The Beginner’s Guide to Buyer Personas

buyer personas guideDid you know 60-70% of marketers say they don’t truly understand their buyers (source)? Let that sink in.

We don’t need to tell you that’s a problem—it’s obvious. If you don’t understand your target audience, how will you produce effective content? Influence their buying decisions? Or form productive relationships with them? The short answer is—you won’t.

The only way to join the 30-40% of people who do understand their buyers is to create buyer personas. Today we teach you how to construct an effective buyer persona profile—keep reading.

What is a buyer persona profile?

According to the most basic definition, a buyer persona is a profile of your ideal buyer. Each persona contains quantitative research, anecdotal observation, and existing customer data.

To create a buyer persona, analyze your customers and identify commonalities between them. For example, do they all work in the same industry? Are they all a certain age? Do they all have similar job titles? On their own, these factors may not seem important. But, when they’re combined, they paint a complete picture of your best buyer.

A simple buyer persona may look something like this: A 25-35-year-old female, working in marketing at a company of 500+ employees, who has ‘specialist’ in her job title.

A more sophisticated buyer persona goes beyond surface-level details and includes factors such as shared pain points, common opinions, and similar buying habits.  Constructing a sophisticated buyer persona is not something you can do in an hour or even a week. It takes a significant amount of time, effort, and research.

The importance of buyer personas

Buyer personas are a marketer’s best friend. They inform every aspect of a marketing strategy—from the content you create to the channels you use. Well-informed buyer personas can have a huge impact on your marketing efforts. Consider the following statistics (source):

  • Companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are 4 times as likely to use personas for demand generation compared to those who missed lead and revenue goals.
  • 93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals report segmenting their database by persona.
  • 56% of companies have created higher quality leads using buyer personas.
  • 36% of companies have created shorter sales cycles using personas.
  • 24% of companies gained more leads using buyer personas.
  • It is more effective to target cold leads with persona-based content than targeting warm leads without using persona-based content (58% versus 45%).

If you’re ready to create your own buyer personas, keep reading!

Constructing your buyer personas

While there’s no right or wrong way to build your buyer personas—here are a few important steps to keep in mind:

1.     Analyze your prospect and customer data.

Take a look at your CRM or customer database. Keep your eye out for patterns within your top performing customers. Pay close attention to all data points. These include:

  • Gender
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Age
  • Job title
  • Any technologies they use
  • Job history

2.     Consult all departments within your company.

Each department within your company understands your customers in a different capacity. These different viewpoints will give a well-rounded look at your customer base.

3.     Talk to your customers.

Figure out which customers have the most success with your product and reach out to them. This will give you the feedback you need to complete your personas. Here are a few questions that will get your conversation started:

  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • How do you define success with our product?
  • Are there things you like about our product?
  • Are there things you dislike about our product?
  • Which factors influenced your decision to buy from us?

After taking these three steps, you should have a significant amount of data to analyze. If you don’t have in-house resources, work with a sales and marketing intelligence tool. The vendor you select will compile the information and identify important trends.

Using buyer personas as part of your marketing strategy

Now that you have your buyer personas, it’s time to apply them to your marketing strategy. Although your buyers should always be in the back of your mind, here are a few specific ways to leverage them:

1.     Segment your email lists.

Organize email lists by persona and send offers targeted to each group’s preferences. The more targeted your offer is, the more likely it is that your audience will engage with it.

2.     Identify influencers.

Influencer marketing is a popular strategy these days—and for good reason. It allows you to leverage the voice of an influencer who already has the ear of your best buyers. It’s a no-brainer. Start by identifying social media influencers who speak to your buyer personas. Then, see if you can form a partnership to leverage your products or content.

Check out our blog posts about influencer marketing to learn more:

3.     Talk to your personas.

Each persona will respond to different messaging and language. Do your customers prefer casual conversation? Or do they prefer a more professional tone? Try several different approaches to see what resonates with each persona best.

4.     Optimize your sales process.

Some personas will prefer a lot of guidance while others will prefer to work on their own. Some will want a visual demo while others will want to explore your platform on their own. So, consult with your sales team to incorporate these preferences into their workflows.

5.     Time your campaigns.

You will likely find that each of your personas operates a little differently. Some will open their emails early in the day while others will be most active at night time. This goes for all channels—social media, web activity, email, and more. Be sure to time your campaigns to reach the most buyers at once.

6.     Select the right channels.

Certain personas will be more active on specific channels. Analyze your buyer personas and determine where they spend the most time. Then, distribute personalized messages using each persona’s preferred channel.

7.     Focus on personalization.

By now, you’ve likely recognized a common theme in this post—personalization. The more personalized your message, the more likely it is to resonate with the right people. In fact, 63% of consumers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant (source). So, be sure to use your buyer personas to target the right audience and share the most fitting offers.

Final Thoughts from This Buyer Personas Guide

Without a 360-degree view of your best buyers, it’s impossible to market to them effectively. Therefore, it’s important to dedicate significant time and energy to buyer persona creation.

Unfortunately, buyer personas aren’t something that you can set and forget. They take an extensive amount of testing and retesting. But, if you put the appropriate work in, you will reap the benefits.

Our data analysis tools can help you create the buyer personas your business needs. Contact ZoomInfo today.