If you have read more than three articles about inbound marketing, you have likely run across a reference to the concept of a "buyer persona."
Inbound281's own blog "Buyer Personas: What Are They and Why Does Your Business Need Them?" notes: "Understanding your customers and crafting full-bodied buyer personas that outline their attributes can help you focus your marketing efforts for better results."
Clearly, there are advantages to using buyer personas, or imagined profiles of your "typical" customer based on the words of your actual customers, to inform your marketing strategies. Personas lay a solid foundation and mold your marketing message to some extent.
Using buyer personas is effective as an initial marketing strategy.
However, the fact remains that, at the end of the day, your customers are not merely personas. They are people — living, breathing, thinking people with unique characteristics, needs, and desires. Therefore, your marketing message must ultimately be targeted beyond personas to actual people.
From Personas to Personalization — A Marketer's Journey
It is a given that the entire world is likely not your target audience. Creating buyer personas helps you narrow the vast playing field of the world to a category of people who are most likely to need, want, and benefit from your product or service. Thus, marketing aimed at buyer personas reaches a group of people with common interests.
CMI's "Personalize? or Persona-ize? Yes!" makes the valid point that both personas and personalization have their places in a comprehensive small business marketing strategy. Calling on the metaphor of the marketing funnel, the article illustrates why both personas and personalization are tools in the savvy marketer's kit.
Marketing to personas gathers a broad section of people into the top of the marketing funnel, where it is at its widest point. This is important, since potential customers must enter the marketing funnel at some point to get to conversion.
However, leads who stay at the topmost portion of the marketing funnel never convert.
This is where personalization comes in. Just as a funnel narrows, so too your marketing message narrows as leads progress toward conversion.
But how do you personalize your marketing message effectively? How do you get into the minds of your target audience on a personal level?
Here are some tips to help you personalize your marketing message:
1) Use the data you already have wisely.
The more interaction you have with a lead, the more data you acquire about that lead personally. Comb through your collected data to reveal insights into your customers. Just as any relationship, over time, the relationship you build with potential customers reveals itself gradually.
You may already have data that suggests things such as when and how a customer prefers to be contacted, where the customer is in the decision-making process, how long that process generally takes, and so on.
With this information, you can craft nurturing messages on an individualized basis. This shows a level of interest in your customer which will likely not be quickly forgotten as the customer journey continues.
2) Review prior customer feedback.
Collecting customer feedback must be more than an academic exercise. Feedback enables you to hear, in the customer's own words, how he or she perceives the customer experience you provide. Heed the advice your customers provide to personalize future customer interactions.
3) Innovate to illuminate.
Entrepreneur's "10 Ways to Get Inside Your Customers' Heads Beyond Creating Buyer Personas" observes: "Customers only ask for what they know they can get." To really probe deeply into customer wants and desires, it is necessary to provide innovation and look for customer response.
Using the genius of Steve Jobs as an example of this, the article goes on to say: "Steve Jobs used innovation to probe the deeper desire behind customer desires -- his customers didn't know they wanted an iPhone until they saw one. Observing customer responses to your company's innovations will reveal their hidden desires, giving you a more complete understanding of their psychology."
4) Channel your inner super spy on social media.
Just as you use social media to market your message, it is important to also use social media to observe the results of your efforts. Find out what customers are saying about your products and services on various social media platforms. Remember that you can use social media to research customers just as they can use social media to research your company!
Moving Your Inbound Marketing Strategy Forward
Small businesses can compete with larger companies by using many of the same tools to attract their target audience. Use buyer personas to start the process and attract leads into the wide mouth of your marketing funnel.
Then, narrow your marketing focus to create a more personalized customer experience through wise use of your analytics, attention to customer feedback, social media monitoring, and innovation designed to elicit a discernible, actionable customer response.
Remember that inbound marketing is about attracting customers to you by providing relevant content. As the customer proceeds through your marketing funnel, your content should become increasingly relevant to his or her personal experience with your brand. In this way, your personas will become living, breathing, converting customers.
Can you see room for improvement in your inbound marketing methods? To find out more about how to progressively personalize your marketing message, contact us today. We will begin our partnership with you by providing a free inbound marketing assessment, followed by suggestions and insights to keep your marketing campaigns fresh, relevant, and always moving forward.