Get Into Your Prospect's Head: 4 Easy Steps for Creating Buyer Personas

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By Crownpeak
September 20, 2016

Buyer Personas

It's always been crucial that marketers understand the needs and wants of prospects, and today? It's more important than ever.

Digital audiences expect content personalization from marketers, even when it's part of a digital experience that spans multiple channels. So whether you're in B2C or B2B marketing, you need to put relevant information in front of them. Or else they'll turn to competitors who are delivering that personalization.

So how do you determine what's relevant for your target audience? That's where buyer personas prove an invaluable tool.

Understanding Equals ROI

A buyer persona is a composite sketch of your target prospect, identifying their real needs and concerns, and what interests them about your product or service. It's based on interviews with real buyers, or a marketer's own direct selling experience with them.

Well-built personas don't just factor in the fundamentals of a prospect - "Our target is a purchasing manager who needs widgets" - but also include other insights about the target. These give you levers you can use to drive stronger engagement.

Examples might include, "he's a male college graduate who's highly self-motivated," "he reports to a COO who demands XYZ," "he values strong customer support for integration challenges," and so on.

Marketers often think it takes too much time and effort to develop effective buyer personas. But that process can actually be simple and straightforward, and well-built personas provide benefits too valuable to ignore.

Among those benefits? Greater understanding of customer needs and interests, help in generating better-quality leads, and optimization of content and digital marketing ROI.

For instance, research proves that businesses using buyer personas make their websites two to five times more effective at engagement (source: Hubspot). Another insight? Prospects that don't receive personalized content quickly turn to competitors.

Four Simple Steps to Better Buyer Personas

Many enterprises eventually need several different buyer personas to encompass their entire potential audience. But if you're just starting out, it's often advisable to build just one to familiarize your marketing team with the persona-building process.

A good starting place? Craft a persona representing your primary prospect. Later, add more personas to cover other important target audiences.

There are four key steps in building an effective buyer persona:

  1. Gathering insight: Capture as much information and insight as you can about your target. Speak with them directly, hold focus groups or talk to members of your enterprise who are familiar with them. See what content they already visit on your website or other digital touchpoints, or what other sites, social media and resources they use - knowing where they gather information about your business lets you anticipate their questions and concerns.
  2. Building the persona: Here's where you take the information you've gathered and use it to build a demographic and psychographic profile of this prospect. Give the prospect a name and title, too, and even attach a photo that fits the persona. This not only makes it easier to recall a persona and all its traits, but also puts a relatable human face on your audience.
  3. Shaping content strategy around the persona: Map a dedicated buyer's journey that's appropriate for the persona. As you're doing so, continually refine every facet of your content to ensure it appeals to your target: "Would (PERSONA NAME) download this content?" "Would (PERSONA NAME) respond to this headline?"
  4. Developing more personas: Inbound marketing experts agree it's best for most companies to craft three to five personas to accurately cover the majority of their target audience. If you think you need more than that, be careful of diminishing ROI from adding personas that are too narrowly-focused.

Personas: Mission-Critical to Marketing Success

The need for buyer personas is only going to grow. Globalization and the advance of technology are driving a proliferation of digital touchpoints. For digital marketers, engaging consumers and buyers in a branded yet highly personalized way across all those channels is an ever-evolving challenge.

Well-defined buyer personas are critical to staying competitive in that complex new marketing universe. As we've shown, developing them can be a fast and efficient process, and a small investment to make for the rewards in store.

Find out more about that process by downloading our free eBook, The Busy Marketer's Guide to Getting Started with Personas, available below.

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