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How to use PPC personas to boost search engine marketing

Get practical tips to create and apply Pay-Per-Click (PPC) personas for paid search advertising. Boost search engine marketing (SEM) performance by implementing buyer personas in your PPC campaigns.
8 Min Read    |   April 16, 2024

Table Of Contents

    Are your PPC campaigns based only on keywords? That's terrible.

    Shift from keywords to an audience-driven approach with the help of PPC personas. We know that consumers don't trust brands. Period. So you have to make sure that your PPC campaigns pack a punch and stand out from the plethora of ads generated online.

    How do you do this though?

    Well, by personalizing your PPC campaigns and using personas.

    What is PPC?

    PPC or pay-per-click is a digital advertising model used to drive traffic to your website. The advertiser pays the publisher a fee whenever someone clicks on their ad. The publisher in this case is usually a website owner, search engine, social media network, or a consortium of other websites.

    Why do you need buyer personas?

    A buyer persona is a tool that businesses must employ whenever they plan a marketing campaign. It helps you focus on your target audience and give them the benefits that they are looking for.

    Personas are crucial for the success of your PPC advertising campaigns. Once you create a buyer persona, it allows you to develop a clearer understanding of your customers' goals, needs, and pain points. You can then direct your marketing efforts towards specific users that are most likely to convert.

    PPC marketers and businesses can use personas to optimize their PPC campaigns and improve its overall performance. This will increase the chances of conversion, sales, and revenue while saving time and money at the same time!

    What is a PPC persona?

    A PPC persona is a type of buyer persona specifically designed to represent the ideal customer for a PPC campaign. It typically includes data on customer demographics, behavior, online search habits, and buying preferences.

    PPC personas are useful for identifying the market you want to target with your PPC ads. You can then develop amazing ad copy, content, and landing pages that will convert your target audience into customers. PPC personas can also be used to segment your target users in order to create more efficient ad campaigns.

    How to build personas for PPC campaigns?
    How to build personas for PPC campaigns

    You can quickly create SEM personas for your PPC campaigns with the steps that have been outlined below.

    Step 1: Gather information on your target audience

    Firstly, you should gather data that you have on your existing buyers. What are the pieces of information that you already know about your ideal customers? Jot them down. Write down the characteristics and behaviors you have noticed in your existing customers that you want to leverage upon. If you already have existing personas built out, take them into consideration. If not, use online persona creation tools to generate buyer personas.

    Step 2: Use online tools to create personas

    Two methods are generally employed when building buyer personas: the traditional method and the modern method.

    In the former, buyer personas are created based on surveys, interviews, and other qualitative data. The modern method makes use of Google Analytics and various online services to create buyer personas automatically. Some of the online services that allow you to generate personas are Hubspot, Delve AI, MakeMyPersona, Xtensio, and Userforge.

    These services create detailed buyer personas in minutes and some also offer templates for the same. You can further use social listening tools like Hootsuite and Pulsar to track your business and competitors on social media and enrich your personas.

    Step 3: Refine your buyer persona

    Once you have collected information on your existing buyers and built personas, ask yourself the following questions.

    • What is your mission and vision statement?
    • What kind of customers do you usually prefer?
    • Which segment of customers are the easiest to convert?
    • Who engages with most of your emails, texts, and SMS?
    • What is the average lifetime customer value?
    • How much on average does a customer spend during a purchase?
    • What are the features that most customers love?
    • What are the oft-used keywords in the niche that you are targeting?
    • What does the search intent of most searches look like?
    • What are the top keywords that you target?
    • Which keywords give you the most conversions and which one offers the poorest?

    The answers to these questions will help refine your personas for PPC campaigns.

    Step 4: Extract key information points

    Once you have created and refined your personas for PPC, make sure that you:

    1. Find out various aspects of their life such as hobbies, values, purchasing motivations, etc. It will help you get a closer understanding of the personas you are targeting.
    2. Learn more about the technologies they use. Do they use an Android phone or an iOS phone? What is the costliest electronic gadget that they own? How many gadgets do each of them have? Which are the search engines that they extensively use? Do they use voice search? How do they search online for a product?
    3. Know how they interact with others in the online world. How often do these people purchase online? What are the social networking platforms that they use? Do they like reading newsletters? How do they make purchasing decisions? Are they impulsive or do they take the time to buy something online?
    4. Identify the goals and challenges of the personas. Do you solve any of these challenges with your product/service? When contacting brands, what are the issues they usually face?

    After going through all the four steps, you will have well refined personas. Your marketing team can use them for paid search campaigns and improve its PPC strategy for better conversion rates.

    Use Delve AI to create user personas

    As mentioned before, there are many products and services available online which help you create, interact with, and share buyer personas automatically.

    One such tool is Persona by Delve AI. It is an AI-powered persona generator tool that creates multiple buyer personas for your business websites. Used by more than 5000 businesses across the globe, it generates buyer personas and user journeys automatically by using your website's Google Analytics data and enriching it with customer data (e.g. reviews, blogs, communities, etc).

    Delve AI uses more than 20 data sources to unearth insights and segments your audience based on behavior, demographics, psychographics, geographies, and transactions.

    The platform provides three tools for persona creation:

    • Live Persona: You can use Live Persona to gain clarity on your website visitors and enrich your PPC marketing campaigns. Simply sign in to Delve AI and connect it with your existing Google Analytics account. The platform will then automatically generate and segment buyer personas according to their interests, goals, motivations, and pain points.
    • Competitor Persona: Want to know the kind of user traffic your competitors get? Use Competitor Persona to automatically create personas by providing your competitor website domain. The competitor personas will give you an idea about your competitor's ideal customers and help you develop targeted PPC strategies that differentiate you from your competition.
    • Social Persona: The tool allows you to create personas for your social media audiences. Simply enter your social media handle into the platform and specify the social networks that you want to create personas for. You will get social media personas enriched with social insights, influencer entities, and topics of interests.

    Use the insights obtained from the tools to tailor your PPC campaigns according to your ideal personas and get new creative ideas.

    Incorporate personas into your PPC campaign

    There is absolutely no point in creating personas if you are not going to use them in your PPC strategy. Take the example of a company that increased its PPC campaign performance by 152% through PPC personas.

    Amplify uses personas to improve efficiency of search ads

    The marketing agency Amplify was asked to develop a PPC campaign by a company for a new software. The goal was to increase "free trial" signups. Being new in the field, the company did not have many insights into the keywords used by their potential audience. They assumed that only brand marketers and social media managers would be their target users. Hence, they directed their PPC efforts towards this user segment.

    Obviously, this approach didn't work out.

    The cost per acquisition (CPA) went up by 270% while the sign-ups were only 76% of the way through. The agency had to go back to developing specific target personas and performed keyword analysis for the same.

    Amplify moved away from broad keywords targeted at "digital marketing managers" to keywords directed at the end users of the software such as "webmasters". The keyword research found more specific terms which were immediately added to the PPC campaign.

    The result?

    Amplify optimized the company's PPC campaign by targeting the right personas. The company's cost per acquisition decreased by 58% while sign-ups increased by 152%.

    Ways to develop PPC campaigns around your persona

    You can add natural language words that are usually used in searches such as 'I'm looking for' or 'I want'. Take out some of these words and add it to your keywords. Do not use corporate parlance when choosing PPC Keywords. Instead, go with words that your prospective customers will use to find your product or service in their day to day lives.

    The keywords will help you match your message to the personas. Would your persona be all right with sarcasm or humor? Do they expect you to be direct? Do you have to sell a product that is used during medical emergencies? If you want your prospects to click on the ad link, you need to be clear about the benefits that your product offers.

    The call-to-action (CTA) and the landing page content should always match the expectations or traits of your personas. If you are targeting a C-suite executive, they will have the patience to go through a report, but if it is a Gen Z student, videos would be the ideal way to convince them. Essentially, your audience shouldn't feel that your content does not deliver what the ads promised.

    That said, PPCs aren't the only way to find customers for your product or service. You can always invest in email marketing, referrals, organic searches, and social media to meet your revenue goals.


    Because unless the budget is limitless, there is no way that you can cover your entire target audience just by using the PPC channel.

    PPC personas based on buyer's journey

    The prospects you target will consist of smaller subgroups who will be at different stages of the buyer's journey.

    Every user goes through three stages of the buyer's journey before converting into a revenue generating customer. The Awareness stage, the Consideration stage, and the Decision making stage. You can create different PPC personas for all three.

    However, to determine how many personas you need (or can afford), ask yourself the following questions:

    • Do you have enough budget to run separate marketing strategies for each persona?
    • Which are the most crucial personas for you?
    • Which of the personas can be excluded without significant damage to your PPC campaign results?

    Once you have created personas for each stage of the marketing funnel, apply them to your PPC campaigns, ads, and landing page content. Address their pain points at every stage of the buyer's journey and tell them how your product or service solves them. This will ensure that your campaign is focused on the right audience at the right time.

    Example of using personas in your PPC ads

    Elma is a 30 year old woman who lives with her husband and two sons in New York. Her husband is a Type-2 diabetic who loves chocolates. She has tried encouraging him to get fit and eat right, but is unsuccessful. Also, there are hardly any sugar free chocolates available in the market that offer the same flavor. She is tired of the products found in her local neighborhood and is surfing the web to find brands that don't use sugar.

    Here's what a company that sells chocolates can do.

    Suppose your brand makes sugar-free chocolates without using any chemical alternatives. Honey, dates, and dry fruits are the only ingredients you use to sweeten the chocolates. It is a perfect alternative for Elma's husband. But how do you tell her that your product meets her expectations?

    It is only possible when you know your personas.

    Now you know that Elma is surfing the web to search for 'zero sugar chocolates.' She could also be typing 'low carb chocolates' or 'keto chocolates.' You should try to rank for either of these three keywords to get her to click on your PPC ad.

    However, you should remember that there are a number of user personas one could have according to their buyer journey. In this case, the decision to consume less sugar is also a lifestyle choice. Hence, those on keto diet or low carb diet will be the other personas that your brand should target and monetize.

    Mentioning that your chocolates are for low carb or keto dieters will positively work in your favor. Combining various target audience segments will also allow you to efficiently use your PPC budget while covering most user personas.

    How to use buyer personas to boost SEM performance?
    How to use buyer personas to boost SEM performance

    Buyer personas make sure that your PPC campaigns don't fail. Furthermore, you will be able to optimize your campaigns beyond clicks and conversions. Let's take a deeper look at the different ways brands can use buyer personas to boost SEM performance.

    1. Organize your campaigns effectively

    Do remember that every customer persona has a different buyer journey. PPC personas help you organize your campaigns in such a way that it relates with the unique journey of each persona.

    Here's what you should do. Add one ad group per persona for your campaigns. If you want to create separate campaigns for each persona, that's all right too. When you have separate ad campaigns for each persona, you have greater control over your ad targeting and messaging. It helps you personalize the user experience and create super personalized ads.

    2. Create ads for each stage of the buyer's journey

    The way to target a prospective customer in the top of the funnel should be completely different from how you would target someone in the bottom of the funnel. You can create an ad group for each stage of the buyer's journey i.e. the awareness, consideration, and decision making stage. Dividing them in this manner helps personalize and develop a copy that focuses on their needs and pain points. It is also great for tracking and attribution.

    3. Refine your targeting

    To find and target the right buyers, you need to apply your buyer personas into your PPC platform. For those who are using Google Ads, the Audience Builder tool lets you upload customer persona demographics. Link Google Ads with Google Analytics site data using Google Tag Manager. With the Live Persona tool, it will give you an idea about your existing personas.

    4. Better your content marketing

    One of the most effective ways to get great search engine results is to work on your content marketing efforts. Content influences your organic traffic, increases brand awareness, moves the prospects deeper into the sales cycle, etc. With the help of PPC personas, not only do you know what you create, but also for whom you are creating it. Analyze bounce rates, pages browsed per visit, and average visit duration of each persona segment. Then you can produce content that interests and motivates them to take action.

    5. Develop personalized messaging

    When you know the pain points of a buyer persona, you can create specific messaging to address them. Make sure you target the ads to specific pain points, objections, and needs. Understanding the target audience's behaviors, preferences, and challenges helps you address them in a way that will hit the right places.

    For example, if you know that a particular feature is the most important factor during purchasing, ensure that you phrase your communication highlighting that feature.

    6. Find which stage of the funnel the prospect is in

    The description used in the keyword research will help you segment keywords into the right stage of the customer lifecycle. Additional data from your buyer personas will help you target your audience with the right offers. Instead of targeting prospects of all the stages in the funnel with the same messaging, you can change your offer based on their sales cycle.

    7. Know who not to target

    A negative buyer persona is a collection of characteristics such as real-life scenarios, demographics, psychographics, or behaviors that disqualifies someone from being your customer. Knowing who not to target is as important as knowing who to target for your PPC campaigns.

    Just like how there are negative keywords in a keyword campaign, certain attributes have to be used to narrow down your audience. Using negative personas can limit your audience, so make sure you employ it only on attributes that are deal-breakers.

    8. Adjust your ad spend

    Once you have a fair understanding of your target market with the help of personas, you will know the right keywords to use in your PPC campaigns. By doing so, you will reduce the ad spend on other keywords that might not fetch great results. When you are armed with the knowledge of the right keywords, you can go for more long-tail or even brand name keywords since you have saved on your ad budget.

    9. Use the lingo of your personas

    When you know how each persona communicates, you can speak their language too in your PPC ads. Use the words that they naturally use. Add slangs that your audience uses. It will grab their attention like no other.


    Getting an in-depth understanding of your customers' problems, challenges, and needs, will help you go a long way in increasing your bottom line. Using PPC personas, you can boost the return on investment (ROI) and profitability of your search engine marketing results. Instead of relying on a hunch for your digital advertising campaigns, prepare in detail about who you are targeting and the messaging you want to employ for each buyer personas. It sounds like tough work but will increase customer engagement and pay rich dividends.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    How do you build PPC personas?

    You can follow these five simple steps to build PPC personas for your paid search campaigns:

    Step 1: Gather information about your target audience

    Step 2: Use online tools to create PPC personas

    Step 3: Refine your buyer personas

    Step 4: Extract key information points

    Step 5: Use Delve AI to create user personas

    How do you use personas for PPC campaigns?

    There are numerous ways in which personas can improve your PPC campaigns, but mainly they help you:

    • Organize your organic and paid campaigns
    • Create ads for each stage of the buyer's journey
    • Refine audience targeting
    • Improve content marketing
    • Develop personalized messaging
    • Adjust your ad spend
    • Use customer language in your PPC ads
    Create personas automatically from your Google Analytics data
    Gain a deeper understanding of your digital customers

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