Take a minute and ask yourself this one simple question: do I really know who I’m selling my products/services to?
If you answered no, this guide is for you. Even if you answered yes, this guide is still for you. The reason is, even if you think you know who your audience is, chances are there are many segments of your customers you might not be properly focusing on, and they are costing you clicks, conversions, and ultimately revenue.
Buyer personas (also known as marketing personas) account for a 200-500% increase in website effectiveness and ease of use.
This is precisely why creating buyer personas for your business is crucial. Even if you are profitable now, there’s a very high chance you are leaving money on the table if you haven’t fleshed out each of your different buyers and targeted them specifically.
What Exactly is a Buyer Persona?
To put it simply, it’s a fictitious representation of a segment of your customers. Personas are a compilation of what a specific group of customers like, don’t like, where they spend their time, what they spend their time doing, and what their needs are.
Depending on what it is you sell, you could have anywhere from two to 50 buyer personas. That’s the beauty of them; they allow you to segment out a very specific section of your customers and tailor your content and marketing efforts to that specific section.
Why are Buyer Personas Important?
Let’s say you sell a large variety of shoes to both men and women of varying age, nationality, and social class. If you build your website as one giant “catch-all” for every demographic, you are losing out on lots of sales because it isn’t reflective of the tastes of your individual customers.
What if instead you built out different sections of your site to accommodate different buyer personas? Say you have a large contingent of customers who are middle-aged, active men. You could build out an entire category of your site devoted to this that features running shoes, basketball shoes, soccer shoes, and more.
You could even take it one step further and segment that out to each specific sport to truly customize your content to each group. Set up an “NBA Street” style page that targets those who play basketball and are looking for relatable content. Doing this makes customers feel like you really understand them and gives them a level of comfort with your business.
You can even tailor your content to incredibly specific demographics if they drive enough sales. For instance, what if you get a lot of business from women in Spain who are interested in some of your high-fashion sandals and heels?
You could create a section on your site that shows off these specific shoes/brands, and even custom tailor it with photos of women in the Mediterranean. You can add descriptions that speak specifically to this group that will make their buying experience personable and memorable. This is the ultimate way to get repeat customers and garner both brand loyalty and excellent customer reviews.
Buyer personas are the perfect opportunity to customize your user experience and make each customer feel like they are a special snowflake. They’re actionable, and they work.
In 2012, Skytap, a provider of cloud automated solutions, instituted a tailored marketing strategy focused on buyer personas and created content for their specific groups of buyers. From this, they saw a 210% increase in site traffic, a 55% increase in organic search traffic, and a 73% increase in online marketing opportunities year over year.
How do I Create a Buyer Persona?
Now that you see the importance of buyer personas, how do you go about creating them?
The first step is to segment your audience. Go through Google Analytics Audience data, scour your contact database, and look through your list of clients/customers. Create groups from this that target a very specific audience based on factors that are important for your business.
For example, going back to shoes, you could set up groups based on age, activity, nationality, interest, gender, etc. You can further define these by combining attributes together. For instance, you can target 30-45 year old fashionista women from North America in one group, or 50+ year old men from Europe who are into soccer in another.
Once you’ve got your base groups established, it’s time to collect data. This is done in several ways: surveys, interviews, and straight research.
One of the simplest and most straightforward ways to collect this data is right on your website. Create forms that help you to collect this pertinent information. For the shoe example, have customers fill out a quick survey on the sports/activities they are involved in during checkout.
If they’ve bought something in the past 90 days, you could also send them a survey asking for feedback, and include some of your targeted questions in it. You’d be surprised how many happy customers willingly fill out surveys, especially if they are incentivized with a coupon or discount on their next purchase, even a small one.
You can also interview people to gain more insight. A good place to start is with your customers. They are a valuable asset and it’s especially easy to garner interviews from those customers who have written you reviews, good or bad. They are far more willing to take the time to do a phone interview if they’ve already written something about you.
This also makes customers feel like you truly value their opinion. Often, this can turn a negative customer into one who will reevaluate and give you a second chance if they feel you actually care about them and their opinion.
Another option is to set up focus groups, which can be done through a variety of marketing agencies both in-house and online. These are very useful because they can pull the exact demographics you are looking for, but also will incorporate those who might not know about your company and can give you an outside perspective.
These are just some of the basic ways to set up buyer personas. There is definitely a time commitment to creating them, but the results speak for themselves. If your company hasn’t begun working on this yet, what are you waiting for? It’s never too late to start!