I was sitting in a hookah bar one day, enjoying my sheesha when a woman walked over to my table and asked if I could give her two minutes.
After a quick greeting, she started asking some general questions like how I earned a living, what my typical day looked like, whether or not I smoked cigarettes, how much I spent on smoking each month and a few others.
I immediately understood that she was working for some upcoming cigarette brand and was researching personas.
I liked how they had chosen hookah bars for this purpose as people who smoke hookahs are easier to convert to a specific brand of cigarettes, compared to those who are already addicted to a certain brand of cigarette.
The incident made me realize, once more, that regardless of the size of a business, or whether it’s an established one or a startup, businesses always need buyer persona research to better understand their target audience to create marketing strategies that are highly-effective and engaging.
In my opinion creating and executing marketing strategies without the buyer’s persona is like shooting arrows in the dark. You don’t know if you’re going to hit the mark. In simple words, buyer’s persona is essential to making informed and powerful marketing decisions that save costs and bring desired results, faster.
Why is buyer’s persona important?
- Researching buyer’s persona for your company has multiple benefits, including; Your marketing campaigns are based on your target audience instead of a random study that you found online that might or might not apply to your business.
- Your customer service will be better aligned to the values and needs of your customers. Buyer’s persona will help guide you about your target audience and the kind of service they expect from your company. You can then train your customer service department accordingly.
- Your buyer’s persona will provide you with clear directions on how to create your messaging, product and service in a way that resonates strongly with each of your customers, instead of reaching out to everyone with the same line of reasoning. .
The alignment in your messaging, marketing and customer services that your buyer’s persona will afford you will naturally result in an increase in sales and better customer retention.
What is a negative persona?
The buyer’s persona discussed above helps you find out who your ideal customer is, what he does, where he works, his problems and the kind of solutions he expects from your business.
Negative (or exclusionary) personas are people who do not fall into your target audience or are generally a misfit with some or all aspects of your product or service, are too expensive to retain or are over or under-qualified for your product or service.
Let’s suppose you offer beginner or intermediate level digital marketing courses. People who have worked for six years or more in the digital marketing industry or are currently holding senior managerial positions within the industry will fall under the negative persona category for your business.
How to create buyer’s persona?
Buyer’s persona can be created via interviews, research and surveys.
In order to make up the various business personas, we have to interview existing customers, prospects and referrals.
The answers that we get from all three of these categories will provide us with valuable data, and help us learn about our own products and services, understand customer expectation, recognize areas that need improvement, and better comprehend practices that are a big hit with customers.
Here are the three types of people you can interview to create buyer personas.
Your customers are one of the best resources to help you create your buyer’s persona document. However, this is not applicable to new businesses that are still working to create a customer base.
People who have purchased from your website before are better able to explain more about how they felt, whether the product met their expectation or not and what else they want to see happening in your business.
While interviewing your existing customers, make sure you also include a few unhappy ones in the list because their feedback will shed light on those areas of your business, product or service that require improvement.
Your Business Prospects
This is the second step in developing the buyers’ persona. It’s also important to interview people who haven’t bought anything from you yet.
Understanding your prospects better will not only give them the impression that you are a responsible brand that is concerned about its customers, but the information provided by them will help you build a better and more detailed buyer’s persona document.
If you are new business, you are pretty much left to depend on referrals only as you might not have substantial number of customers or prospects.
Interviewing referrals is still important even if you have a large customer base because referrals will gives you varied buyer personas to work with.
The best way to find people via referrals is through your contacts, or you could also find your target persona on LinkedIn and then catch up with them through mutual friends.
You can try tools like UserTesting and similar services to run questions and get answers from different people. The website also allows you to run remote user testing (with some follow-up questions). You’ll have less control over sessions, but it’s a great resource for quick user testing.
When interviewing people, it’s always good to invest whenever required.
So, if you want to give away some gifts, discounts or special bonuses to your referrals or customers for their support, by all means do.
Also, remember that their time is as important as yours, so your questionnaire should be concise and to-the-point. Most importantly, do not sell. You are trying to collect the data, so stay focused.
What questions should you ask?
This one is very important. What kind of questions should you ask your interviewees to get a detailed understanding of your buyer’s persona?
You need to know the Who, What, Why and How…
Here are the few questions you should be asking;
- What do they do? (Job title, position in the company.)
- What does their typical day look like?(This will tell you more about his routine.)
- What skills are required to do their particular job? (Ask this question only if your product requires it.)
- What industry is their company part of?
- Size and revenue of the company?
- What is their biggest challenge?
- What do they read? (Both online and offline)
- Which social media platform are they most active on? (Facebook, Twitter or any other?)
- Personal and educational background? (This covers everything from name, age to location, educational background and anything else that’s relevant.)
- Preferred purchasing method and why? (Also, discuss their most recent purchase and understand the philosophy behind it)
Now that you have some substantial raw data, the next step is to sort it out, find commonalities between people, and then organize those points into different personas. It should look something like this:
Sort that data and make a list of fictional characters that explain in detail the characteristics of your current and potential target audience. If your marketing strategies will be based on your targeted persona, there will be more chances for you to increase your customer’s lifetime value
Once you have a better idea of your buyer’s persona you will know how to train your customer service team to serve your customers best, and see the changes required within the marketing and sales strategy to acquire and retain customers.
So if you don’t have a buyer’s persona document, start building one today!
Consumers are looking for unique information that teaches them something new. The right piece of content marketing can drive sales. However, if your content is hard to find online then, naturally, your prospects can’t convert.
Dominating Content Marketing in 2016This year, expect content marketing to dominate SEO, but just like Neil Patel wrote in a Quick Sprout article, “Content marketing and SEO go together like peanut butter and jelly… if you are trying to grow your qualified search traffic, you have to combine your content marketing with your SEO efforts.” Since content marketing is taking over, let’s examine how to get ahead in the space this year.
Blog or BustIf you don’t already have a blog, you need to have one created and tie it back to your website before you can begin integrating content marketing into your SEO strategy. You can improve your conversion ratio and SERPs with images and a blog. A business blog is typically the best place to publish your primary marketing content. Put a content marketing plan of action in place, which needs to include developing informational material.
Strategic Content DevelopmentAs noted in Pay Anywhere’s article “The New SEO”, a blog is not a place for you to be super promotional. Save the sales promotions for email marketing. Instead, show “how your business is going the extra mile to help the community, or focus on a new product that is unique to your business or area.” Search Engine Land suggests, “You’ll sell more by not selling.” Behind every good piece of content marketing is a good brainstorming session. Break out your notebook and some colored pens and consider these suggestions SEO Chat contributor Chance Hoggan offered in his article “A Guide to Generating Great Website Content Ideas”:
- Feel your customers’ pain.
- Tune into your customers’ passions and emotions.
- Take a direct and indirect approach to crowdsourcing.
- Feed off popular news stories.
- Eavesdrop on your customers’ and competitors social media channels.
All About VideosAt one point, adding an image to a piece of content marketing was good enough. With the recent explosion of video marketing, images alone are not going to cut it. While videos deployed on YouTube or Facebook can be considered a form of content marketing alone, kick things up a notch by embedding videos right into your blog posts. Did you know?
- 78 percent of people watch videos online every week
- 55 percent of people watch videos online every day
- By 2017, experts believe that video will take up 69 percent of consumer Internet traffic
- 52 percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI
Quality Beats QuantityLast year Google released its Quality Update. The update rewards websites that have quality content and punishes those that do not. Google update or not, it’s always best to focus on delivering quality content. In assessing whether or not your content is up to par, consider what Forbes Contributor Jayson DeMers suggests:
- Use an appropriate length.
- Supplement with videos, images, infographics, and other media.
- Be sure to use proper grammar and spelling.
- Format pages and text accordingly.
- Achieve an appropriate readability score.
- Tie back to a qualified professional in the space — expertise matters.
- Integrate content marketing with social media.
- Utilize good internal and external links.
- Provide value.
Marketing for Your SEO and Content MarketingYour job as a content creator does not end after you create a piece of content. Content marketing is one part content creation and two parts content distribution and promotion. You already know you should be sharing your content on social media, but what are some other places to promote it? Try using these locations:
- Email communications
- Email signatures
- Search engine advertising
Every digital marketing agency’s SEO tactic has been changing exponentially since the industry came about, mostly because Google and other search engines have kept it evolving to keep providing results on content that is relevant, of a high quality, and add an overall value for the end user, that is to say whoever you are trying to direct to your website to, your target audience.
But through all the changes, the importance of backlinks have entrenched themselves deeper into SEO strategies, so much so that any mistakes made with them can have utterly devastating results for the overall rating of the sites concerned.
So if your traffic has been struggling to reach your target mark lately, you might want to take advantage of the internet to gather helpful tips in selecting a web hosting company, SEO firm, or whichever digital marketing agency you feel can best assist you in achieving your business’s goals, and reach your target audience properly by ensuring that your website ranks highly enough to reach your targets audience and provide a favourable conversion rate.
Or, you can go ahead and read on to determine where you could have been going wrong, and what you can do to change it for the better. This guide will help you review your link building profile and polish it up by pointing out some of the most common mistakes in this regard.
They include spamming your homepage with all your links; taking a backseat once you’ve achieved your initial results; not making the best use of your anchor texts and trying to push links to content which are not relevant to who you are attempting to link to.
So let’s start with the first of these:
Building most of your links to your homepage
You obviously do want some of the links referring back to your homepage, this will help with making your site all the more crawlable which will help your rankings, but it happens all too often that just about every one of a website’s links directs you back to landing pages.
The trouble with this is that it makes for very shallow indexing of your site, and so can end up being counter-productive.
It’s recommended to spread your link building efforts equally across your site to ensure that users don’t have to trawl around for ages to find what they need, and so it is incredibly good at building trust with your users and creating an overall, high quality user experience.
A good rule to follow is that when navigating your site, a user should never be more than three clicks away from finding content which is relevant to them, anything more and they start losing interest, which means you will undoubtedly suffer a ranking drop from a high bounce rate.
Deep linking (or spreading your links across your website) will give your site more link juice, making it easily crawlable and therefore having favourable outcomes for the site’s ranking.
As far as SEO is concerned, deep linking gives you more opportunities to achieve favourable search engine visibility since it backlinks to all of your pages. This also makes your links seem a lot less like spam, which Google dutifully penalises heavily for.
Slowing down once you get good results
SEO is a dynamic field, and changes are just about constant. Getting to the first page of the search results is an enjoyable achievement indeed, but don’t expect it to stay that way once you’ve gotten your website there.
Staying on top (in fact featuring at all) requires you to constantly work to get the best online marketing for your business today, and not later. So keep on building up those backlinks and with a bit of luck you will enjoy the fruits of your labour for a long time to come. Give up on it however, and you will soon be taken over by sites which are consistently active, since Google doesn’t really want to push sites that seem inactive.
This means concentrating on building an energetic link-building profile by reaching out to other website administrators who share some form of relevance to your site. Beyond that, your efforts should still be as strong when it comes to creating interesting and informative content that will attract backlinks, and most importantly, you should still be conducting regular site audits even when everything seems to be working properly.
Doing this will not only help ensure that you consistently achieve favourable rankings, but will tighten your current paradigm and keep your backlink profile easy to manage in the future.
Leaving these efforts until later may not have an immediate negative affect on your SERP appearance right now, but it will make things easier for your competitors, and will almost surely lead to poorer results when Google eventually releases any updates (forcing you to rush back to your profile and knock out another site audit to rectify your link profile when there isn’t really time to do so.)
Forgetting about Brand Anchor text
So you’ve opted for extensive keyword research through a supplier of SEO services and you are adamant that only the keywords that they kick up should be used as anchor texts. And why not? They are the professionals. But how many times in your content have you used your name, brand, or URL?
Using either of these without making them into backlinks is just a wasted opportunity here you could be doing more to push your brand, so try not to forget to do it whenever it comes up.
The important thing to remember here is that the names and URLs you’re referring to should come up as naturally as possible, if it sounds forced and robotic, it will likely just end up looking like spam.
Thereby taking what could have been a great marketing opportunity and making it detrimental to your efforts. Always take the opportunity to attach appropriate links to your company or brand name, unless it runs the risk of making the content sound unnatural.
Not bothering with content relevance
Even before the days of Google, content relevance has been a big determining factor for search indexes. Search engines want to provide their users with websites that are of high quality and are relevant to what is being searched; and that’s the bottom line.
This is often overlooked, especially when sites take advantage of mass backlink services (or link farms) which may boost your ranking initially, but when users arrive at your site and leave in annoyance, not having been directed to what they are looking for, it will negatively affect your bounce rate, and ultimately damage your site’s rating.
Beyond this, irrelevant content will do nothing for a natural link building profile. No self-respecting website administrator wants to link with a site that may put a dent in their own profile, so in this regard, your content’s attractiveness should come almost purely from its relevance.
A final note
Always consider the do’s and don’ts of link building to stay ahead of the game. SEO and content marketing is a long running and time consuming process which, if you’re doing it within the search engine’s guidelines, shouldn’t give you staggering results over night.
If that’s what’s happened then chances are that you are exploiting some kind of loophole. These black-hat techniques may give fantastic results initially, but when they are eventually flagged by the search engine’s crawlers, your visibility will take a nasty hit, one that is an absolute hassle to fix.
The trouble comes when you’re not prepared when Google rolls out an update, and their newly developed algorithms make the site’s rating suffer horribly as a result. So avoid the temptation for the quick fixes in your link building strategies; slow and sure wins the race, and gives you time to learn from your mistakes.
Spreading the destination of your links out evenly, staying active on your website where you can (this is where blogs are helpful) and remembering to keep links relevant are essentially key points in achieving SEO greatness for your site.