What if we told you, there was a way to figure out what your ideal customer looks like? And no, it doesn’t involve stalking them. Enter the buyer persona. It’s incredibly helpful and valuable – especially when paired with a customer journey – because it lets you step into your customer’s shoes.
First things first: a definition.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal customers. Personas are backed up by market research and data from your existing buyers, taking into consideration demographics, motivations, goals and behaviour.
For example, say you own a company that builds homes. After doing some research, you have discovered that your ideal customer is mostly male and between the ages of 30 and 45. He might look a little something like this:
Naturally, this is only a snapshot to give you an idea. Your persona should be shaped by more data such as demographics, behaviour, pain points/challenges and so on (more on this later).
Why is a buyer persona important?
Attracting the right customers and making them happy is fundamental to any business on the planet. Without knowing who they are, inside and out, you’re at risk of missing both existing and prospective customers.
Why? Let’s look at the existing customer first (a person that has already bought a product/service from you). To be able to re-market to this customer or keep them engaged, you need to know how they act and think. Without this, they may turn to a competitor instead. On the other hand, for a prospective customer, you need to know how to tailor your content/messaging to engage them and make them convert (more on this later).
Because of this, buyer personas play a major role when it comes to structuring your digital and content marketing strategy. Your customers have a need, and you have the product or service. By creating the buyer persona and understanding their customer journey, you’re creating the perfect pathway to deliver your product/service to the people that need it.
How to create a buyer persona
Think of a buyer persona like making a delicious chocolate cake. You need all of the right ingredients and the right utensils. The same goes for a buyer persona. We’ll break down the process to make things easy.
Step 1: Get the right tools
To create a persona from your own website’s data, the easiest tool to use is Google Analytics. It tells you everything you need to know and there are plenty of tutorials to guide you through it step by step. If you can’t use Google Analytics or want to go old-school, then interviews, online surveys and focus groups are your go-to. You will also want to look at feedback from sales and customer service teams if you have those at your disposal. The more reliable and up to date information you can get, the better.
Step 2: Gather your information
This is the part where you get to know all of the nitty-gritty details about your customers. So you don’t get lost, just set up a quick ‘brain dump’ document where you can put all of this information. Make sure you have clear headings, otherwise you’ll be confused later on.
Start with your demographic information, such as:
- Annual income
After analysing your customers behaviour, then you can start to look at:
- Hobbies/what their interests are
- When they’re most active online
- What device they prefer to use (tablet, mobile phone or desktop)
- What social media platform they use the most
- Their relationship status
Finally, after some thinking, you’ll get to know their:
- Pain points and challenges
- Goals and motivations
Initially it looks like a lot, but as we already said – the more information you have, the better. So once you have all of this and you’re confident, it’s time to mould it all into a persona. To make it feel personal, give them a name (like our Aaron example) and a face. There are plenty of buyer persona templates out there on the internet, so you don’t have to be a graphic designer whizz to make one.
Ta-da! You have yourself a persona. From all of this, you will be able to determine if your ideal customer is a headstrong decision maker or prefers to follow the crowd. This persona is going to guide the kinds of content you create, will enable you to consider pain points and will address any questions or concerns your (actual) customer might have. It’s also going to give your sales team a major advantage when it comes to your marketing messages and social media marketing.
How does a buyer persona work with a customer journey?
A customer journey maps the process your buyer persona takes to become a customer. It tracks the individual touchpoints the persona encounters before making a purchase. A touchpoint is any interaction between the customer and your brand/product/service – from visiting your website, to reading a review of your product and more. These touchpoints are mapped to each stage of the marketing funnel: awareness, consideration and decision.
Knowing how your persona interacts with your brand before, during and even after they purchase from you is key to ensuring they’re satisfied every step of the way. This is where your content marketing and digital strategy come into play too. To step into your customer’s shoes and know exactly what questions they’re asking, which online channels they’re using and their behaviour – you need to understand the different stages.
The awareness stage
This is the first stage of the marketing funnel and of the customer journey. It’s where people become aware that they have a problem or they have a need that needs to be met.
For example, say that you own an accounting software company and your ideal customer is a small business owner. This business owner (your customer) has realised they need an effective system to deal with their finances. At this stage of their journey, they’re starting to search Google and want to understand more about what they’re looking for. They’re seeking information to answer questions or resolve pain points, so they’ll often turn to blog posts, social content and ebooks.
The consideration stage
The consideration stage is where the buyer persona knows they have a problem and they are trying to find the best solution. Through research and evaluation, they start to see if you’re the best choice. They start to ask questions like: does this solution have everything I need? Is it the best value for money?
While the awareness stage was about educating your persona, the consideration stage is about proving you’re better than your competitors. Your customers want to see that you’re the experts in your industry. To persuade them on to the decision stage, offer content like expert guides, webinars, whitepapers and case studies.
The decision stage
The last stage is where the persona is almost convinced you are the solution to their problems. To turn a lead (prospective customer) into a customer, you need to be aware of what they need to know before buying, what their concerns are and any objections they might have. You can persuade them to buy your product/service through tailored content. At this stage of their journey, this can include: case studies, trial offers, demos and content around your products/service (effective landing pages).
Personas and customer journeys are crucial to identifying and reaching your perfect customers. They also shape every part of your digital strategy, starting with keyword research and ending with ongoing content that is targeted, helpful and relevant.
If you don’t feel like your digital persona is quite up to scratch or you’re still a little lost, don’t worry. Personas take practice, dedication and a whole lot of love. Plus, there’s nothing worse than creating personas that doesn’t match your customers at all. So if you need some advice or have a burning question, we’re here to help.