The first time I wrote about buyer personas was nearly 4 years ago, which is about a decade in internet-years (running slightly behind the equivalent 28 dog years).
Chances are, you know what buyer personas are and the inbound marketing theory behind why they work. But some people haven't gotten around to using them yet, often because they don't want to devote the time to writing personas and getting their teams to use them if they don't think they'll see a solid ROI.
And you know what? That’s completely understandable! So here are 8 things that buyer personas can do to improve your marketing in a measurable way.
Note: There are many more metrics than the ones below that you can use to evaluate each of these benefits. These are just the most obvious examples.
Buyer personas help you:
1. Identify the customer’s needs and wants so you can delight them with your products, services, and content, and earn their return business. Metric: product/service sales
2. Understand how your customers make purchasing decisions, so you can better target your marketing and move them through the sales funnel. Metrics: customer lifetime value, length of sales cycle
3. Develop new or improved products and services based on the needs and wants of your current customers, allowing your relationship with them to strengthen and evolve. Metrics: customer adoption of new products, customer lifetime value
4. Determine where your customers spend time on the web and in the world, giving you insight into how to communicate with them, how to reach new customers, where and how to promote your business, and what types of content to produce. Metrics: traffic sources, shares, engagement
5. Get everyone in the company on the same page about your marketing goals. Using your buyer personas ensures that every product, service, blog post, marketing email, and customer service response is consistent in message and aligned with your customer’s needs and expectations. Metrics: internal performance metrics, efficiency of sales funnel
6. Segment your marketing efforts so you can target different personas and subsets of personas with the offers and content they’ll be most drawn to, making your marketing efforts generally more effective. Metrics: email open rate, email click-through rate, smart content clicks and conversions
7. Segment your marketing efforts internally, so you can spend your time and energy on attracting and retaining your most ideal customers, making your marketing more cost-effective. Metrics: customer retention, marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
8. "Pre-qualify" leads by attracting the right potential customers and setting up lead scoring to prioritize them. Buyer personas result in better leads that are more sales-ready, because you’re reaching the right people by leveraging what they want, rather than by pushing what you want. That's why personas also make automated lead-nurturing workflows more effective. Metric: sales qualified leads, close rate
Totally sold? Yeah, I thought so.
Crafting buyer personas comes down to really knowing who you’re talking to and then being disciplined and consistent about giving them exactly what they want. Your experience, website analytics, market research, social media interactions, and much, much more can help you create data-driven personas that will lead to increased traffic and sales.
Who wouldn’t want to make their marketing efforts more effective and targeted, increasing the return on investment for everything from emails and ebooks to blog posts and social media efforts?
If you're ready to get started, here's a good place to begin.
Editor's Note: This post has been updated. It was originally published on September 24, 2013.