Creating Buyer Personas for Effective Marketing
Buyer personas can help your business create compelling content, drive more sales, and keep your customers happy and loyal.
The problem is, though, creating good buyer personas can be difficult.
Where do you start?
This post will break it all down.
We’ll dive right into what a buyer persona is, explain why they’re valuable and then give you a step by step, actionable strategy for creating buyer personas and using them to drive awareness and sales.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a description of your ideal customer (or customers, if you have multiple target markets).
Unlike a generic target market breakdown (which might be “new moms” if you sell environmentally-friendly diapers, or “SMB marketing teams” if you sell social media management software), a buyer persona goes deep and specific.
A buyer persona breaks down a single person’s demographics, values, pain points, and goals. To help your teams better visualize the buyer persona, most include a face and name.
A Few Numbers:
- The implementation of marketing personas made websites 2-5 times more effective on average, and easier to use by targeted users.
- Personalized emails (even personalized only to the extent of a marketing persona) improve click-through rates by 14%, conversion rates by 10% and drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails.
A Real-World Example:
Skytap, a self-service provider of cloud automation solutions, launched a tailored content marketing strategy.
Targeted buyer personas…
- Lifted sales by 124%
- Increased online leads by 95%
- Drove a 55% increase in organic search traffic
- Increased site traffic in North America by 210%
The 5 Primary Benefits of Buyer Personas
- Buyer personas provide insight for inbound marketing campaigns.
By better defining who your target is, your understanding of what those people are searching for on Google, what level of understanding you can assume, and how much nurturing each lead is likely to need, you more effective turn visitors into leads and sales.
For example, Neil Patel uses, “Do you want more traffic?” as the lead-generation headline on his website’s entry overlay.
This messaging resonates with his buyer persona, whose primary pain point is a lack of website traffic:
- Buyer personas provide insight for advertising campaigns.
A complete buyer persona will inform your team about where your ideal customers are (on which platforms), and what messages will attract their eye and get them to click.
For example, Noom (below) uses the Facebook Ad headline “Lose weight for good,” recognizing this is the primary desire of their ideal customer:
- Buyer personas provide insight for website design and optimization.
By identifying the knowledge level and primary pain points of your ideal customers, you can more effectively test your website’s USP, navigation, sales pages, etc.
We’ll continue the Noom example, by moving from their Facebook ad to their website.
They continue the “lose weight for good” value proposition, using it here to turn visitors into leads:
- Buyer personas provide insight into who you shouldn’t be targeting.
Knowing who you shouldn’t be targeting improves the ROI of your sales and marketing campaigns.
Not every visitor or lead has the same value. Identifying who should be made priority and who can be left to automation is vital to a scalable sales strategy.
A great way to do this is to showcase (on your homepage) the businesses you’ve worked with before. If your buyer persona is a person who works for an enterprise-level or agency-level business, show businesses they’ll recognize.
Those same businesses will turn a mom-and-pop ecommerce business away. This is the right call if you want to scale your business without wasting time on leads who won’t be able to afford you.
Here’s an example from PitchBox, who showcase businesses who represent their buyer persona:
- Buyer personas provide insight for your support team to better prepare for conversations
By implementing buyer personas, your sales team will be better prepared for every chat conversation. They’ll know frequently-asked questions, the average level of understanding, even the tone which will resonate most effectively.
They’ll be able to create automated email flows which better resonate with onboarding customers, build a more effective knowledge base (by showing the most important and frequently-asked question first) and better address the primary pain points of existing users who want to leave.
Specific Ways Buyer Personas Can Be Used
If you created your buyer personas, appoint someone else within your company to take the role of that ideal customer.
The reason for this is that the creator of the buyer persona won’t be able to stay objective. If the appointee has any questions, be sure to answer them in full, but leave the “character building” up to them. This makes the process more natural.
Then have them interact with your business from that buyer’s point of view.
Here are a few of the main use-cases for a buyer persona:
- Examine your website flow. Would that messaging resonate with them, or would it go over their head?
- Review your most recent blog posts. Do these articles interest them?
- Listen to your sales script. Are their pain points addressed in the first minute of the conversation? Or do they feel alienated by the conversation?
- Get on chat with your customer support team. Are the knowledge base links they send them relevant to their needs?
There are many other buyer persona use-cases, but these first four give you a better idea of the role buyer personas can play in your business’ marketing, sales, and support processes.
Buyer Persona Examples
An example of a buyer persona for a real estate firm:
Here’s an example of a buyer persona for a B2B business:
And you can go as deep as you like. Narrowing down the buyer persona often helps to find actionable tactics.
For example, this is a more comprehensive buyer persona example for an enterprise-level software provider:
How to Create a Buyer Persona
This section will give you an actionable strategy for creating a complete buyer persona.
Your support team will help you define who your existing customers are.
Combining this data with that of your sales team will give you a good idea of the demographic details, pain points, and primary objectives of your buyer persona.
Remember that answers to all these questions should inform your marketing/sales strategy. There’s no point in learning that your sales team thinks your prospective customers have brown eyes.
Here are the top five questions to ask your support team when creating a buyer persona:
- What questions are most commonly asked by our clients?
- What is the most common role held by the people you speak to?
- The follow-up questions here would be, “What is the common role held by the decision-makers?” “What about the recurring role of our success stories?”
- If someone has an issue with our tool, service, or product, is there a recurring characteristic of that person?
- What is the primary pain point people mention when on a call or chat with you?
- What is the composition of businesses/customers who succeed/are happy with our service? What is the composition of businesses/customers who cancel or have issues?
5 Questions to Ask your Sales Team:
Your sales team can help define who your prospective customers are, as well as the characteristics of people who tend to buy.
Here are the top five questions to ask your sales team when creating a buyer persona:
- Can you describe your last call? Was it representative of the average?
- What are their primary goals or objectives? What are they hoping to accomplish by using us or buying from us?
- What part of our business is the most appealing?
- Is there a recurring issue people complain about if they’re considering moving from a competitor?
- What price point scares prospective customers away? What price point do prospective customers jump at?
2. Talk with your customers through surveys, phone calls, and in-platform questionnaires.
Your customers are a priceless resource for defining your ideal buyer persona. After all, these are the people who have bought from you before, and (if they respond) are engaged with you now.
How to talk to your customers:
- Send an email with a link to a form, survey or questionnaire
- Call your most successful, longest-lasting customers
- Add a surveying tool within your software
If you want to, you can incentivize your customers to filling out your questionnaires by offering a gift card or other, in-platform incentive.
5 Questions to Ask your Customers:
- Can you tell us a little about yourself and your business?
- An effective way to do this might be to have a series of dropdowns with demographic options they can choose (their industry, their role, their age, their location, etc.)
- How do you measure success?
- Why did you choose [your tool/service] over competitors?
- What do you wish we offered beyond what we do?
- What would make you leave?
3. Look at your marketing funnel and segment your audience into personas.
Like every marketing strategy, your analytics tool is going to be hugely valuable in building a solid buyer persona.
If your existing tool doesn’t show you the answers to the questions below, consider switching analytics tools.
If that’s outside your budget, it’s okay to rely on common sense and conversations with your support, sales teams, and existing customers.
Any buyer persona is better than no buyer persona.
6 Questions to Ask your Analytics Tool:
- How do most of our website visitors find us? Where are they coming from (demographic information as well as platform)?
- Which of our website pages are visited the most? What does this tell us about our prospective customer’s interests or pain points?
- Also look into what pages people visit multiple times.
- Where do we seem to lose people? Does bouncing from the pricing page, for instance, indicate that most of our visitors can’t afford us?
- Are we seeing an average buyer journey? How many visits? To which pages?
- What is our most popular plan or product?
- What is the lifetime value of our average customer? How long do they stay a customer, on average?
Helpful tools for creating a buyer persona:
- SurveyMonkey or Google Forms: The premier tools to get data from your existing contacts, either one of these will work to ask the questions provided above.
- NPS Scoring Tools: These include, but are in no way limited to, Delighted, Survicate, Typeform, and Wootric.
- Intercom: Intercom’s app integrations allow you to send questionnaires to a select group of your existing users.
- CrazyEgg or Inspectlet: Watch how your website visitors and existing users interact with your website or software, both with heat-mapping and recorded sessions. This gives you valuable insight into how people use your tool and (with cookie tracking) the type of user who buys and where people bounce or seem to get confused.Google Analytics or Woopra: Check out the traffic sources of your visitors to determine how people are finding you, where they’re coming from (country as well as platform) and what the average buyer journey is.
- You may have more than one buyer persona
If you want to run an ambitious Christmas campaign targeting a demographic which isn’t, necessarily, one of your existing buyer personas, don’t let that stop you.
Online marketing is about innovation and testing as much as it is data.
One of the main ways to create solid buyer personas is to try targeting a certain demographic and seeing if the approach works well.
- Your buyer personas should change as your business does.
If you decide to release a major new feature (after running it by your personas), how will that affect the appeal of your product with your existing buyers?
Now that you have a more complete understanding of buyer personas, including exactly how you can create and use them, it’s time to dive in.
- Get your team together and delegate roles.
- Get your writers to create the questions and polls to send to your existing users.
- Get your customer success team to start noting the frequency of questions they’re asked and who they’re talking to.
- Get your sales team to start noting the pain points of prospective clients.
- Get your analytics team to start preparing a buyer’s journey report.
In a couple weeks, meet back up and sit down with the data.
Once you have your personas, it’s time to act.
Review the actionable walk-through above and be sure to let us know how it affects your marketing, sales, and customer success results!