The term 'buyer persona profile' may be relatively new in the grand scheme of things, but don't fall into the trap of thinking that it's all a pointless fad that will fade into marketing obscurity in a few years. On the contrary, with a bit of time and effort this research can be an extremely useful tool to help shape your company's approach to lead generation, and one that can be implemented by businesses of all sizes.
The statistics on the practice certainly support this view; MLT Creative found that using personas in an email campaign increased open rate by 2x and clickthrough rate by 2x, and Cintell's 2016 Understanding B2B Buyers study found that companies who beat their lead and revenue goals are over twice as likely to create personas than those who don't reach these goals, as well as also being more than twice as likely to formally document their personas.
In basic terms, it is simply a generalized description of your ideal customer. They help you to decide exactly who to target and exactly how to target them, saving your business valuable time and giving you a crucial edge over your competitors.
Really effective marketing utilizes consumer insights and demographics to gain a deep knowledge and understanding of your most desired clientele - this is exactly what creating buyer profiles is all about. You probably already have a general idea of who your consumers are, but do you know their exact needs, their background or their values? Probably not, according to a 2015 study by IBM which found that, despite 81% of companies stating that they have a decent understanding of their clientele, only 37% of consumers agreed that their favorite retailer understands them.
Discovering exactly what makes your buyers tick is a vital part of driving your business forward.
Though it may seem a bit overwhelming at first, dedicating some resources to building a more in-depth knowledge of your customer is definitely time well spent, and here's why:
Having a thorough understanding of your ideal individual is vital when it comes to almost every aspect of your business, including product development, content creation, and of course, sales. According to a 2014 ITSMA survey, 90% of companies using personas have developed a clearer understanding of who their buyers are.
Knowing exactly how to engage with specific types of people helps shorten the sales process as well as increasing revenue. A 2015 B2B study by SiriusDecisions found that the highest level of interaction with buyers came during the 'education' phase (the very first part of the journey). Talking to consumers in the right way can be the difference between a sale and a rejection.
You'll be able to send more specifically targeted messages to your customer base (as well as prospective patrons), which in turn will improve response rates; according to Jupiter Research personalized emails mean 18x more revenue than broadcast emails, and the Aberdeen Group also notes that personalized emails can improve clickthrough rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent.
With a deeper understanding of your ideal buyer you can create better website content that will ultimately convert more visitors and leads into consumers. This is certainly the way forward according to Forbes' 2016 Publish or Perish report; an analysis of 380 CMOs which found that marketers delivering personalized web experiences are gaining double digit returns in marketing performance.
You will be able to create lists for marketing that will ensure you reach the right decision makers.
In order to create the most effective profiles, you need to combine market research with insights gained through speaking directly to your own customer base. This information can be gathered through surveys and/or interviews, and may require some kind of incentive for people to take part.
Reaching out to your previous buyers is a great way to collect invaluable insights about your business. Which specific patrons should you seek to involve? Here are some ideas for those whom may be of particular interest in persona research:
Who are your top performing customers?
Spending more time on your best customers is obviously just good business logic. Bear in mind the Pareto Principle, named after Italian economist Wilfredo Pareto, which states that just 20% of the input of any situation determines about 80% of the output. Though this will obviously not be the case for every business model, the idea that a few key patrons are an integral source of revenue is likely the case for many companies.
With this in mind, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of these individuals in order to keep them engaged with your business. A 2015 study by Customer strategy consulting organisation ThinkJar found that it is 6-7 times more expensive to attract new customers than to keep existing ones; if you put your best consumers on the backburner you do so at your own peril.
Who are your best leads?
Having a clear idea of how to identify your best leads is an important way to increase your sales productivity. Do you have something that they need? Where do your best leads originate from; word of mouth, social media, organic search or somewhere else ? Having a deep knowledge of the types of leads that work best for your business is crucial.
Which were your biggest deals?
Taking a more in-depth look at your business' biggest deals can offer valuable nuggets of information about your company and what it currently offers. Reaching out to the customers behind these deals when compiling your data is a good idea; what was their motivation? What made your business stand out from the competition?
Which customers closed fastest?
Consumers who are more willing to make a snappy deal are obviously very desirable for any business, so taking the time to analyze your quickest closers would be another great way to add to your research. Once you've reached out to these people you'll be able to focus more on targeting similar personas, and the best way to do so.
While completing your research you may also wish to reach out to those who have not had such a positive interaction with your company. This will not only give you a chance to rectify the situation but will also give you a more rounded understanding of your customer base and exactly how you can meet their needs. They may also offer suggestions about your product that could prove useful in the long run.
Though it may be tempting to throw yourself into the deep end and create as many different profiles as possible, this could ultimately be more of a hindrance than a help. Having too many will simply mean you are unable to really distinguish between them. According to marketing consultant Mark W. Schaefer, it is just 3 or 4 personas that account for 90% of a business' revenue. It's definitely better to start small – you can always add more at a later date.
What Questions to Ask
Once you've found your interviewees the next step is to compile a list of questions that will give you the most valuable information. These questions can fall into several different categories:
What type of company do they work for, and what is their role within it?
What tools are required to be successful in their job?
What are the biggest challenges they face in their job?
What they want:
What has lead them to purchase your product/service?
Are they motivated by price, value, great service or something else?
How they look for it:
Do they read reviews, publications or blogs?
Do they engage through social media?
Do they rely on referrals from others?
What are their hobbies?
Are they family oriented?
Are they conscious of the environment?
Once you have the answers to these questions you need to compile the information into an easy-to-digest format so that everyone in your company will be able to gain a thorough understanding of your customer persona(s), and then it can be used to start targeting the right people in the right way to drive more productive sales to your business.
While a buyer persona profile is your ideal customer, a negative persona is an example of the types of consumer you do not wish to target. These may include people who are unlikely to buy from your company for various reasons, those who are just visiting your site for research purposes or those who simply fall out of our target audience. As mentioned earlier, including these types of profiles in your persona research can prove very useful when it comes to weeding out less desirable contacts from your database.
Once you've put together your research, you can put it to work in a number of useful ways. One example that can prove particularly fruitful is to implement it into your customer outreach campaigns. For instance, while other companies are sending the same emails to everyone in their database, your business can send different messages to different people with altered content depending on which approach suits each persona.
If you decide to include negative personas in your buyer research you will also be able to single these out from your database, making your sales approach more efficient and ultimately saving you time and money.
Once you've put the time and effort into building your customer portraits you'll need the write tools to really get the most out of it. Global Database offers businesses access to direct contact details of companies and executives across 195 countries, ensuring you find the right decision makers to target. Users can also easily set up and perform email or telesales marketing campaigns, as well as exporting data to Excel.