Personas - Are They the Right Choice for Your Business?

By Katerina Foretova in Marketing

Personas should allow you to understand your target audience better. Well... maybe. But what if personas in their traditional sense are not the right choice for you?

Typical Marketing Personas

By now, you have probably read tons of articles suggesting how important it is to have personas in place in order for your marketing team to create the right content for the right people. Buyer personas, as we understand them in today’s marketing, are the market segments we are targeting with our marketing messaging and our campaigns. Simply put, these are people we create our content for. They usually arise from thorough research and analysis of our current customers already buying from us.

Personas, as we know them, usually contain demographic data (e.g., university education) together with information about their buying behavior (e.g., likes discounts), interests (e.g., reads leadership skills based books) and goals they want to achieve (e.g., be a better leader). Personas will help you learn about their hopes, fears, and personal life and, therefore, you will be able to create the whole picture, tell the complete story.

Think About the Data You Need to Collect

But careful here: This traditional way of looking at personas does not have to suit every business and you may want to tweak it a little bit so you can really focus on the information that matters to you.

Typically, B2B businesses will not need to learn about the personal stories or after work activities of their target audience, as these do not have any influence on people’s buying decisions. B2B marketers will probably be interested in information such as job role, day-to-day tasks, or previous experience rather than a whole demographics profile.

On the other hand, B2C companies usually want to learn as much as they can about their audience, from their personal background, age, number of children, marital status, buying interests, and much more. As B2C marketers, you want to put this information together because all these things may have a huge effect on the whole buying process and the behavior of the people on your website.

How We Work with Personas

Here at Kentico, we don’t work with personas in the way people typically understand them. Over time, we have discovered that typical marketing personas are not a good fit for the type of business we do, as they do not allow us to focus solely on the information that matters –WHY people come to our website.

So what we did was to create simplified versions of personas that we might call “roles”.  We look at the roles as a set of data that is just the right amount to help us help our target audience accomplish their goals on our kentico.com site.

In roles, we are mostly interested in what objectives the target audience came to our website with, what activities they do to achieve those objectives, and how we can help them with those specific goals.

Let me now describe one of our Kentico personas to you so you can better understand the way we work with them, and how they help us with content creation.

Kentico is a platform that makes it super easy to create websites and start with digital marketing activities by providing tools for content personalization, A/B testing, email marketing, etc. Our customers are typically digital agencies that use our product to create websites for their end clients.

Please Meet Evan the Evaluator

Evan the Evaluator works as a CTO on the side of a potential Kentico partner agency. He is the person responsible for selecting the new content management platform the agency will start building websites with. That is why he visits the kentico.com site. His main objective, then, is to evaluate whether Kentico is a suitable candidate for his agency or not.

In the table below, you will find a full description of the Evan the Evaluator persona. Now, as you read through, you will understand the way we described Evan is a little different from what materials about marketing personas usually suggest. Our persona does not provide you with demographic data, does not give you details about Evan’s personal background or the day-to-day tasks in his job. That is simply something that is not important to us.

We put all of our attention on his objective on our website, which is to evaluate whether Kentico is the right solution for their agency. We focus on his actions and the steps he takes to evaluate our web content management system. Based on all this information, we are able to create the right content to help overcome all his challenges along the way.

Here is a summary of his profile:

Evan the Evaluator

evanblog1.png

evanblog2.png

How Evan Helps

“Personas help you create the right content for the right people.” As much as it sounds like a cliché, I cannot imagine a better sentence to explain the importance of personas.

Having Evan in place allowed us to look at our website through someone else’s eyes and make significant changes in different sections of the website, such as Licensing or Pricing. Knowing better who Evan is and what he is looking for on our website helps us prepare content that answers the questions he has during the whole evaluation process. This way, we make the buying decision easier for him.

Personas also help us prepare new content for marketing campaigns, whose goal is to bring potential customers to our website. From the recent materials we have prepared specifically for Evan, I would like to mention the Kentico 10 info sheet talking about the latest Kentico version and addressing some of the issues people may have with their current CMS platform. You may still remember our Digital Agencies 2016 Survey, revealing the plans of digital agencies for 2016. This was also material created for Evan the Evaluator.

As you can see, personas are critical for us as we wouldn’t be able to create all those materials or keep making changes on our website if Evan (and, of course, other our personas) did not exist.

Wrapping Up

Creating personas, or whatever we decide to call them, is all about identifying what we need to learn about our audience in order to deliver the most relevant and useful content for each visitor.

With Evan, we focused solely on WHY he comes to our website, WHAT actions he takes to fulfill that objective (his customer journey), and HOW we can help him achieve his goal. Other information, such as his day-to-day tasks, interests, or personal background was redundant for us.

But… even though personas in their full range were not a good fit for us, it doesn’t mean they will not be for you. You will probably find them very useful, especially if you work in B2C the world.

Have you already defined the personas for your business? How did it go? Do you feel like you were missing some information or that some of the data you collected was redundant? Tell us about your experiences!

By Katerina Foretova in Marketing
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