How to Align Your SaaS Content With Your User Persona
If you’ve ever thought that aligning your content marketing with your user persona was simply a nice-to-have element in your strategy, try giving an aeronautical engineering textbook to a baker who focuses on artisanal sourdough.
While that is obviously an extreme example, the point still holds. Content has to be relevant to your audience in order to do what you want it to do. You probably aren’t missing the mark as much as in the engineer/baker example, but even small misses in the relevance of your content can result in blogs and lead magnets that just don’t sit quite right. Then, they don’t perform quite right. And you get sad.
I’ve written about how (and why) to use user personas every day, but let’s get down to some specifics about how to make sure your SaaS content marketing strategy stays aligned to your user persona.
How to make sure your content marketing stays relevant to your user persona
It’s one task to create a user persona for your SaaS, but it’s another to actually keep it top of mind. If you’ve ever gotten a burst of motivation and organization at the beginning of a new year only to return to your old, comfortable ways before long (we all have), then you understand how hard it can be to stay consistent with new strategies.
I’m an advocate of bolstering efforts from all sides when I think there’s a chance of backsliding into old habits. That is, create tasks and support from multiple angles to make sure you stick to your user persona.
Let me explain.
Pair your user persona with your SaaS buyer journey
If buyer journeys are a process that takes time, user personas are a snapshot of a current state.
You need to combine them.
User personas are great for having an understanding of who your customer is along with what they feel and think and know. While it’s true a well-rounded user persona includes notes on a user’s goals and ideal future state, it doesn’t lay out how they’ll get there.
That’s where the SaaS buyer journey comes into play. Your user persona and buyer’s journey should work with each other to both show you the journey and the person your content needs to cater to.
Whereas the buyer journey helps you plan the topic categories and content types at each stage of the journey, the persona gives you insight into how to connect with them through the specific pieces of content along the journey.
Assess how you’re currently doing
Now that you’ve combined your user persona and buyer journey, it’s time to check how your current content stacks up to your plans. Who knows, maybe you aren’t that far off after all.
This step feels a little tedious, and it can be, but it is important.
Here’s how to check your current content marketing against your user persona and buyer journey.
List out broad categories for the buyer’s journey. For example, what are the steps a user will be taking at each point in the journey? What do they need to know? How are they feeling? Even simply listing out the stages of the journey will do for now.
Tally the number of pieces of content you have that fall into each category. It’s good to be broad at this stage. You’re just trying to see whether you’ve been focusing very heavily on one stage of the journey, and ignoring needs at the other points.
Once you have an understanding of your distribution of content, it’s time to look at specifics. For particular pieces of content along the buyer journey, does it speak to a user’s goals and considerations? Does it have an appropriate tone and objective based on how close a user is to buying?
Create messaging guidelines to complement your persona docs
I know, I know. Another document? Sure, if it’s going to help you stay on track. Remember, we are trying to reinforce these efforts from all sides.
Messaging guidelines could include
Statements or words used by your target audience to describe their goals or challenges
Ways the target audience may talk about their frustrations with current solutions
Industry- or solution-specific words that would be used by your audience
Words to describe how you want readers to feel (empowered, understood, etc.)
Messaging guidelines are also useful for keeping the tone of writing consistently across your writing team. Should writing be casual or formal?
Keep your user persona handy when planning
This is probably the simplest, but potentially most overlooked, solution to maintaining cohesiveness between your user persona findings and actual content.
It would be really easy to create a user persona and leave it to collect virtual dust in a folder somewhere. However, it’s of no use to you when it’s out of sight. Even if you feel you know the target audience through and through, a refresher here and there can’t hurt.
Make sure that the persona is either easy to reference when writing, used in the editing process, or both. If you do no other step on this list, do this one.
Target your ideal audience on social media
There are a few main phases to content marketing; strategy, creation, and promotion. We’ve covered the first two, and now it’s time to talk promotion.
There are two categories of promotion I want to touch on: organic and paid.
Let’s start with organic. Your user persona needs to include a section about where your audience likes to hang out online. With that knowledge handy, plan to promote content on those channels or publications. Prioritize your audience’s preferred sites fist, and then add on additional channels as you can.
Next is paid traffic. While promoting content to people who fit the description of your ideal user won’t make your content more relevant to the intended audience, it will make sure that audience sees it. Relevancy in content marketing is essential to consider in every phase, from strategy to promotion.
Monitor what’s working (and what’s not)
We live in a data-filled world, and it can get overwhelming. I’m not asking you to hire a data analyst to gain an intimate understanding of your content’s performance (though you can). I just want to you keep an eye on which pieces of content get the highest traffic and engagement levels.
These simple numbers are a sign that something about that post is working. The slightly more complicated part is figuring out what the secret sauce is. There are more systematic ways to test exactly what it is about a specific post that resonates with your audience, but for starters, just observe. What do top performing pieces have in common that is different from the posts with lackluster performance?
Ask (sometimes it’s that simple)
Sometimes there’s a simple solution right under our noses, but we look to complex strategies instead. If you’re wondering if the content is relevant to your audience, why not just ask?
Whether it’s in the form of an official poll or survey, or you simply ask a few customers one-on-one, nobody knows the relevance of your content to customers better than customers.
Your user persona is an evolving document. As you learn more about your audience, or your audience changes as your product adapts, it’s critical to revisit how your content marketing relates to your SaaS user persona.
Do you have a user persona? If so, how do you use it to keep your content marketing on track?