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Katelyn Staaben

Senior Digital Marketing Strategist

Katelyn is a social media strategist and digital marketer with a background in developing strategy for B2B organizations. Certified in conversion writing through Conversion XL and Google Analytics, she supports the Northwoods digital marketing and account teams by contributing ideas to web design projects, social media, SEO, digital strategy consulting, and content management implementation.

Why You Need Digitally Focused Personas

March 11, 2021 | Katelyn Staaben, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist

3 Minute Read

In 2021, having a solid understanding of your target audience is more important than ever. With the rise of personalized digital marketing, the competitiveness of the digital landscape, and growing expectations from users, businesses must have a clear idea of what their audience is looking for in order to succeed.

One way to gather that understanding is by developing personas. Marketing personas aren’t new. They've been used by marketers for years as a way of understanding the needs and pain points of their key audiences.

But today’s personas need to do more than their predecessors. In order to develop effective personas in 2021, businesses must keep in mind the digital landscape that their marketing tactics and their users currently occupy. This is crucial, as forgetting about digital will prevent personas from being as useful as they could be.

If you’re on the fence about the importance of digitally focused personas, keep in mind the following.

Marketing and Sales are Now Digital

For most industries, the entire customer lifecycle, in both sales and marketing, involves digital tactics. Your audience is looking for information about you and your services via digital means, whether that’s social media, search engines, on your website or in other digital spaces.

If your customers are looking for your digitally, shouldn’t you use those tactics as well? Traditional personas don’t always account for the impact that digital has had on our marketing and sales processes, or take into account how the user data you’ve collected could be applied across these channels.

Messaging Isn’t Enough Anymore

Many traditional personas focus most of their effort on determining the best way to create effective messaging for their various persona groups. While crafting a message that will relate to your target audience is important, it doesn’t paint the entire picture.

Even the perfect message means nothing if your audience never sees it. Personas that keep digital strategies and tactics in mind can provide not just a snapshot of who that user is and what message relates to them, but also how to reach them.

Even better, digitally focused personas can address how users want to be reached during each phase of their research. Digital personas provide insight into what types of messaging work best on each potential digital channel, and how you can adjust your digital marketing and website strategies to account for the needs of your target audiences.

Data Drives Everything

The best personas are developed using data. That data could be collected directly from users via surveys and interviews or gathered from a market research tool. Regardless of the types of data that are used, it is crucial that the personas are created based on data, not just intuition or personal experience from employees alone.

Those same digital tactics you identified to reach your personas can be used to form the personas themselves. Digital platforms gather tons of data about your users that can be incredibly influential in persona development. If you already have users engaging with your website, social media channels or digital advertising, there is a plethora of data already at your fingertips that you can use to make even stronger decisions about your users going further.

Take a Closer Look at Your Users

Understanding your target audience is more important in marketing today than it has been ever before. But audience data and personas are only useful if they're developed with your digital tactics in mind. If you haven’t yet developed personas, or if you only have traditional messaging personas, now is the time to develop digitally focused personas that will drive your marketing strategy in the right direction this year.

To learn more about persona development and how Northwoods can help, visit our Persona Development services page or contact us!