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An online persona is a marketing tool, designed and compiled to help you identify and communicate with your actual target audience.
Whether digital marketing, content marketing or social media marketing, you need to know who your audience is, their interests, what tone of voice to use and how to appeal to them if you are going to be successful in your communications. You also need to be consistent in your tone of message, and your audience should not be aware of different people writing or running the accounts at different times. By creating specific personas, it is simpler to maintain consistency, and to monitor and control this. It is, of course, impossible to speak individually to each and every potential client through digital marketing, which is why the creation of a few ‘typical’ client profiles will enable you to tailor your online conversations to segment groups representing your client base.
An online persona is essentially a virtual client, based on a composite of the clients you already know. They represent the different segments of your client base, and are the ‘people’ you should talk to in your digital marketing communications, addressing their needs and solving their problems. By segmenting your client base and giving each a different detailed persona or character, it makes communications and messaging consistent and targeted, and you will be able to maintain a clear picture in your mind as to WHO you are talking to.
How do you go about creating an online persona?
First is, of course, research, liberally seasoned with imagination. You should create 3 or 4 different personas or characters from what you already know about your clients. Ask yourself who is reading your blog, or social media posts? Who is your advertising targeting? What do they do? Imagine what their life is like. What problems do they have that you can solve, and so on?
Add an actual picture of the person you are profiling, to enhance the character and build a rapport with your audience.
Imagine what gender they are, approximate age. Married or single. Kids or no kids. Where do they live. What job they do. Job title. Education level. Values. Goals and challenges. Fears. Hobbies and interests, etc. These profiles should be as detailed as possible. Information can be gathered from social media, by listening to your existing customers or clients, surveys of your current client base to assist in building a marketing persona; interview your sales and customer service team to find out more about your client base, and create your personas from there.
This process helps you to really identify your audience and your client base, to understand them better, and to talk to them, rather than at them.
There are various online tools to help you in this process, and your profile could end up looking something like the following, or indeed much more detailed:
Adding details about your persona’s life and character helps marketers really understand their clients’ needs, wants and then address them specifically. It may also reveal valuable insights of interest to your sales team that were previously unidentified – ways in which your business can be more useful in your client’s life, perhaps outside of the normal office environment.
Having identified your online persona’s characteristics and built a picture of their life, desires, needs, habits and behaviours, the next step is to create an elevator pitch specifically for them. If you end up with 3 or 4 different personas, each should have a specific sales pitch tailored to them, giving you language and tone of voice to use in your digital marketing conversations.
Any successful digital marketing campaign must start with research, and creating online personas as part of this research is a fun way of getting to really know and understand your client base.