No matter how big or small your marketing budget, you’ll want the greatest possible return on your investment. As many as 61% of marketers consider traffic and lead generation the greatest challenge for their company. One way to improve your marketing strategy is to build it around buyer personas. These research-based representations of your ideal customers make your advertising efforts far more personalized and effective, generating more engagement and higher-value leads than generic marketing campaigns ever could.
Creating buyer personas is about truly understanding your target audience and tailoring your marketing messages accordingly. Let’s take a look at the steps of creating buyer personas and how to make the most of them.
What can ideal buyer personas do for you?
We invest in marketing to attract more customers, and therefore, to make more sales. In order to do this effectively, we need to know what our prospective customers want and need, as well as what they like and dislike. Personalized marketing messages significantly influence the purchasing decisions of 59% of customers, and 50% of shoppers would be more likely to buy from a retailer again if approached with personalized offers.
Well-researched buyer personas give that personal touch to all your marketing efforts. Buyer personas can inform product development to ensure you’re providing solutions to real needs and that your ads appeal to real people. And as such, their applications within marketing are nearly endless.
Personas can be the starting point for creating tailored landing pages for your website as well as leading decisions about content creation, keyword choices, and which media formats to favor. They can help you decide which social media channels to focus on, which influencers to reach out to, and how to best train your sales team to serve your customers. And since emails from segmented campaigns are 75% more likely to be opened, you could do worse than use your buyer personas to create effective mailing list segments for targeted campaigns.
Creating your ideal buyer personas
Each one of your buyer personas is a fictional personality representing a segment of your customer base. In order to create buyer personas that accurately reflect a group of people, you’ll first need to conduct thorough research.
How to collect information
Your existing customer base is your first port of call, though you can also expand your research into prospective customers. Different avenues for collecting data include traditional market research campaigns, focus groups, customer interviews, online polls and questionnaires, website analytics, social media insights, and impressions collected from your customer service teams. When you seek out interviewees and survey participants, offer a small incentive to attract more participants. The costs of these are likely to be repaid pretty quickly by any increase in your marketing effectiveness. Make sure you also take note of what your competitors are doing: which groups are they targeting, and how do they interact with their audience?
What type of data do you need to gather?
Who is your ideal customer? What do they want? What are their pain points? In order to understand your representative buyer persona as fully as possible, aim to gather as much information as you can – just be sure that you’re following data protection regulations when recording and storing information.
In addition to important demographic data (age, gender, education, marital status, income etc.), you could collect information about your customers’ jobs, goals in life, biggest challenges, personal values and fears, hobbies and interests, online habits, preferred news sources and social media platforms, buying behavior, and so on.
What to do with your data
Once you’ve collected enough information, look out for any trends and patterns in your data. What traits and characteristics tend to go together? Use these commonalities to identify main segments of your customer base, such as affluent young professionals living alone or work-at-home mums with young kids.
Start with the most valuable segments and develop your buyer personas. Give each persona a name – such as Pauline the Professional – and add everything you know about them into a template. Don’t be afraid to add quite a bit of detail – your aim is to create a believable, representative persona, not one that has only traits that apply to every single person in the group. To further flesh out your persona, choose a stock photo to depict them and add real quotes from your research into their profile, if possible.
In the end, you should have a buyer persona that helps you visualize your customers as real people. When writing targeted advertising copy, thinking of how your company could help ‘Pauline’ reach her goals gives your marketing a more personal touch than simply addressing ‘young professionals’.
Your buyer personas are likely to evolve over time and need corrections, so monitor their performance over time. Are they having a positive impact on leads and conversions? Review each persona every six to twelve months to ensure that they stay fresh and relevant.
How soon should you start creating buyer personas?
Should brand new businesses bother putting effort into the process of creating buyer personas? It’s true that without an existing customer base, you’ll be more limited in the amount of information you can gather. However, you can still seek the opinions of prospective customers and observe what your competition is doing. And the earlier you understand who your ideal customers are, the more aligned your brand will be with the people you seek to serve over time.
Conversely, starting the process after you’ve already defined your values, logos, slogans and so on, it’ll be more difficult and expensive to try and steer your business into a new direction. However, buyer personas can also reveal new markets and growth opportunities, so putting the effort into the research is useful at any point.
How many buyer personas does a business need?
Large multinational corporations with a broad customer base may have as many as twenty buyer personas, while solopreneurs offering a highly specific service may only ever need one. For most businesses though, it’s good to aim for three to four buyer personas. If necessary, start smaller and add more personas later on.
Remember that the most important thing is that you’re actually using the data you’ve collected by putting your buyer personas to good use. Hopefully, these tips will help you to do just that!
Need data? Connect with our team today to start getting the answers you need about your own buyers and prospects.