It’s hard to believe that we have already reached the middle of February, which means that we should all be entrenched in our 2016 marketing strategies. At BCAMA, we are excited to see what 2016 will bring in terms of marketing trends, and we look forward to writing more posts on industry-related topics. This year, to ride on the coattails of our Thought Leadership Series, we want to cover more topics and provide our readers with insight into the trends that are impacting BC’s marketing community.
Our first topic will take us back to a very important step that is extremely critical for your brand, for your marketing strategy and, ultimately, for the success of your business. This crucial step, which is overlooked by many marketers, is defining your buyer persona. These buyer personas, or the fictional representatives of our customers, are critical to many aspects of your business – including marketing, content creation, product development, sales, customer acquisition and, ultimately, customer service. If we can better relate to the customers we are trying to attract, we will have a better chance of getting their attention.
It’s possible that your company may not have a clearly defined persona, or maybe you have one that’s been around for so long that he has become “Bob” who likes “widgets”. Regardless, it’s likely time to revisit your buyer persona to make sure that your marketing efforts are on track to target your ideal customer. You may have become so accustomed to your persona that you haven’t taken the time lately to make sure that he/she/they still make sense for your brand.
When is the last time that you sat down and thought about who your buyer is? About what he does, where she lives, how he researches products and services, and what kind of content she consumes? Do you know every intricate detail of your customer well enough to enable you to segment your persona and then tailor content, marketing and services to his or her needs?
Identifying your buyer personas – why it’s important
Think about it – if you don’t know who your customers are, how can you properly market to them? Getting a clear picture of who your buyers are will help you make a human connection with them. Making this connection and knowing what makes your customer tick will increase your chances of getting their attention.
It’s not uncommon for companies to neglect to identify their ideal customer and then wonder why their marketing tactics aren’t working. Blindly launching marketing campaigns without a clear indication of what your customers are looking for, how they research a purchase and what information they look for when they are making a purchase can be detrimental to the success of your campaign. If you don’t know your customer, how can you provide them with the content that they are looking for? If you need proof, consider the following:
Web – Using marketing personas made websites 2–5 times more effective, and made it easier for the targeted customers to use the websites.
Email – Tailoring email campaigns to buyer personas garners 2x the open rate and 5x the click-through rate; personalized emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.
Content – The top 3 drivers of blog content strategy include buyer personas, audience demographics and buying stages.
So why are only 44% of companies using buyer personas? And why are 85% of these companies not using them effectively? Whether time, resources or lack of expertise is the reason, now is the time to identify your buyer personas and then implement them in your 2016 planning. Following are some tips to keep in mind when creating your buyer personas.
Research your customer
Gather information on your past, current and potential customers, as well as on your non-customers. Ask your customer-facing departments like sales and customer service to provide you with some insight. Ask them if there are customers you can contact and interview. When you are asking persona-related questions, this is also a good time to ask questions that can help you uncover ways to improve your business. Remember to interview the good, the bad and the ugly – you will get more constructive information from a scorned customer than you will from a content one. If you want to know how you can improve, talk to a dissatisfied customer.
Surveys and focus groups of 6–8 people are also a good way to help uncover traits and information about your ideal customer. Use forms in your content marketing to capture persona information. Request information in exchange for a download – but be careful not to scare customers away by asking too many questions.
What to uncover when identifying your persona
- Career – What do they do for a living?
- Education – What is their education level?
- Income level – What is their income range?
- Geographic locale – Where do they live?
- Age – How old are they?
- Gender – What is their gender?
- Relationship status – What is their relationship status?
- Interests – What are their interests? Where do they hang out?
- Buyer preferences – Where do they shop?
- Buying motivation – What is their reason for buying your product?
- Buying concerns – What are their concerns when buying your product?
- Pain points – What problems are they looking to solve?
- Lifestyle – What does their typical day look like?
- Shopping habits – How do they shop: in person, on the phone or via websites?
- Research habits – How do they research their products and services, and how does your customer find you?
Analyze your customer data to gain insights – review your market research, website analytics and stats on your customer base, and compile the information from your interviews and surveys. You will find similarities in the answers that will help you categorize your buyer personas. Once you have compiled all of your information, it’s time to narrow things down and select your key buyer personas based on the demographics, behaviour and lifestyle information you have collected. You may have one buyer persona, or you may have three – it really depends on your business. Clearly defining your buyer persona or personas is the first step to a successful marketing strategy.
If you are wondering, what a buyer persona looks like? Here’s an example of Sample Sally, courtesy of Hubspot.
Image Source: Hubspot
Once you have identified your buyer persona, you will be ready to map your buyer journey. Check back here later – in a future post, we’ll cover the steps you should take to map your ideal customer’s journey.