For online businesses to be successful, they need to have a clear and defined sense of exactly who they are marketing to, what those individuals want to see and when/how they want to see it. In other words, they need clear buyer personas.
We’ve all heard the term “buyer persona” before, but many are still confused about exactly what this means and how to create these fictional figures. Here, we break it down step-by-step and discuss all of the elements that go into creating effective buyer personas.
What is a Buyer Persona
Buyer personas are defined as fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They exist to help companies understand the customer that they are trying to attract and create more segmented, targeted content for them. The more detailed, the better - if you can really step into your customers’ shoes and understand what makes your customers tick and why, you can better anticipate their interests, questions, and concerns.
Creating Your Persona: Discover the Why
The first step in creating a buyer persona is to conduct interviews and do your research.
For this to be effective, it has to go beyond the basic metrics of who and what like demographic, gender, and age group. These metrics are certainly useful to have and they’re a great starting point. However, while such details have been used to make up the bulk of buyer persona profiles in the past, the fact is that they don’t give you a clear sense of the why. And the why is what’s truly important if you really want to persuade your audience and have a competitive advantage. Specifically, you have to understand your client’s:
- Motivations: what are they looking for? What need is this product or service filling?
- Perceptions about your product or industry
- Favorite resources or media outlets
- Buying process: what kind of research do they have to do first? Do they need to consult reviews or blogs?
- Priorities: where do they need to invest their time or money most?
- Deciding factors when making a purchasing decision
- Fears or perceived barriers: what is the holdup that is keeping them from following through with a purchase?
This information can be found through surveys, forms, online research, or through direct interviews. Look at your existing customers, at those who considered buying from you but ultimately went with a competitor, and even at those that never considered your company at all in order to get this information and find the right people to interview.
These interviews can be difficult to get, as these people simply may not be interested in taking the time to start a conversation with you. If you want your audience to open up to you and be honest, here are a few key tips:
- Make it clear that you are not there to sell them anything or to ask anything of them.
- Tell them that you are simply looking to better serve them and understand where they’re coming from and why.
- Call when they’re likely to be able to talk. If they don’t answer the call, follow-up with an email.
- Relate to them. Let them know that you’ve done your research and you want to understand them and their industry.
- Utilize a friendly, peer-like tone and use their first name to maintain positive engagement.
If you are not comfortable conducting these interviews on your own - or you don’t feel that you will get a well-rounded sense of their persona - this may be a good time to involve a marketing agency or a third party with buyer persona expertise.
Once that’s all done, make sure that the information that you gather is presented in a central, easy-to-understand document so everyone on your team is one the same page.
Our Buyer Insight Analysis
EYEMAGINE's buyer insight analysis takes this interview process - and the understanding of buyer personas - to a deeper, more comprehensive level. We have optimized the user experience through a four-step process that begins with establishing the Buyers’ Journey and the Buyer Insight report. The Buyer Insight Analysis begins week one of a client engagement, but the interviewing process and final deliverable are usually not completed until week four. Here's a look into our process:
Buyers' Journey Analysis
During this phase of the process, our brand journalist will interview your internal stakeholders to establish what you envision are your buyers’ needs, pain points, and concerns. The internal stakeholders should be from your company leadership team, heads of both marketing and sales, product managers, and front-line sales professionals. From these interviews, we can begin to establish the buyer’s journey and better understand the motivations of the customers and how they find and interact with the company’s website.
Buyers' Insight Analysis
Who are the primary decision-makers and their influencers in the buyer's journey? In order to create relevant content and design effective lead generation strategies, our first mission is to identify and understand the most important buyer personas and the critical elements that they need to see to take that next step of engagement.
Once stakeholder interviews are finished, we conduct in-depth interviews with new customers and closed-lost opportunities. This information will serve to either confirm or clarify the stakeholders' understanding of their customers. This allows us to lock in on the buyer insights, the content that needs to be created, and where to share the information to successfully engage them. Ideally, we will interview 2-3 new customers and 3-4 closed-lost opportunities.
Buyers' Sentiment Analysis
The sentiment analysis provides an understanding of the customer's feelings and attitudes towards the client's brand and messaging. It will tell the marketer how to create content that will resonate and how to present it in terms of context, tone, and emotion.
5 Rings of Buyer Insight Analysis
The 5 rings of Buyer Insights is a technique that allows us to drill down and understand the nuances of your buyer personas. It is not a rehash of the core buyer personas but is meant to gather detailed information specific to a particular buying decision. These are insights that may not be otherwise obvious but once known, can provide a competitive advantage. This is not a once and done process but conducted on an ongoing basis so that we can always be presenting the most relevant and impactful content. We recommend a regular interviewing cycle of two new customers each quarter.
Here is what we learn from these interviews:
- Priority Initiatives – What made the problem or need become an urgent priority for the buyer (i.e. what triggered the search for a solution)?
- Success Factors – What are the buyer’s expectations for success (from both a business and personal standpoint)?
- Perceived Barriers – What barriers prevented this buyer from choosing your company?
- Buying Process – What process would make it easy for this buyer to choose your company? This covers the entire buyer’s journey, including what triggers the search for a solution, what research has been done, who accessed the solutions, and who had input into the decision. For each person, we need to understand their needs and what resources they consult to learn and evaluate (i.e. blogs, social media, etc.)
- Decision Criteria – What criteria did this buyer use to compare options? This will tell us how the buyer weighed their options.
Talking To Your Personas & Developing Your Strategy
Once you have finished developing your buyer persona profiles, you can begin using that buyer voice to create your targeted content. Specifically, you can:
- Develop targeted content marketing, sales enablement, inbound marketing and influencer marketing strategies.
- Understand where to spend your time, social media presence and investments.
- Create content that appeals to your target audience
- Personalize your marketing for different segments of the market
- Combine persona and life-stage data for highly targeted content
Make sure you keep in mind your buyer persona’s main motivations, interests and online behaviors in mind every step of the way, and use this information to lead each individual campaign and goal that you set.