Persona development

Creating quality content on your site is crucial for your SEO, especially with Google's recent updates 'Panda' and 'Penguin' (which rank sites according to the quality of their content).

A great way to develop useful content is through persona development. Through persona development, you can start building an idea of who your audience are, what problems they are facing (that hopefully you can offer solutions to) and what content they like to consume. Drawing from this knowledge, you can then design your content accordingly.

Kieran Flanagan from marketo.com has highlighted five places where you can start gathering data to help build persons for your marketing campaigns:

Social media tools

There are several social media tools that will help you gather data for building your personas. These include tools such as Topsy and Amplicate, both of which will help you find people who are sharing content around a topic that is relevant to you.

You can then add the people that you find to a twitter list and monitor it using Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. Relevant people can also be found using Followerwonk or Tagcrowd which allow you to search for people with certain phrases or words in their bio. This can also help you understand what else they may be interested in.

Surveys

Surveys are a great way to gather data for your personas. There are number of ways you can easily run surveys:

  • Google has a new tool that easily lets you run consumer surveys.
  • If you have been building an email list you can incentivise them to give up some free information by giving away some goodies. For these kind of surveys you should segment by prospects and customers, keep them short and make sure the questions are focused.
  • You can run surveys on your website asking specific questions from users who visit your site. An example of one would be an exit survey for when users leave the site.

Internal data gathering

Running internal workshops with your marketing, sales and customer support departments can be a simple way of gather information about your target audience.

Analytics

The analytics package that you're using for your site should have a list of the keywords users are finding in your site and what content they are consuming to what is specifically generating sales.

Interviews

Even the most simple methods for data collection will often be the most effective. Go out and interview your customers, prospects and if possible, your competitors customers (you may even want to outsource this task).