Every great inbound marketing strategy starts with a target market.
But, an effective target market definition goes deeper than how much a buyer earns or what their gender is. It takes many details and turns them into one ideal customer, or “customer persona”.
From there, this character persona guides all the strategies of your inbound marketing campaign.
Not sure how to make this happen?
Here’s a closer look at what a customer persona is, and how to use it to improve your inbound marketing tactics.
What Is a Customer Persona?
A customer persona is a made-up person based on data from real-life consumers.
It’s the ultimate combination of various lifestyle choices and background details mixed into one consumer. This includes everything from spending habits to short- and long-term goals as well as their personal life.
Nothing’s off the table when it comes to creating your inbound customer persona.
In fact, building this persona tool should almost feel like getting to know a character in a book.
Your inbound marketing customer persona is not a real person, but over time, you start to identify their name with a clear image in your mind. The image extends beyond the person to the car they drive, the house they live in, and so on.
When all the details come together, you’re left with the driving force behind your inbound marketing efforts.
Then, you can use a customer persona to achieve the following.
1. Do Better Research
When you have a clear picture of who your ideal consumer is, you can better understand how they think.
This helps you focus your keyword research, which is at the heart of many inbound marketing strategies.
Keywords play into how you get found online, how you phrase pitches and value offerings, and the copywriting you use everywhere. They shape everything from a social media caption to a blog post to an email following up on a lead.
As such, you need to know you’re using the most effective terms.
A customer persona can help guide you as you sort through the top keywords in your industry and among competitors.
You can ask yourself if this person would better respond to one statement versus another, which then reflects on your target audience as a whole.
2. Create Targeted Content
Speaking of your target, make sure your content hits the mark.
Keywords are the foundation, but you have to consider visual elements and delivery as well.
What kind of photos and graphics does your customer persona find most interesting? How can you set up your navigation and opt-in forms to best get their attention?
These might seem like small tactics or minor behaviors, but the results add up.
Take the time to tweak your UX and UI design according to the best experience for your customer persona. Such efforts can turn into more leads and conversions down the line.
3. Meet Users Where They Are
Another part of the inbound marketing “delivery” is where you’re placing your content.
It’s one thing to know you need a social media presence. It’s another thing to decide how to split your efforts between each channel.
Does your ideal customer persona spend free time scrolling through Twitter or sharing their life on Snapchat? Do they watch more live videos on Facebook or Instagram?
Answer these questions to at least be in the same online realm as your user.
Then, dig a little deeper.
Consider who your persona’s favorite influencer would be if they could choose. Think about the places they’d go and the hashtags they’d use to share their adventures.
Don’t forget to keep the conversation going, either.
This is more than scheduling regular posts and sharing things behind the scenes on your story. It’s about actively liking, sharing, and commenting back to the interactions users do.
Such actions show you care and your level of investment in the customer experience.
4. Sell to Different Stages of the Buying Cycle
As much as you want to tell users you care, you have to realize how much they care.
Some consumers will only be a little curious, even if they fit your inbound customer persona.
They may have just heard about your brand or aren’t in a stage to buy at the moment.
Others will be looking you up with a credit card in hand.
You have to understand each one.
This is one of the best extensions of a customer persona for inbound marketing – breaking down the identity to create behaviors and perceptions for each part of the buying cycle and the buyer’s journey.
The Buying Cycle
The buying cycle is the funnel your customer persona and every other user goes through when making a purchase.
The basic steps include:
- Purchase and repurchase
Awareness has nothing to do with you, yet.
It’s the moment a customer realizes they have a need. This can be as simple as feeling hunger and choosing where to eat, or as complex as deciding their next stock investment.
Either way, the realization leads to research, or, consideration.
Consideration is when your potential audience begins to identify you as their potential provider.
This is when they weigh the pros and cons of your offerings versus those of your competitors. Users start to lean strongly towards one choice or another until they make the purchase.
The Stages of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing has to guide your ideal consumer persona through each step.
It has its own set of steps to match what the buyer is experiencing. These are:
Such goals help turn the behaviors of your buyer mentioned above into your targeted inbound strategies. They use the customer persona to create vague or direct sales propositions, depending on the stage.
For example, when trying to attract a user, you’re just barely skimming the surface.
You’re putting your name out there and branding yourself, without getting into all the details. Those come later, in the convert and close stages.
Together, the buying cycle and inbound marketing steps help put your customer persona in context.
Strengthen Your Inbound Marketing
Still not sure how a customer persona and a set of strategies comes together in an effective inbound marketing campaign?
Don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for.
Instead of trying to tackle your inbound customer personas and their uses on your own, consider hiring a team of inbound marketing professionals.