If content is king, personalisation is arguably the queen. Your customers are bombarded by lots of information these days, and being able to stand out among the noise depends a lot on how relevant your messaging is to them. Customers’ attention are pulled in every direction, and keeping them engaged requires you to reach out to them at the right time and with the right information, or else you risk losing their interest and it may prove to be very difficult to win them back over time.
In this blog post, I want to share four tactics that you should start working on, if you are not already doing so, to make your marketing more relevant to your customers.
Buyer personas, or simply personas, are fictional representations of your ideal customers. With personas, you move away from thinking of your contacts as a set of demographics and attributes, but as persons with desires and frustrations that your products and services can reach them to fulfil their dreams and wants, and remove their pain points. What really sets personas apart from segments by attributes is the persona story. When building your buyer personas, you weave back stories to humanise your target audience, which will in turn inform you on how to talk to them, what’s most important to talk to them about, and when to talk to them. And that’s what we mean by being relevant to your customers.
Additionally, when you bring a human face to your segments through personas, your marketing messages take on a humanised voice as well. And that’s always good, because most customers prefer to deal with businesses that listen to them and are able to respond to them with awareness.
As soon as you are able to be more relevant and more responsive to your customers, you will start seeing engagement rise because now you are talking to people who are interested to listen to what you have to say.
So, what does a typical persona look like? As an example, here are three personas for a fictional travel agency:
Each persona describes a particular segment of travelers that abctravel.com wishes to target. Oftentimes, your product categories can clearly correspond to your personas, but this may not always be the case. In this example, it makes sense for the travel agency to target each persona for each travel category.
One very important point about personas is that they are not your actual customers. Personas should be broad enough, and should not describe any particular customer specifically, as doing so may unnecessarily narrow down your personas. Your customers may resemble one key persona, and that will be the lead persona that you go with for that customer. As you can see above, your customers Amy, Martin and Parker may describe themselves as one of your set personas.
So, after personas are built and customers are assigned to personas, what’s next? That’s when personalisation can truly begin. Depending on your marketing strategy, you may start to personalise your emails, landing pages and websites according to personas. Here’s an example of how a landing page might be customised to these customers based on their personas:
2. Buyer’s Journey
Buyer personas are for telling you who you want to reach out to, while buyers’ journeys are for telling you when and how you should reach out to them. The journey that a customer takes from understanding and becoming aware, to researching and considering, and finally to converting, is described as a continuum as depicted in the diagram below:
This diagram clearly illustrates that at different stages of a customer’s journey, their most immediate concern changes and the means to reach them morphs accordingly as well. For example, at the awareness stage, your customers are likely to have only just become aware of a challenge (or opportunity) they face, and may not yet be ready to look for a solution to address that issue. This is a good time for marketers to educate about the issue and be helpful in their paths to research and find out more about the problem. It will only be at the decision stage that it’d be appropriate to provide these prospective customers with information to help them make a decision to go with your products and services to answer their problems and challenges.
As important as buyer personas, a buyer’s journey should be mapped out clearly so that you can decide early on what kind of content should be created for each persona at their different stages in the journey. Identify the content types to invest time on, and whether there are existing content that can be repurposed and leveraged on.
Before you embark on writing a piece of content or offer, stop and think about the call-to-action first. More often than not, doing that will give you a greater sense of clarity of how to structure the content and keep a keen eye on the goal that you want to achieve. With that focus, you will be less likely to deviate from your intended message, and the result will be a concise and clearly articulated piece of content that will engage your customers.
Defining a good call-to-action takes experience. For a start, refrain from the temptation to offer multiple calls-to-action. Very often, having many calls-to-action indicates a lack of confidence in what you are offering. By focusing on one strong call-to-action, you minimise the distractions to your intended audience and increase the likelihood of them converting. In other words, do not treat calls-to-action like safety nets to “catch them all.” Instead, be very focused and relevant in your messaging, and target the right segment, and you will create a much more effective call-to-action.
A good call-to-action must not be wishy-washy in its message as well. Be clear and bold–if the call-to-action is for a content download offer, for example, use the verb “Download” very distinctly (like, “Download Your Free Marketing Checklist Now”), so that there’s no mistaking what you want the audience to achieve. Remember that you are fighting against very limited attention spans, so it pays to be bold and to the point about the action to take.
4. Marketing Automation
To tie all these concepts together, you need to have in place a good marketing automation process. What marketing automation does is automating workflows that helps you achieve the mass personalisation that would otherwise be impossible to manage simply by manual process. For example, automated welcome emails or responder emails that are automatically sent out upon some website visitor’s actions are some classic use cases for automation.
Above is an example of a visual workflow set up in SharpSpring. Visual workflows are flowcharts that specify to SharpSpring which user trigger actions to look out for, and what email or system actions to carry out in response to those triggers.
Each flow may be as simple or as complex as one wants it to be, but taken together, all the workflows can come together to form an intricate system of automated triggers and actions that will make your marketing very responsive, targeted and relevant.
It cannot be stressed enough just how important personalisation is to marketers today. Start small, but start today, to work towards bringing some form of personalisation into your marketing tactics. Stop driving the same old message to everyone on your list. Start thinking of how to slice and dice your segments and re-imagine the content and tone of voice that you use to reach out to these segments. Before long, you will start to see better engagement with your target audience.