Knowing your audience | Creating buyer persona

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Improve the way you market and sell. Buyer personas help you to adapt everything in your marketing efforts — from your tagline to your choice of social media platform — to appeal to your customers as closely as possible.

Research by Epsilon showed that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they receive a personalized experience. Building out your own buyer personas is one of the most impactful activities you can pursue to drive success. Let’s get started.


Forming the foundation

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer or audience in template form. With a clear outline of who you’re speaking to, it’s easier to develop effective marketing campaigns that appeal to your buyer’s specific wants, motivations, and challenges. Many marketers give their persona a name, such as “Sara the Student” or “Brad the Businessman” — and add behavioural drivers — to help visualize them as a person.

You want to know as much about your audience as possible. It’ll help you to personalize services, your website content and sales messaging, and enable you to create a brilliant customer experience. All good for your brand’s reputation — and the bottom line of your balance sheet.


Why are buyer personas important?

Without personas, how do you know which message will appeal to your target market’s needs? How can you fulfil needs without a deep understanding of what consumers are really looking for?

Today, digital marketing allows for unlimited possibilities. You can connect with consumers of all kinds, globally. Utilize customer personas to help you stay focused and appeal to your desired target audience in a meaningful way. The end goal? Delight your audience — from potential prospects to your most loyal customers.

According to HubSpot, delight is about providing a remarkable experience. One that focuses on customers’ needs and wishes — with the end goal of leaving people so happy that they go out and spread the good word about your brand. Buyer personas are the map to help you achieve this result.


Do buyer personas really work?

Research shows that businesses who exceed their lead and revenue goals are 4 times more likely to use personas for demand generation than businesses that missed their goals. Creating content and marketing plans around your buyer personas is essential. Once considered and applied, you should see significant boosts in key business metrics, such as return on investment (ROI) and net promotor scores (NPS).

But the evidence can be found in numbers. In a NetProspex case study, their brand personas resulted in:

  • 900% increase in the length of website visits

  • 171% increase in marketing-generated revenue

  • 111% increase in email campaign open rates

  • 100% increase in the number of pages visited

The bottom line? Buyer personas help you to understand your customers, drive sales, and boost your ROI. With the right customer profiles to work with you can –

  • Document concise internal language about your customer base

  • Attract new leads and drive higher lead conversion

  • Improve the quality of the customer experience

  • Increase profits


Creating your own buyer persona

Your journey to building brilliant buyer personas starts with research. Even if you feel you have a good grasp of who your customer base is, you’ll need to take a hard, investigative look when forming your personas. It’s not just about researching your current customers — but who you want your ideal customers to be in the future. Here are some simple steps.


1. Consider your objectives

Which goals do you want your buyer personas to achieve? Understanding your objectives can help to guide your research plan. Here are some ideas:

  • Improve conversion rates

  • Discover new potential customer types

  • Uncover pain points in your existing customer journeys

  • Find out about the true desires of your customer base so you can improve services and provide a brilliant experience


2. Form your questions

To create your personas, you’ll need to dig into the details of your existing and potential customers. Consider finding out the following:

Career life

  • What’s their income level?

  • What are their roles and responsibilities at work?

  • Do they manage people, departments, or processes?

  • What motivates them in their career? What are their ambitions?

Personal life

  • What are their hobbies and interests?

  • Do they own property or rent? Live alone or with others?

  • Are they married or single? Kids or no kids?

  • What are their personal values and beliefs?

Shopping habits

  • What items and services do they purchase, and how often?

  • Do they pay full price for the latest releases or wait for sale prices?

  • What’s the average spend per order? The average number of items per order?

  • What are their pain points when shopping online? How can their customer journey be improved?

Content preferences

  • What types of content do they like to consume? What publications do they read?

  • How do they like to consume content, at what time, and how often?

  • What content could be tweaked, deleted, or updated to meet their preferences?

  • How does your content help them achieve their goals or conquer challenges


3. Get your answers

Personas are composed from the data and information you can glean during user testing, feedback forms, data analysis, and one-to-one interviews. To get started, try the following approaches:

Talk to your employees

The experiences and insider knowledge of your customer-facing employees can be a valuable resource. Try sending out feedback forms internally or set up brainstorming sessions to discuss your current customer profiles.

Seek customer feedback

The people who have already purchased your product or service are your ideal audience. Email short surveys to your customer base, asking them a bit about themselves, their shopping habits, and preferences, or dig a little deeper into specifics.

Conduct interviews

Go a step further and speak more personally and directly to potential customers or real members of your audience. Try sending out a friendly email to your customer base or list of captured leads, asking if they have time for a quick phone call or in-person interview. Make it as easy as possible by including a link to book an interview time that best suits them.

Check the competition

You can learn a lot about ideal buyer personas from competitors who are seeing a lot of success in your desired market. Check their website, sign up for newsletters, or buy something from them. They are likely delivering tailored content and sales experiences that are hitting the mark with their target audience.

Set up exit questions

Single questions that pop up on your website at a designated time can be helpful —particularly for finding out why your customers aren’t completing a purchase. Questions such as “Did you find all the answers you needed today?” or “Is there something preventing you from signing up?” can uncover friction points and help you uncover what your customers truly want.


4. Look into your analytics

Start with the data and information you already have. Check the insights on your email marketing, social media, or POS systems, looking for trends such as post engagement or purchase behaviours. It’ll help inform who your biggest customers are, how much they spend on average, and which types of products or content gets the most attention.

A business dashboard like 9Spokes can help by pulling data from all areas of your business — generating timely, streamlined insights for you.

Google Analytics is also an invaluable tool to help you understand your customers better. The free business tool covers visitor behavior—including where visitors enter your website, where they exit, and after how long —as well as demographics, traffic sources, conversions, and more.

Create segments in Google Analytics to analyze key customer groups and behaviors, such as:

  • Average revenue per visitor

  • Transactions per visitor

  • New versus repeat customers

  • Frequent customers

Our Google Analytics 101 guide will help you get started.


Putting it all together

With research complete and information gathered, it’s time to put your people stories together into templates. Start with the basics, such as name, age, location, occupation, and education, then flesh out with their personal values, goals, challenges, frustrations, and motivations. The more detailed the better.

There are some great templates available online to help you get started. Try the free resources at Miro, Hootsuite, or HubSpot.


Applying your personas

Your personas should reflect real people with real motivations, desires, and concerns. It’ll help you to create brilliant products, services, and experiences for your customers. By shifting your customers' needs to the forefront of your business moves, you should notice real results.

Here are some ways you can apply your buyer persona creations:

Personalize your content

Use your buyer personas to tailor your marketing automation efforts, driving different personas into different marketing funnels. Some product management software, such as Pendo, enables you to create customer segments. To drive sales, experiment with personalized responsive website content targeted to your personas.

Time your campaigns

Marketing campaigns are more effective when you know when and how to deploy them. If you can identify peak engagement rates using analytics, you can time your campaigns to reach the most potential buyers.

Boost rapport with customers

Armed with personas, your sales teams will be better prepared to empathize with customers and respond effectively to challenging interactions.

Build a better product

Personas are an essential tool for your design, product, and development teams. With customers needs and desires closely considered, you'll be empowered to build a brilliant product that meets market demand.