The Art of Creating Effective Buyer Personas for Inbound Marketing

July 05, 2018

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In my previous article, where I spoke about the origins of inbound marketing, I quoted the famous marketing guru, Peter F. Drucker.

He explained the whole purpose of marketing and the end result you should be aiming to achieve.

In Peter’s own words, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits them and sells itself.

After all, the first step isn't to develop your product, but to identify the right customer.

Everything else comes later.

In the context of this region, let's address a critical problem that’s faced by thousands of businesses in the UAE:

The lack of a well-defined target audience (or Buyer Personas in short)

Being a marketer myself, I can totally understand your frustration when it comes to the mammoth task of defining your target audience for running a successful lead generation campaign.

At the end of the day, why is this step so important?

Why do marketers have to go through the painful process of diving deep into the lives of their potential customers?

That's because, the most successful step in marketing any product or service is first defining the target audience you’ll be selling to.

If your “research” doesn’t cover the demographics, pain-points, aspirations and challenges of your future customers, what did you even research about then?

Assumptions that are masked as research are your business’ biggest enemy, simply because you’re marketing based on what you feel, instead of what the reality is.

Metaphorically speaking, shooting arrows in the dark isn’t the wisest way of winning an archery contest.

If you try to be everything to everyone, your brand will mean nothing and reach no-one.

So, the next time you ever plan a marketing campaign, plan the research process of defining your buyer personas first.

The rest of your campaign can follow.

Interestingly, a research by inbound marketing pioneer, Hubspot states that:

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What is a Buyer Persona, though?

Buyer personas are fictional profiles of potential customers that you create using details like age, gender, and demographics as well as intangible information like values, hobbies, likes/dislikes, challenges and so on.

You can create buyer personas in a couple of ways:

First, you can use the data of your existing customers to understand them even better and identify avenues to up-sell your products or services to them.

Remember, your current ideal customers are the biggest benchmarks of your buyer personas, so use that data wisely.

Second, you can create a wishlist of the type of customers you’d like to attract.

This is very helpful for running inbound marketing campaigns, writing content for your website and generating leads online.

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By having these documented buyer personas, tracking the objectives and results of your marketing activities is easier than just assuming the market’s sentiment.

For example, if you sit down to write an article for your website’s blog, it’s way easier to write for one well-defined person with a fictional name & lifestyle, rather than for “men from high-income households, urban lifestyle & aged between 25-34”

By having a mental framework of who your content is aimed at, you’ll be able to gauge the quality and effectiveness of your content.

This in turn, will further help you anticipate the responsiveness of your buyer persona towards the action you’ve wanted them to undertake.

At some point in time, you’ll have to use both these approaches to maximize your revenue because your business cannot thrive on a singular, mono-dimensional approach of satisfying only 1 group of audience.


The importance of Buyer Personas in digital & inbound marketing:

The internet is becoming overly-customized using tactics such as retargeting, tracking codes, artificial intelligence and behavior-based discounts.

Your potential customers have, therefore, become extremely observant and reactive about the type of content that appeals to them.

So, if you want to monetize your digital marketing presence, do your business a favor and create detailed buyer personas with pin-point accuracy, if possible.

Your conversion rates will thank you for this.

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Now that we’re clear about the concept of Buyer Personas and why they’re sacrosanct for marketing, let me shed some light on the “hows” of buyer persona creation.


20 questions you need to ask to create an effective buyer persona:

  1. Describe their personal demographics

  2. Describe their educational background

  3. Describe their career path

  4. In which industry or industries does their company operate?

  5. What is the size of their company?

  6. What is their job role? And their title?

  7. Whom do they report to? And who reports to them?

  8. How is their job measured?

  9. What does a typical day look like?

  10. Which skills are required to do their job?

  11. What knowledge and which tools do they use in their job?

  12. What are their biggest challenges?

  13. What are they responsible for?

  14. What does it mean to be successful in their role?

  15. How do they learn about new information for their job?

  16. Which publications or blogs do they read?

  17. Which associations and social networks do they participate in?

  18. How do they prefer to interact with vendors?

  19. Do they use internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do they search for them?

  20. Describe a recent purchase of theirs.

Now that you know WHAT to ask, let’s discuss HOW to ask these questions.

In other words, how to gather the data required to create effective buyer personas for your business?

1) Have a chat with your existing customers.

Talking to your existing customers is one of the best ways to gather quality, unambiguous data.

You can ask these questions either in person, through phone calls or an email survey.

Make sure you value the insights of both good & bad customers, because an unhappy customer is a great source of valuable intel for improvement and creating content that resonates with them.

2) Make sense of your website’s analytics.

Google analytics provides a decent amount of information about the behavior and demographics of your website visitors (potential customers). 

By studying this data carefully, you can trace the behavior and source of your website visitors.

Here’s a great resource to understand buyer persona creation using Google Analytics.

3) Monitor your social media platforms

As underrated as this may be, social media is packed with valuable, qualitative data about your target market and their pain points.

Monitor the behavior of your fans and customers towards your social media posts. Take note of their complaints, grievances and suggestions.

Not only does this help you understand their sentiment, it also gives you a peek into their professional roles and job functions.

Keeping a close eye on the followers and fans of your close competitors is another great way to gather data on your ideal customers.

You can these use this data to create content that provides solutions to the most common ailments of your buyer personas.

4) Sit with your sales team and customer support executives.

Since these two teams are usually the first point of contact for your customers and prospects, the data they possess is of great depth and value.

Their regular interaction with leads and customers gives them a deep understanding of the market and the reaction towards your offerings.

So, set up regular meetings with the sales and customer service execs to get insights into data that might’ve been missed from other research sources.

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Some great examples of Buyer Personas:

Starting this exercise from scratch can be challenging, especially when you've never done this before in a documented manner.

Luckily, there are loads of companies who have created effective buyer personas that delivered incredible results. 

Here are a few great examples of buyer personas that ticked most of the boxes.

Enjoy the inspiration.

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Conclusion:

I hope this article has been instrumental in explaining the "what, why and how-tos" of effective buyer persona creation. 

Arm yourself with the questions and examples in this article to re-look at your business' marketing strategy and improve communication with your target audience. 

This isn't a one-time exercise that'll set you up for years to come.

An agile marketer and visionary business owner like you will have to continuously revisit this exercise to stay on top of changing consumer behaviors.

You might face a few hurdles on the way, but rest assured that everything that happens is a learning process. 

Good luck!

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