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Buyer personas are generalized representations of a company’s ideal customer. They outline behavioral characteristics as well as the key reasons why a specific market segment is interested in a company. Buyer personas are an essential part of developing a successful content marketing program that properly engages with the right audience to promote new sales opportunities and/or retain current customer relationships.
Unfortunately, many companies struggle with developing buyer personas. According to a recent report from Experian Marketing Services, 32% of marketers said the lack of a single customer view was the top challenge to their cross-channel marketing efforts. Companies that fail to create an authentic understanding of their target customer base end up creating marketing content that fails to engage the audience. It’s like writing a history paper and submitting it to a quantum physics class — there is no point. If your marketing efforts are targeted at the wrong audience, no one will listen to your message.
Buyer personas help organizations establish the right kind of message for the right audience segments. Simply put, they increase the relevance of content. For example, when sending lead generation emails, how do you tailor the messaging? Your database is filled with hundreds of contacts all with varying buyer behaviors. Using buyer personas enables you to segment your database into different buyer personas and tailor the messaging according to the needs and characteristics of each one. According to HubSpot, 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue. Segmenting by buyer personas makes the most use of the data and digital resources a company has already accumulated.
How to Determine Your Buyer Persona?
The biggest struggle most companies face is not applying buyer personas to their content, but defining the characteristics of buyer personas. There are a couple ways to develop accurate buyer personas:
1) Web Analytics: Looking at web analytics and metrics like page traffic, mobile traffic, referring sites and connections and leads on social media will help give you an initial collection of data that represents your ideal buyer.
2) Current Customers: Investigating your current customer base enables you to collect data from people who are familiar with your product. Ask your current customers to participate in surveys or interviews. Incentives like coupons or discounts are great ways to increase participation.
3) Sales: Another simple way to gather insight into your current customers is to ask for feedback from your sales team. They are interacting with your current and prospective customers on a regular basis so they are sure to have insight into trends and common behaviors.
4) POS and CRM: Connecting your POS system with your CRM solution is an easy way to save time and money when gathering data from your customers. This will help you automate information so you can more efficiently collect data as well as track customer preferences and buying histories as your company grows.
5) Prospective Customers: In addition to interviewing existing customers, interviewing customer leads will give you additional perspectives from people who are not familiar with your company. Supplying lead generation forms on your company website is a simple way to collect key information from potential customers.
6) Expand Your Network: Keep in mind that expanding into a completely new market takes a little more research. When looking at new markets, increasing your reach and getting the opinions of a third party are crucial. By broadening your network, you are able to gather information from buyers that could potentially be a great fit for your company even though they differ from your current customer base and leads.
Thankfully, in today’s technological age, social media makes it quite simple to grow your network and reach out to a new market. For B2B companies, LinkedIn is the perfect platform to look at untapped markets within your industry. Start by interviewing or surveying first connections on LinkedIn and then expand your reach to second and third connections.
Analyzing the Data
Once all your data has been collected, you will need to analyze it to identify patterns and trends. These patterns help establish the behavioral characteristics that define your ideal buyer persona.
Characteristics to keep in mind include age, ethnicity, gender, key responsibilities, concerns, purchase drivers, preferred medium to receive content, likely times to consume content, likes, dislikes, buying role, industry, company size, objections to purchase, regional characteristics and shopping preferences.
When analyzing data, it is important to look at the demographics and behavioral information that define consumption trends. With that in mind, asking why your customers have certain characteristics is imperative to understanding the motivation behind behavioral traits.
How Many Buyer Personas Do You Need?
In a simple world, you would only have one buyer persona, but this occurrence is a rarity. You will generally have anywhere from 1 to 30 personas. If you are a company that sells multiple products and services, creating different personas for each service or product enables you to engage multiple buyers with interests in your various products. For example, if you are marketing financial services, your buyer persona will differ when offering an auto loan versus a savings account. The customer interested in one is likely not interested in the other at the same time, and using the same strategies to market both products will diminish a company’s ability to market either successfully.
In addition, create personas for the different members in the decision-making process. The decision-making process for B2B products or service purchase decisions generally includes an initiator, influencer, decision maker, buyer, user and gatekeeper. Each player in the decision-making process plays a crucial role in deciding to engage in a purchase. Different players may partake in different phases of the decision-making process and with that each member’s interests may differ. For example, the initiator would find an email on new product details very helpful, whereas the decision maker may be more interested in case studies and customer testimonials. Differentiating between the different players within the decision-making process ensures that you send the right content with the proper tone to the correct audience.
Apply Your Buyer Personas to Content Marketing
Once your buyer personas are created, the next step is to develop messaging and content that are relevant to each persona. Behavior-based marketing involves targeting multiple buying behaviors with various strategies.
Buyer personas can help tailor content to produce a specific customer action. For example, within a blog article that is targeted at a specific persona incorporating a call to action such as a download that is relevant to that specific buyer is a simple way to keep the consumer interacting with information that is consistent with their interests.
Before creating any content, be sure to determine your buyer personas. The results will be streamlined messaging and tailored content that speak directly to your target audience thereby generating more leads. Whether you are creating blog posts, eblasts, case studies, ebooks or simply posting on social media, determining the ideal buyer persona is an indispensable step to content creation.
Want to learn more about the benefits of buyer personas? Contact Jacobs & Clevenger to receive a free content marketing assessment to determine how you can successfully measure and promote your lead generation efforts.
Topics: Inbound Marketing