The importance of buyer personas in web marketing

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Best Practices  |  Business to Business

One of the simplest ways to build an effective website or to create great marketing programs using online content is to target specific buyer personas. Yet most websites are big brochures that do not offer specific information for different buyers.

A buyer persona is essentially a demographic group of buyers that you have identified as having a specific interest in your organization or product or a specific market problem that your product solves. By doing some basic research on your buyers (just listen to them!) and then creating content that appeals to them, your site will be much more effective.

For an example of this, consider the US Presidential elections of 2004. Marketers for the two major candidates segmented buyers (voters) into distinct buyer personas. Some of the names of the buyer personas were well known such as "NASCAR Dads" or "Security Moms".

When marketing with web content, think carefully how you can segment your buyers and then build content for each buyer persona. Examples:

1. A college or university that wants to generate more applications might have specific pages for prospective students (targeting high school students looking for schools) and another set of pages for parents (who are part of the decision process and often pay the bills). The content on these pages will be very different.

2. A B2B enterprise software provider's site might create content by the job function of the different buyers that contribute to making the buying decision for a large sale. For example, content would be different for a business buyer compared to a technologist compared to a user of the application.

3. A consultant might have different pages of their website that appeals to meeting planners that might hire him to speak vs. pages specific for companies that might hire him to provide advice.

In any business, a website will be more effective with targeted content by buyer personas. And done well, this more appropriate content will also be beneficial for search engine optimization because the words and phrases used in the copy is targeted specifically to real people with problems that your organization solves.