Most marketers understand that creating buyer personas has become an essential first step in the creation of a solid content marketing strategy. But what exactly are buyer personas, and how do we create them?
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers that provide a detailed picture of a buyer’s perspective, challenges, motivators, goals and purchase habits. Personas are not buyer profiles but, rather, they are characters that silhouette insights into what your buyers think and feel. You will use these personas to shape the content that drives your marketing efforts.
Before creating personas, it is important to identify your company’s buyers. Personas should then be built for each of these different buyers. Take, for example, a technology solution provider. It might need to build personas around decision-makers responsible for operations, data analysis and customer acquisition. The personas should take into consideration such attributes as:
How Do I Create Personas?
Understanding your buyers and developing personas takes research. You can begin your research with client interviews and/or surveys. You also can review existing customer profiles within your CRM system and analyze intent and “digital body language data” (an aggregate of all of an individual’s digital activity). The more sources you use to understand your buyers, the more accurate the personas.
Using only one source to create personas can result in misalignment, which will negatively impact lead engagement and conversion. If your messaging is created to appeal to a one-dimensional persona, your marketing will not resonate with actual prospective customers.
Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your defined target buyers, you can create your personas. How you choose to represent your personas is entirely up to you. Some marketing professionals prefer a PowerPoint deck with one persona per slide. Others prefer a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. The presentation is up to you. What is important is that the information is easy to access and understand. You entire marketing team needs to be able to translate the personas into targeted messaging that will be used throughout your campaigns.
How Do I Use My Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are a baseline for your marketing team to clearly understand a customer’s needs. Buyer personas help determine content requirements and messaging, including tone and style. They also provide an understanding of where buyers find and consume information.
With personas, you can get truly personal. By segmenting your leads based on personas, you can structure outbound messages and align content to resonate with your prospect’s unique responsibilities and challenges. Personas provide a level of understanding that when used in outbound marketing can result in improved customer engagement.
From the customer’s perspective, your message is “heard” above others because you understand what they are facing. The result: Email engagement increases and leads progress more rapidly through the pipeline. In fact, data from Hubspot reveals that sending emails by persona increases click-through rates by 16 percent.
As part of your inbound marketing efforts, you should categorize prospects, as they engage, into persona-based segments for future engagement. This digital body language alignment provides marketers with the best possible information for segmentation. It is more effective than using standard demographic data such as title because it’s more recent, more finite, and it is action-based.
Not only do personas empower marketers to speak the language of the customer, but they also impact other aspects of the marketing effort including:
Creating and using buyer personas to shape your content marketing can have a significant impact on its overall effectiveness. Don’t let the process of creating buyer personas overwhelm you. Start out with one persona and one customized campaign. Learn from the process and then add another. Before you know it, all your campaigns will be written for a specific buyer, and you will begin to see the benefits from your targeted communications.
For more information on how to get started creating buyer personas to enhance your content marketing, check out our webinar The Buyer Persona: An Essential First Step in Content Marketing.