AI Search and ChatGPT: Why Personas are Now Your Ultimate Marketing Asset

AI Search
 
Chloe Bunce

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slowly revolutionising more aspects of our daily lives and now, the way we search for information online. In the last week, there have been major announcements and launches to make AI organic search a staple in our search and browser experience.

Amongst all the announcements surrounding Microsoft’s new AI-powered search engines and the highly anticipated Google Bard, our attention has been turned to customer personas and how we believe they have just become the most important marketing asset for reaching your target audience, generating leads and increasing sales performance.

Microsoft’s reinvention of organic search

Before we delve into our thoughts on the increasing importance of customer personas, it’s beneficial to revisit the latest news from Microsoft, which kickstarted the AI organic search conversation through its efforts to reinvent search with the launch of a new AI-powered version of Bing and Edge. The new Bing and Edge aim to become a ‘co-pilot for the web’ using advanced AI techniques to deliver a more personalised and intuitive search experience, by taking into account the user’s context and search history.

The new search will also be integrated into Microsoft’s Edge browser to provide users with a seamless experience across devices. This more powerful method of searching aims to deliver faster and more accurate, personalised and relevant results as well as improved privacy and security features. It’s a key innovation in search and will help people better navigate and understand the vast amounts of information available on the web.

This latest launch from Microsoft is an important step change in organic search strategies. The race is now on for more advanced AI-power search engines to deliver personalised results quicker, which we believe will have a significant impact on not only search engine optimisation and the content in which you create, but also the marketing tools and assets that will help you uncover what your customer actually wants and needs.

How AI-powered search works and how it changes the importance of customer personas

One of the core benefits of AI-driven search tools is their ability to quickly and accurately connect users with the most relevant information. Traditional search engines rely on static algorithms and keywords to determine search results, which can sometimes lead to irrelevant or low-quality results. AI-powered search, on the other hand, uses advanced algorithms and natural language processing to analyse a range of factors, including user behaviour, search intent, and context.

By analysing these factors, AI-powered search algorithms can provide more accurate and relevant results to help users find the information they need quickly and offer additional detail where necessary. For example, if a user searches for “mechanical fabrication specialists near me”, an AI-powered search can take into account the user’s location, search history, and other preferences to provide a list of relevant and personalised results.

However, for businesses to effectively leverage AI in their organic search strategy, they need to have a deep understanding of their customers. This is where customer personas come in. Customer personas are fictional representations of a business’s ideal customers, based on extensive research and data analysis. By creating customer personas, businesses can gain insights into the needs, interests, behaviours and decision-making processes of their target audience.

Utilising the insights a customer persona provides can help develop a highly-targeted marketing strategy to improve relevance and accuracy in search results. It can help decide on important factors that make a strategy successful, from channel selection and content creation to campaign messaging that better meets the customers’ needs. The increased relevancy could also help to cultivate a sense of authority in industry, again helping to improve ranks and attract more qualified leads to the website.

An evolution of the customer journey

The persona goes hand-in-hand with a customer journey, allowing businesses to map common questions, mindsets and touchpoints for each core stage and each key stakeholder, such as the design engineer and the procurement manager.

With the changing importance of personas, an evolution of the customer journey could also be imminent. Currently, a common journey for many of our clients starts with organic search where users search for educational and informative content around their challenges or future goals. This awareness stage of the journey helps to build early relationships based on value exchange, positive associations and reciprocation.

However, as AI-powered search engines and ChatGPT develop to provide even richer information, customers will likely come to a brand being much more educated about how the product, solution or service works, understand what’s available in the marketplace and be ready for more specific and tailored information that would typically come later in the journey, such as how a solution can be applied to their industry or how it connects with a challenge or business initiative.

This could change the way a lot of relationships are formed using marketing and digital communication channels. It places even more emphasis on the role of differentiation and unique value propositions. Brands will need to improve their strategies to attract attention and form relationships with this new, more educated and better-informed breed of customer. And so, those who understand their customers better through detailed customer personas will stand a better chance of competing through propositions that are more specific to the individual’s requirements.

It may be that the way personas are created has to evolve too. The best way to get to know your customers is through dialogue and a close relationship. So as the value of the customer persona as a marketing asset increases, so too does the importance of communication within the relationship with each customer. Each becomes a vital feedback channel to refine the persona process and improve the effectiveness of lead generation and onboarding.

How will the customer persona influence the marketing strategy?

The customer persona will help to align core elements of the strategy directly to their online behaviours and habits, pain points, goals and decision-making processes. Understanding the touchpoints customers utilise, such as social media platforms or online information sources, can help define channel selection, content creation and messaging to ensure it meets the needs of the customer and help businesses maximise brand awareness and lead generation. Some key channels influenced by the customer persona tool include:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO): Understanding the wants and needs of the persona can effectively guide the selection of keywords and phrases that will have the most intent and relevancy, so the website and content can be optimised accordingly. This approach helps to attract better quality traffic and more qualified leads.
  • Content creation: As well as SEO, customer personas inform the topics and types of content created. Creating and tailoring content that addresses the persona’s specific challenges, targets their business initiatives and shows application effectively will provide better value that could lead to increased customer satisfaction and engagement. Typical content projects can include informative or topical blog posts, whitepapers, product download guides, short video animations, infographics, LinkedIn posts and carousels or landing page copy.
  • Website architecture and UX: Mapping the customer persona to a user journey map allows for a more personalised website sitemap and experience that will deliver the right content and call-to-actions at the right stage of their journey and mindset. A website is a business’s most powerful marketing tool, so creating a targeted experience will help drive engagement and satisfaction, ultimately delivering lead generation for improved sales performance.
  • Campaign advertising: Focusing marketing budgets is important during uncertain and disruptive times and through the customer persona and user journey map, businesses can identify key touchpoints and channels to invest in. This helps maximise ROI and opportunities whilst reducing budget wastage.
  • Email marketing: Not only can the customer persona inform the design and content of the email template, it can also help with data segmentation to ensure each email communication remains targeted and relevant to their wants, needs and stage of their journey to successfully deliver on the KPIs and objectives set.
  • Social media marketing: Finally, the customer persona can guide the development of social media marketing campaigns that are designed to reach and engage with the target audience. By understanding the social media channels that customers use and their preferred type of content, businesses can create social media campaigns that are more likely to be engaging and therefore, drive more website traffic and conversions.

Should I wait for the changes to AI organic search to create a persona?

Even before AI-powered organic search and ChatGPT entered the picture, customer personas were delivering significant value to businesses. As well as the most important benefit of having a deeper understanding and insight into the target audience, other benefits include:

  • Better Marketing Strategy: With a clear understanding of customer personas, businesses can improve the effectiveness of their marketing strategies through better targeting, and more compelling propositions and communications that resonate with audiences. This can lead to improved customer engagement, increased brand awareness, and higher conversion rates.
  • Increased Customer Satisfaction: By using customer personas to tailor products, services, and customer experience, businesses can improve customer satisfaction. Customers are more likely to have a positive experience when they feel that the business truly understands their needs and is providing them with personalised solutions.
  • Enhanced Product Development: Customer personas can provide valuable insights into the needs and preferences of customers, helping businesses to develop more innovative and relevant products. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and a competitive advantage in the market.
  • Improved Sales Performance: By using customer personas to guide their sales approach, businesses can better understand the decision-making process of their customers and tailor their sales pitches accordingly. This can result in improved sales performance and a more efficient sales process.

It can take time to collate the necessary internal and external data required to create a detailed customer persona tool, such as analysing CRM, connecting with existing customers and understanding the upcoming trends in the marketplace. However, the sooner you can embark on this, the stronger your marketing strategy across all channels and competitive advantage will be.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is increasingly important for brands to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. The impending integration of AI in search results will reduce the current opportunities to establish relationships this early in the customer journey. Consequently, brands will need to provide even more targeted and relevant propositions to remain competitive. To achieve this, the use of personas will become a crucial tool/process for brands to effectively personalise their offerings to their customers’ needs and preferences, connecting with their challenges and business initiatives and showing application effectively.

Motion have extensive expertise in delivering competitive marketing strategies and campaigns for manufacturing, engineering and IT businesses. This includes developing detailed customer personas, user journeys, value conversations and core messaging themes. Learn more about our insightful marketing discovery sessions delivering the strategic insights that truly matter to your business, helping you lay the groundwork for targeted and impactful strategies.

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