“Patching together actionable information about your customers with gut feelings, good intentions and some duct tape is not a recipe for conversion success… The problem with many personas is that they are either based on irrelevant data, poorly sourced data, or no data at all.”
Jennifer Havice, ConversionXL
Having a clear understanding of who your customers are, what motivates them and what problems they need solved is the crux of any successful marketing or sales funnel. Misjudge your audience, their motives, likes and dislikes and you stand to lose big, call it the Pepsi effect.
How well do you really know your customers? Are your marketing and sales teams aligned in their understanding of a high-value lead versus a low-value prospect? If the answers to these questions aren’t at the top of mind, it’s time to re-evaluate your company’s buyer persona.
Most of us will have heard of the term, ‘buyer persona’, in some context or another. But just as a refresher, Adele Revella, founder of the Buyer Persona Institute describes it as –
“Actionable buyer personas reveal insights about your buyers’ decisions — the specific attitudes, concerns and criteria that drive prospective customers to choose you, your competitor or the status quo.”
Buyer persona, also known as customer persona, are fictional representations of your ideal customers. Buyer persona are compiled based on real life company data relating to customer demographics, lifecycle and buyer behaviour.
Having a clear understanding of who your customers are, is essential for business success. By adopting buyer persona your team can –
“65% of companies that revised their personas within the last six months beat out the competition when it came to exceeding revenue and sales goals.”
The B2B Benchmark study, Cintell.net
Buyer persona will only function when built with real life data. At the core of every persona should be the high-converting, loyal customer that you want to attract more of. To build a data-driven buyer persona, begin by identifying and analyzing the behaviour of your most valued customer.
Analyze your most valued customer to identify:
In order to build a functional and accurate buyer persona, you need to compile and review multiple sources of data. Start simple, by talking with your sales and support teams who are dealing with leads and customers on a daily basis. They will be able to provide unique insights into what should be included in the company’s buyer persona.
Before putting any templates in place, meet with your sales and support teams and run through the following questions:
Once you’re satisfied you’ve gleaned all the insights available from your team, here are some additional ways to build on your persona:
It is imperative that you have a clear understanding of who your high-value customers are before delving into the persona development process. Research your customers via LinkedIn and highlight commonalities across job titles, career progression etc.
Conducting interviews with current and past customers is a sure fire way of identifying your products major wins and pain points. If you’re fortunate enough to get a customer on the phone, use the time to gather as much insight as you can into their buying process:
Adding persona specific questions to existing forms throughout your website is a simple and effective way to collect data for optimizing your buyer persona.
When a new trial user signs up to OnePageCRM, we ask a series of discovery questions in order to understand what problems a prospect is looking to solve by using our application. The insights and data recovered at this stage formulate our buyer persona and act as the basis for feature development and optimization of the app.
Add probing questions to your webforms to gain a better insight into your prospects:
Add an exit pop-up to your homepage and feature pages to identify obstacles to purchase.
Your CRM is your data bank for all your customers activity. If you and your sales team have been utilizing it correctly, it will contain all the data you could ever need for sculpting killer buyer personas. We’ll show you how to take advantage of this data a little further on.
In order for your buyer personas to be effective, they need to add value, be specific and integrate seamlessly into funnel strategy.
The most common pitfall when creating buyer persona, is simply creating too many.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of creating personas for every characteristic you’ve identified while sifting through your CRM. We’ve all fallen victim to it at one point or another, allowing our enthusiasm for a project to get the better of us.
You need to resist this urge as it will only make the adoption process more difficult for you and your sales team. Remember that personas are a reflection of the common goals of your most valued customers, start with one and build from there.
The fact that one of your customers owns an animal cafe in Brooklyn, is fantastic, I know, but how relevant is this to your overall sales and marketing strategy? Avoid adding trivial nuances to your persona. It will only serve to undermine the validity of the real data and may deter company-wide adoption.
With that being said, adding a name and image to your persona will help humanize the data, full permission to get creative here. Just checkout Mailchimp’s versions below.
As a general rule, if you do not have enough data to satisfy a persona, remove it completely. Adding data based on assumptions will affect the credibility of your persona. You want to be able to stand behind your personas when it comes to assigning the marketing budget for next quarter.
Try and interview a good mix of past and present customers so that you get an unbiased, realistic and rounded viewpoint. The goal here is to identify where your product works and where it doesn’t. HubSpot have compiled a handy list of 20 interview questions here.
If your buyer persona is the profile of the kind of customers you want to attract to your business, your ‘negative’ personas are the direct opposite. Your negative persona are a fictional rendition of the type of person you want to avoid targeting as they have proven not to be a good fit for your business in the past.
There are variety of reasons why you may wish to disqualify certain leads:
Knowing who your customer aren’t, is as important as knowing who your customers are, when it comes to allocating resources and running campaigns. Take time to evaluate who your ‘less than ideal’ customers are and build a profile to match.
You’ve done it…You’ve researched, evaluated, designed and executed your company’s buyer persona. You’re getting claps on the back from colleagues, the nod of approval from the VP of Sales and your kick-ass personas adorn the walls of every tea room, sales floor and notice board.
Your work here is done…Right?
No, no and get back to work! It’s time to put your Buyer Personas to good (and continued) use.
In order to ensure buy-in across the organization you need to make sure your persona add value and function throughout the sales funnel. Here are 4 ways to ensure your persona are put to work –
When a new lead signs up for a trial or submits a contact form on your website, it’s likely you will have collected information on their job title. And while the titles submitted might vary in description (VP of Sales, Director of Sales, CSO), they will generally fall under a similar tier bracket.
Group similar job titles together by creating a Custom Field for your buyer persona in your CRM. In the example below, we’re defining personas by job title, but you could also use information like industry type or vertical.
Run an Advanced search to identify c-suite contacts in your CRM
Add your Buyer Persona by Custom Field
One of the main reasons for using personas is that when you target everyone you actually target no one. By segmenting your leads by buyer persona, you can customize your message to each segment with custom landing pages, targeted advertising campaigns and email campaigns.
“Marketers have noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns. ”
If you use an email marketing app like Mailchimp, for contacting your prospects or customers, look at segmenting your email lists by buyer persona. If you’re a OnePageCRM customer, you can create a segment in Mailchimp right from within the app!
To create a segment for each of your buyer persona in Mailchimp you will first need to create a Tag for each persona in OnePageCRM. If you have already added your buyer persona as a Custom Field as above, you will simply need to run an Advanced Search for the specific persona and add a corresponding tag.
Once you have added a Tag to your buyer persona, you can create your Mailchimp segement, right from within OnePageCRM! Simply go to the Apps & Integrations page > Mailchimp > Segments > Create Segment.
Once your buyer persona has been added to Mailchimp you can begin sending tailored marketing campaigns or even customize your onboarding sequence based on the leads involvement in the decision making process.
Send targeted marketing campaigns or onboarding sequences to contacts that match your buyer persona.
By tracking buyer persona activity in your CRM, you can start to identify patterns and record trends around specific data segments. For example, you might notice that ‘Business Owner Bob’ converts at a faster rate than ‘Manager Mary’. But, ‘Manager Mary’ requires less onboarding.
As your understanding of the value of each persona grows, you might look at setting targets for your sales teams, by highlighting key persona as high-value leads. Your buyer persona can act as a preliminary lead score for your SDR.