An introduction to best practices for using buyer web personas to create more customer-centric websites

Creating personas of website visitors is a powerful technique for helping increase the usability and customer-centricity of a website as part of a user-centered design (UCD) process. I've been a big fan of using personas since around 2003 I was introduced to it by Matt Dooley, a customer experience manager in the HSBC Global E-business team.  At the time, they were following reports by Forrester on creating web personas. This shows that they're certainly not new, indeed their equivalent of using customer thumbnails for customer segmentation or ad campaigns has existed for decades. However, I find they're still not so widely used when giving examples on training courses.

What is a web persona?

A simple definition of a web persona is: "a summary of the characteristics, needs, motivations, and environment of a key type of website user". A more specific…

Practical copywriting tips and examples for e-commerce websites

As Coronavirus spreads around the world, e-commerce websites need messages telling customers what service they can expect from the new normal. A few are doing these really well, but many are falling into the trap of writing in a stiff, legalistic language that does nothing to reassure or persuade customers to carry on buying. It’s understandable.  Plummeting sales figures (unless you’re selling Vitamin C) means that Business owners are panicked about keeping the company afloat, senior managers are petrified about their jobs and everyone is scrambling to get their work done. As human beings, they are worried about their friends, family and possibly their own health too. Those huge levels of anxiety permeate through to stiff, formal wording that does nothing to reassure with statements like “Our existing business continuity plans have been designed to support the continued…

I'm sorry to break it to you, but building personas will probably take twice as long as you think it will. Now's the time to create accurate personas to reap the rewards from doing so.

When thinking about personas, what comes to mind? It's likely you'll think of persona cards like the one below. But there is a lot of work involved to get to that stage - there's no point simply creating persona cards based on who you think your customers are. Many may think it's a good idea to have a quick look at data or produce them on the assumptions of every time they've dealt with customers, but by conducting persona research you can truly understand who your customers are. Personalization is also becoming more important, personas help you to deliver content, services, and products to relevant and targeted customers and prospects. Here's why it's worth the time and effort. [caption id="attachment_112641" align="alignnone" width="550"]…

Use your customer data to find and target your most valuable customers

As every savvy marketer knows, using buyer personas is a time-honored technique that helps ensure messaging stays focused on the customer — nearly 60% of B2B marketers currently use them. The problem is that the results are mixed. Only a little more than a third of those marketers describe personas as being "very" or "extremely" effective, and 16% say they are "not at all" or "not very" effective.  So why aren't these marketers having better luck with what should be a surefire tactic? The truth is that no matter how hard you work to market your product, you're not going to see success selling to the wrong persona. You wouldn’t target young professional men when the customers who really want what you’re offering are middle-aged moms. You probably can't sell baby strollers to singles, for example. No matter how powerful your message…

As traditional marketing methods become less effective, companies are realizing the need for more relevant and authoritative content

This shift in strategy is fueling the rapid growth of the content marketing industry, which is projected to reach $412.88 billion by 2021, according to Technavio. But with all the buzz about the possibilities of AI, many businesses are curious about whether or not it can be (convincingly) applied to content creation. After all, companies like Google and Yahoo Finance have been using automated content for years, unbeknownst to many a reader. While the applications for AI are often lauded as either a panacea for society’s ills or admonished as being the end of humanity, the possibilities for AI and content creation rest firmly in reality, as many companies are already using both to help them build their brands…

Short ethnography studies can help to create personas and improve your website user experience and usability

Anyone who reads my Smart Insights blog posts will probably know by now that I try to achieve two things: Show marketers that research isn't too difficult, time-consuming or expensive (ok that's actually three things there) Show marketers the benefit of research and why it's worth the effort The next method I want to talk to you about is a particularly time-consuming type of research: ethnography, which are long-term observational type studies, however, I also believe that a simple short-term ethnography study can also yield fantastic benefits for user research and building personas which I recommend contain these features: Ethnography doesn't need to be time-consuming and there are ways of using this research method on a short-term basis to help increase your conversions and focus your marketing by helping…

Dave Chaffey talks with Grant LeBoff about how to correctly use Marketing Personas

Personas are a term that you often hear marketers discussing, but don't always completely understand. In this video, Dave Chaffey, our CEO and  author of Digital Marketing, explains to Grant Leboff what personas are and how they can be useful when they have the details needed to show customer journey maps and content needs. No headphones? - You can always read the transcript below instead. [si_guide_block id="18795" title="Download resources – Persona Examples Toolkit" description="Includes many recent examples of Personas, Customer Journey Maps for B2C and B2B audiences and defines best practice techniques to help you define better customer personas.  We also have a companion persona research guide with a downloadable template for creating persona journey maps."/] Grant Leboff: Dave, one of the things that I think people hear about in marketing and don't always completely understand what they…

Improve audience understanding for more persuasive marketing campaigns in four steps

Gone are the days of randomly placing keywords and ranking for any term we liked. Today’s savvy marketer recognizes that in order to succeed in the Google search results, and more widely online, we need to forget old-school techniques of trying to appeal to the search giants and focus instead on our end user. Customer personas are a powerful marketing tool which enables us to better articulate our audience’s needs and complexities in a usable manner. Here, I’ll explain how to create useful marketing personas to guide your marketing strategy.

[si_guide_block id="83545" title="Download Expert Member resource – Persona research guide" description="This guide will help you build personas using the most appropriate research techniques. The research doesn't need to be lengthy or costly, as this guide explains."/]

Back to basics: audience demographics

...And you won't be able to tell the difference

2017 is the year that copywriting by Artificial Intelligence (AI) has moved from science fiction fantasy to commercial fact. Game-changing new tools mean that computers can now produce convincing, accurate product descriptions that look as if they were penned by a trained copywriter. The future has arrived.

[si_guide_block id="87369" title="Download Business Resource – AI and Machine Learning for Marketing" description="The guide aims to help businesses of all sizes to apply to their marketing, focusing on Artificial Intelligence. All businesses can now use the services we recommend to implement Machine Learning. The guide explains why, how with an actionable and practical approach."/]

Many people regard AI as a bit of a joke and cannot imagine a day when software will write better than humans. Tay, the ill-fated Microsoft chatbot, became a laughing stock when she went from innocently playful tweets to racist rants and swear words…

How to avoid the most common copywriting mistakes and convert more of your visitors

If your landing page isn't converting leads and your email campaigns don't bring in significant results, something might be wrong with your copy. Even if it's relatively easy to find talented writers these days, businesses are still making the same mistakes over and over again.

Check out our new Quick Win on how to write an effective sales letter or email.

Here are 5 copywriting mistakes you're probably making together with tips to help you fix them to deliver compelling copy for your product and boost your bottom line.

1. You don't really understand your audience

It's hard to address people you don't really know in your copy. How are you supposed to convince them to follow your call-to-action if you have no idea about their preferences, needs, or pain points? Before crafting your copy, you need to have a full…