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Whitepaper: Creating Your Buyer Persona Profiles
17.07.2017

Whitepaper: Creating Your Buyer Persona Profiles

Whitepaper
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Any savvy marketer today will know the importance of a smart and carefully-crafted content marketing strategy; it can ultimately be the difference between success and failure when it comes to attracting and converting leads. However, many businesses are still falling behind in this area, as is evidenced in the chart below from the Content Marketing Institute's 2017 B2B Content Marketing report. Just 22 percent of b2b marketers believe their company's strategy is very or extremely successful, according to the research, while the vast majority state that theirs is lacking.

One of the biggest challenges in putting a plan of action together is determining who your target audience is, and how best to reach them. According to Social Media Examiner's 2017 Social Media Marketing Report, this is a concern for the majority of marketers, with 87 percent stating that the question of how to locate ideal customers and prospects is a big concern for them, and one that they feel they are struggling to answer.

This is where buyer persona profiles come in. An extremely useful tool in shaping a company's approach to lead generation, it is no wonder that there has been a significant increase in their popularity in recent years; the Content Marketing Institute notes that 47 percent of b2b marketers are currently using them. If your business is amongst those that hasn't taken the time to implement them yet, now is the perfect time to do so.

WHAT ARE BUYER PERSONAS?

In basic terms, buyer personas are simply a 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 percent of companies stating that they have a decent understanding of their clientele, only 37 percent of consumers agreed that their favorite retailer understands them.

Taking the time to discover exactly what makes your buyers tick is essential to your marketing strategy in order to drive your business forward, and buyer personas are a valuable tool to do just that.

HOW CAN THEY BE USED?

Once you've put together your research, you can put it to work in a number of useful ways. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Relevant Content: When you have a clearer idea of who your customers are, you can tailor the creation of content around them. For example, when it comes to your blog, you can decide between how-to-guides, case studies, or more formal informational pieces, depending on their preferences. The length of the posts can also be taken into account; would your ideal customers rather consume 500-word pieces or something more in-depth? Maybe they don't enjoy reading at all, in which case you can focus your output on videos to target them with.

Segmentation: One of the biggest benefits to using buyer personas is the ability to segment your contact lists accordingly. 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.

Segmentation will also enable you to personalise the sales cycle for each type of customer. This is important as not all of your buyers will reach purchasing decisions in the same way, or at the same time, so differentiating between them will mean you can target different people with different types of information.

Find the Right Channels: Not everyone likes to use the same social networks, so it is vital that you find out which ones are the most popular for your audience. Paying close attention to your social media metrics will help you determine which is the best when it comes to visit-to-lead conversion. When you have discovered which channels work best for your customers, you can allocate your resources accordingly, i.e. your budget for retargeting, or the amount of time your staff spend on each platform.

Speak Their Language: Understanding your target customers also means knowing the kind of language they use, which you can then use in your interactions with them, be it blog posts, emails, or social media posts. Pay attention to the slang or buzzwords that they use and even their sense of humour; as long as you implement it in a natural way, they are much more likely to feel endeared towards your brand.  

Offer Them a Solution: If you know the challenges that your buyer personas are confronted with, you can dedicate your resources to solving their problem. This could mean tailoring your content to show them how your business has a product or service to suit their needs, or it could even mean coming up with a new offering that they haven't been able to find elsewhere.

Negative Personas: 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. 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, as it will make your  sales approach more efficient and ultimately save you time and money.

BENEFITS OF BUYER PERSONAS

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:

Clickthrough Rate: You'll be able to send more specifically targeted messages to your customer base, which in turn will improve engagement rates; MLT Creative found that using personas in an email campaign increased open rate by 2x and clickthrough rate by 2x.

Conversion Rate: Research by the Aberdeen Group found that personalised emails improve conversion rates by 10 percent.

Increased Revenue: 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, and in Forbes' 2016 Publish or Perish report an analysis of 380 CMOs found that marketers delivering personalized web experiences are gaining double digit returns in marketing performance.

Correct Misconceptions: 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 percent of companies using personas have developed a clearer understanding of who their buyers are, and a study by B2P Partners found that 53 percent of marketers felt that using personas had helped them discover important new insights or corrected faulty assumptions.

With all of these advantages in mind, it is not surprising that, as is shown in the pie chart below from B2P Partners' 2016 report, the majority of companies using buyer personas rate them as being effective; with 34 percent stating they are 'very' or 'extremely' effective, and 63 percent stating they are 'somewhat' effective.

 CREATING BUYER PERSONA PROFILES

As is shown below in the graph from the Content Marketing Institute's 2017 report, there are a number of ways to obtain information about your customers. When it comes to buyer personas, however, there are three main ways of obtaining this data.

Analytics: Your first port of call when looking for useful insights about your target market should be the data that you already have. Whether it be from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights or something else, taking the time to perform a detailed analysis of your sales metrics will give you a good background knowledge of your audience's demographics.

Competitor Data: Looking into the types of customers that are purchasing from other companies in your niche can be extremely useful; particularly if you are just starting out and therefore do not have a lot of sales data for your own business. You can use tools such as Simply Measured or SEMRush to learn more about who is engaging with your competitors, and how they are doing so.

Customer Interviews: 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. Remember when doing so that you want to find your ideal customers, so you should only reach out to those who made frequent purchases, purchases of high value and/or are quick to close on a deal.

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:
Their company/role:

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?

Background/Values:

What are their hobbies?

Are they family oriented?

Are they conscious of the environment?

Once you have all of this data, you can present it in an easy-to-read format, such as the one below from Xtensio, who offer a simple template to quickly create your persona files.

Dedicating time and resources to the creation of buyer persona profiles can have huge benefits for your business. Ultimately it is vital for any marketing strategy that you have an in-depth understanding of your customers, and by implementing this research you will not only have a clearer picture of your overall audience, but the different factions within it.

After you've put the time and effort into building your buyer personas you'll want to make sure you are using them to target the right people. At Global Database we have direct contact details of key decision makers across 195 countries, with an impressive accuracy rate of 93 percent. What's more, you can filter our lists using a number of different criteria including industry, seniority level, location and sales volumes, so you can reach out to the right people.

Ready to find out what we can do for you? Contact us on +44 203 640 6006 or info@globaldatabase.com