Who is your target consumer? Is it written on a half torn and totally crumpled cocktail napkin? If you’re like many other marketers, the idea of your customer exists only in your head— a strategy that will get you as far as helium balloons tied to bricks. TWEET THIS (highlight to tweet):  Writing your target customer on a cocktail napkin isn’t going to get you far in your #contentmarketing strategy.


But there’s good news! You can skyrocket your content strategy and engage your exact targeted customer with audience personas! In a recent HubSpot infographic, targeted marketing personas made websites 2-5 times more effective and easier to use by targeted users. Can you say the same for your napkin customer? Probably not. Without documented audience personas, you’re really creating content for everyone but them. Let’s review.


What is a persona, anyway?

According to Content Marketing Institute’s interview with Ardath Albee, personas are composite sketches of a key segment of your audience. Basically, they are outlines of the person(s) or business(es) that would benefit from buying your product or service. The key word here is “composite,” which means something made of parts. These parts help you piece together the persona puzzle that is your target audience.

Personas help you to identify the who, what, where, when, and why of your target customer. This, in turn, helps you to produce relevant content that your customer WANTS to read. According to LinkedIn’s Technology Marketing Community survey, the top three things that make content effective are: audience relevance (58%), engaging and compelling storytelling (57%), and triggers a response/action (54%)—all things that come from knowing your target audience. TWEET THIS (highlight to tweet): 58% of content marketers feel audience relevance makes content effective.


Digging deeper

While you’ve probably already determined the basic demographics of your consumer, it’s worth your time to dig a little deeper. What are their behaviors, attitudes, and content consumption methods? Where do they dine and sleep? Do they own or lease a vehicle? Do they prefer quality to price? Do they wait for a deal before purchasing? Questions like these can help you think of topics you hadn’t thought of before, and can make it easier to create engaging content.


For example, if your target customer prefers to purchase products that make her feel like she’s done something good for the environment, creating a blog post or interactive webpage that shows that would be of interest to her. If your target customer buys only when there is a promotion, it would benefit you to run a sale and blast the promotion to that target so they know now is the time to buy. Without this knowledge, your marketing efforts are being jeopardized, and you’ll ultimately be out-distributed by your competition.


Document & Update

It isn’t good enough just to have your target audience persona in your head or on a napkin. As a friend of mine says, “If I’m hit by a bus on my way to work, I’ve saved X in the folder.” Morbid? Ehh, a little. True? Sadly, yes. But honestly, if something were to happen to you—or better yet, when you get a promotion—having this information in a place where your entire team can access it is vital. Once your team understands who they are creating content for, they’ll have no problem cranking it out with the utmost relevancy. TWEET THIS (highlight to tweet):  Having documented personas in a place where your team can access them will ensure consistency in your message and content quality.


Finally, it’s also a best practice to revisit your personas every quarter, or at least twice a year. Social media changes so frequently, so knowing how those changes affect your target audience is crucial. If your target audience has shifted their focus from Facebook to Instagram, you may have to start developing content that works better visually vs. in written form.


Not convinced? You should be. Learning the ins and outs of your target audience won’t hurt your brand, so why not take the time upfront to learn as much as you can?


Want to know how to create your personas? Look for part 2 of this article—Audience Personas: 3 easy steps to creating personas for kick-ass content.

About Ebonn Hixson

Ebonn Hixson (@ebonny_sans_y) is Communications Director for Storylift (@getStorylift). The company’s Content Distribution Platform reaches over 200 million US readers and features the industry’s most advanced audience targeting capabilities. Ebonn promotes the platform & Storylift | The Magazine, which publishes research and innovative strategies to over 110,000 content marketing professionals each month.