The Importance of Knowing Your Customer: What is a Buyer Persona?
Knowing your customers plays a pivotal role in any marketing endeavor. In the age of information overload, generic marketing messages tend to fall on deaf ears. People are exposed to a constant barrage from all sides. Being also spoilt for choice, they shun brands that seem removed from their wants and needs. This profound shift has forced many businesses to rethink their approaches. Instead of shooting in the dark, you want to embrace a data-backed approach to marketing and target with laser-like precision. Buyer personas allow you to do just that and they are linked to many benefits. You’re able to tailor your strategy and make the best use of your marketing resources. It’s also a way to pierce through the immense noise out there.
Here is how it all works in theory and practice.
The Game Has Changed
The term buyer persona has become a sort of buzzword. It gets tossed around a lot and some people seem to be confused as to what it entails. Well, we’re going to separate truth from hearsay. A buyer persona is an ideal representation of a particular segment of your audience. In other words, it represents a research-powered, semi-fictional profile of a target customer. In recent years, it has emerged as a tried and tested concept for supercharging marketing strategies. It’s a driving force behind some of the most prominent trends in modern marketing— personalization and customization. So, like it or not, you cannot just brag about how great your brand is. This approach is likely to turn many customers away. You’re much better of showing genuine understanding and concern for people. Simply put, intuition and gut instinct are poor guides of marketing. Those who rely on them tend to underperform compared to marketers that stick to facts and figures. With buyer personas, you calibrate your marketing according to consumer data. You’re able to narrow down your focus and avoid spreading yourself too thin. Personas help you understand and also empathize and connect with customers. In this regard, they serve as common frames of reference for your teams and departments. Among other things, this leads to stronger consistency of brand messages across touchpoints. You can also flesh out your unique value proposition (UVP) better, which acts as a powerful customer magnet.
Buyer Persona: From Theory to Practice
Moving on, let’s examine the practical implications of data-powered marketing. First off, notice that there are multiple ways to go about creating buyer personas. In essence, you need to do a detailed, internal/external research to find out what are their online habits, media preferences, practical problems, and career aspirations. Yes, this means there’s a whole matrix of data points that could be pertinent.
They involve age, sex, education level, location, income, etc. One method of collecting data is to inquire with internal stakeholders. Your customer service representatives are bound to have a lot of insights from previous customer interactions. You can put together a list of questions that aim at vital aspects of the relationships. External interviews and questionnaires also do the trick. You simply ask people what challenges and pain points they have in real life. Likewise, you gather and analyze personal information, values, preferred communication channels, and consumer goals. The third approach is to put web analytics to good use. Namely, you analyze how people interact with your website, identifying underperforming pages. While at it, you keep track of indicators such as conversion rates, bounce rates, and time spent on site. Based on the insights, one can foster a more compelling user experience (UX). Finally, online surveys are used to detect trends and patterns you cannot pick up on via analytical platforms. This brings us to an important point: different research tools are complementary. Using more than one is always a good idea.
Reaping the Benefits
The very process of building personas gives a sense of purpose and direction. When your sales, marketing, and customer support teams have the same view of the customers, this encourages cross-departmental alignment. For example, it’s possible to use personas in product development, to populate product roadmaps. Usually, companies have multiple buyer personas and one-page document for each persona. Do bear in mind, however, that this isn’t a hard rule. The more data you gather the more effective your buyer personas will be. Thus, make an effort to map out the complete buyer journey with all its stages— awareness, consideration, and decision.
There are three different customer categories to keep track of here: existing customers, prospective customers, and lapsed customers. They may share some characteristics, but still call for varying approaches and tactics. Prospective customers may not even know about your brand. On the other hand, lapsed customers dropped out of the journey already. It goes without saying that you must target them with different marketing assets. In order to make it happen, segment your audience according to relevant lines of distinction. Communicate the findings to all teams and departments.
The sales department can optimize the sales funnel and improve efficiency when it comes to closing sales. Moreover, you may discover who your high-value customers and quality leads are. It makes a ton of sense to dedicate more of your attention and resources to them, doesn’t it? As for customer service, it should also capitalize on buyer personas. After all, with ample knowledge, it’s in a better position to stay on top of shifting requirements. Both customer frustration and employee burnout are less likely to occur. It’s a clear win-win.
Lastly, content marketing is another obvious proof of value that personas add. You can select topics, messages, and content formats that will generate the most engagement. It’s also easier to pick the right keywords and set up other promotional activities.
Before we conclude, we should review one specific buyer persona example. Let’s say you discover a lot of your blog readers are stay-at-home, married, middle-aged moms. You do your best to discover more about their day-to-day life, as well as personal background. It turns out they are quite busy, value frugality, and regularly use Facebook.
Example of a buyer persona
This information gives you better focus and fine-tunes your digital marketing strategy. You write more relevant copy and showcase images that elicit an emotional response. For instance, you write about how to save money on energy bills and earn extra income from home. What is more, you invest in the promotion of your content on social media (Facebook in this case). Another thing to consider is timing your publishing better so that it corresponds with the audience’s leisure time. The list of possibilities for improvement goes on.
The main takeaway is clear: dig into data and dig deep. Keep the fingers on the pulse of the audience and you will maximize marketing ROI. That’s the way to turn people into devoted brand ambassadors spreading the good word around. Oh, just one final piece of advice: never assume buyer personas are static. They inevitably change over time and you need to keep up the pace. The job is never truly done because there is always something to refresh, find out, or optimize.
Time to Get Personal with Marketing
Your marketing success is the product of how well you know your audience. So, when it comes to marketing spending and strategizing, you want to prioritize quality rather than sheer quantity. This is to say you need a realizable way to target a specific group and provide a consistent brand experience. To make it happen, however, you must invest a lot of time and effort. Carry out a detailed research and develop buyer personas. Let them be your guiding light: Inform your strategy and every bit of the inbound process. Always make educated decisions and do a better job at serving, acquiring, and retaining customers. Take every chance you get to connect with them on a meaningful level.
You can start small and gradually improve your personas over time— integrate new insight as they come along the way. Help people relate to you and your mission. Reach out to them with the right message and at the right time.
Following these steps, you will rise above the competition and improve your bottom line.