If you work in marketing, you probably hear a lot about optimizing the customer experience, tracking buyer journeys and identifying decision-making factors and/or paths to purchase. But what about developing buyer personas?

You might be trying to identify key points to offer marketing liaisons or better understand when a sales team needs to get involved in nurturing a lead to conversion. Before you reach out and ask potential customers to trust you, you need to demonstrate that you understand who they are and what they want. And effectively developing buyer personas can help you do just that.

Buyer personas are fictionalized profiles of individual ideal customers, rooted in data from your existing successes. Using these models of the ideal customer, you’ll be able to better target your ads and hone your messaging to suit specific needs and convert leads into loyal customers.

In this blog, we outline everything you need to know about developing buyer personas to fine tune your marketing automation and digital marketing strategy.

Buyer Persona Statistics

It will take some initial thought and effort to properly build out detailed buyer personas, but the results will more than justify the time spent on the front end. Don’t believe us? Just check out this selection of buyer persona statistics:

  • 82% of companies using personas improved their value proposition.
  • 71% of companies that exceed lead generation and revenue goals have documented buyer personas.
  • Using buyer personas in the web design process helps improve usability anywhere from 2 times – 5 times.
  • Behaviorally-targeted ads are twice as effective as general ads.

The stats don’t lie! By building personas and using a more personalized approach to your marketing, you can become more effective in your targeting and work more efficiently to generate qualified leads.

How Many Buyer Personas Should You Create?

Just as there is no single path to purchase, it’s highly unlikely that a single buyer persona will cover your entire ideal customer base. In most cases, three to five buyer personas are required to adequately capture a full audience.

For example, let’s consider a real estate agent who primarily lists homes under a $500,000 value. This real estate agent needs to target a few different groups to keep her business going ─ current homeowners in the area that might be interested in selling their homes and potential buyers for these homes.

That’s not quite enough detail to do any effective marketing, so our realtor will have to drill down further while developing personas. She might have a couple of personas within each of these categories:

  • Current homeowners with children who might be looking to sell their homes for more space
  • Families selling a home for a senior parent or relative
  • “Flippers” looking to buy and sell homes as an investment opportunity
  • First-time home buyers looking for a starter home
  • Empty nesters looking to buy a smaller home and downsize

With these personas in mind, our real estate agent can think seriously about how to speak to each specific persona based on their mindset: for example, the “flippers” will have a very different set of needs from the first-time home buyers.

To figure out how many buyer personas you need to create for your business, look at your current customer base and your competitors’ customers, and try to identify commonalities in demographics, reasons for purchase and common pain points.

Steps for Developing Buyer Personas

When you’re considering your buyer personas, look at as many details as possible. You can start with the five ‘Ws’ of basic investigation to drill down and find your personas:

Who

Consider all of the relevant demographic information that can help you target your audience. Age, gender, race, education, geographic location, socioeconomic background, marital status and number of children can all inform the mindset your personas are bringing to their purchase decisions.

Social media and search engines will typically let you target your advertising by demographic factors like these, as well as interests and behaviors. For example, let’s look at The Honest Company, which makes natural baby and beauty products. Their primary target is likely women with children, but if you consider further, you’ll identify less obvious key demographics.

Millennial women in urban areas are typically more interested in natural products and social responsibility than older women in rural areas. The products aren’t the cheapest on the market, meaning their target market needs to be more affluent and willing to pay for natural and organic products.

What

When developing buyer personas, it’s important to think about the pain points your audiences might be experiencing and understand how you can help. Knowing the mindset and background your personas are bringing to the purchase decision will help you tailor your brand even more specifically. Make sure that your product and services actually meet the needs of your target personas.

When

You also need to understand how quickly your buyers need their pain points solved. Some products and services lend themselves to extreme urgency, while others require longer sales cycles and additional touchpoints to make a decision.

If your product is time-sensitive or solves an immediate need, you’re more likely to take on urgency-based messaging. If you’re more about making life easier in the long term, you’ll likely need to do a bit more persuading.

Where

The “where” in your buyer persona doesn’t necessarily refer to geographic location. It’s more about considering where your personas are in the buyer’s journey. Are they aware that there’s a product that can help them solve this specific pain point? Are they considering specific factors between you and your competitors? Are they approaching a decision and looking to seal the deal?

Understanding where your audiences fall in the buyer’s journey when they discover your brand will not only help you while developing buyer personas, but also while executing your ongoing content strategy. You should be able to serve content for each stage of your sales funnel, nurturing leads from one stage to the next.

If buyers are coming to your brand already in the consideration stage, too much awareness-level content can come across as condescending or just generally not useful.

Why

This is a question you should be able to answer uniquely for each audience segment. When it comes to buyer personas, you need to be able to address how your product is relevant to each individual. This is where your value proposition comes in.

Your value proposition should be specifically written with your buyer personas in mind, and your messaging for each persona should be derived from this value proposition. This ends up becoming your ultimate call-to-action for your brand: it outlines the reasons customers should choose you and delivers the promise of what to expect.

Developing Buyer Personas Isn’t a “One-and-Done” Affair

Buyer personas are meant to represent living, breathing people as specifically as possible. In order to make the most of your personas, regularly assess the results of your campaigns, the demographic information of your leads and ask your existing customers what brought them to your brand over the competition. Regularly fine-tuning your personas will set you up for ongoing marketing success.

AUTHOR
Katrina McAfee
Katrina McAfee
Over the past 10 years, Katrina has created and implemented marketing plans for industries ranging from health care, transportation, animal welfare and rescue, hospice communities, and much more. At SharpSpring, Katrina’s main focus is coordinating lead generation marketing activities to boost sales for the company.

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