Writing content for a website is easy. Writing good, search-engine-friendly content for a website is hard. Writing great search and user-friendly content for your website is, well, pretty dang difficult. There is a lot that has to be considered when trying to engage your audience because you’re not writing for an audience of one, but of many. And all of them have a personality and motivations of their very own!
When creating engaging content, there are two concepts that you must first understand: why visitors are on your site and what they want to find. These two concepts can be translated into two words: personas and personalities.
Persona = motivation (what the visitor needs, why they are on your site)
Personality = temperament (how they navigate, what they need to see or read to find what they want)
If you want to create content that engages with your audience and motivates them to take the conversion action you desire, you have to get into the mind of the visitor. Know what they want and why, and then you can create content that engages readers on their level and allows your content to meet their specific needs.
I’ll cover the personality aspect of writing in another post. Here we’ll discuss how to create personas that help you understand your visitors’ motivations, why they are on your site and how your content can convert them based on that knowledge.
Using Personas to See Your Visitor’s Needs
Because there can be dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons a visitor might be coming to your site, it’s easy to get bogged down in trying to develop a persona for every possibility. Don’t get stuck in that trap. With a little work, you can boil everything into a handful of personas that you can use to craft content that meets virtually all of your potential customer’s needs.
I’ve developed three very basic personas that can provide a solid framework for just about any visitor. This is by no means comprehensive, nor will they work for every kind of site, but it can give you a general idea how to quickly put together a persona you can work with. You’ll want to put more work into analyzing visitors to your site specifically, but this should give you start.
The “how-to” Persona
This person is an information seeker. They are not necessarily looking to buy a product or service, but want to learn how do it themselves. This visitor likes checklists, how-to guides, videos and any other information they can get their digital hands on. Basically, they are information and knowledge seekers. Usually they are looking for free information, but some are willing to pay if the value is there.
Example: Athena goes to a baby products site to find out how to properly install a car seat in her Raptor. Her goal is to learn how install the seat properly, with minimal work, and without teaching her baby, Hera, how to say “fracking”, “fracked up”, “frack it” or any other of its variables.
How-to videos or step-by-step instructions give Athena and her hubby, Helo, exactly what they are looking for. This type of free how-to content doesn’t create immediate sales, but it does build brand loyalists. Athena may never become a customer, but she may share information about your site with Starbuck, who also has a child. Or, Athena may post about it on her blog, sharing your content (and brand name) with all of the 12 colonies!
The “I care” Persona
These people are usually researching something they care about, and a thoughtful approach is necessary. They are passionate about a topic and likely consider themselves extremely knowledgeable, if not “experts.” Anything less than authoritative content will likely leave them unimpressed. Your job is to show them how your product or service is going to meet their needs and convince them it is the best solution.
Example: Gaeta goes to a baby products site looking for a safe and reliable car seat. He’s been reading (on your site?) about the importance of car seats, which car seats have better safety ratings, and learning how to install them properly in a number of spacecraft. His goal is to buy the best seat possible, regardless of price. Whistles and bells are a secondary concern. If you can provide the information that satisfies Gaeta’s informational needs, and have the product in stock, you’ve got yourself a reliable customer.
The “Just get it to me” Persona
They are the type that don’t really know what they want but don’t care about much of anything other than, “how do I get this (or do this) fast?” They have a need but are unsure on how to best to fill that need. They just want a product or service that gives them the desire result.
Example: Tigh needs a car seat. To him (and Ellen, his wife), all car seats are essentially the same. They don’t understand why one is more expensive than the other, unless it comes with apps that tap directly into the CIC, or allow him to order his next bottle (his or the baby’s) through a network-connected device. Most likely Tigh will choose the least expensive car seat available, as long as it works and it has a place to hold his flask. Given the right information in the right way, Tigh can be convinced to pay more for certain features.
You can see how each of these personas gives you ammunition for creating content that will meet the needs and expectations of each. Some content may be stand-alone for each persona, however it’s possible to incorporate elements (or links) for each of these into a single page. The better your personas, the better targeted your content will be, and more likely it will be to produce the conversions you want.