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Dave Chaffey on how to use personas for Digital Marketing

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 10 Apr, 2018
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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.

Grant Leboff: Dave, one of the things that I think people hear about in marketing and don't always completely understand what they are and how useful they can be, is this idea of ‘personas’. Perhaps you can explain a bit more about that for us.

Dave Chaffey: Yeah, for sure, personas, I'm a big fan of them, but they're not without their problems if you don't get them right. I first heard about them working with HSBC over 10 years ago, and they weren't really used at that stage. Where I think they're most useful is that they allow you to give a customer-centric view of the website. So rather than someone's opinion about the content and the customer journey, you're putting them in the context of a real person. Around that time actually, 2005, I saw the example of Dulux the paint brand, and how they used them. They identified six different audiences, actually five of them were female, because they found through their research that that's who has got an opinion on paint.

What they would do for each of those personas is they'd think through how they consumed media online and offline, what sort of sites they like, really getting inside their mind, how they search. A good practice is to have a primary persona where it's often, not most important by volume, but the person that you most need to get it right for. With Dulux, their primary persona was Penny, and she wanted to do something amazing, something creative with her flat, but she wasn't sure where to start. What Dulux did was then to think about the customer journey and the content that would support that.

I think if you still go to the Dulux responsive site you will see this message, "Be inspired," and this was a message for that persona to guide them through how they could do something amazing, and to get them to buy into the brand.

Grant Leboff: So for a business that wants to go down this route of looking at personas and starting to become more customer-centric in that way, would you advice the first thing to look at their customer database currently and start to identify those personas? How would they start the journey?

Dave Chaffey: That's right, you can look at the customer profiles that you've collected and try to group them. Usually we say around three to ten is representative, so in Smart Insight as our personas, we might have a size of a business from small, medium, large, but we also layer on the roles. So one persona we have is for the digital marketing manager, another one would be for an agency owner who's looking to improve digital marketing in their agency and for their clients. When you're at that stage of three to six, you really need to go out and talk to people directly, we can't tell this through the analytics, it's got to be more personal. That means that it's not a cheap activity to get right, but the depth of insight you get really allow you to develop more relevant content.

Grant Leboff: How are they utilized ... You are in the business, because you can imagine a team gets together, looks at the database, puts them, they're six or seven personas together, how do they then manifest themselves through the business so that people start to understand where that is in the digital marketing team, the customer service team…  How have you seen that done well?

Dave Chaffey: Right, okay. I've often seen it done badly where you've got digital or web design personas, but they haven't mapped to segmentation or targeting elsewhere in the business. The first thing is they need to be multi-channel personas across the board, and then it's just including them within the whole planning and campaign management process, so when you're kicking off a new campaign, you do start with the business goals, but you include the personas at an early stage, and you try and build the content to engage that audience and to develop the right messaging for the different personas. That can then cascade into the different channels. We are going to target this persona in search marketing or social media, or emails. It's developing a more personalized content for each of those personas, so doing a mapping activity really.

Author's avatar

By Robert Allen

Rob Allen is Marketing Manager for Numiko, a digital agency that design and build websites for purpose driven organisations, such as the Science Museum Group, Cancer Research UK, University of London and the Electoral Commission. Rob was blog editor at Smart Insights from 2015-2017. You can follow Rob on LinkedIn.

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