Personas aid web designHave you always wanted to become a fiction writer? Now is your chance by writing marketing personas. Personas are fictional characters you invent representing a portion of your audience. Demographics are stellar for numerically describing a customer. Still, they don't offer insight into who they are or their motivations for making a purchase.

To inform your personas, you'll want to gather input from the people in your company who have direct contact with customers and all the data you can get your hands on. It's a great exercise in the planning stages of a web development project, but you'll find your persona's handy to consult across all marketing. A good marketing persona reveals the business and home lifestyle of the person and the pressures in their life and their work, and what makes them tick.

Let's try one together. The people we're targeting all visit a medical association website. Our job is to increase web traffic with all the organization's key personas. Here's the outline we'll use.

  • Who
  • Snapshot
  • Motivation
  • Search Intent
  • Your company's response.

Defining the persona

Say your key audience is physicians. Find a way to segment them. For the sake of discussion, we'll break our audience into new physicians (Jennifer Ellsworth, 29, resident), (Matt Singer, 32, starting a new practice), and (Sally Stewart, 55, medical researcher.

The Snapshot

Imagine the main factors in your persona's life:

Sally lives in Philadelphia. She has a busy schedule juggling the demands of her teenage daughters, the responsibility of leading a team of researchers, and private practice. She enjoys keeping in touch with her colleagues from medical school, and she's always on the lookout for people to join her research team.

Sally will zero in on the association's site to keep up with colleagues and research and take names of possible candidates for her lab.

Search Intent

Search intent reveals the motivation of the person initiating the search. It tells you something about urgency and how close they might be to making a purchasing decision. For example, "psychiatry researchers" are much different than "psychiatry research." In this case, there's a world of difference between "research" and "researchers."

In Sally's case, she doesn't know the site's name, so we need to intercept her content-based searches. For example, "Who are the top experts in my specialty?" "Research in "Biotechnology," or "Sheila Jackson Pediatric Surgeon, Texas"

Your Marketing Response

The ultimate goal of the website is to have a visitor become a member of the association. The content is the lure for someone like Sally. So, how can we optimize the site for her? For example, create a Doctors in the News Section organized by state or specialty, and this should surface on the home page.

As you write your personas, you'll find that they stimulate ideas for content and events. Look for opportunities where all your personas have an interest and start there.

Personas by the Numbers

  • Top performing companies have mapped 90% or more of their customer database by persona.
  • 56% of companies develop higher quality leads using personas.
  • 24% of companies gain more leads using personas.
  • 36% of companies have achieve shorter sales cycle using personas.
  • Targeting cold leads with persona-based content is 58% more effective than targeting warm leads without using persona-based content.


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