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How to Create Student Personas for a Successful Inbound Marketing Strategy

marketers working on their inbound marketing strategy

In order to reach out and effectively connect and engage with students using an inbound marketing strategy, it’s essential that Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) create personas in order to help them grow their businesses. Infact, in a 2016 benchmark study by Cintell (based on survey responses) found that 71% of companies that exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas, compared to 37% who simply meet goals and 26% who miss them.

Why are student personas so important?

Students are essentially “buyers” and having a strong understanding of your “buyer” personas will help drive the relevant content that relates to student acquisition and retention. Personas will help your RTO to:

  • Create compelling content

Once you have created your student personas, you’ll have a far deeper understanding of them and be able to tailor your inbound marketing content accordingly. A “fully fleshed out” persona will paint a picture of your student personas’ backgrounds and give you complete understanding of what makes them tick. At the most basic level, personas enable you to personalise your marketing so you can segment your database and tailor your email messaging to your different personas.

  • Meet your prospective students in the right places

Without the right personas in place, your marketing will be aimed at the wrong audience and the wrong places, negatively impacting both your bottom line and your RTO business’s growth.

Once you know who your student personas are, you’re in a far better position to know where to find them. Do they prefer to hang out on Instagram? Are they connecting on Facebook? Your personas will reveal the best channels to connect with your prospective students.

How to create your student personas

You need to create your student personas through a combination of research, surveys, and interviews with your target audiences. This includes a mix of your current students, prospective students and even people outside your database who might align with your ideal audience. Here are some practical ways to do this:

  • Research your contacts database to uncover trends about how you attracted your current students and how they find and consume content
  • When you are creating forms on your website, create fields that help capture important information that you’re specifically looking for. This could be the level of study they are currently at, their current age, or what their ideal qualification is.
  • If your RTO has a sales team, ask them for feedback on the student leads they’re currently interacting with. Can they make insightful generalisations about these students that you can use to create your personas?
  • Interview your current students over the phone and even prospective students to discover what they like about the courses you are offering.
  • In order to find prospective students to interview, reach out to your network, including co-workers, existing students or even social media contacts in order to find the students you’d like to interview and be introduced to.

Reach out to happy and discontented students

When creating your student personas it’s important to also talk to people who are unhappy with their courses and the tuition they are receiving. If you have received complaints, investigate them thoroughly in order to learn more about what your students’ challenges are.

Creating a complete persona

In order to create a persona that is truly reflective of the prospective student you’d like to target, you need to do between three and five interviews in each category (customers, prospects, people who don’t know your company) for each persona. The general rule is when you can accurately predict what your interviewee is going to say, you probably have the complete picture and need to internalise all the information.

Remember to ask the “why?”

No matter what question you ask, follow it up with “why?”. You are using these interviews in order to try and understand your current and prospective students’ goals, behaviours and what drives them. But you need to bear in mind, they are not always good at expressing or reflecting on their own behaviours. By asking “why?” you’ll get to the crux of things far more quickly

Finally, once you have established what makes your personas “tick”, remember to give them a name and a real-life image so you can truly envision what your student looks like – it will make tailoring your inbound marketing strategy content far easier.

Lupo Digital, is a specialised inbound marketing agency that has extensive expertise in creating personas specifically for the RTO industry. To find out more about how digital marketing works for RTOs, download our executive guide to inbound marketing for RTOs


download our inbound marketing guide for RTOs

Michael Wolf

Written by Michael Wolf

Founder of Lupo Digital, Michael is extremely passionate about digital and inbound marketing. Michael helps organisations drive rapid and sustainable customer and revenue growth.