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Every piece of your digital marketing strategy relies on understanding and cultivating your audience, specifically the different target personas. Your business increases its chances of finding and converting leads when you’re targeting the people who are the right match to what you have to offer. And the first step toward making sure you’re talking to the right people? Defining who exactly they are, what their needs are, what their pain points are, and how you provide them with a solution.

Coming up with fictionalized, generalized definitions of your target audiences helps you more accurately relate and market to them. It helps narrow your efforts to include only those that will attract the right people. Each business decision you make should be geared toward a specific persona. Start by defining only your main persona and then expand that as you learn better segmentation (3-5 personas is a great goal).

Persona development includes both demographics and psychographics. Your demographics are your statistical and basic pieces of information about your personas, such as gender, age, or education level. The psychographics are their way of living, including interests, values, activities, or beliefs.

So, how do you know who these people are?

You can start with some simple surveys for clients and prospects—even a survey on your website—as well as pulling information from contacts you already have. In addition to gathering this information, you can also include attributes you would like your personas to have. Don’t get too carried away, but if you’re hoping to reach a certain market, you can include that information.

For gathering this insight, you can turn to several places. Go through the data you already have to find how people are coming to your website and converting. How are they consuming your content and interacting with your business? Google Analytics is a great tool for learning more about your personas. Forms on your website give you great knowledge as well; plus you’ll learn who is converting and from what page on your website. Finally, you can interview your prospects—either in person or on the phone—to dig deeper into what they like, don’t like, and find helpful about what you have to offer.

Your existing customers can be very insightful in this process and should be the first group to turn to.

How to take research and turn it into personas.

Start by gathering all the demographic information for your different personas—gender, age, income, etc.—and combine that information with the motivations and pain points of those same personas. Each persona should include clear goals and the challenges faced when trying to reach those goals. On top of that, add how your company offers a solution and makes life easier.

Once you have all this information pulled together for each persona, create bios for these people and give them “names.” This helps to bring them to life and makes them an active part of your marketing efforts. Here’s one example of what this might look like:

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Creating these personas will give you direction when communicating with your prospects. It will show you how your audience prefers to receive information, how they navigate the digital space, and what is important to them while they’re doing it.

Messaging to your personas.

Now that you’ve developed these personas, you can use them to guide business decisions based on what you know about them. Each piece of content you produce—social media post, email, or call-to-action—should fit the personality and goals of at least one of your personas.

These personas will make everything easier when you’re working on various projects by showing you if it’s a good or bad direction. You’ll provide goals around each action by knowing what your persona is looking for and how they prefer to be engaged. Refer to these descriptions when you’re wondering how to move forward or what to do next in your marketing efforts. Over time, they will become ingrained in your team.

It is impossible to reach every audience, nor do you want to. By clearly defining who yours is, your efforts will be more effective, gain more traction, and increase ROI.