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Joanna Swartwood, Director of Marketing and Revenue GrowthThu, Dec 29, 2016 7 min read

The Secret Ingredient To Launching A Winning Website: Personas

Are you thinking about launching a new website? If so, you have probably (to some extent) thought about what you want it to look like. Maybe you want it to be easy to navigate, mobile-friendly or really simplistic and smooth. Perhaps you want a lot of focus on your products/services page. Maybe all you know at this point is that you want a new website and you like the color blue, so blue should probably be incorporated somewhere.

Regardless of the degree to which you have thought about or researched a new website, this should be the first thing on your mind moving forward: Who is the website for?

You might be thinking, "The website is for my company." But we disagree. Sure, the new website will be about your company and it will help your company, but it is truly for your customers. Your target customers are the ones who essentially pay for the website with their purchases, and those purchases are what keep you in business.

So, when you are going through the process of redesigning or building a website, always keep in mind: Who is the website for?

When creating websites, we make every decision (from language used in a blog post to the entire theme of a new website) based on buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of the ideal client that you hope to attract. Think of them as hyper-specific target audience profiles. Most organizations use between three and five personas, but it depends on your organization's individual situation.

What Is The Point Of A Persona?

Glad you asked! Basically, you will use a persona to help shape your marketing and website decisions moving forward. Wondering if a website feature would generate leads? Check your personas. Unsure about the type of copy or images to produce? Check your personas. Can't decide between this or that? Check your, well, you get it.

What Does A Persona Look Like?

This is actually different for everyone. The format of a persona doesn't matter as much as the content.

However they look, your personas should tell you everything you need to know about your targets. A lot of time and energy goes into crafting them, so here is a list to help you understand what you are looking for in your personas:

  • Professional and company background
  • Demographics
  • Goals (short-term and long-term)
  • Challenges (why they need help)
  • How you help them
  • Common objections (why won't they buy?)
  • Marketing messages (what do you want to communicate to them?)
  • Keywords they use to search
  • Your elevator pitch to them
  • Qualifiers/disqualifiers from being a persona

How Do I Gather Data For My Personas?

While we really want to share with you the "why" of personas today, let's touch on the "how" briefly. You can gather the above information by reaching out and conducting interviews both internally and externally.

Internally, ask executives, sales representatives or other staff that have high client interaction about all the key areas of a persona. Since they spend most of their time either communicating with or learning about your customers, they serve as a great resource when crafting personas.

Externally, reach out to clients that fit the mold of your ideal client, and interview them about their background, goals, challenges, etc. Both of these techniques are helpful, but the external interview is especially insightful because you get to talk directly to the persona that you're targeting.

So why do personas matter to your website? Personas, along with your site goals, help create a compass for you to make decisions regarding features, content, design style and other key items.

For example, if your persona's main challenge is not having enough time or resources to conduct quality assurance checks, you know that he typically likes to play golf and spend time with his kids, and your solution eases his burden, that will speak to the type of imagery and messaging you create when building your home page (and also many other pages).

Persona-targeted content does more than just help you create pages, though. Well-thought-out and targeted content, like blog posts or e-books, will better meet the needs of your target buyers. Without personas, you are using a "best guess" approach when writing, meaning you write about what you think sounds interesting at the time.

You should be using a more scientific approach to writing, where you understand the pain points of your personas, the language they use and the solutions best suited for them. This all helps solve their problem and further guides them along the conversion path on their way to becoming a lead.

Also, personas help your site get found. If you understand your target audience, you should be creating the content and using the language that they are searching for/with. This improves the likelihood that your website is getting found by the right people.

Use Personas To Properly Position Your Website

Is it too late to start using personas? No way! Of course, that doesn't mean holding off any longer is a good idea. Every day and every search query by your target customers is a lost opportunity if you aren't actively writing for your personas. There is never a bad time to start creating and writing for personas, but if you are looking at a website redesign or building a new website, it's a great time to get started.

Having a fundamental understanding of who you want to work with allows you to not only search them out more efficiently, but positions your website as a magnet that brings them to you.

The process of building personas and writing for them is incredibly important, especially when building a new website, but don't forget about all of the other aspects that help a website launch successfully. Check out the free whitepaper below to learn all about the strategy, content, design and development that goes into a successful website.