Do you speak to your (potential) customers in a way they can relate to?
Do you speak directly to their values and pain points?
When you speak, do they feel heard?
From the exact features of your product to the headlines of your sales email, every decision you make is centered around your customers.
A marketing strategy that’s both effective and scalable starts by knowing exactly what makes your customers tick and ends by answering how you can solve their problems.
The solution? Buyer personas.
Or more specifically: a buyer persona template.
Buyer personas are well-known in the world of inbound marketing. Unfortunately, many businesses are still unfamiliar with them – or don’t use them to their full potential.
Why Buyer Personas will Transform your Business
If you’ve been in marketing for any length of time, you’ve probably heard about The Golden Circle coined by author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek.
The premise is simple: People buy from you because what you believe matches their own beliefs. By using your products or services, they’re simply showing other people what they believe in and what they stand for.
Buyer personas give you information far beyond demographics and show you what your target market really cares about. And by extension, what really makes them buy from you.
A great persona goes beyond the what and shows you how to communicate the why effectively.
Before we go into greater detail, let’s have a look at some of the advantages personas have to offer:
1. The foundation of your content strategy: Where are your buyers hanging out online and what needs do they have? Answering these questions allows you to create content your audience responds to.
It allows you to choose the right media channels and tone of voice to really hone in on your marketing communication.
2. Differentiate buyer segments. As a business, you don’t have a single target audience, you have multiple. If you sell shoes for kids ages 6 to 16, for example, your target markets might be young teenagers but also mothers, as they usually make the purchasing decisions for the youngest children.
Buyer personas allow you to differentiate between your different target markets and help you understand how your brand message needs to encompass both.
3. Ad targeting. Likewise, by understanding how your target markets are different, you come to understand what channels of advertising are most effective to reach the right audience.
While this is just a small preview, it’s easy to see how customer profiles are at the very foundation of your marketing efforts: understanding your customer.
Of course, personas only hold value when they’re combined with an objective. You can learn more about combining personas with a great objective here.
What Exactly Is a Buyer Persona?
Now that the why is out of the way, let’s move on to the what.
A buyer persona is a detailed, data-driven, and fictional profile of a person who is buying your products or services. Assuming the role of your ideal customer, a persona is based on their behavior and goals.
A study performed by MarketingSherpa shows that using personas in your marketing strategy yields an increase in ROI of 124%.
Used right, personas can increase marketing revenue by a whopping 171% and the length of website visits 9-fold, according to a study performed by NetProspex.
A high-quality, completed buyer persona template allows you to make well-founded and fast decisions in your strategy. All without having to perform extensive data analyses.
By revisiting your persona multiple times a year, you keep it relevant and able to substantiate strategic decisions.
In short, buyer personas give you more results with less effort and allow you to use your online marketing budget in such a way that it yields the greatest Return On Investment.
Personas show you the purchasing behavior of your target customers. How do they collect information, and what are their goals? How do they achieve these goals? What does their customer journey look like?
By answering these questions on the basis of high-quality data, you ensure that you serve the right person the best possible offer at the best possible time, resulting in more traffic and qualified leads. And of course, more customers.
How to Create your First Buyer Persona
Now that you realize why you should use buyer personas as part of your strategy, it is time to start creating your first profile. Let’s prepare with some tips on how to research your target customer.
If this is your first time creating and working with personas, it’s advised to start small and more general.
Let’s get started.
Most businesses have multiple audiences, in which case you also need multiple buyer personas. Each persona represents a single target audience. The most powerful personas are based on verifiable data, market research, and last but not least, your experience and personal insights.
Before you can get started with the creation process, you first need to collect all data necessary to create a complete profile.
Here’s a list of resources to get you started. In the next part, we dive deeper into the exact questions you need to answer during the creation of your persona.
Knowing where your buyers are located and what their gender and the average age is, is an important part of what makes your customer profile complete. You can easily collect this data from your Google Analytics account.
Who is your target audience? What position do they hold and how big is the company they’re a part of?
A CRM analysis should give you all the data relating to the features of your persona.
3. Media channels
What channels do your customers use and how do they search for information?
Google Analytics is a treasure trove of information. Under ‘acquisition’ you’ll find data on how visitors find you.
What makes your customers tick? How can you satisfy their needs?
There are various ways to collect the data for these questions. Both Quora and the reviews on Amazon are filled with information on the goals of your buyer personas. A thorough analysis of both sources will get you moving in the right direction.
Google Keyword Tool as well as Google Trends are incredible sources of information to find out what wording your personas use to phrase their search.
Social media is another great option, as is the data from your email software. Emails that do very well and receive great responses can tell you a lot about the soft spots of your audience.
5. The journey
What stages are your buyers going through on the way to becoming your customers?
Once again, your CRM and email software come to the rescue. Try to collect as much data as possible on what campaigns are successful and what makes them so. Your CRM can tell you the obstacles your users face. For example, the reasons why they decline your offer.
Researching your buyer persona
Have you collected all the data you need? Then get started by answering the questions below.
● Give your personas a representative name.
● What city do they live in?
● What generation are they from and what is their age?
● What is their gender?
● Are they married? Do they have children?
● What are their hobbies and how do they spend their leisure time?
● What education do they have?
● What do they do for a living and what does their career path look like?
What is the context in which your customers use your offering? And what is their perspective on your product or service?
You can discover their context by answering the following questions about your target group.
● Who is your target group? Be specific, i.e. SMB, mothers, teenagers, Fortune 500’s, etc.
● Who is the decision-making unit? For example, if you’re selling kids’ shoes, it’s usually the mother.
● How are your buyers using your products or services?
● Where do potential buyers usually buy your products or services?
● When do potential buyers buy your products or services?
● Why do potential buyers buy your products or services?
● What keeps potential buyers from buying your products or services?
Goals, needs and desires
● What objectives do your personas have in mind when they purchase your product or service? For example, getting ‘new running shoes’ or purchasing ‘a high-tech computer’.
● What is their experience goal with your offering? What do your customers want to experience? For example, ‘running comfortably without blisters’.
● What purpose do your buyer personas have in mind when it comes to your offering? For the running shoes, your personas might want to ‘discover the great outdoors’ or ‘be one with nature’. Formulating this purpose well, allows you to appeal to your target group in the most effective way possible.
Pain, fear and frustration
What fears do your customers have when it comes to achieving their goals? For example: still having blisters.
● What frustrations do they have on the way to achieving these goals? For example, it takes a long time to try on different types of clothing while shopping in physical stores.
● What obstacles might your customers face in achieving these goals? For example, there is no online shop and there is no physical store in the vicinity.
The influencing factors
● Which channels do your personas use or read?
● How do they collect information during the purchasing process?
● What sources do your personas use when collecting information?
● Where do your customers get information from?
● How do your personas prefer to communicate?
● What experience do they expect during the purchasing process? For example, a complementary check of their shoe size advising the right running shoes.
● What information are they looking for?
Garbage In, Garbage Out
The quality of your persona is only as good as the quality of the data you put in.
The most effective buyer personas are based on verifiable data. Data from your sales department. Data collected through social media, surveys, in-person interviews, and focus groups. Data about your customers; their values, interests, and demographics. Their pain points and buyer journey.
But data won’t tell the whole story and sometimes you need to make educated guesses. That’s OK. Do the best you can and understand that the creation of your buyer personas is an ever-evolving process. The more you learn, the more they change.
Let’s have a look at a quick case study that underlines the importance of using high-quality data and focusing on a holistic perspective for your persona.
The Reason People Buy Milkshakes
Years ago, American fast food company worked with an expert to research on how to boost turnover on milkshakes. For this purpose, they did not focus the research on the taste preferences of the buyer, but the actual moment of purchase. They analyzed the context rather than the product or the buyer.
A whopping 40% of milkshakes were purchased in the morning. Especially by single men on their way to work. During long car trips, they chose a milkshake over a bagel in the morning.
A milkshake was tasty, convenient, and worked well to counteract their dreaded 10 AM cravings.
American fast food company then used this information by thickening their milkshakes and adding fruit pieces. Moreover, they installed vending machines to avoid long lines at the drive-through.
The result? An explosive increase in milkshake sales.
Using Multiple Buyer Persona Templates
While their approach was extremely successful, it was not a one-size-fits-all solution. After all, there was another target group of milkshake buyers: parents who bought milkshakes for their little ones.
Due to the slow consumption and gulping sounds, they were not too happy with the thicker milkshakes. Parents have different objectives, and different challenges.
As the research suggests, the ‘goal or objective’ is fundamental. Not the customer. The context or situation is often more important than customer characteristics. And even more important than the features of a product. So don’t go too far with your buyer persona by only analyzing the person or product. Make sure you create a holistic profile.
The Case for Buyer Personas in B2B
What if you’re not in the business of selling milkshakes to single men driving a Ford but rather sell services to other businesses?
How are YOU going to benefit from buyer personas?
Let us introduce you to Skytap, a cloud automation provider in the B2B scene.
Skytap realized early on the value of personas in their marketing efforts and started defining their most important target markets. They collected all the data, built the personas, and created a laser-targeted content strategy based on these profiles.
Can you guess what happened?
Just kidding. Their sales grew by an impressive 124%, their search results soared and their online visits doubled.
All by making a conscious effort to understand their customer and their driving behavior.
Getting Started with a Buyer Persona Template
The world wide web has plenty to offer when it comes to creating your buyer persona – including various templates. They’re easy to use and they’re free. And now that the prep-work is all done, it’s as easy as one-two-three.
Here’s How to Fill in Your Buyer Template:
1. First, you need to find the template you want to use. Xtensio is a great option for various buyer persona templates. Create your account at the provider of your choosing or;
2. Select a buyer persona from the available templates you find online
3. Upload a picture of an individual representing one of your chosen target markets
4. Specify their age, work, family, location and archetype
5. Now is also a good time to create a buyer statement, something that underlines what your customer is searching for based on the questions you answered
6. Fill in their bio, personality type, and preferred media channels
7. Specify their goals, frustrations, and motivations
8. Lastly, specify the brands they like and any other information you would like to include
9. Now that your persona is complete, you can export and share it across your marketing department
Of course, there are various other data points you can use to create your persona. Most of these are not necessary to get started, however. And once you get the ball rolling, it’s easy to update them as time goes by.