Personas are generalized, fictional characters that encompasses the needs, goals, worries, challenges and behaviour patterns of your real and potential customers.
Pretend you are writing a novel. You need to get to know the main characters in-depth. As the writer you need to know how these character make their decisions, what they like and dislike, what motivates them, their goals and challenges.
Painting a detailed picture before you start writing will ensure that you can wrap the story around them and have a best seller on your hands.
Personas are essential in inbound marketing
Not just in inbound marketing, but in any communication. More targeted communication is a tried and tested method proven to be effective.
“Using marketing personas made websites 2-5 times more effective and easier to use by targeted users.” - HubSpot
By getting to know your personas you can more easily target them with the right communication at any stage of the buyer’s journey.
Read more: What is inbound marketing?
Who are your personas?
This really depends on what your business goals are. Some examples might include:
- People that will make you money
- People you would love to do a project with
- People who are passionate about the same things as you
And so on. Whatever you are looking for, it is important that you get a crystal clear image of who they are and how they operate.
Personas are created based on research, data that you have collected and internal knowledge about those your company is trying to reach.
You are not excluding anyone
Just because you are communicating more directly to the people you know will be interested in what you have to offer, you are not ruling anyone out. In reality, you are just focusing your energy and efforts where you will see a bigger return.
Those who do not fall directly under one of your personas, but come to your website or blog anyway are just a bonus. Maybe they will buy from you, maybe they won’t. But since you have made real efforts to reach those who will buy from you, it doesn’t really matter.
Different from target audience
Marketing departments have become familiar with target audiences and you might have gotten to know these groups very well. But this type of communication is proving to be too general in a digital age where we can easily get tailored content through social media, online streaming and when shopping online.
Traditional demographic marketing is too large and diverse to target effectively. If only 1 out of 10 people in your target audience needs your solution, 9 of them are not real leads. You have also wasted 90 % of your time trying to communicate to the whole group.
“3 to 4 personas usually account for over 90 % of a company’s sales.” - Mark Schaefer
How many do you need?
When sitting down to create personas, most companies we meet claim that they have to many different types of customers to ever be able to create just a few personas. However, we still recommend that you start with only 2-3.
This might come as a surprise, but keep in mind that even large international companies such as HubSpot only have 2-3 personas. If you focus on your customer’s challenges and worries, you will see that many of these are very similar.
So don’t get too fixated on whether the persona is a man or a woman, 20 or 50. If the worries and challenges are the same, it is likely to be worth treating them as one persona.
The beauty of using HubSpot is that you will continuously grow your database of information about your personas.This means that you at any time can conclude that you need a new persona, or that two existing ones are better off combined.
Who should help create them?
Creating personas should not fall on marketing alone. Although you might be familiar with the target groups you have been working with for a while, sales and support will know the best leads and customers even better. They talk to these individuals every day and hear their worries and questions first-hand.
Getting them involved will also ensure that your company is building stronger relationships between department. This is key to inbound marketing success.