Content marketing is a company’s way to tell a story about their company or the brands that exist within the company. While it serves multiple purposes, the underlying idea is that with content marketing, companies can promote their products and/or services by piquing their potential market’s interests through storytelling that speaks to them.
Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication for humankind. Even before language, words, and alphabets were created, humans told stories through pictures – cave drawings that depicted the everyday lif of the first men on earth. It is also the way through which people can commit details to memory. If we are able to construct a story around it – give it context – it is easier for us to recall events, moments, important details, particulary the lessons learned around the story.
In other words, it is not a novel concept by any stretch of the imagination, but the media that modern marketers use to engage today’s consumers is rather new. To stimulate interest in a company’s offerings, marketers need to meticulously construct stories through the channels where their customers are located, whether it through the different social media channels, email marketing, newsletters, website content, etc.
It can very well be said that content marketing is the modern marketer’s currency.
How does content marketing work exactly? There are three areas that need to be covered, and one of these is “Analysis of the Customer,” with the other two being “Competitor Analysis” and “Market Research.” Effectually, this would be a good old fashioned SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).
Customer Personas in Detail
As such, every good writer and author knows that in order to draw readers in, you first have to know your audience.
Knowing your audience is pivotal. Without intimately understanding who you’re trying to communicate with, it’s like traveling to a foreign country without knowing a word of the language and expecting communication to take place. It simply isn’t possible.
Cue customer personas.
Customer personas are fictitious (or semi-fictitious) characters created to simulate the “ideal” customer each company and their respective brand wants to speak to and ultimately, have them convert. At the company where I work, Jazwares, part of the exercises we go through is to identify what our customers look like in terms of demographics, psychographics, and behavior, before we map out the actual customer journey.
The best way to properly do this is by looking at the data.
We can look at who our customers have been historically for certain products/services and/or brands, and analyze how the content that we have historically created has been received by them, whether they have interacted with our social media channels, for example.
We can also take a look at our data analytics to further investigate how different types of customers navigate the content on our website. For companies that have e-commerce websites, for example, you can track customer who have added items to the cart but haven’t checked out. Using tools like heat maps and event conversions, you can check out what parts of the website page they have perused, and through Google Analytics, you can visually track what their journey through your site has looked like.
Being data-driven in creating your customer / buy personas is critical in many ways, one of the most important that the data can help inform what stage of the marketing funnel your customer finds themselves in. Is it the awareness stage, the consideration stage, or the purchase stage? To truly understand this, however, you first need to know what your ‘quintessential’ customer looks like, before you reel them in no matter what stage of the marketing funnel they find themselves in.
“USA.gov built such customer personas into their site. They even map out just how they came about creating the aforementioned personas. Directly from their website:
- We created new personas [PDF] of the customers who currently use USA.gov and 1-844-USA-GOV1 based on the themes and insights observed from several different data sets. We reviewed the following 2014 data:USA.gov Web analytics (via the Digital Analytics Program), including demographics, devices, common paths, popular pages, and outbound links
- Onsite search data from DigitalGov Search
- USA.gov customer satisfaction survey data
- Searches on Google that led customers to USA.gov (via Google Webmaster Tools)
- 1-844-USA-GOV1 contact center content usage
- Web analytics for other government websites available through the Digital Analytics Program
- General search trends on Google“
– Via Digital.Gov
One of their customer personas reads thusly:
In short, customer personas are necessary to reach the goals that content marketers set out to achieve, which are:
To Create Awareness
To Stimulate Engagement
To Convert Leads to Customers (to build Customer Loyalty!)