Using personas to shape a human centric PPC strategy

In PPC, it can be very easy to become blind to the human behind the algorithm if you focus solely on the numbers. Your ad copy split test might show a clear winner, or your landing page changes might increase your conversion rate, but it’s important to dig into why your changes were effective. When just looking at the number, you only get a superficial view of performance, it can be very easy to become blind to what really matters; the human on the other end.

Once you understand this, you can begin to replicate the results in the future much more easily. 

Two simple psychological processes anyone can use

So instead of focussing solely on the numbers, what can you do to really get to know the human behind the data? Here are some simple practices you can introduce to your process that change the way you think about setting up and running a PPC campaign. 

Our example:
Going forwards, we’ll be using the example of an e-commerce business selling premium-brand BBQs, ranging upwards in price from £600.

Think about user intent

The best place to start when you’re thinking about the human aspect of advertising is your target keywords and how you group them.  This is where you need to really get into the mindset of the end-user to understand what they want to accomplish with their search.

So how do we do this? There is a level of personal judgement involved, for example, the search terms “how to install a bbq grill” and “bbq grill” may seem very similar on the surface, but their ability to drive a sale will differ drastically. This is where you need to seriously think about what the user wants to achieve with their search. 

If a user has searched “how to install a bbq”, they probably already own one and therefore are very unlikely to make a purchase from you. On the other hand, we’d consider someone searching “bbq grill” as an indicator that they are shopping, why else would they leave their search so broad? This means the intent is right for us to spend money on this search term.

Our teams work extremely collaboratively with keyword research so where we identify keywords that aren’t right to be paid for, we may well then consider these from an SEO perspective. With this example in mind from a selling accessories perspective and building a relationship for repeat business, we may want to target the term ‘how to install a bbq’ for organic search.

Segment Keywords based on user intent 

Back with paid search as our focus, we’d then look to segment similar keywords which have the same intent as this into an ad group. For example, “barbecue grill” and “bbq grill” would both belong to the same ad group.  

We can then use differentiators to distinguish between user needs; the keyword “premium BBQ grill” for example indicates the users is looking for something more high-end and expensive, therefore this would be segmented into its own ad group. Similarly, “gas BBQs” will have a different search intent to “electric BBQs”, so it’s important to segment these keywords into separate ad groups as well. 

Example of ad group segmentation by intent group:

This keyword segmentation into distinct intent-grouped ad groups is important because:

  • The keyword will always link to the most relevant landing page
  • The ad copy can be tailored to each specific search intent
  • Eg. Our intent group for ‘gas BBQs’ will use a landing page that lists only gas BBQs, and the ad copy will include the phrase ‘Gas BBQs’ in Headline 1 or 2.

Use personas to shape the user experience

Once keywords have been segmented correctly into distinct intent groups, we can then map relevant personas to those groups. This is important because it lets you really get into the head of the end user and think as if you were in their shoes. You can then tailor your content to address the needs of your personas.

Using ‘personas’ to write compelling ad copy

Sticking by our BBQ example, it’s important to think like the user when writing ad copy so you can address their needs. In this example, the product we’re creating ads for is a high-end BBQ grill that needs to be installed by a professional and costs around £900. 

Although not always the case, in this instance we can assume that our target user is most likely a homeowner, perhaps older than 30, with a garden. But beyond that, our customers could differ drastically. This is where we can create buyer personas to get into the mindset of the kind of people who will be buying our products so we can write strong targeted ads:

Persona 1: A middle-aged homeowner with a garden and young kids. They will be using a BBQ to host garden parties and gatherings with friends and family. They’re thinking about the safety of young kids running around outside, they’re thinking about ease of use, getting those burgers and sausages cooked quickly so they can get back to enjoying the sun and drinks. But they probably also want to look swanky as they show off their shiny new BBQ to their friends and family. 

Persona 2: Somebody entering their senior years, they might have grown up children who don’t live at home anymore. They will be using their BBQ as often as they can during the summer to sit outside and relax, maybe with a glass of wine, maybe not. The world is their oyster and they can enjoy it as they like. To them, the BBQ is something to enjoy in the comfort of their finely-pruned garden as they wile away the time. To this user, quality is going to be very important, particularly for the premium price they’re paying.

As you can see, these two ‘personas’ both want to buy the same product, but they do so for distinctly different reasons. Therefore, it’s important to address the reasons each persona might make a purchase when writing your ad copy.

This content should then follow through into the landing page copy. Address each of the key features your personas might be looking for when buying your product and spin it into a positive reason to make a purchase.

Address the human side first and the numbers will follow

Numbers are important, but it’s imperative to keep the person on the other end in mind. Introducing simple practices into your process, and taking it forward into your PPC accounts can help to drive the numbers you need. 

Don’t lose track of what really matters when it comes to PPC advertising - the human at the other end.

meet-james-min

MEET THE AUTHOR.

JAMES BESSEY-SALDANHA

James is a Digital Advertiser. He plans, delivers and optimises campaigns across a range of platforms including Google Search Ads, Google Shopping, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

He monitors our clients’ accounts on a daily basis to monitor performance and undertake experiments of changes to deliver the best ROI. James always has an eye on conversion, and influences the design and content of our clients’ landing pages to ensure that the traffic he generates has the best chance of increasing revenue.

More about James
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