Using Personas To Make PPC Ads

Creating a great PPC ad is hard work. You have to write an appealing, effective value proposition while explaining what your company is (and why you’re better than every other company in your space), all within a few limited characters. It can be tough to even know where to start. Fortunately, there’s an effective mental shortcut you can use to narrow down what you want to say in your PPC ads. Just use a persona.

For the uninitiated, a persona is a technique (usually used in user experience tasks) where you define a target user. Personas usually involve creating a name, photo, and short background of a fictional person who represents an ideal customer or user.

An example persona might look something like this:

Sally Strong

Persona of a business woman

Sally is a 60 year old entrepreneur. She owns and runs her own small business, an antiques store in Fredericksburg, Texas. She has recently created a website for her business, and wants to make it more visible online so that tourists will visit her store. She does not consider herself “tech savvy,” but respects those who are. She is willing to pay a fair price for a qualified individual, but is skeptical of many vendors online after seeing other entrepreneurs get ripped off by inexperienced or incompetent webmasters.

Let’s say that you run an online marketing firm specializing in small businesses, and you acquire customers through PPC. Sally sounds like a pretty ideal customer, right? Let’s think about her persona and use it to write a text ad that would appeal to Sally. Here’s what we know:

- she likely needs SEO/PPC services, but might not know what those acronyms mean
- she values experience and competence over a rock-bottom price
- she’s scared of getting ripped off by someone who is inexperienced

If you created a text ad for your firm targeted to a general audience, you might have already used some techniques that would not appeal to Sally. Things like acronyms in the ads, and favoring a price-focused value proposition instead of an experience-based one. Let’s create an ad just for Sally:

Get Your Website Found
Our experienced team of web
experts can help. Call today.

See what I did there? No mention of SEO or PPC. I just addressed Sally’s problem directly (her website can’t be found) in terms that she would understand. I also focused the ad on an experienced team, something that would reassure Sally that her website was in good hands. I also included a call-to-action of “call today” since she’s likely to not want to communicate online due to her non-tech nature.

This is just a really basic example. Each company will have a different target persona, and you often have multiple personas that could fit your target audience. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it’s a method of thinking that helps you focus your text ad writing efforts.

As in all things text ad, remember to test. Use personas to create targeted ads, then test them against each other. You may find that your first pass at an ad is not very good, or that your assumptions were wrong when you created the persona. By testing, you can reveal truths about your audience that you didn’t know about. Personas and ads are a two-way street. Use your personas to influence your ad creation, and use your ad data to inform your persona creation.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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