All around the world today, companies are plagued by crucial questions like:
- Which social media channels should we use?
- How do we price our latest product?
- Where can we get the best marketing results?
While all of these questions are important, there’s no query more pressing than this one: “What do your customers want?”
In a world where competition levels are high, the only way to get ahead in your industry is to find out what your clients need from you. For years, we’ve been guessing at the answer to this question, but the days of assumptions are finally over. Now, all you need is one simple thing: a buyer persona.
The Benefits of Buyer Personas
A buyer persona (sometimes known as user persona or target persona) is simply a representation of your preferred customer. Personas consolidate all of the information you already have about your target audience into a single document that you can use as a reference when making decisions about marketing, product packaging, or even pricing. 71% of companies with documented personas exceed their revenue and lead creation goals.
So, why are buyer personas so effective?
The simple answer is that they allow you to step into your customer’s shoes for a little while. With a persona, you can design a website from the perspective of the user that’s going to access it every day. With a different persona, you can explore your social media marketing strategy and update your influencer campaigns.
A buyer persona gives a face and a name to all of the information you have about your audience, so you can begin to think about your business choices from their perspective. After all, when you’re facing a crossroads in planning for customer preferences, it can be difficult to draw conclusions from graphs and statistics. It’s far easier to visualize the needs of a specific person – even if it’s a person you made up.
So, how do you create your own buyer personas?
Step 1: Gather as Much Information as Possible
According to studies, buyer personas may be the ultimate way for companies to understand their audiences. The more you know about your customers and what they want from you, the more you can adjust your business strategies accordingly. For instance, 82% of companies with buyer personas have been able to create a better value proposition for their brand.
Since user personas are all about consolidating the right information into an easy-to-use guide for your company, it makes sense that you’d need to start with data. There are plenty of places to find user data, such as:
- Your marketing metrics: If you’ve been tracking your strategies up to now, you should be able to see which of your campaigns have had the best impact on your audience.
- Web analytics: Tools like Google Analytics can help you to dig down into the demographics of the people who visit your website and convert into customers.
- Surveys and social media questionnaires: What better way to find out what your audience wants than to ask them? Issue surveys and reward the clients that respond with a discount code or gift.
One particularly good way to find more information about your personas if you’re just launching your business for the first time is through competitive analysis. Whether you’re just getting started with your company, or you’re reaching out to a new target audience, your competitors are bound to know more about your target audience than you do. Do some digging to find out what kind of keywords they target in their campaigns, and check their websites to look for hints on the kind of customer they’re interested in.
During your competitive analysis stage, make sure to keep an eye out for any audience segments your competitors aren’t targeting, that might be perfect for your company.
Step 2: Segment Your Personas
As you begin to develop your buyer persona strategy, you’ll probably discover that your company is targeting a multitude of different audiences. While it may be tempting to try and cover everyone under the same banner, remember that the more personalised your business strategies are, the more effective they become. Look at marketing, for instance, persona-based content marketing can increase customer engagement by six times, compared to targeting cold leads.
Splitting your audience up into different segments is a great way to make sure that you can customize your outreach strategies. While there’s no limit to the number of personas you can create, it’s worth noting that if you push too far, you could end up confusing yourself. To walk the line between too many personas, and not enough, it’s often a good idea to stick to no more than 4 buyer personas at a time.
Once you’ve got your four (or fewer) audience segments lined up, you can begin to build out your character profiles for them. Remember, the information listed below is just a starting point, personas are completely customizable, and you can add any extra information that you might find helpful along the way.
Image Source: Growth Pixel
Step 3: Cover the Basics
Start with one persona segment at a time and address the basics as though you were creating a character for a story.
Often the easiest place to start is with a title for your persona. For instance, you might have: “Salesperson Sally,” or “Call Manager Martin.” If your customer base isn’t mostly male or mostly female, it may help you to stick to a more generic title without a human name. For instance, you could try “The Student Entrepreneur.” Once you have your title, cover each of the following points:
- Image: Uploading a photo of your buyer persona can help you to resonate with them on a deeper level. It sounds strange, but human beings are far more capable of stepping into the shoes of another person if we can visualize that individual first.
- Quote: Try to create a quote that describes your persona’s feelings about your website, product, or service. Why would they be interested in what you have to offer? For instance: “I’m sick of having to choose between comfort and style, I really need a fashion company that can offer me a blend of both, but I don’t have a lot of money to spend either.”
- Demographics: This section will give you an insight into the behavioral practices, background, and lifestyle of your buyer persona. Collect as much information as you can using a tool like Google Analytics, and cover things like location, age, marital status, and even gender if possible.
- Character/Archetype: What kind of person is your persona? Are they more a brave innovator, or someone who likes to stick to something that’s comfortable and familiar. How would this affect the way they use your product?
Image Source: OnePageCRM
Step 4: Dive A Little Deeper
At this point, you should have a basic overview of your buyer persona. The audience you want to appeal to will be gradually coming to life. However, if you really want to get the most out of your personas, then you need to dive as deep as possible. When it comes to the benefits of buyer personas, 56% of companies say that they’ve created higher-quality leads just by getting to know their customers. However, you can only achieve those kinds of results, if you’re willing to uncover everything there is to know about your audience.
Deepen your understanding of your target market with the following segments on your persona checklist:
- Description: Describe your persona in a few key words based on their motivations, priorities, work ethic and personality. Are they an energetic and outgoing person, or a disorganized introvert? Use adjectives that help you to clearly define how this persona differs from not only other people but the other audiences you might try and target.
- Goals: What does your persona want from a product, service, website, or marketing campaign? Depending on what you’re creating your persona for, you’ll need to understand what their motivating drivers are. For instance, some personas might prefer to see an informative blog post than a beautiful advertisement. Others might want an interactive webpage, over one that’s packed full of information.
- Frustrations: What’s currently stopping your persona from getting what they want? What do they need that your competition simply isn’t providing, or what concerns do they have that you might be able to help them overcome? This section is where you can start to highlight the features of your product, website, service, or advertisement, and what they mean to your persona.
Step 5: Cover the Final Details
By now, your buyer persona is a highly fleshed-out and in-depth character. By the time you’ve finished writing, you’ll not only have a powerful business document, but you’ll also have a deeper insight into your target audience. Remember, 90% of organizations using personas have been able to benefit from a clearer picture of who their audience is.
Image source: Social Bakers
Before you share your personas with the rest of your team, you’ll need to think about how you can use what you know so far to determine how you can build connections with these people. What inspires your audience to act, and what will stop them from doing whatever it is you want them to do? At the end of your persona sheet, list:
- The brands your personas like (besides yours): What kind of companies are your personas likely to be drawn to, based on what you know about their personality? Are they going to prefer a company that’s all about innovation and creativity, or will they invest more into a business that has an environmentally-friendly side?
- What do they do online? How do your personas spend their time when they’re online? While it seems like most of us spend our time on the world wide web today, the way that we interact when we’re digitally connected varies according to our unique character. For instance, you might not find your 10-year-old grandson reading the Wall Street Journal, just as you’re unlikely to find your grandma on Instagram. From your research, you should have a basic insight into the kind of channels where you’ll be able to find your buyer persona. These channels may include:
- Social Media (remember to define the specific social channels)
- Websites and Search Engine pages
- Forums and discussion sites
- Blog pages and online publications
- Video sites like YouTube
- How will they interact with you? Finally, think about how your audience is likely to connect with your business, and how you can begin to learn more about them. Are you planning on expanding your brand awareness through word of mouth marketing on social media, or would you see better results with television advertisements?
Once you’ve covered all of these last points of information, make sure that you share each of your buyer personas with the rest of your company. These personas should be guiding documents that your team members can refer to when making customer-related decisions. Remember, you can always come back and update your personas as you continue to learn more about your audiences.
It’s Time to Personify Your Target Audience
When you’re building a business for the first time, creating buyer personas might seem like just another task in a long list of chores you need to get done. However, taking the time to create a well-researched and data-backed persona is more powerful than you’d think. Personas ensure that you’re ready to form deeper connections with the people most likely to invest in your products, advocate for your company, and support your growth. In fact, companies with user personas can increase their:
Today, there are countless new companies entering the marketplace all the time. The only way to stay ahead of this constant stream of new competition is to find a way to build loyalty among your customers. The steps above will help you create a map that you can use to guide every decision you make about your client’s needs, whether you’re building a brand-new segment of your website, or just creating a new marketing campaign.