If you have a business, you certainly want to obtain more leads and increase your revenue, right?
To accomplish this, it is necessary to create and execute a marketing strategy, which includes content production and other actions, as a way to prospect consumers.
It works like a conversation, allowing you and your audience to build a relationship.
However, will your strategy ever work if you try to talk to everyone?
No, because if you decide to speak to everyone, nobody will hear you. The reason for that is simple: people have different needs, opinions, pain points, and challenges. So, if you want their attention, they should see that you understand their particularities and want to help them.
To achieve this objective, and accurately reach your audience, you should start by building a buyer persona, also known as a persona. Creating it is the basis of a Digital Marketing strategy.
This content will cover the following topics:
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional character that represents your ideal customer.
Creating it requires careful work that includes market research, customer data that you already have, and even some assumptions.
Check out this animated infographic to get a clear picture about what we are going to talk in this article:
Once you build your persona’s profile and describe its characteristics in detail, you will be able to understand your audience and address your Marketing efforts to the right people.
After all, if you know your ideal customer “in person”, it is easier to talk to them about things they are interested in.
The concept of buyer persona was created by Alan Cooper, a software designer and programmer. It became popular with Inbound Marketing.
Nowadays, it is helping businesses and marketers all over the world to reach customers, establish a relationship with them, and make more sales.
Now that you know the theory, how about understanding the concept of persona in practice?
First of all, imagine a company that offers CRM software. How would its persona look? Let’s see the following topic.
An example of a persona
William, 35 years old, married, has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a busy professional routine, although he tries to find a balance between work and family.
He works as a Marketing manager for a company that supplies kitchen equipment to restaurants.
Since the company’s early days, he has been working with spreadsheets to keep track of their customer base, which is growing fast.
Thus, he realizes that the old method is no longer an efficient tool, and the members of his team are complaining about their difficulties in using spreadsheets.
For this reason, he has been talking to the CEO about the possibility of acquiring a CRM system.
However, his boss thinks that spreadsheets are still an effective method of tracking sales and keeping a good relationship with customers.
William frequently searches CRM-related terms on Google, aiming to find the ideal solution for their problem.
He even asks for more information when he finds a system that he likes, and also wants to complete his benchmark by email.
He is on LinkedIn, where he regularly consumes content to keep up with his area, as well as on Facebook, which he uses for personal purposes. Also, Willian likes to watch the news on YouTube.
Because their business involves a lot of transactions and communications with customers, as well as orders with special requests, they need a CRM system with some specific characteristics.
For example, it must be easy to use and intuitive. Besides, it should be scalable, since the company will keep on growing.
Also, the software has to integrate with their email solution so that they can automate the communication with leads and customers.
Finally, it must offer segmentation features, which will facilitate the Marketing and Sales departments’ work.
What is a target audience?
Are you familiar with the concept of a target audience? It is important to know the differences between it and the idea of a persona.
Firstly, a target audience includes more general data, that is, demographic information of people that are more likely to become your customers.
A target audience profile can also include socioeconomic and behavioral aspects, although not as detailed as the persona’s characteristics. It had been widely used in offline Marketing campaigns.
Some target audience examples to help you understand the concept:
- Marketing managers, 35 to 45 years old, working in companies in the state of New York;
- men and women, 30 to 40 years old, middle class, owning dogs;
- women, 25 to 35 years old, middle class, interested in DIY (do it yourself).
As you can see, a personas’ profile gathers much more information about people you want to reach. But why is it so important?
What are the types of buyer personas?
What are the different types of buyer personas? This could be a tricky question. If you look for off-the-shelf persona models to implement in your strategy, you may miss most of the benefits we have covered in this text.
This is because, as you know, each business has its particularities that must be considered when defining the objectives. Therefore, they must also be taken into account when developing the buyer persona.
In other words, do not look for ready-to-use personas. Instead, build your own based on the specifics of your audience and of your business.
Having said that, there is a way to categorize buyer personas. There is a big difference between B2B and B2C customers, so personas for these two business modalities have some details that differentiate them.
If you are in the B2C market, you are dealing with the final buyer of a product or service. In other words, your consumer wants to satisfy their own needs and desires. On the other hand, B2B transactions involve buyers who not only have individual characteristics, but also carry the needs and conditions of the companies that employ them.
In this way, B2B personas might be considered a bit more complex. They blend the particularities of the types of businesses that might be interested in your solutions with the individual traits of the people responsible for closing deals.
What benefits a buyer persona brings to business?
Because they have such an impact on the Marketing department, it is natural that buyer personas benefit the business as a whole. Of course, more efficient Marketing strategies expand the company’s reach and enable it to attract more customers, which consequently results in profits. But the introduction of a persona in your strategies brings advantages that go beyond the fulfillment of commercial goals.
The idea behind creating a buyer persona is to facilitate the segmentation of the public so that the brand directs its Marketing and communication efforts to people who have a real possibility of becoming customers. This means not only an increase in profits from sales, but also an even greater growth in your ROI.
This effect is a result of the increased efficiency of the actions directed towards your audience. The persona serves as a guide to make these efforts in the most accurate way possible, avoiding spending time and resources unnecessarily.
If your ideal client is not a Facebook user, for example, there is no reason to allocate employees to produce content for this particular network. That way, you can find more effective means of investment.
You can also fit the persona into a paid ads strategy. As you know, tools like Google Ads and Facebook Ads allow you to target your campaigns to specific audiences, which you can customize according to interests and demographic factors.
Thus, if your business takes the buyer persona’s characteristics as the basis, you will ensure campaigns with much higher ROI levels.
Greater market authority
A company that can impact the right audience tends to grow quickly, gaining market share. The persona helps you communicate more effectively with your potential consumers, conveying your brand’s values and visions through a solid, consistent approach. The natural consequence is that people will start talking about your business, generating what we know as Word of Mouth Marketing.
In the age of consumer 4.0, this generates immeasurable benefits for the company. If your message really impacted your persona, they will mention your brand positively in forums, social media, and other communication channels.
Today’s audience places a lot of importance on recommendations from other people, and they tend to share these recommendations with others. This creates a cascade effect that helps consolidate your company as an authority in the market.
Generation of brand advocates
Brand advocates are customers who grow so loyal to a brand that they become its staunchest advocates. Not only do they fill social media with positive comments and share your content, they also form a loyal buyer base. No matter what happens: they will continue to consume your products. Great, isn’t it? But creating these advocates is a huge challenge for any company.
The Buyer Persona works as a facilitating tool in this process. By relying on the semi-fictional character to create content, develop products, and position itself with contemporary issues, the company can address its main pain points, needs, desires etc. In this way, you create a bond that goes beyond the customer-brand relationship, paving the way for high loyalty levels.
Improved communication with the public
The persona serves not only to guide the communication efforts made by the marketing team, but by the entire company.
This involves, for example, customer service. This is one of the most critical points of interaction with the public since it is usually the channel where customers go to make complaints and solve doubts.
Therefore, it is necessary to intelligently define the approach that will be used in this medium, including issues such as tone of voice and recommended expressions.
For this reason, we recommend creating a style guide that covers all areas of the company and clearly defines how employees should behave while interacting with people. This guide should be based on the persona’s main characteristics, just like in a Content Marketing strategy. With positive interactions, you pave the way for a more long-lasting relationship.
Enablement of Smarketing strategy
The processes that involve the attraction, qualification, and conversion of leads become much more effective if they involve the Marketing and Sales departments working together. The alignment of these two sectors is what we call a Smarketing strategy.
This approach aims to exchange insights between salespeople and marketers, facilitating the creation of experiences and triggers capable of moving the lead along the sales funnel and enabling its conversion into a client.
The structuring of a persona is fundamental in this process since it allows members of all teams, both in Marketing and Sales, to have the same ideal customer as their primary reference.
This way, in addition to maintaining constant communication and pursuing the same goals, both departments can create more accurate strategies to achieve their objectives.
What are the main doubts when creating a buyer persona?
One of the main doubts that arise in the process of creating a buyer persona is how this character differs from the target-market. If you’ve gotten this far in this post, you already have the answer to that. However, many other question marks surround this strategy, mainly because of its simplicity and efficiency.
For example, it is easy to understand how this tool can help giant companies with large numbers of employees and customers. But is it suitable for smaller clients? The emphatic answer is yes.
Regardless of your business size, the use of a buyer persona is essential for reaching your goals. Even a self-employed dog walker needs to better understand their audience if the goal is to extend their customer base and increase their revenue.
Another recurring question involves how many personas should be created. Should I create only one? Can I create as many as I want? At this point, it is necessary to act according to your reality. If you sell products/services to audiences or markets with different characteristics, it makes a lot of sense to create more than one persona, so you don’t need to limit it to one.
However, it is essential not to exaggerate. Working with too many different personas can lead to confusion in your communication strategy and weaken your messages. With this in mind, you can work out the ideal number for your company.
And what are the main errors when creating a buyer persona?
You already know the main steps to create effective buyer personas. Now, it’s time to understand some of the worst mistakes companies make in this process. This way, you can prevent them and ensure better results for your strategies.
Using too many assumptions
Buyer personas are semi-fictional characters. This means that you should not develop them based on assumptions but rather through serious behavioral research and data analysis.
To get relevant information for creating your persona, it is essential to conduct interviews with real people. We will talk more about this later.
Overusing demographic information
Using demographic information is undeniably vital for building a buyer persona. However, you should not pay too much attention to this factor. Your persona should get as close as possible to your potential customers’ real conditions, highlighting their pains, desires, needs, dreams, hobbies, and many other elements that cannot be captured purely by demographic research.
Interviewing the wrong people
When setting up interviews to collect data for your persona, it is essential to properly define the people that will participate in the process. You know that the goal is to find your ideal customer, but who exactly is that? You need to think about this question and define, first of all, to whom your company wants to sell its products and services.
When defining the interview list, many companies stick to the customers they already have. Although they are important in the process, limiting yourself to interviewing current clients result in inferior buyer personas.
What is the impact of a buyer persona in Marketing?
A better understanding of your customer
Imagine you’ve just met a person and you want to establish a pleasant conversation. Maybe you agree that you will be more likely to accomplish that if both of you share common interests, right?
So, as the person talks about his interests, goals, and challenges, you can tell him your opinion and even offer suggestions.
In the relationship between your business and your customer, the same occurs. Once you have a complete profile of your ideal client, you will be more likely to be empathetic, and your prospect will feel you really understand and want to help.
Directing your Marketing efforts towards a persona will help to save time and money. You will have a higher chance of reaching people who have the exact problems your product or service is meant to solve.
Thus, with less time and money spent, the cost of attracting each customer is lower.
If you have a buyer persona, you are able to segment your communication according to people’s preferences. Think, for example, about the language you should use.
Do your prospects like to talk formally or informally? What vocabulary do they use? Do they prefer reading a text with technical terms? Would they like if you use emojis?
Segmentation also includes appropriate content, according to the customer journey stage that your lead is in.
For example, if the person is at the awareness stage, he needs more educative and general content, which is present in blog posts and infographics. At the decision stage, interactive calculators and case studies would be welcome.
When you have a buyer persona, you can answer all these questions. Thereby, you will help your customers to move through the customer journey, which will increase the number of sales and, of course, revenue.
More persuasive approach
Because objections are a natural element of a negotiation, you must be prepared to clear up your prospects’ doubts.
However, if you have a persona in mind, it is also possible to predict issues that may come up and cover them, for example, in blog posts, ebooks, and case studies.
Besides that, you will be able to clear up possible questions in the content of your emails, so your approach will be more persuasive. If you do so, your email marketing strategy will be more effective.
How does a persona affect your content production?
When you have a persona and know your prospects and customers, you can understand the purchasing process.
This knowledge will affect your content production because people need different types of content as they go through the stages of the customer journey.
Think about a person who has just found your blog. In order to solve a problem, they probably searched a keyword on Google and found you.
Because he is at the awareness stage, he will need educative and more general content, which he will find in blog posts, infographics, and videos.
As the prospect goes to the evaluation stage, you should offer, for example, ebooks, webinars, whitepapers, and newsletters, among others.
Finally, the person gets to the decision stage, where they need to make a decision: to buy or not.
To help them make the best decision, there are some appropriate types of content, such as case studies, free trials, discount coupons, and even a chat with a consultant.
You can see that the type of content depends on the customer journey stage the person is at. If you build your persona properly, your content strategy will be more effective, and you will be more empathetic and engaging.
What is the relationship between the buyer persona and the buyer’s journey?
Just like the persona, the buyer’s journey is a very widespread and relevant concept in the Digital Marketing field. Both ideas are interrelated within any mature strategy since they have to do with the efforts to approach leads in the best possible way. Thus, the buyer persona establishes who to approach, while the buyer’s journey indicates when to approach them.
It is vital to understand how the two tools are intertwined. If you have a strong buyer persona, you can map out effective ways to influence their buyer’s journey. In turn, this journey needs to be closely monitored to ensure that the lead has access to the right content at the right time. If a lead is still in the awareness phase and receives content from the bottom of the funnel, for example, the whole strategy may lose its effectiveness.
How to create great content for your persona?
Once you have established your persona, it’s time to create impactful content that really has the potential to engage your consumers. The first step is to define the channels where such materials will be available. The ideal is to be present on all networks where your persona has the habit of browsing, as well as establishing a blog to centralize your content and increase your digital authority.
Although every channel is essential, in some cases, it is necessary to focus on just a few. If your persona is a young adult, for example, she’s probably not a Facebook heavy-user. In this case, producing content for Instagram and YouTube would make a lot more sense.
In addition, you need to define the content format. Some people are more attracted to videos than text. Others prefer reading an article while commuting than watching a webinar. It is essential to understand these particularities to improve your approach constantly.
In the bigger picture, we can say that creating great content depends on identifying trends that appeal to your persona and offering unique experiences. You can accomplish this through Interactive Content, which generates about 88% more engagement than static content. This is a trend in the content sector and will help you capture and retain your ideal customer’s attention.
How to create a buyer persona in 4 steps!
To create a buyer persona, we can’t rely on assumptions alone. Some inferences may indeed be necessary, but most of the work depends on surveys, which can be done using interviews or forms.
If you ask the right questions, you will be able to gather all the information you need to build an accurate buyer persona. Let’s take a look at some steps that you need to take.
1. Collect data
What would be the best source of information to create a profile of your ideal customer?
Your customer base, of course.
In fact, you can interview not only people that have already purchased your solution but also your prospects. So let’s discover some methods for collecting data.
You can analyze your customer base to discover trends regarding how they consume content.
Besides that, landing page forms can be used to collect useful information. Interactive quizzes are a great way to do that because they are attractive, engaging, and even fun.
Talking to experts can be helpful too, because they have a better understanding of your audience.
So, ask the sales team, trainers, tech support, writers who write copy for your audience, among others, for information about people you want to reach.
Besides that, Google Analytics and competitive analysis can offer you useful information about people who could become your customers.
Surveys and interviews
It is essential to have in mind that customers have different levels of engagement. Depending on the size of the form, some of them may not be so interested in helping you.
On the other hand, a small form or interview will not supply you with the necessary information.
Create smart questions, which may be arranged in four categories: demographics, personal data, content consumption, and challenges. Take a look at the following examples.
- What are your gender, age, and education?
- Where do you live?
- What do you do at work? What is your job position?
- What is your company’s industry?
- What is the size of your company?
- What are your goals?
- How is your routine?
- What are your responsibilities?
- What challenges do you have at work?
- What does success in work mean to you?
- What social networks do you use?
- What subjects are you interested in?
- What content formats do you like?
- Where do you find information that is useful to your work?
- How do you learn and acquire new skills?
- What challenges did you have before finding us?
- How are we helping you solve problems?
- What characteristics of ours do you like the most?
Who to interview?
You may be wondering about who exactly to interview. Well, you may get tempted to talk only with “good” customers, that is, people who love your business and its solutions.
However, “bad” customers, who are not so satisfied with your service or product, can offer valuable information. Indeed, interviewing them could even help you to improve your solution.
You can also interview people who have not yet purchased your solution, especially if your business has just started, and you still don’t have a customer base.
How many people to interview?
There is not a definitive answer to that.
However, as you do interviews, at some point, you will start to predict the responses of interviewees. You will notice patterns, so if you start to precisely predict what the person will say, you may stop and go to the next step.
2. Analyze the collected data
Now that interviews are done, you have a lot of information to analyze and arrange.
How exactly could you do that? Search for common characteristics among interviewees, what problems and challenges were mentioned the most. Thus, you will understand what type of content could be more relevant to them.
After, you need to decide how many personas your business will have. Is it possible to gather the information for only one persona? Or would it take the creation of more profiles, maybe two, three, or more?
Regardless of the number of personas, remember that your Marketing strategy should include all of them. So, there must be blog posts, ebooks, nurturing flows, among others, for each persona, ok?
3. Build the persona
Now, turn all the selected information into a person. Open your text editor and build a profile with name, age, and occupation.
Besides writing about their day-to-day life, you can even create a quote, relying on the interviews of course, as if the persona itself was telling you about their challenges and goals.
Next, arrange the information according to topics such as personal and professional goals, as well as pain points and challenges.
After that, as the grand finale, choose a name and include a photo of a person, because it will help you to see your persona as a real person.
4. Share it with your team
Once the profile is ready, save and share it with your team. All of them should know the persona and give suggestions, which could even lead to some changes if it is necessary.
As you can see, a buyer persona is an essential element in Marketing efforts. If you create yours, you will get to know your customer much better, and the Marketing team will be able to produce relevant and useful content.
Besides, the sales team will develop a more efficient approach, which will increase its efficiency.
How to find people to interview for your buyer persona research?
The primary source for your interviews during the buyer persona creation process is, without a doubt, your customer base. After all, it is formed by people who already have a proven interest in your products and can indicate important characteristics to shape your strategies. However, as already mentioned, you should not restrict yourself to these people.
Besides already active customers, interview your prospects. If they are included in your nurturing flow or follow your social media profiles, you can be sure that they already know a lot about your business, even if they have not yet made a purchase. To better define which leads can serve as good interviewees, use the data collected from the various channels in your strategy.
Another way to find people to include in interviews is to resort to referrals or third-party networks. The latter is differentiated by the fact that it involves people entirely outside your company’s environment, which requires greater care in selecting interviewees. Examples are Craigslist, which allows you to post ads for interested parties, and UserTesting.com, which enables you to receive real-time feedback remotely.
Bonus: 3 ways to use buyer personas for better campaigns
Finally, let’s briefly discuss how to use your personas to improve your campaigns. The most important thing is to establish the use of personas as something intrinsic to the corporate culture, involving this concept in all internal processes.
1. Identify your leads by persona
From the first interaction with a new lead, categorize them according to the buyer persona that best fits their characteristics, assuming you have more than one. From this action, you will be able to direct all subsequent efforts to better meet the lead’s specific needs, directing them towards conversion.
2. Use a CRM to track leads
The use of Customer Relationship Management tools is a must to keep the necessary monitoring of your leads. The success of a strategy based on personas also depends on the understanding of the phase in which she is in the buying journey. The use of a quality CRM facilitates this type of analysis and allows the involvement of all team members.
3. Use different marketing funnels
If you are able to identify your leads by persona and closely follow their journey, it is valid to make use of different marketing funnels. This way, each of your personas will aggregate leads with similar characteristics, which can be included in the same funnel. Therefore, you create a very effective segmentation system, which enables the production of really relevant content and campaigns.
Including a buyer persona in your marketing strategy is a key step toward achieving your goals. These semi-fictional characters serve as the foundation for your audience communication efforts, granting your company greater reach and authority. Use this step-by-step guide approach to create your buyer personas and enjoy all the benefits of this method.
With the proper creation of a persona for your business, your strategy will reach higher levels. To increase these results, even more, download our free ebook with everything you need to know about buyer personas!