Every business needs to know who their ideal customers are and how to market to them – otherwise, you’re just blowing hot air around, and then nobody’s happy. In the world of inbound, these customer profiles are called buyer personas.
Understanding personas is pivotal to helping you understand what they’re looking for and how to attract them to your website in a helpful way. Because, let’s face it, at the end of the day website traffic is great, but you want the right kind; the qualified kind.
Let’s go into how you can conduct in-depth buyer persona research that will drive qualified visits.
Buyer Persona 101
So what exactly are buyer personas, you may ask? Simply put, they’re a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers. The true objective here is to base this off of market research and real data about your existing customers so you can accurately market to this person (or people).
Personas are the basis of everything you do as a digital marketer, so it’s extremely important to do your due diligence fleshing them out! Every campaign and effort put forth should begin with how it will resonate with your persona in the most helpful and convenient way.
When we onboard new clients, this is one of the very first steps we take to help paint an accurate picture of our objectives!
Consider personas a chalky outline to provide you guidelines on what to say, and how to say it.
Tip: Many businesses start off with 1-3 personas to hit their main ideal customers. We recommend that you begin with no more than 4-5, otherwise your marketing initiatives can become too spread out and not focused on any one group. That isn’t the most actionable or strategic way to move the needle.
Fleshing Out Personas
As I mentioned before, there are lots of approaches you can take to research and build out your persona’s skeleton.
The following is some useful data you’ll want to get for your personas:
- An Overview: Who is this person? What are they responsible for? What’s an average day in their shoes like?
- Industries: Are they in multiple? Consider all possibilities here
- Job Titles: What are all the titles that apply to this persona? If it’s c-suite or a Manager, be aware of this
- Demographic: What’s their age, and are they single/married? This helps truly flesh them out as a real person
- Location: Do they function nationwide, or globally?
- Goals: What are their aspirations and responsibilities? This usually consists of saving money, time, and increasing efficiency, among other things
- Pain Points/Challenges: This is HUGE – you need to know what they’re struggling with, so you can help
- Communication: Where do they spend their time online, or otherwise?
- Objections: What would be a reason they’d be against your solution/product/service? This is very important to be cognizant of
- Marketing Messaging: How can you curate a solution to them in an actionable way that shows it will make their lives easier?
While it can be easy to go overboard here, understand the above is a great basis on establishing a persona’s identity and the key elements you need to market to them.
This is a dynamic and constantly changing document that can be updated at any time. In fact, I highly suggest you review this every few months to make sure it hasn’t changed in line with your actual acquired customers!
Also, don’t be afraid to have an open dialogue with sales and other members of your team to ascertain information you may not inherently know. Sales has a fantastic pulse on knowing whether someone’s a good fit for the company or not – and making their lives easier will inevitably help yours in marketing to reinforce a return on investment for campaigns.
Attracting Qualified Traffic
Building out buyer personas is only the first step in establishing a strong inbound footprint. From there, you must use that data and curate campaigns that will attract these specific personas to your website and have them convert into a contact.
When it comes to converting, it all goes back to speaking their language – and having a content offer that resonates with their problem and provides a solution in order to build trust and rapport.
If you have a robust website and contact database already, go back to the metrics you currently have and figure out what’s worked, and what hasn’t. Then ask yourself how you can improve upon and update existing content to appeal more to your personas.
Don't forget to seek out your buyer personas on social media: From LinkedIn to Instagram, your buyer personas are out there, so make sure your content speaks to their interests.
Keep in mind, dear marketer, that it’s never a finished process. You'll always be examining the pieces of an inbound puzzle to figure out how to refine and strengthen the conversion path and user experience.
Unsure of where to start? Here are a few tips or starting points to consider:
- Consider using a pop-up on select site pages. Don’t be overly intrusive; rather, show them a new offer and succinctly tell them how it solves their pain point(s). If you’re using what Google calls “interruptive interstitials,” this can affect your site’s ranking – especially if you enable mobile pop-ups. This algorithmic change takes effect January 10, 2017, so keep that in mind! Check out this blog from HubSpot which relays what constitutes an interruptive interstitial.
- Implement heat-mapping software on your homepage or most popular pages to see where users are clicking/how they’re interacting with your site. Since you see the website frequently, they may provide you insights you never thought of due to overexposure.
- Use progressive profiling on your forms. This will help you gather additional information on contacts you may not have gotten on an initial form submission. After all, there’s the delicate Goldilocks balance of “too much,” versus “not enough,” that we battle constantly in order to find the optimal conversion rate.
- Attribute your contacts to a persona based on certain criteria. This will help you send more targeted campaigns (especially with lead nurturing workflows), and increases your chance of someone clicking through. It’s no secret that personalization and something that speaks directly to a person’s relevant interests are far more likely to get their attention.
There are hundreds of ways you can structure your strategies and approaches to get qualified traffic; the above are just a few you can use to get your brain cranking. I hope this was helpful for you and gets you on the road to creating and refining your personas!
Published on March 1, 2017