A buyer persona gives your content a focus. If you don't know who you're writing for, not only does it mean that your content is less likely to resonate with your audience, but it means that your strategy will be less effective and therefore lead to fewer sales.
According to HubSpot, a buyer persona makes websites 2-5x more effective. Prospects also find the website easier to use.
That's not all, though. Creating a content marketing strategy aimed at the right persona can increase sales leads by 124%, result in a 55% increase in organic search traffic, and a 97% increase in online leads.
It just goes to show that the right buyer persona could make a massive difference to the success of a content marketing strategy.
And it makes sense – having a clear buyer persona stops companies from developing content that’s irrelevant to who they’re trying to attract.
However, despite all of this, just 44% of B2B marketers take advantage of buyer personas. That’s a whole lot of traffic and sales those 66% of marketers are missing out on.
Another benefit of a buyer persona is the time that it can save. If you’re targeting 10 people and only one of them needs your product or service, you could save 90% of your time. Then, if you double down on content for that one person, you’ll get better quality leads and generate more revenue.
So, with all that said, how do you create an effective buyer persona?
Think Beyond Demographics
When most people think of buyer personas, demographics are usually the first area cover. They’ll cover things like where their buyer persona lives and how old prospects and customers are, are and how many children they have.
But most of this isn’t relevant when it comes to content creation. Unless you’re creating content for a family or parenting site, the number of children someone has doesn’t matter. If your product isn’t local, where they live doesn’t matter either.
Demographics only matter if they’re tied to the problem the product or service solves. They don’t help you to tap into what’s really on a prospect’s mind. demographical information is top-level information that doesn’t help to get to the root of the problem. It won’t form a deep connection with prospects that leads to a faster conversion, or turn strangers into advocates.
Instead, think about is what problems keep prospects up at night. What do they want to achieve in their career? What’s their core motivation?
The more you can understand their motivations, challenges, ambitions, and issues, the more effective the strategy will be.
Talk To Customers
The best way to find out more about these questions is to talk to customers and prospects. Capture what they say in as much detail as possible. What motivates them? Is it a promotion, kudos, or becoming CMO?
The mistake many B2B marketers make is not spending this time getting to know their customers. How can you market to someone you’ve never interacted with?
A questionnaire can be really useful to get answers quickly and easily. Multiple-choice questions get quantitative data that can inform the buyer persona.
Open questions, meanwhile, provide qualitative answers that can inspire new angles for the buyer persona that may not have been considered before.
Meeting with customers one-to-one allows for more in-depth answers on the problems they face. It allows businesses to get clarification on any answers they give too.
Focus groups, meanwhile, allow for discussions about everyday problems. For a focus group, it helps to have people with something in common, for instance, the same job role or responsibilities (regardless of the department they fall under), or their position within the industry. That way, they're more likely to have similar problems that can help inform the buyer persona.
Having a group of people with nothing in common in a focus group is unlikely to get any useful responses.
Sales teams, customer service representatives, and account managers are also a fantastic way to get information, as they deal with customers and prospects on a daily basis. It’s therefore useful for these teams to get together with marketing and discuss the patterns they’ve noticed in their dealings with customers and prospects.
Look For Patterns
Patterns in the answers that customers give are a sign there’s an opportunity there. The more often something crops up, the more likely it is that there’s an issue the business can solve.
Collate all of these problems into a document. Then, look for common threads, whether they're positives or negatives.
While this can be time-consuming, it ensures that the content created is relevant to the persona. Creating content that’s relevant can result in a 900% increase in how long someone spends on the website, and a 171% increase in revenue generated by marketing, so taking the time to find these patterns is worth the investment.
Can You Have Multiple Buyer Personas?
The results from the analysis may show that there are several people the product, service, or content could help.
Most businesses will find that they have more than one buyer persona. Quite often, the things these people want to achieve will have overlaps. This can be used to inform the main message or common thread through the content.
If this isn't the case, it can be useful to have one buyer persona as the main focus and the rest as secondary personas. This ensures that content still follows a clear path and the messaging is easy to understand. Trying to cover everything for everyone on one page waters down the message and makes it less effective. It’s far more effective to have slightly different paths for each persona to ensure that every question or objection they may have is covered.
Content should always guide the reader to the end of the post and to whatever the next step in the funnel is. If the business has multiple personas, it may, therefore, need to create different content for each persona.
Putting It All Together
Once the patterns have been identified, it's time to turn them into a persona. Don't worry too much about the name – this isn't an important detail.
What matters is that the problems the business solves for the persona(s) have been identified. If these are right, the business has all the information it needs. The name is just a way for everyone internally to identify who the persona talking about, particularly if there are more than one.
For a buyer persona to be successful, it needs to be bigger than just the marketing team. It has to be accessible and usable for everyone within the business.
The next step therefore, once the persona has been created, is to share it with the rest of the business. This ensures everyone understands who they’re targeting and what they can do for that person.
The buyer persona also needs to be organic. As trends within the industry change, as technology changes, and as the world changes, what people want and need are likely to change too. For the business to survive, it needs to keep this in mind and periodically assess who they’re targeting and why.
When it comes to creating a buyer persona, it’s about so much more than demographics. An effective buyer persona gets to the root of someone’s problems, allowing marketing and sales content to tap into these problems and work towards solving them.
To do this, businesses need to get to know their customers and prospects. The better they know them, the more effective their content will be.