Great content is, well, great, but content marketing can’t thrive on content alone. You see, each piece of content needs to target a specific audience segment, and have well-defined goals and objectives. To be effective, it needs to resonate with the intended customer segment, and lead that segment towards a purchase. Buyer personas are well-established mechanisms for making this happen. And a data management platform (DMP) can make building those personas even easier.
What exactly are buyer personas?
Essentially, buyer personas are an archetypical representation of your customers. You can have multiple buyer personas, especially if your product serves a variety of different industries, or has tiered service structures – think MS Office Home vs. MS Office Professional. Your different user bases are not going to share all the same concerns, objectives, use cases, etc. So, you can’t expect one persona to encapsulate all of your customers.
How do you get started?
This is where a (DMP) can kick-start the process. Use the DMP to analyze your existing customers and leads. You should have the ability to track trends across criteria like company size, annual revenue, industry, etc. You can also analyze at the individual level for decision makers, influencers, or your point of contact within each company. Take into account information like age, gender, location, and any behavioral data you might have.
This is all pretty top-level stuff. It doesn’t adequately account for the psychological components of purchasing behavior. But, it does help you quickly break your database into broader segments that you can then further analyze and research.
Surveys, Interviews, and Questionnaires
This is where you really start to define your buyer personas in the necessary level of detail. Create a list of questions. Ask about your customers’ motivations for choosing your brand. What problem were they trying to solve? How does your product help them solve those problems? Questions like these will help you unlock the psychology behind your typical customer’s purchasing process. HubSpot has a few examples of questions you can ask when building buyer personas.
Now, identify your highest value customers, and ask them these questions in an interview. If they’re happy with your product, they should be more than willing to help you out with a brief interview. If they aren’t happy with your product, well, you have bigger problems to solve.
You could also work these questions into a survey or questionnaire that you send out to current customers. Depending on response rate, this approach can yield a large amount of viable research very quickly. Another approach is joining your sales team on calls to get a sense of the mindset of potential customers. Listen to the things they like about your product, the questions they ask, and their objections.
Once you feel that you have enough research, beginning building your buyer personas. These personas should essentially look like several segments grouped along criteria like goals (the challenges they want your product to solve), behaviors (their interactions with your marketing), and demographic data.
After your personas are constructed, go back into your DMP and apply a unique identifier for each of these personas. Now you can segment both your leads and customers along these identifiers. Once you send campaigns that target these personas, apply these identifiers to any leads that come in. With this process, you can easily nurture leads on a persona basis, rather than segmenting on potentially meaningless criteria.
It’s a good idea to limit the number of personas you actually create. Somewhere between two and four personas is right for most organizations. You could have more if you’re selling a complex product, but you don’t want to complicate the issue needlessly.
It also pays to think of these personas as if they are real people, not characters you’ve created. Do whatever it takes to make that happen. Do some roleplaying skits, have an artistically talented team member draw pictures of each persona and hang the pictures on your office’s walls, or give them names and try to reference them by those names in your marketing meetings.
Like most aspects of lead generation, buyer personas work best when you first test, measure, and iterate with smaller campaigns. You need to determine if your personas are accurate, and if you’re using the right pieces of content to market to those personas. As always, once you hit on the right formula, roll out the campaign on a much larger scale.