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Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make.
– Philip Kotler
With unlimited potential to reach customers online, it is sometimes difficult for companies to identify their ideal customer. As a marketer, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the fine details of our marketing strategies that we sometimes forget the most obvious piece: who we are marketing to.
At Still Up Marketing, we tell our clients to start from square one by re-assessing your organization’s target market by looking at market forecasts, website analytics, and your current customer base to create a buyer persona.
A buyer persona (also called a customer persona) is a sketch of your customer segment that helps companies to better target and tailor their content. Knowing the data about your customers is vital to be able to execute a curated strategy that will capture their attention and entice them to engage with your brand, which in turn will convert into sales. Keep in mind that this is not a real customer but a fictional person characterized by your potential customers’ segment analysis. You can use this tool to understand their goals, pain points, and buying patterns.
There are varying thoughts about what exactly encompasses a buyer persona, but at Still Up Marketing, we simply define it as a research-based profile that depicts a target customer. It is a semi-fictional representation created by market research analysis and previous customer data which helps companies tailor their marketing materials and strategy.
Personas include useful information like what a typical day is like for your customers, the challenges they face, and how they make decisions. These help businesses understand their target audience, so they can work on their marketing strategies around the data to acquire and serve them better.
Let’s talk about a buyer persona example. There can be multiple buyer personas for a single business. For example, your business sells children’s science kits, so your end-user is a child over 8 years of age. The marketing message to the child is that this product is really fun, while the message to the parent is that this product is very educational and safe.
In order for your end-user to buy the product, they would need the approval and payment from their parent(s). So, your customer persona include the child, and the parent(s). It is important that every person involved in the decision making process have a separate user persona so your organization can identify what marketing message is needed for each user-type.
Research and data-based buyer personas are important to identify who your actual customers are and not just whom you think you’re customers are. Every business shall be able to identify who these people are and what they need to be able to address them. Understanding whom to target best helps improve the marketing message and allocation resources for marketing functions, which results in a return on investment (ROI) for marketing/sales.
It helps create a customer database that records useful information for you to study and learn about your customers and current trends so that your marketing strategies are tailored to the targeted buyer’s needs. You may use data tools for this purpose, such as Tableau which will help visualize consumer trends or a change in segments.
Why are buyer personas important? How will it make your business better?
This is to ensure that all departments in the business have the same view of your ideal customer so that you all have cohesive approaches on how to acquire and serve your target customers.
When you know what your customers need, you will have an idea of how to develop your current products or service that will serve customers better.
Use the data in your buyer personas to create effective marketing plans such as knowing what keywords to use when copywriting, place ads in social media that are mostly used, uploading engaging video content, etc.
In the sales department, buyer personas are helpful by giving them information that would help them understand their prospects better. They will know how to convince them to buy your product or service and how to address their concerns.
It becomes easier for customer service representatives to show empathy and understanding when they know the problem that your customers are trying to solve with your product.
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Gathering information to create a buyer persona can be the most difficult aspect since it involves market research, diving deep into your website analytics, evaluating your current clientele, and sometimes conducting interviews with real clients to get the finer details. There are two types of analysis you want to conduct when researching your target audience.
First is a quantitative analysis where you collect information that can be easily measured.
The other type is a qualitative analysis that is more sentiment based and used more around addressing pain points.
For a B2B buyer persona, you will want to collect information on the target company and target client while in qualitative analysis, you want to gather information first at a company level such as the demographics of the company, the name, the industry they belong to, how many employees they have, their revenue, and the country they operate from.
Aside from that, it’s also important to know how many times they currently use your product or have purchased your product. Then, determine their value to your company by assessing KPI’s like average spend per transaction. You will notice trends, as well as the number of customers you have in a particular industry and/or country. All of this will lead to improved target marketing strategies and goals based on your largest spending customers.
The next thing to consider is the employee, also known as an individual base. These individuals are the ones inquiring about the product and potentially making the final decision. At this level, it’s important to know their gender, job title, department, and seniority level.
After gathering quantitative data, you can now start to collect qualitative data by connecting with your real customers. Reach out to them and do a phone or email interview, or even a survey after asking for their permission. Get useful answers by asking the right questions about:
Combine all the data and start creating your buyer persona. Make sure to include the following key points and buyer persona questions:
The data will show you the trends and what your audience is interested in. Now your company can reorganize your budget and improve marketing strategies. You will be able to reallocate your ad spend more effectively, change your message and use words and lingo that will appeal to your customers more, optimize current marketing resources such as a website, emailers or landing pages.
Similar to B2C examples, B2B buyer persona examples also focus on individual customers while also looking at a company level, as mentioned earlier in the Quantitative Analysis. A B2B Buyer Persona explains whom the individual is while also getting into detail about their job position and ability to make decisions in their organization/company.
Figure 1. B2B Buyer Persona – Samantha Carter
It can be short and straightforward like this (Figure 1), as long as it has all the necessary information you need. Other examples show more details about the customers who do the decision making. Their buyer personas may include information like what motivates them, where do they seek their information, who influences their purchase behaviour, their career focus, pet peeves, etc.
While Figure 1 is a helpful buyer persona, it is missing important details like what they currently do despite their problem, if they’re interested in attending seminars, their company size, or what gets in the way when deciding to buy something. These are important so that you will learn how to appeal to them in the most effective way.
In creating customer personas, it helps to create or find a template that works for you and your team. There are those that are in full detail to create a story that helps you paint a picture of your ideal customer. On the other hand, there are buyer persona templates that are formatted in short blurs, which works well with a fast-paced marketing and sales team. It helps to organize information and break it down into sections, bullets, and tabs to make it easier to read and understand.
Figure 2. B2B Buyer Persona – Andy Ross
The person in Figure 2 tells you that Andy is a Senior Marketing and Communications rep, which means that he’s been around in the industry for a while. It also tells you that he manages a small team of social marketers. Looking at his goals, we can assume that he is a leader with a vision to widen his reach by attracting a younger audience and/or through an app. By knowing what kind of leader he is, you will have an idea of what approach to use and what topics to discuss. Recognizing his problem, you can come up with a solution and get them on board to trust your business to help them reach their goals.
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Who are we talking to? Why should they care what we say? What can we say that’s relevant to them?
A solid buyer persona will be able to answer these questions. To sum it up, there are seven elements that should be identified when making a buyer persona:
So, now that you have a plan to create a strong buyer persona, what’s next?
After gathering all of the vital information, the strategy and planning portion can begin. Now is the time to re-evaluate your marketing plans by discussing with your team how you can adjust your strategies and make it work around the buyer personas that you now have.
The easiest way to do this is in the form of a flow chart. Designate boxes or colors to the persona’s questions, problems or concerns, as well as the answers and solutions you provide. It helps to turn this into a story so you can visualize how your persona might interact with your content. This will help you create related content rather than just random ones.
Make sure to vary your online content to cover a wider audience. Content types can include text, blogs, pictures, and videos or targeted advertisements using the content. Build content around the topics your customers are interested in and relay your message in the style and approach your personas prefer. Present it in a way that is easy to understand, fun, engaging, and informative.
It’s helpful to have a calendar to serve as a guide when your posts should be up. This is also to keep you on track with the deadlines so as not to delay achieving your marketing goals.
Now you know what channels and social media apps your personas prefer, use them wisely. Study each social media platform and place your content where your audience is. You may use more than 1 or 2 but not at the expense of the quality of your content.
Here lies an important lead generation technique. After getting attention, traffic and engagements, it’s time to offer them your product or service that matches their needs and wants (stated in the buyer persona).
Buyer personas are made to improve your targeting strategy and meet your business implementation objectives. Marketing to the wrong audience not only wastes time but also financial resources, which can negatively impact the organization. Building a strong foundation with your market research will help reach the organization’s goal more efficiently and effectively. Start by getting to know your audience now and watch the dramatic impacts it will have on your business!
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