As a business owner, you may have heard the terms “buyer persona,” and “marketing persona” tossed around among marketers or web-savvy colleagues.
While the idea of buyer personas can be valuable in all forms of marketing, it has gained currency over the last few years through a customer-oriented form of internet marketing known as inbound marketing (learn more about inbound marketing here…).
So, what are buyer personas? And why do you need to use them?
Buyer or marketing personas are fictional, but data-driven, profiles of your ideal or actual customer or customers.
These personas are used to make marketing decisions like where to place ads, what product or service features to focus on, what blog posts to write, and which social media networks to use to promote your business.
Marketing persona is also an apt term; because inbound marketing hinges on building your audience’s interest and respect, not every interaction should be about directly asking them to buy. For each blog post, for example, 90% of your readers may not become customers, but that interaction is still valuable – those readers may refer a friend or remember you later when they need a trusted brand to meet a need, and their traffic to your content builds the SEO value and authority of your website, and by extension, your business.
Buyer personas focus on three factors:
1. Who your customers are and could be
Depending on the nature of your business, you may have one very targeted persona, or (more likely) several buyer personas that reach different segments of your business. Also, you may choose to incorporate an ideal buyer persona targeting a group of potential customers you haven’t reached yet or want to reach more fully.
Your personas are essentially carefully crafted characters – they should include a name (whether Mary Riviera or Mary the Marketing Maven), a job title, an income, family and demographic information, interests, and hobbies.
They may be fictitious, but your buyer personas should be based on real data. Research your customer base, take advantage of any website analytics you have access to, and scour your social media accounts.
If your customers seem to fall into clear groups, embrace it! Targeting those groups through different marketing personas will help you reach them and delight them.
2. What your customers need
Once you establish who your customers are, you need to focus on meeting their needs. Use your personas to help you anticipate what problems your customers are trying to solve, what information they’re looking for, and what trends are having an impact on their businesses or their lives.
As with every stage of this process, never be afraid to revise your personas in response to data. Watch to see which blog posts, which premium content offers, and which pages of your website are getting the most action and let that inform your buyer personas.
3. Your customers’ online habits and buying behaviors
Building on the factors we discussed in sections 1 and 2, craft a profile of your buyer personas’ behavior. What types of behavior you focus on will be influenced by your business, but here are a few examples:
- Where do they spend their time online?
- What social media networks do they prefer?
- Do they turn to blogs, search engines, or social media when researching a product or making a buying decision?
- What do they buy online and what do they buy in stores?
Once you have buyer personas in place, you can use them to make all kinds of marketing decisions. They help guide and clarify the marketing strategy of small businesses, and help larger companies keep the facets of their business focused on the same set of goals.
To learn more about why you should use personas in your business and how to create them, check out our posts:
- 8 Reasons to Use Buyer Personas to Guide Your Marketing
- How to Create Buyer Personas You Can Actually Use
Or, dig in a little deeper with Buyer Persona Master Class.