Understanding Your Blog’s Audience & Creating Personas

When you sit down to write a new blog post, what is the first question that comes to your mind? If you’re a seasoned content marketer, it is probably – what are we writing and who are we writing for? Knowing who your audience is and what they want to read about is paramount in building a solid blog content strategy. Your blog posts need to drive engagement to make your content marketing efforts worthwhile. The better the engagement, the more repeat visitors you get on your blog which means the greater are your chances of converting them into customers. But engaging blog content also has to be relevant, relatable, and useful to the audience. This makes understanding your blog audience and having well-defined buyer personas one of the very first steps in building a successful blog.

 


What are buyer personas?

Buyer personas or customer personas are a detailed description of what your ideal customer, or in this case reader, should look like. It is very similar to what you would call your target audience, yet quite different. The target audience is a much broader term and includes everyone that falls within a particular category in your target market. Whereas a buyer or an audience persona is very specific and points to some very distinctive characteristics that you would expect this ideal customer to have.

So the buyer persona can be considered as the simulation of a real person who would be interested in your content.

To make it easier to understand, let us consider your target audience is content marketing professionals, working independently or at SMBs, looking for content process optimization solutions online. As you can see, this description does not say anything about what the person does, how they spend their time, where they can be found, or anything of that sort.

Your buyer or blog audience persona, on the other hand, would read something like this –

Marketing Mary

  • Works at a mid-sized content marketing agency.
  • Between 25 and 30 years of age.
  • Communications graduate with a post-graduate diploma in Digital Marketing.
  • Unmarried.
  • Highly ambitious and driven. Offers valuable suggestions at every team meeting.
  • Helps clients with content marketing strategy and lead generation.
  • Responsible for the agency’s promotional and marketing activities too.
  • Has recently been made in charge of updating the agency’s digital marketing tool stack.
  • Spends time on social media while enjoying her morning coffee. Listens to podcasts on the way to work.
  • Always looking to bring something new to the table.

It tells you a lot about how this ideal customer/reader behaves, what kind of a personality they have, what they might be interested in learning about, and which channels you are most likely to find them on.

Here’s another example:

Difference between buyer persona and target audience

So your marketing persona or audience persona is a very specific smaller segment of the broader target audience. You may have multiple audience personas within your target audience for whom you need to create relevant content.

Why is the creation of buyer personas important for marketing?

There’s more than one reason why you need to understand your audience well and create buyer personas for your blog and business. Here are a few you should know –

1. Creating the right content for the right people

When you know who you are creating your blog posts for, it is easier to determine what to write about. The buyer persona tells you what your target reader is interested in, or what they may be looking for. This allows you to create content that answers their burning questions and resonates with them. From picking the right topics to using the right tone for your target persona, the entire content creation process becomes a lot more streamlined.

2. Addressing the audience’s needs and challenges

Knowing the audience persona also means that you know their major pain points and challenges. You are able to create blog content that addresses these needs. By offering the right solutions to your audience’s challenges, you have an opportunity of earning their trust which can be crucial in building a loyal following for your blog in the long run. Knowing your audience’s challenges also gives you a bigger purpose rather than just driving engagement with your blog or increasing conversions.

3. Bringing clarity and vision to your content process

Every time you create a new blog post or a new content marketing campaign, your blog audience persona gives you clarity of thought. You can easily decide if the new post or campaign is aligned with your audience’s needs. If you see that your content is heading in a different direction that doesn’t really align with your audience personas, you have the opportunity to reconsider the strategy and modify it as required. As a result of this vision and clarity, you can keep the guesswork out of content creation and collaboration and achieve much better results with your blog content.

4. Improving SEO for your blog posts

When you know who your target audience is and which persona they belong to, you also get an idea as to what keywords they might search for. You have a better understanding of the user intent and can mold your content to match that intent so that Google serves up your blog posts in relevant searches. You are able to create more comprehensive SEO content briefs for yourself or your team. So your blog audience personas can boost SEO for your blog helping your content get discovered by more people, driving organic traffic.

5. Improving sales and revenue

Though your blog is primarily about prioritizing consumer pain points and offering valuable, honest solutions, having well-defined buyer personas can also improve your sales simultaneously. You will know what urges your audience to make a purchase decision and what kind of marketing collateral will take them closer to the decision. This way you will be better able to guide them down the sales funnel to increase your chances of conversions.

TL;DR – Here’s a video with all the key points covered in this blog post.

How can you create a buyer persona for your business and blog?

Now that you know how important audience personas are to your blog, you must be directing all your efforts to create the right ones for your business. But in creating your blog audience personas too, following a process makes the task a lot easier. Diligent market research and analysis of your target audience will take you closer to building the ideal, highly-focused persona.

According to Oberlo, there are 5 types of data that you need to collect in order to identify your target market and thus, your ideal customer persona. These are shown below.

Factors determining target market for a business

 

Once you have segmented your audience based on these factors, it becomes easier to determine the goals and challenges of your target audience and finally build a persona out of this information.

Here are the steps involved in creating a user or blog audience persona.

Step 1. Collect demographic data

To build a specific customer persona, you need to start broad and then narrow down to the details. You can always start by gathering the demographic data of your target audience. Demographics are simply their general background and includes things like –

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Profession/Industry
  • Education
  • Location
  • Marital/Family status
  • Estimated annual income
  • Interests

 

This data can be gathered from various sources – your sales team, social media, customer surveys, lead capture forms and pop-up exit surveys on your website, to name a few. You can also use Google Analytics which shows your audience’s demographics. There are demographic groups based on age, gender, and interests, which can give you some valuable insights into your target audience.

The information you gather may not be very specific and may refer to a broader, generalized part of your target market. But it will give you an idea of who you should be looking at and what kind of content marketing statistics might help strengthen your strategy. The demographics that you are aiming for will point you to your target audience, which in turn will consist of your target personas.

Step 2: Identify their goals and challenges

You now know the demographic you are targeting. So we need to dive deeper and find out what the pain points and goals of this demographic are. To understand your target customers better, you have to know what they may be looking for. This will further narrow down your search for the ideal audience persona.

Try to find out –

  • What are the problems of your target demographic that you can solve?
  • What are they trying to achieve and how you can help with it?
  • What are the roadblocks in their way to achieving these goals?
  • What are their motivations and inspirations?
  • What are the values your target audience holds dear?

 

These questions may be a little tough to answer as they are of a qualitative nature and will usually vary from person to person. But if you are heading in the right direction you will find a lot of common answers within your target demographic.

A good way to get these answers is to seek inputs from your sales and customer success teams. As they interact directly with prospects and customers, they have first-hand information on what your target users may need.

Another good way to carry out this research is through social listening. Look at what people from your target demographic are talking about. Look at your competitors’ social media accounts and monitor people’s comments, mentions of brands and products, discussions around common challenges they face, and so on. Relevant social media groups and online communities/forums can be a good place to gather such data as well.

Step 3: Follow their online activities

If you are creating a persona, you also need to know where to reach them once you start creating content. It is important to know your target audience’s online activities and interests. You need to find out which social media channels they spend their time on. Whether they listen to podcasts or subscribe to certain newsletters. If your audience is more active on Facebook, it would be worthwhile to use a competitor analysis tool for Facebook to understand how they are responding to your competitors’ content.

For instance, if your target demographic is in the age group of 20 to 35 years, it is likely that they may be actively using social media every day. But if the demographic includes people above 50 years of age, they may not be as active on social media but could be blog/newsletter subscribers. This survey by HootSuite, for instance, shows that men between 20 and 39 years old are the most active social media users.

 

Social media usage by age for audience persona building

Surveys and resources like these can help gather more data about your target market’s online behavior. Your blog strategy has to be built keeping such information in mind.

The channels where your target audience spends their time are the ones on which you need to promote your blog content for maximum reach. It will also help your target persona organically find your content.

You also need to find out which of your competitors the target audience engages most with, what pages or groups on social media they follow, to understand what kind of content they prefer.

Step 4: Create your blog audience personas

After your preliminary research is done, you are ready to put together your ideal customer personas. This step may seem a little overwhelming at first, given the amount of data you’ve gathered. The key here is to approach it in an organized and orderly manner.

Segmentation

Start by segmenting all the data you have gathered. You can create a few categories based on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to target readers from a particular age group, categorize the data by age. If you want to target readers belonging to a certain profession/industry, this would be another category.

Listing the commonalities/ Identifying a pattern

You need to list the common characteristics that you’ve observed or learned about people in these categories. For instance, when segmenting data for the age group of 28 to 35 years, you may notice that most people under this category –

  • Are married
  • Have one/ two kids
  • Work in a lower/mid-management position
  • Are active on most social media platforms
  • Enjoy surfing YouTube and watching short how-to videos, tutorials, etc.
  • Are good with software tools
  • Do their research before purchasing a product
  • Have an annual income in the range of $X to $Y
  • Interact with content that is light-hearted, easy-to-follow, and casual

 

These patterns that you notice will define your ideal audience persona. They highlight their usual problems, triggers, needs, behaviors, and more.

Building a story for your personas

What you already have is just a list of characteristics at this point. Your audience personas need to reflect real users. And real people have a story associated with them. So based on the common characteristics and patterns you have listed, you can compose a story, give your personas a name, a face, and an identity.

Here’s an example of a complete buyer persona created by the Buyer Persona Institute. You could do something similar for your blog’s audience persona too.

Buyer persona example

If you are building your audience personas, here’s a template that should help you kickstart the process. You can add or replace different fields as per your needs. This will give you a general idea of what blog audience personas should include.

Audience persona template

Know your influencers and anti-personas

To ensure success with your blog content, it is not only important to understand who you are creating content for. It is also equally important to know who you are not creating it for. Despite having a clear audience persona, your content marketing efforts may sometimes not pay off enough because you could not demarcate between a persona and an anti-persona.

In some cases, on the other hand, you may need to target someone who is not an ideal user himself/herself but can influence someone who fits your audience persona. This is who we would call an influencer.

What is an anti-persona?

An anti-persona is someone who is just the opposite of your target audience persona. These are the people you want to avoid when building your blog content strategy. It does not mean that you can prevent these people from interacting with your content. But you can certainly keep them out of your focus when you create content, as including them in your target audience could dilute your efforts.

Say, your blog focuses on career building and growth. One of your ideal personas is a working mother in her late 30s, looking for the next big step in her career in media and communications. In this case, your anti-persona would be anyone who is in their late 50s, working in a leadership position, or a business owner offering employment to a team of 100+ people.

Let’s consider another example where your target persona is a Marketing Manager of a mid-sized business having not more than 200 employees. Your anti-persona, in this case, would probably be independent marketing consultants or Marketing Managers at multi-national companies.

The challenges and goals of the two personas, in both examples, would be entirely different. So focusing only on the ideal persona and learning to avoid the anti-persona will help you create content that is highly relevant and unambiguous. It will also mean you position yourself appropriately and don’t increase your competition by unnecessarily including anti-personas in your marketing efforts.

Here’s a nice example we found on Pinterest. It shows exactly how a marketing persona and an anti-persona differ from each other and why you shouldn’t waste your time and resources on the anti-persona.

Audience persona vs anti-persona

What is an influencer?

An influencer is someone you would want to focus on when creating blog content. Influencers have the power to impact your ideal user’s decisions.

For instance, if your ideal persona is fitness enthusiasts or people looking to switch to a healthier lifestyle, fitness instructors could be considered influencers. Or if you are running a finance and accounting blog, where the ideal persona is small business owners and entrepreneurs, influencers who can promote your content would be Accountants and Financial Consultants.

So when you are creating blog content you would also want to keep these influencers in mind. If your content appeals to the influencer, it is likely that they would share it with their clients even if they are not using the advice/product first-hand.

Wrapping up

With all this customer information under your belt, you are ready to start creating impactful and valuable content that resonates with your audience. Creating audience personas may be a painstaking task, but the returns on this investment are equally high. Understanding your blog’s audience helps you make better decisions for your overall content marketing strategy. Instead of guessing what might or might not work, a well-researched and detailed audience persona will help you hit the nail on the head. In the long run, this little effort that you put in will reward you with more organic traffic, higher engagement, and most importantly, your audience’s trust.