Before diving into paid advertising and content marketing, you need to develop a strong understanding of your buyers. Knowing who buys your products and why will help you maximize on your advertising return-on-investment (ROI) and produce content that really resonates with your target audience.
To gain a deeper understanding of your core customer segments, it helps to develop different buyer personas. Also known as customer personas, buyer personas were once largely developed by large companies, though they’ve since become the norm among different businesses, including small online retailers.
Due to the increasingly congested digital marketing space, well-developed buyer personas can help you craft more effective content and laser-precise ads that will truly resonate with your ideal customers.
Buyer personas will also help you better understand your current and potential customers, as well as their pain points. This, in turn, will better position your organization to meet their needs.
But before we dive deeper into the topic, let’s first define what buyer personas are.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. The data used to build buyer personas are generally derived from market research and real data about your current customers, including demographic information (like age, income, and location), as well as psychographic data (like motivations for buying and interests).
Customer personas are invaluable in marketing, sales, and customer service because they help businesses and brands understand the ideal customers they’re trying to attract, as well as relate to them on a more personal level. Just as importantly, having a deep understanding of your customer personas will help you push more qualified leads down the sales funnel and create more effective customer acquisition and retention strategies.
Remember that it’s important not to build too many buyer personas. According to HubSpot, it’s best to start with one core persona and build from there. Once you start to analyze the data from your most successful customers, you’ll be able to successfully differentiate one persona from the next.
On the other hand, while knowing who your ideal customers are is clearly important, knowing who your ideal customers aren’t is just as important. This is where negative personas enter the picture.
What is a Negative Persona?
Also known as an exclusionary persona, a negative persona is a semi-fictional representation of a less than desirable customer. Negative personas display behaviors, demographical data, and other traits that disqualify them from your ideal pool of customers.
When creating an inbound marketing strategy, developing negative personas is often just as important as developing buyer personas because they help you better understand and identify people who aren’t a good fit for your product or service.
Individuals who fit this description could come from a wide range of backgrounds: They could be potential clients who aren’t profitable enough to close for one reason or another, students or marketers who’re merely engaging with your content for research purposes, or potential clients who display toxic behaviors that would negatively impact your employees.
How to Develop Your Buyer Personas
As data is the bedrock of buyer personas, you’ll need to conduct research, surveys, and interviews to help build your profiles. You’ll need to focus on your target audience, which could consist of customers, prospects, and those outside your contacts database who display characteristics that align with your target audience.
Need an actionable buyer persona template to help you build your profiles? HubSpot has provided 20 questions you could ask your interviewees when creating your buyer personas. These interviews can be done face-to-face or over the phone.
Here are the interviewees you should be focusing on:
1. Existing Customers
The best people to ask first are your existing customers since they’ve tried your products or services and have engaged with your company. Your customer base will provide a strong list of attributes to associate with your buyer personas. And when reaching out to them, make sure to interview both satisfied and unsatisfied customers. By doing so, you’ll learn what they loved about your business and what they found challenging or difficult.
2. Leads & Prospects
Balance your interviews by interviewing people who have yet to purchase your products or services or may not know much about your business. Contact information and other data can be gathered from web analytics and lead generation forms.
If you’re new to the market and have yet to gain customers or leads, you can turn to referrals. This means contacting individuals in your network, including co-workers and social media contacts, to find people you’d like to interview. Though it can be difficult to gain a huge volume by doing this, you’re sure to get helpful insights from interviewing these people.
Use Business & Social Media Data
Lots of useful information may be hidden in your business data. This data can be mined and used to build your buyer personas. Great resources include your web analytics, point of sale (POS) systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. All of these resources can help you better understand your customer’s wants, needs, and habits.
You should also examine your social media channels. Social listening, or monitoring conversations on social media, is a great way to gain insight into customers in your industry. Use your social media channels to connect with your ideal prospects and learn more about them. You can also target phrases and terms that are related to your industry and observe how these topics are being discussed.
Using Buyer Personas to Create Better Content
Developing accurate and segmented buyer personas will help you to create more effective content and messaging that will resonate with your target audience. You’ll also be able to create a personalized marketing strategy for different segments of your audience.
Negative personas are going to help you along the way, too. By creating them, you can segment your contacts accordingly and remove those individuals who aren’t interested in your business. This way, you can achieve higher sales productivity and reach a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer.
Understand that buyer personas will evolve as you learn new information. As your business grows, expect to develop entirely new buyer personas as your customers grow along with you.