Here are two options for you as a marketer – create an inbound marketing strategy that targets the spectrum of your target audience, and hope that it hits the mark or is able to impact a certain section of your target audience. Or, you have the option of targeting specific customer sets that can be bucketed as your ideal customers. If you have chosen the latter, congratulations. You have actually targeted potential customers as per their ‘buyer persona’.
Buyer or marketing persona is writing a story, which revolves around your ideal customer. This story answers questions like ‘who is your customer?’, ‘what motivates your customers to make a buying decisions?’, ‘what are their buying interests and preferences?’, ‘what makes them tick?’, ‘why is a particular customer profile ideal for you?’, ‘how do you target this customer profile?’; the answers to these questions and many more will help you build a detailed representation of your customer. Ideally, the more information you have about your customers, the better you will understand your customers.
As a marketer, you can target your buyers throughout the buyer journey and that too in a way that creates the maximum impact. With the right buyer profile at your disposal, you can focus on crafting marketing messages that can attract the kind of audience that you know will convert into paying customers.
Purely from a digital marketing perspective, you have your work cut out for you. Take a look at those figures in the graph. There were around 53.5 billion internet users in 2019; yes, not all of them are your potential customers or target buyers, however this figure just gives you an estimate of the challenge of reaching out to the right customer.
Reach out and attract. The effort to attract the right inbound leads can go waste, if you don’t approach lead generation in a strategic manner.
The right strategy revolves around persona marketing. And this is only possible if you are able to identify and market to right buyer personas.
With buyer personas, you can customize your messaging, product development and overall marketing strategy to align with buyer behavior and which specially caters to the needs of your target audience.
Your marketing strategy can address buyer concerns, because you know your buyer so well. This ensures marketing success.
With total sales being the key determinant of content marketing success, your marketing must be able to drive sales.
Think of a scenario wherein you are selling sports goods. You have a general idea that your target buyer is someone who loves sports. However, is that information enough to help you create a targeted inbound marketing strategy? No, it isn’t.
You must get information on the kind of sports they enjoy playing (outdoors or indoors), love for a specific sport, the time they invest every week/day in playing a sport they love and so on and so forth. You can also get information on how many times they purchase sporting goods, the amount of money they spend and many other aspects of their buying behavior.
This data can be cross-pollinated to create a comprehensive buyer profile. Remember, here, it will also be a good idea to know the kind of content they love consuming, the social platforms they frequent and the kind of messaging they love and more. This way you can leverage contextual marketing to generate inbound leads.
The above graphs illustrate the kind of media and channels that are widely used amongst content marketers. By creating a buyer persona your inbound marketing agency can utilize the media and channels that will deliver the highest ROI. There is no guesswork involved.
Now one of the key aspects that you might expect us to cover in the answer to ‘what is buyer persona’, is to list out the different types of personas. Unfortunately, there is no generic or specific list of buyer personas, as each business has to cater to specific personas.
Even if your business is selling similar products and services to another, you are best serviced by creating your own marketing personas that are built around your brand, its products and services, targeted marketing spend and other such parameters. Yes, businesses can target the same persona categories at a macro level such as accountants, media professionals, etc., but within these categories, you will need a drill-down differentiation based on your unique needs.
The low hanging fruits to pluck while creating a buyer persona is the data that is actually being generated through the systems you have deployed such as a CRM, MRM and through the various tools such as SEMrush, Buffer, Google Analytics, etc. That’s the data already available to you. Make use of it.
Other ways of accessing key customer data is by conducting surveys and interviews of your existing customers, prospects and even people who might currently exist outside your contacts list. It is imperative that you have a comprehensive buyer persona creation strategy. It’s also important to remember that the key component of this strategy is building your customer data and accessing data from any source that is meaningful to you.
Let’s look at this in some detail:
Every business has an audience. Understand what’s yours. Learn who they are, their interest, who they are buying from currently, why they are buying from that business and more. You must also zero in on identifying parameters such as age, interests, location, purchasing power and more.
Buyer persona research is a critical part of the whole process of creating these personas. As a marketer you are also trying to answer an important question – what is the buyer’s journey? You already have tools in place to get data from various buyer touch points throughout the journey. Use this data to create a person with extensive data points.
However, a word of caution – Don’t overload your thinking with excessive information. Choose the information you think is most valuable for you and run with it.
You are building a marketing persona to deliver a message that tells the customer you know the problems they are suffering from, and the products/services you are selling deliver the solutions they are looking for.
But, how do you create that message without understanding the customer pain points? Identify the issues your potential customers are trying to solve. Do this by following their conversations on social media, or the conversations they are having with you. Understand why they like/don’t like your products and try to find a common theme that runs through their opinion/suggestions/feedback. This will help create a more drill-down version of your buyer persona.
At the other end of spectrum lie customer objectives, that is their expectations from a particular product or service. Assess what they are trying to achieve through the use of your products/services. This will provide a 360-degree view of your customers from the ‘challenges and goals’ perspective.
Here is an example of customer personas that should be an outcome of the process mentioned above:
Chief Marketing Office (CMO) Rachel
Marketing Officer, Movie buff, loves marketing automation, camping and trekking enthusiast, SEO expert
Ensure a comprehensive marketing strategy is deployed across diverse marketing channels, which increases product visibility, customer engagement, and drives website traffic.
Over the last year (across 4 quarters), the company is unable to achieve its lead generation numbers and is therefore facing a decline in its conversion ratio. This is impacting business growth and putting a pressure on the marketing team.
CMO Rachel, is leading the marketing function of a mid-sized company, in the food business, and is in charge of its yearly marketing spend. Her company is located in New York and she stays with her family that consists of a husband and two kids in Brooklyn. She loves the outdoors and whenever she has some spare time on her hands, she loves going on short or long camping trips.
Rachel works for a mid-sized business that employs 500 people; she heads a marketing team with 20 team members and reports directly to the CEO. For the last year, the team’s content marketing strategy isn’t really delivering inbound value illustrated by dwindling traffic and a bad conversion ratio.
The company started investing heavily in digital marketing over the course of the last 3 years and things were going great for the first two years. Traffic was good, lead generation was on point, and conversion ratio was awesome. However, traffic flatlined and then went downhill from that point on. She feels the marketing strategy needs an overhaul and the addition of a lot of activities that can improve lead generation. She convinced the business to invest in a marketing automation software and she believes that its potential isn’t being optimized at the current point of time.
Her strategy audit has shown the content quality can be improved upon and paid advertising calls for some more investment. The problem is that her team is up to its neck in handling different marketing and sales enablement activities and they need a fresh perspective.
She has now started to research companies offering digital marketing services, especially those that are marketing automation experts. She is active on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Hopefully, you now have an answer to your question ‘what is a buyer persona’. It is imperative that you do not straight jacket your buyer personas. Take some time out to get a thorough understanding of your buyers before you kick a marketing plan into action.