Are you frustrated with the lack of responses and results from your marketing efforts?
Unless your marketing campaign results have hockey-sticked over the past 12 months, then chances are that you’re missing a very important step – persona building.
In this article you will find a complete and detailed persona building guide to help yield better, longer-lasting results from your online marketing efforts.
Building meaningful personas for your marketing outreach efforts can mean the success or failure of future campaigns. The process of creating a marketing persona allows you to gain deeper insights into the minds of your consumers, and these profiles subsequently can be leveraged to create content that connects with your audience on a deeper level.
With any luck, you’ll build online authority for your site, and you’ll increase leads and conversions.
Developing personas that truly have meaning, however, is a task that requires the joint effort of every department at your disposal. If you’re a business owner, you owe it to your company to commit this guide to memory.
Building personas is a team effort across all areas of your business. Each department, team lead, and decision-maker has key insights into your customer base, and they’re attuned to the attitudes and beliefs that motivate these individuals to buy your products.
You can’t have too many opinions at this stage of the project.
Here are the main groups that you should include:
The goal at this stage is to facilitate interaction among these groups. You don’t want opinions given in a vacuum where other segments of your business don’t get a chance to hear them. Don’t conduct anonymous surveys, either. Active participation in real time is the only way to get the honest answers that you need to create compelling personas.
Structure and order in your initial brainstorming efforts for persona creation are vital for every person (and every group) to have a clear voice in development. Get all of these aforementioned groups together in the same room.
If you have stakeholders outside of easy driving distance, have them join the meeting digitally via Skype or other call-in service. Arm yourself with a dry-erase whiteboard, corresponding markers, and post-it notes in every color available.
The first brainstorming meeting should focus on identifying need assumptions within your customer base.
Have each person in all groups write what they believe are the needs of your target market on post-it notes in the following categories:
Organize each group’s responses to these categories on your dry-erase board by post-it note color. Discuss them openly among the group with every team member giving feedback. No one should stay silent at this phase. Eliminate from the board any proposed customer needs that the group considers invalid. Keep those customer needs that get two or three votes from your team as “true,” and put them on the board underneath their relevant categories.
Repeat the process from your first brainstorming session, but focus on the psychological makeup of your customers and their demographics. The physiological motivations of your potential customers or clients are powerful elements in shaping your personas.
Segmenting by demographics will help you understand your product’s reach as well as the geographic and economic factors that make up your target market.
Here’s what you need to focus on for round two:
Order feedback in the same way as your first meeting, with the group voting for opinions that they consider valid and cutting the pieces that don’t hold water. Match these roughly defined groups to the categories that you established from the previous session.
Do older buyers focus more on pricing barriers than your younger customers? Do families using your items have different goals than those who are single?
You should start to see patterns emerge to help drive the creation of your marketing personas.
The third meeting of your brainstorming cohort should focus on data that backs up the opinions gathered from your previous two get-togethers. This is an area where your marketing team can shine by presenting their customer satisfaction surveys and internal studies of sales.
You can also include information gathered from testing user experience and interaction on your e-commerce website, if your business has one, via third-party programs.
Assumptions that lack substantive information shouldn’t make it past this phase.
If you find that many of the assumptions that your group labeled as “true” don’t have supporting data, you may need to change your groupings. Missing or outright absent customer data could also mean that the group’s notions of your business don’t line up with consumer opinion in your target market.
As marketers like to say, customers tend to vote with their wallets. Sales numbers are the easiest to quantify for your purposes here.
Adjust your groups as necessary until every assumption has at least one verifiable data point to back it up. This step is essential for focusing your marketing efforts to target personas that actually exist.
Don’t pour all your efforts into a fictitious customer group or take action based on pure opinion.
If you lack facts to back up your assumptions about your emerging personas, there’s still one more place that you can go to obtain the unvarnished truth: your following on social media.
Your business should have its own Facebook page and Twitter account (at minimum).
Log in and review the comments and tweets about your products and the experiences that customers have had at your stores. Reach out to users who express their frustrations and ask them what your company can do to improve. Talk to visitors who love your business and ask what factors influenced them to become fans of your brand.
Keep these things in mind:
Customers who have concerns about your business and take to social media to voice them are giving you a valuable opportunity. Showing a willingness to respond to these customers and address their issues with real action can turn these people into more than just a revenue stream.
They can be transformed from vocal agitators into cheerleaders for your brand, attracting people from their own social circles to your company.
Subsequently, if you can build these concerns into your personas, you’ll likely be increasing your chances of making this happen through your marketing outreach.
Give each pattern of needs and customer attributes a name and title that corresponds with relevant information that you’ve verified from the previous steps.
Imagine a typical person from each group as a character to make the persona seem more real for you and the rest of your business.
Each one that your team creates will represent a distinct archetype of a potential customer. Depending on your data pool from your past brainstorming, you should have enough to create between three and 10 unique profiles.
Here are some examples of what your basic personas should look like:
Above all else, just focus on what matters here. Don’t worry about creating a flawless representation of each persona. You want to craft them to have accurate portrayals of each group’s buying motivations, but don’t toil over the minutia.
Focusing on nuanced details such as a specific age (as opposed to an age group) bogs down the creation process and can lead to missteps.
With your personas created, you can start to estimate the number of customers who potentially fall into them. Using quantitative research, establish how users within your personas behave. You’ll once again reach out to your customers, but you’ll use more targeted methods to get information from them than your qualitative research.
Leverage these methods to return precise feedback:
Knowing what personas your business regularly encounters helps your marketing team focus their efforts. Forming strategies to target personas that your salespeople see all the time can help you solidify revenue in your strongest target market.
You can also develop tactics to earn customers from personas that your business encounters less often.
Understanding where each persona fits along your marketing funnel is vital for your content creation and public relations teams. When you know what behaviors indicate buying signals or a willingness to spend, you can develop strategies to move each persona along the funnel.
You can also create content that addresses persona concerns as they move down the funnel, increasing sale chances. Outreach, as a direct result of your team’s increased knowledge, becomes more effective.
Here are the important stages of the marketing funnel and how personas can match them:
The factors leading up to the purchase decision change with the persona. Where one persona may only purchase based on her or his immediate need for your product, another might buy simply because her or his friends are doing the same thing.
Develop an action plan to target each persona’s needs and considerations along the marketing funnel so you can close a sale in all identified circumstances.
Planning to catch a persona at each stage of the marketing funnel is important for every phase of your business, from marketing down to the employees on the sales floor. Think about the actions that personas take at each stage of the funnel and devise a concrete plan to win them over.
Use these examples to strengthen your own marketing outreach efforts and content:
You’ve done all the hard work to create your marketing personas, and now your teams are implementing marketing strategies across your brand. However, the question remains: Do they work?
Measuring return on investment (ROI) for outreach efforts isn’t about winning a quick buck or instant success.
Your departments — sales, product development, and marketing — need time to put out content to attract new customers and adjust tactics to close sales. Not every effort that your business implements will succeed, and that’s part of the process.
Testing conversion rates for campaigns provides insight into how right your personas are and what you might need to adjust:
It’s important to remember that persona building is not something you do once. It’s a process that requires an open feedback loop for frequent updating.
Personas, just like your customers, are never stagnant.
You’ll need to update their profiles on a continual basis to keep up with emerging trends, new products, and changing economic times.
Staying diligent in your upkeep can help make sure that your business doesn’t send the right message to the wrong market segment.
With well built personas, not only will your marketing will become more effective, but your sales and customer service teams will do as well. Understanding your customers inside and out is vital to building a great, long-lasting business.
Go ahead and start creating your personas now (make sure to grab our FREE persona building template to make things even easier) or let us know if you need help by commenting below or requesting a consultation with us.
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