Buyer personas play a key role in a marketing strategy; they are the representation of your typical customer, and it is important to define a sketch of them.
If you have a business, be it an e-commerce site, a fashion blog, or any other online or offline activity, precisely defining your buyer persona is the only way to succeed. In this article, I will explain how to create buyer personas, what they are, and how to identify them.
As you read on, you will see how buyer personas can be an important tool for creating conversions and maximizing ROI.
What are buyer personas?
The buyer personas represent the actual and potential audience at the heart of your web marketing strategy for your business; the more detail you can outline them, the more successful your business will be.
The website of Hubspot, a software platform for managing inbound marketing, states:
“Buyer personas are an imagined representation of your ideal client, built on market research as well as the actual data your company has on current customers. In creating a buyer’s persona, you must take into account the demographic of your customers, their behavior patterns, as well as their motivations and the goals of their businesses. The more detailed this description, the better. Buyer personas provide great help in understanding your company. The buyer persona will help you focus on not wasting time with offers and content that are not interesting to them.”
Adele Revella, the world’s leading expert on the subject, founder of the Buyer Persona Institute, and author of the most comprehensive book on the subject, Buyer Personas, add:
“Buyer personas provide you with an opportunity to truly connect with your customers and understand the reasons behind their decisions.”
By now, you will have realized that a clear identification of personas represents enormous power in your hands.
How do you create the identity of buyer personas?
The first step you have to take is to define the identity of your target customer.
Buyer personas, also called customer avatars, are imaginary profiles of potential customers defined according to different factors; here are the main ones:
- Socio-demographic information: age, gender, geographical location, educational qualification, background, profession, income, and resulting spending capacity
- Behavior: how they inform themselves and what they buy
- Lifestyle: hobbies, interests, and passions
- Media and technological equipment used
- Objectives they want to achieve
- Challenges and problems they face
- Obstacles between them and the goals they set themselves
- Criticism and objections they might make to your offer
To be more effective in this respect, I recommend that you further customize your sketches and differentiate them.
Give your personas proper names and more specific physical and behavioral characteristics.
According to Adele Revella, the most important aspect of building buyer personas is to obtain the “life stories” of our target group that are relevant to our approach and sales processes.
Focus on the goals and difficulties of your typical customers, so you will be able to anticipate their needs and help them realize their goals. Also, try to uncover any obstacles that stand between them and the purchase of your product or service, as well as their fears about it.
You can also reason in reverse, i.e., by exclusion. After you have defined your ideal profiles, you can move on to analyzing negative buyer personas, i.e., all those people you do not want as customers because, for instance, they are too expensive to acquire or retain or too advanced for the product or service you intend to offer them.
This method of profiling, therefore, stems from the need to avoid superficially and loosely labeling the recipients of our communication. You must always keep in mind your objective, which is to convert and sell.
This is why we must learn to address ourselves not generically to the target or to followers but to real people, each with their own characteristics, needs, prejudices, and passions, different from those of everyone else.
How can I create personas using tools?
The tools that can help you draw up such plausible profiles are market research that you can obtain through:
- ethnographic research
Depending on the sector you operate in, you may need to outline a few (1-2) or many (10–20) personas. However, to start with, I recommend developing a small number of profiles. This way, you will be able to manage them more effectively and start working on them right away.
You must always try to get feedback from the data collected that goes beyond your mere imagination. In fact, remember that the more real information you can gather, the more you will be able to hit your target.
The best buyer personas are those developed from qualitative research with users and in-depth analyses of customers in databases through interviews and questionnaires.
Also, according to Adele Revella, the best profiling is achieved through direct contact with one’s customers. Only with interviews can you understand the story behind each purchase, and knowing the “life story” of the customer is a very effective tool in marketing and sales processes.
Here are some practical tips for gathering the information you need:
- Start by checking the contacts in your database for recurring information on how leads and customers find and use your content.
- When creating forms for inclusion on your site, try to obtain information relevant to the development of the buyer persona.
- Create surveys through, e.g., SurveyMonkey, one of the most popular and widely used online survey tools, or Google Forms, which is useful for capturing quick opinions or feedback on certain topics but has fewer data analysis possibilities.
- Analyzes the feedback generated by sales, especially those concerning leads.
- Interview customers and prospects in person to find out what they think of your product or service. This is crucial, and if you really can’t do it in person, use the phone or, better yet, Skype and Google Hangouts. Remember to always record the content and, of course, ask permission from the interviewee.
Who should I interview to develop buyer personas?
One of the most difficult steps in the process of developing buyer personas is finding the right people to talk to in order to find out who your typical customer really is.
This means conducting interviews to understand what drives your customers to adopt a certain type of behavior, such as starting certain searches, leaving your site, or buying your product. But how can you collect this information?
Here are the main sources to draw on:
- Customers: Your existing customers are the ideal starting point for your interviews since they have already purchased your product or service and have already come into contact with your company. NB: Even “bad customers,” i.e., those dissatisfied with your services, should be listened to, as they will teach you a lot about the room for improvement in your business, perhaps on issues that you might initially overlook, such as the usability of your website.
- Prospects: those people who have not yet purchased or who do not know your business in-depth but who, in some way, have already approached you with the intention of receiving more information.
- Referrals: Potential customers who approach your product thanks to external referrals. This type of contact is especially useful if you are entering the market for the first time and have neither customers nor leads yet. You can generate it by using your network of contacts, social media, or, e.g., by starting a search on LinkedIn to identify users who might fit into your target group and with whom you have connections in common.
Tool for creating Personas
You are almost there: you have collected a sufficient amount of information, and now all that remains is to create your buyer personas. Okay, but how do I do this?
Don’t worry, the bulk is really done; for this last step, just use some simple tools. Here are the best ones, in my opinion:
- Make My Persona is a Hubspot-developed tool that enables you to profile buyer personas by answering a series of questions using the data you have collected. Additionally, it is free of charge. Once you have completed the process, you will receive the document in Word via email.
- The 9 Essential Parts were created by the renowned Content Marketing Institute, as proposed by Ardath Albee. Founded in 2020 by Joe Pulizzi, it was the first organization to specialize in this subject.
Unfortunately, profiling is not a one-time activity. The profiles you have outlined will evolve over time and need to be updated with new information. You will also need to change them according to the reactions you notice over time.
Although it is rather long and complex work, I guarantee that if you do it well, your effort will be amply rewarded.
As we have already mentioned, launching a highly targeted communication strategy will give you more opportunities for success, starting with greater involvement of your audience, which you will soon be able to see on social networks, for example, and ending with a better ROI (Return On Investment).
Buyer personas and content marketing
Identifying buyer personas is the first step in implementing a successful marketing strategy.
Once you have defined your target audience, you can define and choose the ideal buyer personas for each type of customer:
- the most suitable form of content;
- the tone of voice, the style in which you send your message: colloquial, formal, ironic, institutional;
- the most appropriate channels to use: blogs, social (and which ones? ), webinars, podcasts;
- the means of communication by which he prefers to be contacted: e-mail, mail, telephone;
- the best tools: responsive site, mobile app, and more.
The tool that meets all these needs is content marketing. This term refers to the type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of valuable content aimed at acquiring and retaining customers.
But what does content marketing have to do with buyer persona profiling?
At the most basic level, precisely identifying buyer personas allows you to create content and messages that are attractive and meaningful to your target audience.
Talk to them, but above all, talk like them and use the same language as them. A very useful (and free) tool in this respect is the Google AdWords Keyword Planning Tool.
When you position your website at the top of the page of results for search engines (SERPs), it will be easily discovered by potential visitors, making your site more interesting and prompting emotions immediately from your visitors. How you appear on Google searches can have a significant impact on your online visibility and overall success.
Developing buyer personas allows you to organize the information architecture and create content and messages that are of interest to your target audience and are able to really grab their attention.
At the same time, this activity allows you to develop different marketing strategies tailored to the needs of the different customer segments your company addresses.
This is why we speak of supply segmentation.
For instance, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to all contacts in your database, you can segment by types of personas and send a specific message based on the information previously collected.
You may have already guessed that at this point we are moving into the world of inbound marketing, i.e., that marketing strategy that aims to attract customers rather than implement push actions to acquire them.
Buyer personas and inbound marketing
We can say that buyer personas are the absolute stars of inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing aims to intercept people’s needs in order to provide them with the most satisfactory answers. In order to do that, you must understand more precise features than when you define the goal, which is affected by socio-demographic as well as geographical factors.
Through inbound marketing techniques, they are the customers that, being attracted by the content the business has produced, would like to know more about items and products. It is therefore evident how this type of marketing is closely linked to content marketing: content is the first phase of the complex process triggered by inbound.
The path of this process consists of several stages, each characterized by different means and techniques of communication. Four stages are usually distinguished:
- Awareness (attraction)
When coupled with the customer’s lifecycle stage (i.e., their position in the sales cycle), buyer personas also allow you to create content that is targeted and more likely to convert the contact into a customer. In practice, this will involve segmenting content according to the buyer persona it is aimed at.
Another key step to improving the conversion rate of your content concerns its communication. In order for users to find and enjoy it, you need to disseminate it through the channels used by your buyer personas.
That’s why it is vital for inbound marketers to know how their target customers inform themselves, what newspapers they read, how they communicate, what they search for on Google, what social media they use most, and what topics they are most attracted to.
Again, the goal is to use personas to dialogue with them, identifying at which stage of the buyer’s journey they are, and all this is naturally aimed at increasing the conversion rate.
In conclusion, it seems clear to me that the better the work you do in creating your buyer personas, the more productive your marketing strategy will be, and, once identified, you will have to convert them into customers. In this case, I recommend that you take a more in-depth look at the inbound marketing course.
Do you want to understand how to define your target audience and implement an online marketing strategy that really works?
Contact an expert; he will follow you step by step in achieving these goals.