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Persona Management 101

MethodFactory has been in the Web Content Management (WCM) space since its inception in 2000.  We’ve seen the market evolve and mature; from rudimentary text management against a fixed menu of static pages to dynamic content management that considers the viewer (persona) and the device they’re using.  There’s been a lot of growth in that space, particularly in the last 2-3 years.  In our 2013 New Year blog post we reference the transition from web content management to Customer Experience Management (CXM).  You can see evidence of this focus in the latest Gartner and Forrester software comparisons as well.

Persona ManagementWe regularly see concrete evidence of the value in using well defined personas to drive meaningful engagement with the web visitor / prospect / customer.  It’s that ongoing dialogue with the customer.  We’ve also seen persona-based content targeting initiatives fall flat.  The most frequent challenge point with these efforts seems to be the lack of an up-front plan; a clearly documented inventory of the personas that are to be used and a maintainable content strategy for conversing with those personas.  To follow is some context on persona management and best practice thought starters.

What is a Persona?

A Persona is a profile of your visitor(s), developed to allow you to target specific content/messages to defined audiences based on their probable needs and desires. With persona content marketing, relevant content is delivered to the visitor based on the information/data you’ve captured about them through things like online forms, polls, buying history, etc. Establishing criteria like their title, interests, industry, and even the pages they’ve visited on your website is what makes up a persona and determines what content will be pushed out to them.

The value of personas and personalization comes from the ability speak to your audience in a way that parallels a direct, face-to-face conversation.  You know what interests them (causes them to click-in), what type of tone you should be using, and what drivers cause them to engage (post a review, ask a question, add to cart, request a quote, sign-up for newsletter, etc).  This is the qualitative and quantitative difference between legacy brochure ware and a dynamic, personalized experience.
At MethodFactory, we’ve implemented Ektron V9.0, which has built-in persona management, we have integration with Salesforce.com and Hubspot (which we use), and content presentation widgets that pull from these sources.

A word to the wise; persona-based content presentation comes with a cost: depth of targeted content/content creation. Don’t architect a persona plan that you can’t support.

Here’s a working example to illustrate the point:  We have 3 personas we are targeting (Marketing, IT, Finance), 4 key solutions that we market and about 6 key industries that we serve.  Not too much, right?  Well, it depends on how you slice it up.  Remember, every piece of targeted content is a piece of targeted content that you have to author and maintain.  Here’s a snapshot of that scenario:

Option 1

3 personas x 4 offerings = 12 content variants

Option 2

3 personas x 4 offerings x 6 industries = 72 content variants

Option 3
(3 personas x 4 offerings = 12 content variants) + (6 industry references) = 18 content variants

As you structure your content targeting be sure consider the realistic effort to author and maintain the content along with the expected value of the personalization.

If you’re new to the concept of writing person-based content, here are a few tips to get you started:

  •     Start small and build out
  •     Develop a Persona-Based Content Strategy
  •     Establish resources budget (time, money and human resources/content authoring)
  •     Choose your publishing/delivery method (using CXM and WCM technologies)
  •     Identify your key personas (audiences, i.e. title/responsibilities, industry, demographics, etc.)
  •     Detail the characteristics of each persona (What are their goals and aspirations? What motivates and inspires them? What is important to them? What problems, pain points and obstacles do they run into? What/who influences their buying decisions? How do they consume information?)
  •     Develop content/messages specific to those personas, complete with calls to action
  •     Launch, measure and refine

If persona marketing is new to you, it may take a little time and patience to get up to speed, but once you see the value in it, it will become an integral part of your marketing plan and may even yield the largest return on investment of all your marketing tactics; given the targeted and personal intention behind it.

Contact us  for more insight into Persona Marketing & Management and to learn about the tools to help you deliver value directly to your customers based on who they are and what they need.

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