Whether you’re B2B or B2C, buyer personas are a vital asset for any business. This is because rather than selling to a whole market, having detailed buyer personas ensures that your targeting of potential customers is a lot more precise. And with that, it increases the likelihood of an actual purchase.
By having well-researched buyer personas that accurately reflect the customer segment it represents, your business will be able to determine where there are opportunities and what areas it should focus its time.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional character that represents your perfect customer, based on customer insights and market research. Every business has a target audience, and in most businesses, these are separated out into customer segments.
Not every customer is the same or has identical needs, so it helps to separate different types of buyers. Creating a buyer persona brings a customer segment “to life” and turns a particular customer segment into a person of one, with the belief that it is then easier to create a successful strategy given you’ll have a better understanding of exactly who you’re targeting with that persona front of mind.
What are the benefits of creating a buyer persona?
Creating buyer personas for your business help you to bring your marketing strategy to life. It’s all well and good having a plan to sell to your potential customers, but often that plan is just a piece of paper.
By creating buyer personas, you make that plan more real.
Laser focused marketing
As a result, the targeting of your marketing plan is much more focused and you can be confident that the right people are seeing the right content.
Why does this matter? Because then you know that the content being served is meeting the needs of the customer segment for which it is intended, and that the message and positioning of your business will resonate. People have different needs and preferences, which is why customer segmentation is so helpful because it allows you to separate them. You can then create a tailored approach that doesn’t rely on “one-size-fits-all” in the hope of getting lucky.
Creating content for a single buyer means that it’s less likely your content will be vague and ambiguous – because you know exactly who it is intended for, what their challenges and goals are, and how your business can meet those needs.
Persona buyers give you a deeper and more informed understanding of the customer. One of the most common mistakes businesses make is assuming that your target audience are all the same – that they have similar motivations and needs, and therefore can be grouped as one.
Going through the process of creating buyer personas that represent your customer segments helps to dispel this myth, because you will see exactly what matters to your customers, and how these expectations may vary. You can then create a tailored approach with these buyer personas at the heart of what you do.
More qualified leads
By knowing more about who you’re targeting, you can better plan what you say and do, to meet their needs. A more personalised approach means that they’re more likely to convert because your messaging will resonate too. By talking directly to the audience you want to reach, you will also filter out those where your brand isn’t the perfect fit, meaning the leads you do bring in will be qualified, and higher quality.
A better customer experience
With detailed buyer personas, you can make sure your customer care teams are one step ahead. By training your frontline staff on the types of customers your business has, they’ll be able to deal with problems more effectively because they know the customer’s underlying motivations, challenges and how your business can help.
The elements of a buyer persona
Buyer personas are based on customer insights and market research. They typically include the following information:
- Demographic information such as age, gender, income, location, family situation, annual Income and education
- Personal background including hobbies and interests
- Professional information such as industry, job title and company size.
- Values and goals – what do they believe in? What do they want to achieve professionally and personally? What are their aspirations? How does their personality drive these?
- Challenges – What are their pain points? What keeps them up at night? What do they want to fix?
- How your product or service fits into their life
- Identifying information like social media use, role as a leader/influencer, and communication preferences
- Any objections or barriers to purchase they might have, and their role in the buying decision process.
How do you create a buyer persona?
1. Start with your marketing segments
Most businesses will already have segmented their customer base into broad groups.
Use these as the starting point for your personas, as each one will reflect the people you’re basing the personas on.
2. Choose which customers to talk to
For each of your segments, identify a group of customers you can work with, either by sending them surveys or interviewing them directly. Refer to your CRM system to make sure you get a broad range of target audiences.
3. Establish a panel
A research panel is the cohort of people you will approach, and you should set one up for each of your segments. Bear in mind that your panel should represent a good cross-section of customers across different demographics, budgets, frequency of transactions and business size, so you get a really rounded picture in your results.
4. Design your survey
Use 5 key categories as a framework for your survey. For each one, include plenty of questions and cover both factual items, such as a choice between two product features, and drivers, covering the customer’s motivations, values and goals.
For each section of your survey, use open questions and free text fields to gather qualitative information in the customer’s own words.
5. Field your study
Send the survey out to your panel, along with a reminder about any rewards you’re offering. You may also want to set up a system of completion-reminder messages to help you get as many responses as possible.
6. Analyse your data
Working within your segments, review your data to establish where there are trends and correlations. It may be helpful to bring in data from elsewhere, such as your CRM system and sales figures, to strengthen your conclusions and test out different possibilities. Tools like Qualtrics iQ, which uses predictive intelligence to recommend which data trends to explore, can help you uncover even more knowledge.
7. Translate your data into buyer profiles
Using the knowledge you’ve gained from your data analysis, draw up a persona buyer for each segment. Therefore the more complex or detailed your segmentation, the more buyer personas you will have.
Each persona should be relatable as an individual person, with enough detail to help make business decisions aligned to their needs. They may be text-based or illustrative with photographs and quotes, and are around one page in length.
You may also want to give them a name, to help bring your buyer persona to life. That way, when you’re targeting a specific segment, a name will come to mind and you know exactly which buyer persona you’re targeting.
How to use buyer personas in your marketing
Buyer personas should be more than a piece of paper, they should be a very real part of your plans, and organisation. Doing so ensures you remain customer-centric and you take the right actions.
So how do you use them?
Firstly they should be used to help sense check your marketing strategy. You’ve got buy-in from your boss, but remember – you are not the customer, or the end-user. But your personas are. So use them to sense check your plans.
Would your personas resonate with what you’re proposing? Does it meet their needs? Solve their challenges? It could even be as simple as questioning whether they will understand the terminology that you use. If not, use terminology that they will.
Other examples of using buyer personas in your marketing include:
- Tailored content – When you’re writing an ebook or a whitepaper, who is the reader? Will it appeal to them? Is the content relevant?
- Tailor your ad spend – Getting a better ROI focusing on a particular persona? Adapt quickly to maximise the impact of your spend
- Separate your contact list by personas – We talk about a tailored approach, and a really simple way of doing this is to align your contacts to a certain persona. That way you can be sure that your communications and messaging to certain prospects are accurate.
- Prioritize your personas – getting the most success with a particular persona? You might want to think about understanding why that persona is more effective than others and try to replicate it.
How to judge the ROI of buyer personas
Developing buyer personas is all about understanding your ideal customer and providing your and providing your marketing and sales teams with information they can use to personalise a buyer’s experience.
It’s relatively simple to assess the ROI of your buyer personas, because the ultimate goal of creating them is to increase sales.
Buyer personas are particularly important today when personalisation has become critical to building customer relationships.
According to one marketing study, 98% of marketers say personalisation improves customer relationships.
Another benefit of buyer personas from an investment standpoint is you can assess their ROI across multiple stages of the buyer’s journey.
For example, according to a study by HubSpot, using customer personas made a company’s website between two and five times more effective when winning customers.
A separate study, again by HubSpot, found that companies using buyer personas to inform email marketing campaigns improved click-through rates by 14%, conversion rates by 10% and increased revenue from emails by 18%.
And 93% of businesses that exceed their revenue goals use buyer personas to segment their database to target customers more effectively.
If you are trying to judge the ROI of creating personas, you can break your calculations into a number of marketing and sales goals:
- Is your marketing messaging attracting more customers
- Is your marketing message leading to a higher level or purchasing decisions since you implemented personas
- Is your sales team dealing with more inquiries from target customers
- Are you generating more revenue and profits
If you see positive results in each of these areas, you’re getting a good return on your customer personas investment.
What are the different types of buyer personas
There is much debate about just how many buyer persona types there are.
Some estimate that it is around four, others between six and 10 buyer persona types based on buying behaviours, and the way customers get information to make a decision.
If you’re in B2B, particularly in SaaS, you’ll essentially have two main types of personas (with other types of personas building off the back), these two personas are:
- User persona: The end user who’ll ultimately use your product, but might not necessarily be involved in the buying decision. This persona will be used more for product development.
- Buyer persona: This is ultimately the person (or people) who will be involved in the buying decision, or could influence the decision-making process. This could include your end user.
Most companies have more than one buyer persona that they’ll use for the different stages of the buyer journey.
Some buyer persona examples could include:
This is the person who will manage the end users of your product. The customer challenges they’ll face will be based on those of the end user and you’ll want to convince them that your product will make their team more productive and efficient.
In terms of customer pain points, your department head will be looking to understand the user benefits of your product and how easy it is to deploy among a team.
This persona may not have the final decision, but they’ll be an influencer when deciding whether to use your product or service.
Management Team (Executive Leadership)
The buyer persona profile of the management team could also include multiple buyer personas who will be concerned about different issues relating to your product and service.
The pain points here could range from costs to deployment to ROI.
If you’re in B2B, then you need to create a buyer persona for your ideal customers who will deal with the procurement of your product or service.
The customers dealing with procurement will, again, have different pain points and will be judging your product based on costs compared to competitors, lifetime costs and savings, and how easy your product is to deploy.
Depending on the size of the company you’re targeting, the business owner may be involved in the decision. Ultimately the pain points of this persona will come down to whether your product or service can help their business scale and grow to become more profitable.
Questions to ask your buyer personas
While each buyer persona will have different pain points and priorities when assessing your product or service, there will be some crossover when it comes to the questions you can ask.
Below are some of the questions you’ll need to have answered when developing your buyer persona:
What’s their job title: This will help you to understand where in the buyer journey this persona may come into play.
What does a typical day look like: This can help you understand everything from what tasks they need to do day-to-day and what their priorities are, to what information they consume and where they get it from.
What are the customer pain points: Regardless of job titles understanding the pain points of your prospective customers will help you figure out where your product can help them, and what messaging your need to use in your marketing efforts to attract them.
What’s the ultimate goal for your buyer persona: It could be cost savings, increasing productivity, promoting growth, whatever the goal of your target audience, knowing what it is can improve how your sales team or marketing department target customers.
What do they consider when choosing a vendor: Does your target customer simply value cost savings? Or do they look at the value of customer service when choosing a provider? Having this information can prove invaluable to you during the sales process.
Although there are many other questions you can when building a buyer persona you ultimately want to understand where they work in the organisation, what their goals are, what’s stopping them from achieving those goals, and what information they need (and where they get) when deciding on a product, service, and supplier.
Having all this information will allow marketing teams to create the right messaging to attract attention and make the sales process much easier.
Buyer persona example
Now that you know the questions you need to focus on, let’s have a look at some example buyer personas:
Name: John Smith
Job Title: Product Manager
Company type: SaaS for accountancy firms
Frustrations/ pain points: Managing multiple stages of product development without the right software. Finds it difficult to keep on top of the team’s work.
Projects are managed using multiple pieces of software, making it difficult to put everything in a central place.
Because product updates are required regularly, managing the stages of multiple projects is starting to get overwhelming.
Gains from your product: Can get oversight of all projects within the company without relying on Google Drive and other disparate software.
Helps to identify bottlenecks in the product development process to improve efficiency.
Has audience research and feedback in one place.
Factors that will introduce buying decision: Would benefit from a free trial.
Values service and support.
The decision will ultimately come down to cost savings and ROI.
What are negative personas?
While it’s important you have created accurate buyer personas (and will likely have multiple personas as we’ve already discussed) there is benefit to creating negative personas too.
Negative personas are essentially the opposite of your buyer persona and represent what would make a bad fit for your company or product.
Having these along with your ideal customer persona can help you identify whether your marketing messages are attracting the right people.
Analysing the performance of your buyer personas
When you create buyer personas you should expect to see an improvement in sales and marketing and, ultimately, revenue and growth.
Analysing the performance of your buyer personas should be done on a regular basis to ensure you’ve created an accurate representation of your ideal customer persona, and that your marketing efforts and sales tactics are improving as a result.
With an accurate picture of your target audience, you’ll be able to properly assess the impact of your marketing strategy and whether your marketing messages are hitting the target.
If you’re still failing to get any traction in the market, then your target customer persona may not be accurate.
This means you’ll need to do more research and get feedback in order to create new personas.
With Qualtrics, you can easily put your customer persona data into a single platform, allowing you to build and analyse your personas to ensure they’re generating the right results.
Whether you need buyer persona templates, or simply want to monitor the success of your buyer personas to ensure they’re helping with the sales process, Qualtrics Experience ID can help.