Marketing is all about communication.
It’s about being able to reach people effectively, sending them the right messages at the right time.
In this sense, psychology plays a major role. You need to take the time to understand your customers if you want to reach them effectively.
One way of getting a handle on your target audience is to construct customer personae.
A customer persona is a profile of a fictional person that represents the target audience for your products.
It represents an “ideal customer,” like a character sketch of the person your marketing messages are made for.
Constructing customer personae is a surprisingly useful exercise for companies of just about any size.
If you’re a solopreneur, taking the time to do this can help you gain a lot of insight into your audience.
In a recent article from Search Engine Land, the author explains how to create personae with search engine marketing in mind.
Part of this is demographics — age, gender, ethnicity — but it’s more than just that.
Things like your customers’ social activities, personal goals and motivations, and personal values are also salient factors that can inform your marketing.
What’s a persona, and why should I care?
According to HubSpot, a persona is “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” In short, it’s a sketch of the person(s) you are trying to target.
Now, when I ask a client who their product is for and the answer I get back is “everyone,” I know we have some work to do. Here’s a little piece of advice: Your product isn’t for everyone, but it is for someone. So find out who that someone is and share it with them.
The better we can understand who we are trying to reach, the better we can plan, strategize and more effectively execute our work as SEOs.
Following are three core areas I recommend you research when developing your personas for SEO:
Most of the demographic information is going to be found via marketing research and data.
But here’s the thing: You need to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date. Read more than just one report, and make sure you check the date of the research findings.
Things change fast, and it would be a shame to base your entire strategy on outdated information.
When defining persona demographics, you want to be sure that you have a good understanding of the following:
- How would they describe themselves? Mom, Dad, Student, Athlete, Entrepreneur?
- Where do they live? Rural, Suburban, Urban?
- What’s their age range? Baby Boomers, GenX-ers, Millennials?
- What industry are they in? Engineering, Healthcare, Finance, Media?
- What is their level of employment? Management, Upper-Level Executive, Sales Associate, Consultant?
Humans are social creatures; just look at the massive impact and expansion of social media in the past decade as proof.
We are also afraid of being seen as the “outsider” in our social groups, so the people and groups we associate with have a lot of influence on how we think and act.
When exploring the social dynamic of your persona, here are a few good questions to ask:
- Who are the peers, subordinates, superiors, and outsiders with whom they frequently interact?
- What are some brands that influence them?
- What groups/organizations are they a part of?
- What types of media are they attracted to? (Social, TV, internet, magazines)
- What do they do for fun?
“Okay, I get demographic and social dynamics, but empathy? Come on, man. You’re taking this too far!”
If our goal is to create meaningful online connections that deliver real business results, the only way we can influence someone to move is by connecting and sharing our message in a way that resonates with their worldview.
A great tool to do this is called the Empathy Map by Xplane.
The goal of empathy mapping is to quickly capture the perspective of your audience. The Empathy Map addresses the following key points:
- What do they SEE? What’s happening around them?
- What do they SAY? To colleagues, friends, their boss?
- What do they DO? What’s their attitude and behavior?
- What do they FEEL? What are common emotions they experience?
- What do they HEAR? What do their friends, boss, family and others say?
- What do they THINK? What really counts? What are they worried about? What do they want to achieve?
You can read more about constructing customer personae and understanding search intent over at Search Engine Land.