look forward to being in touch with you and learning more about your unique marketing challenges.