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Persona marketing applied: PPC ad crafting vs landing page analysis

marketing personasPersona marketing, by definition, is the application of fictional psychological and/or demographic profiles to anyone that might use a site or product.  In online marketing, we’re blessed with possibly the best quality data available compared to the rest of the discipline, because we can often accurately profile anyone including prospects, clients, internal stakeholders – any visitor in fact.  When we narrow the scope of online marketing to paid search or “pay-per-click” we often need to strike a balance between traffic quality and quantity.  Persona marketing can help one of two ways, through the ads we craft to capture an audience, and the landing page we create to convert visitors.

The inherent dilemma in PPC advertising is defining where in your acquisition effort you decide to qualify traffic.  In both of the following approaches, you can apply persona marketing techniques but where you glean insights from data is very different.  Two common approaches to paid search profiling include:

  • Adopting the somewhat frivolous “IDGAS” approach.  Which goes something like this: “I don’t give a shiitake about pre-qualifying traffic, I want to learn everything about my visitors through my landing page or analytics conversion data.” (see what I did there? keeping it PG)
  • Opting for the miserly ad crafting approach.  Say: “Traffic isn’t cheap, so I can approximate visitor intent by the language I use in my ads and keep the landing page and conversion funnel consistent throughout.”

Both approaches are totally valid, but both have their respective advantages and disadvantages.  Maintaining a high quality score might mean appealing to the masses to maximize CTR, thereby minimizing CPC, but what about traffic quality?  On the other hand, you could target specific keywords in an extremely tight campaign and ad group, bringing in highly qualified traffic but achieve very low traffic numbers with amazing conversion.

Whatever data source you choose to rely on, the key to establishing strong personas can only be found by answering as many questions as possible and finding common threads connecting your visitors.

You know what?  IDGAS

I hear you.  You want traffic.  And maybe you’re an “analytics ninja” like me (to steal a phrase), relying on various post-click techniques to learn the most about your target market.  If you make the most out of the traffic from high-profile “fat head” keywords (vs long tail), you can adjust ad content later.  Some helpful advice when building or profiling:

  • Appeal to Myers-Briggs/Keirsey personality types/temperaments modified for buying behavior:
    • Spontaneous: numerous things to test here including quantity on hand numbers (real or imaginary), short campaign expiry dates, free shipping, etc.
    • Competitive: this temperament looks for prestige and status, so crafting value propositions that favor “best in breed” with high-level comparisons often win these visitors over
    • Humanistic: testimonials and demonstrations really speak to this temperament
    • Methodical: granular specifications, product comparisons, reviews, and expert endorsements make decisions easier for this temperament
  • Implement landing page testing platforms, such as Google Website Optimizer, Omniture Test and Target, or even just relying on extremely similar ads pointing to different landing pages in an unofficial quick and dirty A/B split test.
  • Use a web analytics solution(s) that incorporates event tracking. Monogamy is alright, but analytics bigamy and polygamy is more fun, and sometimes easier to implement, segment, and act on.
  • Cart abandonment prevention mechanisms including “save cart” and/or email reminders.
  • Exit surveys.  Sometimes the best way to gain insight is to ask straight up.

One word of warning to using this approach: you may burn through considerable budget before gaining enough insight from post-click analysis.  Be sure to define objectives well in advance, and when testing variables and tools, go for the biggest changes possible.  Testing minuscule design elements won’t make analysis easier.

I’m crafty, like “Martha Stewart” crafty

You’re sick of low-quality traffic.  You keep your PPC campaigns ultra tight with lots of “long tail” exact match keywords, only the phrase match keywords that convert for your tuned landing page, and you don’t bother wasting money on broad match.  There is a science involved in crafting an advertising message and call to action in small text ads that appeals to personas you’re interested in, and here’s how:

  • Appeal to Myers-Briggs/Keirsey personality types/temperaments modified for buying behavior:
    • Spontaneous: will respond well to “limited time offer” or “hottest” which appeals to the rush of a purchase.
    • Competitive: will respond to actionable statements that empower status/superiority or figure out goals such as “be the first” or “missing something.”
    • Humanistic: will respond to messaging that clearly defines how the purchase affects others or members of a team and includes phrases that tug on heart-strings such as “make a difference.”
    • Methodical: will respond to answering burning questions, “I have a pain point, how do you solve it, in detail, GO.”
  • Expect to do a lot of work in defining lots of keyword groups..
  • Test lots of different versions of text ads, and be sure to select “Rotate” under Ad rotation, which is common in all three major PPC platforms
  • Consider doing a little competitive intelligence using tools like Hitwise and Compete.
  • Deep-dive into Google Insights for Search data to find trends by keyword.

I’d be negligent not to mention one word of warning: when going extremely granular in your PPC campaign development and ad crafting, you need to be aware that seasonal fluctuations will have a strong affect on the mix of personas visiting your site.

Other great resources for additional reading material relating to persona marketing applied in online channels:

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