Monday: Defining Personas

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Assembling a comprehensive keyword list is one of the most important tasks in creating successful PPC campaigns. Your objective is to anticipate every possible way that a prospective customer could search for your product or service.

Your target audience is composed of people with varying backgrounds, living in different geographical regions, who frequently search for the same product in different ways. Knowing this, your target market can be broken down into subgroups whose shared attributes differ from one another. Subgroups can differ in age, location, salary level, and the amount of time the individuals spend doing research before making a buying decision.

We recommend thinking of these subgroups as personas or people types that encompass a set of common attributes. After you have defined some personas, you can more easily imagine the keywords and ad copy to which each group would respond best.

For example, imagine you are advertising athletic shoes. Your online store sells running shoes, cross-trainers, and high-tops, produced by dozens of different manufacturers under many different brands. You may view your business in a narrow way; for example, you sell running shoes, so that’s how your customers will express their need in a search query. But in fact, potential customers will likely use a variety of search terms to express their needs. Here is a list of individuals who may be looking for your athletic shoes:

  • An athletic shoe enthusiast who read about the upcoming shoe releases months in advance in glossy magazines received in the mail might search for specific shoes by brand, name, and model with fanatical precision.
  • A young woman who wants to add shoes to her outfit might use a search query in which the most important element is color (she really, really needs a pink pair).
  • A young man who is looking for athletic shoes (great!), but uses the search term sneakers because that’s what they’re called in his area of the country.
  • A woman who uses the search term tennis shoes, even though she is planning to equip her grandchildren for basketball season.
  • An overachieving doctor who runs marathons and is also an ideal customer for your website, but he uses search terms that include the word trainers or cross-trainers.

In this example, it may seem like we’re simply talking about synonyms. And of course, synonyms, like misspellings, represent a large chunk of our potential keywords. But the value of defining personas goes far beyond just including in your ad groups many different keywords that all mean the same thing. Each of the scenarios in the preceding list gives you a window into the mind of a person who may be searching for your products in a different way.

Defining personas can help you envision specific attributes of your typical buyers and provide a structure by which you can effectively organize keyword lists, ads, and landing pages (all elements of the PPC advertising process that you will examine in greater detail in later chapters). In this chapter, you’ll target the following three personas:

The hard-core runner: This person has been running for years and knows athletic gear very well. Cost for the right product isn’t much of a concern. We’ll call this runner Jackie.

The casual runner: This individual runs at the gym a couple of times per week. Perhaps he runs the occasional 5K. He knows which shoes he likes, but isn’t an expert. This person doesn’t want to pay a lot but does want a quality product. We’ll call this runner Steve.

The beginning runner: This individual is just starting to become interested in running. He doesn’t know which shoes and athletic gear he needs. This person isn’t sure what the typical price is for the right shoe. We’ll call this runner Jesse.

There certainly could be other personas you could develop by reviewing the website and talking with your sales teams, but for now, you’ll focus on just these three personas. Keep them in mind as you expand your keyword list, and you’ll revisit these personas on Thursday.