The Key to Personalizing your Content: Persona Building for Digital Marketing

If you’ve ever wondered how classical marketing has evolved over the years into personalized marketing, this blog post right here presents one of the building blocks of the matter. The digital age presents us with a constantly evolving environment when it comes to marketing practices. When some brands are flexible and agile with keeping up with these evolvements, some are having a much harder time adapting. Our deep dive will begin by explaining how classical marketing is evolving into personalized marketing, and continue by explaining the importance of building spot-on personas that align with our key performance indicators.

Buse Soysal
Buse Soysal - 01 August, 2022 - 6 min read
The Key to Personalizing your Content: Persona Building for Digital Marketing

If you’ve ever wondered how classical marketing has evolved over the years into personalized marketing, this blog post right here presents one of the building blocks of the matter. The digital age presents us with a constantly evolving environment when it comes to marketing practices. When some brands are flexible and agile with keeping up with these evolvements, some are having a much harder time adapting. Our deep dive will begin by explaining how classical marketing is evolving into personalized marketing, and continue by explaining the importance of building spot-on personas that align with our key performance indicators.  

Classical Marketing vs. Personalized Marketing 

We’ve been observing different ways of managing masses ever since the 1928 release of Edward Bernays’ Propaganda studies, which goes into detail of how people can be manipulated into taking action around a common goal. It is safe to say that the classical understanding of marketing formed around this idea, way before the concept of digital. Before, products were presented by creating a hype around them, a hype that assures that individuals are missing out on something by not owning them. However, in modern society, when there are innumerable products and services, is there really one type of hype that motivates all individuals? This is exactly when personalized marketing comes into play. 

propoganda-studies

Individuals that are motivated by the exact same needs do not exist in modern society anymore. Sure, there are some commonalities between different individual needs, but there are many varieties that did not exist beforehand. Whether you are a world famous, well-routed brand or a beginner, this is one fact that applies to all: We must acknowledge the existence of not one but multiple different target audiences that our brand can attract. Later on, we must find the common purchasing motivations within these audiences and form our ad creatives accordingly. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

What is a Persona? 

A persona is basically a fictional character that we create in marketing studies in order to get to know our target audiences. Personas’ characters are defined by their characteristics via demographic details along with their interests, behaviors, motivations, fears and goals. These characteristics should align with our brand’s value proposition and be identified accordingly. Creating personas can be interpreted as designing interactions with our audiences. With our personal interactions, as we understand what someone is motivated by, we shift the way we talk to them. It is a very similar case for a brand. As a brand, we have an established tone of voice and we shift our messages according to the wants and needs of our personas. Now that we know the “what” of personas let’s move onto the “how” we create them. 

what-is-a-persona

How to create personas for marketing operations  

We’ve established that personas are fictional characters that are formed to represent certain percentages of a population. However, we must not rely on our imagination while creating them. Characteristics of a persona should be defined according to research and/or data gathering processes. If you are a rooted brand that is already engaged in digital operations, the best thing to do would be to analyze your existing customers and group them under certain criteria. This part may sound like classical CRM methodologies and we cannot say that they are totally unrelated. The real challenge is for new brands or brands who wish to reach a completely different audience profile than the ones that existed beforehand.  

building-personas

The first thing we need to do is market research. As any source on marketing will tell you, knowing your audience is the key. However, the research should not stay limited to the people who are most likely to use our products. 

If our product is a rather expensive one, we can assume that it will be more desirable for people with higher income. But is that all? Aren’t there moments in other people’s lives where they save up intensely in order to become an owner of our product? The answer is yes. Therefore, our biggest challenge would be to determine these moments for our audience and choose where we will catch their attention. That is why, when creating personas for marketing operations, aspects such as motivations, fears and interests are much more relevant and important than generic demographic segmentations. In order to presume our audience’s moments of intent, we need to be looking into their other habits so that we can decide on what part of their life journey our products or services would fit the most. If you wish to dig into this way of thinking more, you can start by researching what an empathy map is, but that is not what we are mapping out today. 

How we get to know our audience is done through data gatheration. Whether the data comes from website cookies or general publicly available research findings, we need to make sure that our presumptions about our audience is as accurate as can be. 

accurate-audience

Not sure where to start? Well, there is always Google Trends which shows the related searches your audience is more likely to make if they show an interest in what you offer. There are websites such as Statista that publish research reports and give you a wider understanding of your audience’s habits. Keyword Planner is also a crucial source as it offers related search terms that might be outside of our scope when trying to understand our audience’s behavior. 

When you think you have different enough characteristics to compile under different personas, start creating the structure. If some personas have a lot more motivations or fears than others, perhaps they can still be divided into different personas. If they have less motivations or fears than others, perhaps there isn’t much need for taking them into account separately. After your personas are done, start building your creative structure accordingly. 

How to create personalized communication for different personas

Now that we have decided on our personas, it’s time to decide how we communicate with them. Since we know that all of our personas are differentiated with their motivations, we need to come up with different visual assets and texts that will feed into their motivations the most while reviewing our brand. Do we use video assets or static ones? Do we ask intriguing questions to our audience or do we simply state how awesome we are? The answers all depend on how we’ve built our personas and how we think we can best catch their attention. 

Let’s talk about Spotify for a moment. They provide the ability to stream music, and everyone likes music right? Then why does Spotify use different ad creatives? Well, it has several different premium packages that apply to different types of people. Everyone listens to music, but not everyone’s motivations for listening to music are the same. Even our own motivations may differ during the day! That’s why it is crucial for us to see different ad visuals that will attract different kinds of emotions and users. Taking a look at some of these visuals, it is possible for us to compile them under 4 different motivations to use Spotify. 

spotify-ad-visuals

  • The first image reflects capacity, which implies that it is an all-in-one platform for your music needs and you will most likely find what you are looking for in there. 
  • The second image talks about finding your own beat, which emphasizes your individual music taste, and no matter how typical or edgy you are, you have a place within Spotify! 
  • The third image talks about finding your own rhythm, which suggests that no matter how your mood can vary throughout the day, Spotify has got the song to match your level of emotion. 
  • The last image focuses on the price aspect of Spotify, which does not apply to a more particular need than financial benefits. 

Depending on our mood, all of these visuals may have an effect on us at some point. Regardless, they are likely going to hit all their potential users in the right spot for choosing different benefits to talk about all at once. 

It is important to note that there is prejudice when it comes to personalized marketing, and it is believed that it is the costlier way to go. While that may be true in some cases, spending a large budget on a standart mass audience does not allow you to test out what you are doing right. Although mass targeting is a viable option for the awareness stage of the marketing funnel, we still need to understand what makes the funnel go more and more narrow.