Buyer personas have never been so important for businesses. No matter what you sell, buyer personas can inform your marketing strategy and help you to communicate the right message to the right people – making them particularly useful for your inbound marketing strategy.
In brief, a buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer that you create based on research into existing customers. But it goes beyond age, gender and other basic demographics, focusing on everything from what they do in their free time to the problems they are attempting to overcome.
So how do you identify them?1) Gather information on customer behaviour
Identifying buyer personas all starts by gathering information on your existing customers to identify trends. You can start by analysing your website analytics (either Google Analytics or another service) to find out:
- How your customers first arrived at your website
- The pages they visited
- The blog posts they read
- The items they purchased
Such information will provide you with useful insight into who your target customers really are and what they are looking for, forming the foundation of your customer personas.
If you don't have Google Analytics set up yet, you could gather information by researching your target customers on social media, such as asking questions related to your products or using surveys to gather information.
2) Reach out to existing customers
Next, you want to gather information on your customers by reaching out to them, and the best insights will be uncovered through interviewing them. So how should you do this?
- Follow up with positive reviews – when someone leaves you a good review or mentions you positively on social media, reach out to them and ask if they would mind answering some questions.
- Send an email – after a customer purchases a product, follow up with an email asking for feedback.
- Speak to them – ask customers if they would mind chatting for five minutes to answer some questions. You'll be amazed by the insights gleaned from a quick telephone call. You could even set up a small focus group to gain further insights.
Whatever your methods, your aim is to find out what they like – and dislike – about your business and your product so you can use this to build up more accurate buyer personas.
Part of the focus should be on identifying their goals and challenges. When you know what these are, you will know how your products and your content can help them to achieve their goals and overcome the problems they face.
A simple technique is to set up a quick survey on your website using SurveyMonkey or a similar tool that asks one simple question: What brought you here today? Alternatively, make that the first question you ask in your welcome email after someone subscribes to your list.
The answers provided will give you more insight to help you create your buyer personas.3) Time to get personal
As mentioned, a buyer persona goes deeper than basic demographics. To identify your buyer personas, you need to understand your customers in more depth.
Using surveys, emails, telephone calls and focus groups, find out more about their family life, whether they are single or married, what hobbies they enjoy, how they spend their weekends, the books they read, the websites they visit and the articles that they share on social media.
Everything is useful, and it will all help you to build up a better picture of who your ideal customer is.4) Get insights from your sales team
As well as talking to your customers and gathering feedback, you can also get some great insights from your sales team.
Your sales team work with new leads all the time, and they might have a huge amount of data to share with you. So ask them about the types of leads they have been talking to recently as well as the success rates they have with certain types of leads. Are there any characteristics that come up time and again?
Also ask them about your existing customers. Are there any specific details that the sales team notice about them?5) Bring your personas to life
Once you've gathered as much information as you can, the final stage in identifying your buyer personas involves bringing them to life.
Using your information, come up with a detailed profile for your ideal customer. Give them a name, a backstory, a job, hobbies, a weekly routine and more. Create an image of them to visually represent who they are.
You'll then have a guide you can use every time you create a piece of content or develop a new product or service.
Learn about buyer personas and inbound marketing
Creating a buyer persona can take time, but its importance should not be overlooked. These steps will help you to come up with yours so that you can target the people you want to reach more accurately, get greater insight into the keywords you should be targeting, and create content that engages them.
As you can imagine, buyer personas play a big role in any inbound marketing strategy. And we cover all you need to know in our free download Your Essential Guide to Inbound Marketing.