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The complete guide to Persona Based Marketing (PBM)

Persona-based marketing helps to keep the focus on customers and their needs. Learn everything you need to know about building strong customer relationships with persona-based approaches to marketing.
12 Min Read    |   April 13, 2024

Table Of Contents

    Customer is king. You have heard it before and you will hear it again.

    It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or an expert in the field of marketing. It is always a good idea to prioritize your customers first and your products second.

    After all, brands that focus on their buyers are 60% more profitable than those that don’t.

    So if you are one of those marketers who spend way too much time obsessing over a product's features, chances are that most of your campaigns will fail to generate any revenue.

    This is bad for a business that wants to see positive growth.

    Buyer personas are the solution to a problem like this. They streamline market research and provide a deeper understanding of your customer base.

    You can then develop a strategy solely focused on your target audience.

    Our guide to persona based marketing will help you get started on the do’s and don'ts of adopting a persona-based approach in your marketing plans, helping you build stronger customer relationships.

    What Is Persona-based Marketing?

    Persona based marketing, PBM for short, is a technique wherein you center all your marketing efforts around your buyer personas.

    It can be content marketing, social media marketing, or plain old advertising.

    We all know what a buyer persona is: a semi-fictional representation of your target audience that gives you information about their demographics, interests, motivations, pain points and challenges.

    They can include your existing customers as well as potential prospects.

    A persona-based approach to marketing is not a new concept. Marketers do it all the time without realizing that they are doing it in the first place.

    And why not? It takes the “guess” out of guesswork.

    Currently, PBM is being applied in areas like advertising, sales, software design, user experience design (UX), communication, and public relations.

    Reasons why you need personas in marketing

    Personas help you know your customers, which is why 44% of marketers choose to use them in their marketing strategies.

    One thing to note is that these fictional characters are built with real data and information.

    If you do employ them in your inbound marketing efforts, they can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your campaigns and ensure that your messages are in line with customer wants and needs.

    In addition, a persona based marketing plan can result in:

    • increased website traffic
    • better click through rates (CTR) and open rates
    • effective ad targeting and retargeting
    • higher conversion rates and revenue

    These are results that people have achieved in the industry and can be easily found online.

    Reasons to use personas in marketing

    Account-based Marketing vs Persona-based Marketing

    For those who are familiar, account-based marketing and persona-based marketing are similar in some aspects and different in others.

    Account-based marketing (ABM) is a lot like fishing. You use a fishing pole instead of a wide net to catch a select group of target accounts or companies.

    Unlike the persona based approach, which targets a broader audience.

    You need a lot of effort and expertise to identify and address the unique needs and challenges of these accounts. This is why marketers and salespeople often work together to convert them.

    Now supposing that you were an account-based marketer, you would:

    • Choose high-value target accounts in line with your ideal customer profile
    • Personalize content and messaging for individual accounts
    • Measure success by account engagement quality, progression through the sales funnel, and conversion rates

    ABM is extremely useful for companies serving niche audiences or enterprise-level clients, often giving quick results through its one-on-one engagement style.

    Things are slightly different with persona based marketing.

    You direct your efforts towards specific customer groups based on the type of persona you have selected; pique the interest of a broader audience and then narrow down.

    How to use ABM in tandem with PBM?

    The only difference between account based marketing and persona based marketing is their level of personalization.

    ABM typically delivers highly customized content right from the beginning, while PBM starts with messages catering to a general audience.

    They are not mutually exclusive; everything just depends on your marketing technique and business objectives.

    For example, ABM is great for startups that require initial traction or for companies that want to make a market shift. Yet, it fails in situations where you have a large and diverse customer base.

    Hence, it is a good idea to use ABM in combination with PBM. It lets you market to entire organizations as if they were single entities. All you need to do is:

    • Create well-researched buyer personas that represent your target audience
    • Zone in on companies/individuals that align with your personas

    This hybrid method brings in the best of both worlds, combining the precision of ABM with the broader appeal of PBM. It additionally increases your reach and saves valuable resources.

    A note on Product-led marketing

    There are two viewpoints in marketing: either you focus on the product or on the people who will be using said product.

    Let’s talk about the former.

    Product-led marketing begins and ends with the product. Apple is infamous for adopting this approach, i.e., they center their marketing around the features, capabilities, and uniqueness of their product.

    Apple marketing example

    Product oriented brands tend to use a one-size-fits-all messaging that aims to attract different types of people.

    The method works on the principle that a great product can essentially sell itself through user satisfaction and advocacy. That said, it generally follows this sequence:

    • Discover a gap or a problem in the market
    • Create a product or service to solve that problem
    • Test product with beta groups
    • Rely on word-of-mouth, referrals and virality to help it gain traction

    Product-led marketing has proven to be highly successful for tech companies like Apple and Tesla.

    So, how can a persona-based marketing tactic help you here? It’s simple.

    After you’ve found a product-market fit and gained insights into product usage, you can use a persona-based marketing strategy to connect with your early customers.

    Your marketing materials can then be tailored to specific customer personas, solving their pain points and concerns, while still highlighting your product's features.

    The data collected will not only help you with product development, but also improve the overall user experience.

    Four Types of Marketing Personas

    At the end of the day, there is no point in launching a campaign that's not targeted at the right audience. Marketing personas are important for this reason as they help you identify your target customers.

    They guide content creation and facilitate a proper understanding of your buyers.

    You can create different types of marketing personas for different purposes like content, email, search engine optimization (SEO), PPC ads, and social media.

    Four types of marketing personas

    In this section, we will look at the four most common ones.

    #1 Content marketing personas

    Study two people in a room and you will learn that they exhibit different behaviors and content consumption habits.

    It’s the same with your prospects.

    Content marketing personas give you an idea about the diverse content preferences of your audience and help you create a strategy that resonates with them.

    They can be employed to pick out the right topics for organic search visibility and create material for every stage of the customer journey.

    You will be able to include relevant blog articles, eBooks, videos, and social media posts in your content production efforts, which can be published on their preferred channels.

    Best of all, you can completely eliminate generic messaging from all your campaigns and build authentic connections with your buyers.

    #2 Email marketing personas

    Better content means better engagement, which leads to improved customer satisfaction.

    This statement holds true for your emails as well.

    If you customize every little aspect of your email campaigns, such as your subject line, content, copy, design, and CTA, you will definitely be able to see higher open and click-through rates.

    Email marketing personas can help you achieve this goal by filtering and segmenting your email subscribers lists.

    You can discover your best performing segments and execute effective email campaigns that tackle their pain points and address individual needs in the easiest way possible.

    This will not only convert passive subscribers into paying customers, but also build trust and loyalty in your brand at large.

    #3 SEO or search personas

    Search engine optimization is a crucial element of any digital marketing campaign.

    What’s more is that it requires a lot of work.

    You need solid keyword research to spot gaps and keyword opportunities. This is followed by creating a content strategy to effectively engage your website visitors.

    We also have additional guest posting and link building projects.

    With SEO or search personas, you can group users into distinct categories on the basis of the keywords they use to visit your website, their browsing behavior and online habits.

    Each of them enables you to:

    • Find popular keywords and topics
    • Understand user intent (the why behind a particular search query)
    • Develop SEO-friendly content
    • Customize meta descriptions and titles
    • Optimize your website and user interface (UI)
    • Locate guest posting and link building opportunities

    All of this will assist you in ranking higher in SERP by improving the authority of your website, ultimately driving more organic traffic and conversions.

    #4 PPC personas

    You never exactly know why people buy or decide to make a purchase.

    Market research and analytics still gives you a decent idea. In a digital era where almost all your activities are tracked, it has become easier for brands to analyze and influence your buying decisions.

    Targeted ads like PPC or pay-per-clicks are used by marketers to compel consumers to buy a product, sign up for a trial, or visit a webpage.

    A PPC persona is specifically designed to represent the ideal candidate for an ad campaign, offering data that allows you to:

    • Select positive and negative keywords
    • Identify ad formats with high engagement rates
    • Tailor ad copy, images, and CTAs
    • Develop a landing page that quickly converts
    • Reduce ad spend on irrelevant clicks

    They are vital for companies looking to enhance paid advertising, ensuring that their ads reach the right users with the right messages.

    Bonus: Social media personas

    Over the years, we have seen the rise of different social media networking platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

    Meta’s Threads has recently joined the chat with 137 million users.

    What does this mean for marketers and marketing as a whole? Although the number of rising channels is daunting for any social media marketer, it’s not necessarily bad news.

    According to Sprout Social, 76% of buyers are likely to buy from a brand they are connected to on social media.

    So you’re good to go if you know your social audience and put in some (or a lot of) effort into interacting with them, giving them what they want right where they want it.

    Social media personas, like the one given below, assist you in this process by telling you all you need to know about your buyers online.

    Social persona example

    You can find out who your buyers follow, visit, and engage with on different social platforms. On top of that, it helps you:

    • Find themes and topics of interest
    • Craft customized social content (posts, stories, videos, and reels)
    • Identify influencers with industry knowledge and social influence
    • Analyze conversations and extract hashtags
    • Choose the demographic for paid social campaigns
    • Respond to comments and messages in the right tone of voice

    Even though success is hard to measure, social media should not be overlooked in your persona based marketing plans.

    How to Create Persona Based Marketing Campaigns?

    A persona-based marketing campaign begins with collecting customer data and accurately identifying your audience's key characteristics, needs, and behavior.

    You develop a target customer profile and mold your plans around them.

    That being said, here is a step-by-step guide that will help you create a persona-based marketing plan.

    Step 1. Research and collect data

    Customer behavior can be understood through proper qualitative and quantitative analysis of data.

    Gather any pre-existing information you have on your customers, like their age, gender, location, transaction history, website and social media activity.

    As for the qualitative part, try to conduct surveys, interviews, polls, and focus groups. It might get hectic and consume a lot of resources, but the results are worth it.

    You can additionally give out freebies to incentivize people for their time.

    Side note: Don’t forget to take a good look at your competitors' customers while collecting data.

    Step 2. Create marketing personas

    As mentioned in the previous section, you can create different types of marketing personas to meet different objectives.

    For example, PPC personas for targeted advertising.

    You have the option to do it manually by grouping your customers into distinct segments based on similarities in behavior, interests, and purchasing habits.

    Give each segment a name, background, and profile picture.

    You may end up with more than one persona but try not to go over three. Otherwise your campaigns will become diluted and unfocused.

    Step 3. Build customer journey maps

    Persona creation is incomplete without a customer journey map. It is your GPS to navigate the highs and lows of customer experiences.

    Buyer journeys not only help you understand your business from the perspective of your customers, but also enable you to see the roadblocks they might encounter.

    Hence you must map out the stages your customers go through, right from awareness to post-purchase interactions.

    The more detailed you are, the easier your buyers’ journey will be. Keep in mind that the buying processes for B2B and B2C clients are different, so make changes accordingly.

    Step 4. Set marketing goals

    Your marketing goals must be SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

    Have a clear-cut idea of your target groups, buyers’ journey, marketing channels, content creation methods, advertising costs, and key performance indicators (KPIs).

    Ask yourself, “What are the end results I want to achieve with this campaign?” Doing so will ensure that your persona-based marketing goals align with your overall business objectives.

    Step 5. Develop relevant content

    People are naturally drawn to visually appealing things.

    Yet, the definition of what’s ‘pretty’ varies from one person to another. When you think about it, you realize that it kind of depends on their personality, the time, and the place.

    We can draw a parallel between this notion and your consumers and your content.

    You have to create the right content and messaging to suit the tastes, needs, and goals of each of your customer personas. But this is nowhere near enough, you also have to deliver it on the right platforms.

    For B2C buyers:

    The content for B2C customers is fairly straightforward, as it aligns with the AIDA model: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

    • Use attractive visuals and storytelling to gain attention
    • Highlight your product’s benefits with descriptions and user generated content (UGC)
    • Offer incentives, trials, or case studies to influence buying decisions

    For B2B clients:

    Unlike the former, content creation for B2B clients can be challenging because you have varying job titles, authority levels, and complex decision-making processes.

    • Provide detailed case studies and customer surveys to satisfy different decision-makers
    • Data-driven material showing KPIs and potential ROI
    • Industry-specific content to address unique needs and priorities

    To learn more about this subject, read our article on SaaS buyer personas.

    Step 6. Monitor and improve

    Before you implement your marketing plan, review it again and check its effectiveness through A/B testing.

    The data and feedback you receive will allow you to assess and refine your personas, content, and strategies. Continuously track your performance via KPIs and analytics tools once you go live, making adjustments as needed.

    If you think that your work is done after people purchased your product, you are wrong.

    Acquiring customers is just the first step in a long journey ahead. The next step is to learn how to keep them and make sure that they stick around for years to come.

    By regularly revisiting and adjusting your strategy, you can stay relevant and effectively engage with your audience.

    Step 7. Use negative buyer personas

    While regular personas help you target the ideal client, negative buyer personas serve a valuable purpose by focusing on those who are not a good fit for your business.

    Simply put, they represent everything that you don’t want in your buyer.

    Additionally, negative personas guide your energy toward potential customers who are likely to buy from you. By excluding individuals who aren't a good fit, you can ensure that your messages only reach those who will convert.

    It increases your chances of building a loyal customer following, which is super good.

    Design a Successful Campaign with Delve AI

    You must have realized that personas are the foundation of a persona based marketing strategy. Either you create one manually or employ the tools and services found online.

    The manual method is good in the sense that it helps you get in touch with your consumers.

    However, it is not practical (or very accurate). You can go with the second option, i.e., use online tools and services.

    Delve AI is a platform that allows you to create data-driven personas automatically. With the help of AI and machine learning, it generates high quality personas for your business.

    Currently, we offer four products with four different specialities:

    • Live Persona for your website visitors
    • Social Persona for your social media followers
    • Competitor Persona for your competitors’ audience
    • Customer persona for your existing clients

    As you can see, each persona gives you insights into your audience's needs, preferences, and behavior, which in turn helps you develop a robust marketing strategy.

    Live persona example

    Sample journeys further enable you to tweak your content, web design, and landing pages according to your buyer’s journey.

    Sample journey example

    For instance, our clients in Dubai leveraged these features to accelerate their sales cycle through real-time lead identification and smart routing.

    You can also achieve the same (if not better) results.

    Wrapping Up

    Personas are not just a tool to segment your group of customers, they are much more than that.

    They are a catalyst for exceptional customer experiences.

    By incorporating them into your persona based marketing campaigns, you can reach more people and create meaningful connections, driving your business to new heights.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What is a marketing persona?

    Marketing personas are semi-fictional characters that represent a specific segment of your market. They are based on similarities in customer demographics, goals, pain points, hobbies, interests, personality traits, and behavior. Marketing personas are used by marketers to develop marketing strategies, ad campaigns, content, and messaging in line with customer preferences.

    What is the persona-based approach in marketing?

    Persona-based marketing (PBM) is a technique wherein you focus all your marketing activities around specific buyer personas. This helps you personalize content, communication, and messaging to align with user demographics, goals, challenges, interests, motivations, and personalities, ensuring relevance and engagement across different marketing channels.

    Why use persona-based marketing?

    Persona-based marketing (PBM) significantly enhances campaign performance by ensuring that your messages are aligned with consumer needs. Furthermore, it can increase website traffic, improve ad targeting, boost click-through rates (CTR), and give higher sales conversions and revenue.

    Create personas automatically from your Google Analytics data
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