For your inbound marketing efforts to be a success, it’s not enough to simply attract every Tom, Dick and Harry to your website. If you want to capture good quality leads to pass over to your sales team, you need to make sure you’re attracting the right people. So, who are they?
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer. They’re generalised bios of the characters that encompass everything your business or product is targeting in a customer, including their various needs, goals, and observed behaviour patterns. We use these personas to help us understand what our customers need, so we can create the content they’ll love.
1. Pick a representative cohort of contacts
Your existing customer database is probably the best place to start. Look through your database to uncover trends about how your contacts interact with your content, what field of work they’re in, their roles and their responsibilities. For future reference, you can gather this information easily on your contact forms by adding a ‘sector’ or ‘job title’ field.
2. Survey them
Pick a good portion of these contacts to survey. You could employ others to carry out these surveys, or you could do them yourself. Reach out to both “good” and “bad” customers. You don’t just want to survey people who you know love your product, however flattering that might be. Ask about the frustrations your customers have faced, too. This will give you a well-rounded view of who your customers are and what they want. It’s also a good idea to ask them where they look for blogs, news, and research relevant to their job roles. In fact, here’s a list of questions you might want to ask. But don’t be afraid to come up with your own!
Once you’ve got your questions sorted, you can start the surveying process. The more open-ended questions you ask, the more info you’ll receive. You could also offer incentives, like a gift card to Starbucks for completing a survey (as I’ve once had before).
3. Read your responses and make notes
Your open ended questions should have allowed for some common themes to be established. As you read through your survey answers, jot down any repeated words or answers.
4. Fill in your persona template
Don’t have one? That’s okay, we’ve got a free template you can download here.
5. Conduct one-to-one interviews
Now you’ve got a first draft of your persona template sorted, it’s time to pick a handful of (or at least one!) relevant but random people and ask them some questions to double check it works. Not everything has to be perfectly spot on, but their answers should be relatively similar to the conclusions you’ve drawn from your surveys. Again, you could do this yourself, or you could employ others to do it for you. This extra step not only helps to reinforce your conclusions, it also helps you gain a little more information to bulk out your persona if needed.
Pro tip: always ask ‘why?’ as a follow up question. Through these interviews, you’re trying to understand your customers’ goals, behaviours, and what drives them. But you should bare in mind that often, people aren’t very good at reflecting on these things. Digging deep to find their reasons will help you see what really drives them at their core.
6. Place your contacts into personas and name them
Finally, sort your contacts into your new personas and give the personas their own human names. It sounds silly, but it really helps you picture who you’re speaking to in your marketing efforts.
For example, if your persona target is primarily Financial Managers, name that persona ‘Financial Manager Morty’ or something similar. You can also add an image of ‘Morty’ to help you put a face to the name, so to speak. For this, you could get an image of someone you know (with their permission), or use a free stock image site like Pexels or StockSnap.
Having your contacts organised in clear-set personas really helps you create more targeted content.
Buyer personas help you create content that inspires and engages your ideal customers by teaching you about their frustrations, goals, and interests. They’re the foundation upon which your inbound marketing success is built. Take time in researching, and you’ll end up creating a truly powerful buyer persona.