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Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance

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Andrea Atkins
Andrea Atkins
Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Paid Search Performance

You’ve got your search terms and you’ve got your budget set, but do you really know who you’re marketing to when you create a new paid search campaign?

Though buyer personas have been a key element of traditional marketing campaigns, they are often overlooked when creating campaigns for digital media. This is tragic, because understanding who you’re trying to attract with a PPC campaign and what their pain points are is critical to improving your campaign conversion rates and reducing your non-converting spend, meaning more sales and revenue for your business or agency clients. Don’t take the ‘spray and pray’ approach when building your paid search campaigns; use these tips to understand your ideal users to boost your conversion rates instead.

What is a Buyer Persona?

An excellent post on the Hubspot blog breaks down the buyer persona in simple terms:

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. – Sam Kusinitz, Hubspot

Who is the customer most likely to need what your campaign is selling? Where are they, and how do they search online? Why do they need your product or service and what objections are keeping them from making a purchase decision? Understanding the ideal customer, their motivations, their objections to purchase, their demographics, and where they are in the buying cycle are essential elements for a strong buyer persona.

How Do You Create a Buyer Persona?

Look at Existing Customer Data

Do some digging in your CRM to pull out user trends, and meet with sales reps to identify the top objections to purchase. Read blog comments and sift through analytics data to understand where your customers are located and what their interests are. Look at your Facebook analytics for your company profile. For integrated marketing campaigns you may need to create a user survey or form a focus group to get the details you need. Leave no stone unturned!

Do Some Market Research

Find three top websites or blogs your ideal customer is likely to visit often: three forums, three twitter influences they might follow, three LinkedIn groups, etc. What are customers complaining about? Are they asking questions on Quora? Identify their pains and understand why it hurts; this is the foundation for your ad and landing page copy.

Spy on the Competition

Don’t forget to look at competitor ads, social profiles, and blog comments to find additional buyer concerns that may be different from those of your own customer base.

I like to write-up my buyer personas and add a stock photo so I can write copy to a single person, but you may be able to get away with a short list of bullet points depending on the depth of your campaign and the time available. Once you’ve got this done, it’s time to hunker down and build your campaign.

Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your SEM Performance | SEJ

Choose Your Keywords

Build a primary list of keywords describing your product or service as usual, but also include long tail keywords based on buyer motivations, objections, and customer terminology. Keep language differences in mind (one person’s ‘cleaning crew’ is another person’s ‘janitor’) so you can get a good understanding of the variety of terms your target audience is using to describe their needs.

Create Your Landing Pages

Time to take those customer pain points and put them to work on the landing page! I like to start with this basic outline before I start building layouts and test variations:

  • Headline = Customer’s ultimate objective in using the product/service
  • Paragraph = Customer pain points
  • Bullets = How the product addresses specific customer objections
  • Paragraph = Company background/social proof
  • A killer call-to-action!

Once I have this basic outline, I add trust signals to add weight to my claims and keyword instances to boost my quality scores.

Craft Your Ad Copy

Now that you’ve got your landing page and search terms, it’s time to write the ad copy variations to marry the two and complete the conversion funnel. Although neuroscience marketing studies have shown that people are generally risk averse, I write ad copy variations to cover both perceived losses and possible gains to cover my bases. For example, if I were selling janitorial services I would address both the joys of having a clean office in some ads and the pain of having a filthy office in other ads. Look at existing ads in top positions for your most relevant keywords to get a sneak peek at which method may be working for the competition.

If you’re looking to spice up your ad copy and landing pages with more neuroscience tips, check out this excellent post on conversion optimization on the Neuromarketing Blog by Roger Dooley.

Adjust Your Campaign Targeting, Set Your Budget, and Launch

Use the demographic and interest data you collected earlier to adjust your geo-targeting, day parting, and other targeting options. Bonus: Depending on the situation you may be able to use the blogs and forums you identified during your market research as managed placements. After your paid search campaign starts accruing data, your buyer persona may change, and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your customer’s motivations as you continue testing your campaigns.

Using buyer personas can skyrocket your paid search campaign results in record time and give you insights into the motivations that truly drive your target audience to take action. Resist the urge to keep your buyer personas trapped in silos; share them with your content producers, copywriters, and web designers to get the best campaign results across every channel.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Tasha Tuvango for Fotolia.com
Screenshot taken December 2014

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Andrea Atkins

Andrea Atkins

Marketing Strategist

Andrea Atkins is a marketing strategist with nearly ten years of marketing chops. She's the author of "SQL for Marketers" ... [Read full bio]

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