Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your real buyers. Personas help you better understand your target users and their user journeys. They can provide a structure to your marketing efforts – engaging and navigating your prospective customers, as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves.
Buyer personas resemble your most engaged customers. And, just as any real customer, they need special attention. Take the time to develop detailed buyer personas, and you’ll get a solid return on your investment – you will be able to map the user journey better, create content that meets the needs of your prospects and nurtures them down the user journey, and build brand bias to help with conversions.
Check out this step-by-step guide for creating custom-tailored buyer personas for your brand. You’ll learn:
- What is a buyer persona
- Why you need them
- How to create your personas in 5 simple steps
- What free tools and resources you can use to develop your buyer personas
- SaaS buyer personas
- Examples of buyer personas we’ve helped clients create
- How to apply buyer personas to your business and marketing processes
What Exactly Are Buyer Personas?
Defining who your buyer personas are is an essential part of building your brand’s digital strategy. Let’s start with a simple definition. According to Hubspot, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
A buyer persona is a collective representation of your typical client with their background, needs and wants, and their specific digital behavior. They are also referred to as customer, brand, or user personas.
Does that mean that if you randomly pick one of your clients’ digital profiles, it could serve as a good buyer persona?
Not quite. You would need to analyze way more than just one profile, find similar traits, and narrow them down to several typical clients. They would represent your ideal buyers in a way, but enriched with real-life characteristics and segmented in different buyer personalities.
Why Do You Need Buyer Personas?
The key to any successful marketing or branding campaign is understanding your audience. This is where buyer personas come in handy.
Crafting and using your buyer personas ensures that all brand communication – app content, website copy, marketing creatives – are tailored to the user’s needs. Working out a content marketing strategy without really knowing your personas, for example, can be risky and fruitless.
Your audience demographics, needs, goals, etc. work together to form a bigger picture – the buyer personas that you can apply to any of your business processes. Ultimately, this valuable data would help you achieve 8 desired outcomes:
- Improve your products and services
- Develop new ones
- Make your marketing efforts count
- Tap into new audiences
- Increase brand visibility
- Increase your conversion rates
- Boost customer satisfaction
- Achieve a higher customer retention rate
The persona research process itself will help you better understand and address your prospects’ needs. Understanding the persona’s behavior also empowers you to optimize your website for both search engines and user experience. Simply make sure your website provides content that addresses specific buyer persona needs.
How to Create Buyer Personas in 5 Steps
Ready to start building your buyer personas? Here is what you need to do:
Step 1. Research your current customers. Understand their needs and their problems
Step 2. Research your target audience. Understand their goals and pain points
Step 3. Identify repeating traits
Step 4. Decide on several separate personas
Step 5. Provide specifics for your personas (customer avatars)
Let’s dive into the customer research process.
Current Customers Research: Tools and Techniques
Collect as much data as possible from your current clients’ database. Any feedback forms, frequently asked questions, and client-facing team’s insights are priceless. You could use:
- Customers feedback
- Sales and customer support teams insights
- Focus groups
- Online (email) and offline surveys (at meetings, market places, fairs, etc.)
You’re looking for answers to these basic questions:
- Who are your brand’s typical clients?
- How did they come across your website? What were they looking for?
- Why did they choose your product/services over the competitors?
- How do they use your product/service?
- How do they feel about your brand now?
- How do they communicate with you?
- What do they say online about your brand?
To develop distinctly unique personas, really the best way is first-hand research. Phone interviews with loyal customers or online questionnaires are the most efficient way to get loads of useful information.
Source: Single Grain
What to Ask Current Customers When Creating Buyer Personas
Your current customers are indispensable in developing your personas. They have their own stories – reach out and ask them how and why they chose you. Use the questionnaire below to get their valuable insights:
- Demographics: Age, location, education, income level
- For B2B: Industry, company size, job title
- What were they looking for, when they first became aware of your services
- What was their main challenge
- How did they discover you – via which channels or platforms
- Which competitors were they also researching
- Why did they choose your brand over your competitors
- How are they using your product/service
- How is your brand helping them achieve their goals or solve their challenges
- What was their experience when they first started using your app/landed on your website? How can you improve?
- How can you improve your services to help them achieve their goals
Get Audience Insights From Analytics Tools
You can level up your research by turning to the most efficient digital tools for audience insights. Go on and gather some more data on your customer personas by using:
- Google Analytics – Audience Report, Behavior Flow, User Explorer
The Audience report in Google Analytics can help you acquire valuable data about the people visiting your website. “Demographics” and “Interests” are just a part of this report. The behavior metrics show new vs. returning customers. You can track to what extent you encourage first-time users to return to your website.
“User Explorer” helps you examine an individual client’s behavior based on their user ID. For further information, check this overview of the standard reports in Google Analytics by Search Engine Watch.
- Google Adwords Affinity Categories and In-Market Segments
Affinity categories reveal more about what users are passionate about. You can use them to reach certain groups based on their interests and behaviors. The in-market segments are for users with recent purchase intent. Google Ads Help gives more details on the topic.
- Google Search Console – Organic Queries
The organic queries within Google Search Console show what your clients type in the search bar to land on your website. You can easily see how people discover you and what phrases they use to find your content. Use this data to learn more about the searcher’s intent and to optimize their website content for search.
- Facebook Audience Insights
Facebook Audience Insights gathers data about clients on Facebook in general and tracks users that visit certain pages on the platform. If you have a business page on Facebook, this tool can help you find more users similar to your existing audience. The insights show information on demographic aspects, people’s interests, hobbies, and lifestyle. Learn more about audiences on Facebook for Business.
- SimilarWeb Audiences
SimilarWeb is another platform that offers additional insights into your website’s audience. You can find what other sites people visit in the same browsing session they used to check your webpage. By having your domain analyzed by SimilarWeb, you can discover new audiences similar to your current one.
Put these analytics tools to use to gather useful information and create strong, data-driven customer profiles. Next, segment them and put a name and a face to each of your buyer personas.
Ready-to-Use Buyer Persona Tools and Templates
Once you’ve gathered all the data you need, start building up your unique customer personas. For this task, you could use any one of the ready-made online solutions. Developing and visualizing your personas has never been easier. And it’s fun, too. Here are our top 3 picks you could test out:
HubSpot’s tool is free, user-friendly and you don’t need to sign up in order to access it.
Your first step will be to go through a sign up on the Xtensio website. You can then select a free plan to access the persona generator.
The online tool requires you to create an account with UXPressia. Apart from creating buyer personas, you can also build customer journey maps and impact maps.
Feeling like a game character designer? Playing with these tools is fun, but how do you know if you’ve done enough?
How Many Personas Should You Create?
Remember, it’s quality over quantity. If you’re new to personas, start small. It should be enough to have 3 or 4 buyer personas that account for 90% of a company’s sales.
Plus, you can always build more later if your business products and goals become more diverse, or audiences – segmented.
SaaS Buyer Personas
Getting the buyer personas right can help SaaS businesses target their high-value customers. To do that, there are 7 points that any SaaS marketer should keep top-of-mind while researching users and segmenting the data:
- What is the price this buyer persona is willing to pay?
- What is the estimated Lifetime Value (LTV) of that persona?
- What is the estimated Customer acquisition cost (CAC) of that persona?
- What are the 2 main marketing channels used to reach this buyer?
- Is this persona the decision-maker? If not, who is?
- Which 2 features do they use the most? The least?
This information can help SaaS growth managers focus their resources where it matters most – on high LTV customers.
For B2B SaaS, a good way of structuring your persona types is by their decision-making power. You could group them into daily users, managers, and executives that give the final sign-off. And while it might seem like the executives are the best persona to target, the daily users and managers are usually the ones out searching for your SaaS product first.
Buyer Persona Examples
So, what should your buyer personas look like in the end? Let’s have a look at some persona examples we at Hop Online helped our clients create.
For a SaaS cloud telephone solution, we’ve identified 4 main personas – a sales director, customer support manager, and biz dev. We’ve listed goals and pain points, information needs, and roadblocks for each of these personas.
B2B and B2C buyer personas examples vary greatly from industry to industry. To see the full picture, though, it’s time to introduce you to the negative buyer persona types.
The Negative Buyer Persona
Why take time to think about the negative buyer personas? Surely, by now you’ve done enough work to define your focus audiences.
The negative buyer type has an underestimated value in most marketing efforts. In reality, a negative buyer persona is just as useful as your ideal customer.
Defining what users you don’t want to attract to your website helps limit any wasteful marketing efforts. If your campaigns are bringing in negative buyer persona look-alikes, you’d know immediately to stop and re-align them.
How to Use Your Buyer Personas to Increase Sales and ROI?
By now, you have set clear outlines for specific buyers and have turned them into buyer persona examples. You are at the final stage. It’s time for you to see the personas in action.
Apply Them to Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
Get the most of your buyer personas. Add it to your marketing strategies:
- Choose the right marketing channels, platforms, and formats according to your personas
- Personalize and fine-tune your messaging – address their goals and roadblocks
- Distribute better your advertising budget
- Optimize landing pages for personas
- Audit your existing content for persona alignment
- Create content for your personas’ needs on their journey from the top to the bottom of the funnel and get relevant traffic.
- Apply dynamic content strategy to your website for different personas
On a larger scale, you can achieve great results with client personas beyond your customers. The insights these characters bring are important for the people you work with.
Align Team Efforts With Personas’ Help
You’ve created a powerful tool to align business development and marketing processes across your organization. Sharing this knowledge with your team members can help them better understand various audience groups.
Designers can create better UX with these personas in mind. The customer service team could adjust the buyer personas to real-life scenarios, fuelling better internal processes to handle clients’ roadblocks. Your sales experts would be enabled to build rapport with prospects faster. Those two teams would be the first to provide great feedback on how personas work for your business.
Boost ROI With Buyer Personas
The positive effect of using buyer personas is well-documented. Customer personas help businesses focus on their clients’ needs and develop more personalized communication – a win-win outcome for both you and your clients. Let’s check what some interesting statistics are showing:
- 58% of all revenue is generated by segmented and targeted emails – DMA
- An average increase of 20% is tracked in sales when using personalized web experiences. – Monetate
- 39% of marketers reported seeing “major uplift” from personalization in search engine marketing (SEM), – eConsultancy
- 71% of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas – Cintell
- A buyer persona is the 2nd most popular criteria for segmenting content, with #1 being product/service category – B2B Marketing Report
How Often Do You Need to Revise Your Personas?
Buyer personas should be revisited every 1 to 4 years. They are as dynamic as your business.
Are you planning any improvements to your business model? Perhaps you have a product launch scheduled, or you plan to enter new markets. Take a look at your personas too. You can be a few steps ahead by continuously tracking:
- Changes in user demographics and interaction patterns
- Technology updates that are related to your brand and audience
Done building your buyer personas? Stay tuned for more digital strategy ideas.