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You’ll get expert advice on topics to help grow your business today.
Buyer personas are mentioned often within the context of marketing, and with good reason. When you know exactly who your target audience is, marketing is a much easier job. Buyer personas are a way to better understand who your target audience is for all of your different products and services.
Buyer personas can also provide key insights into the characteristics of your users at each stage of the customer journey. This is essential so that you can make the best decisions on how to attract users and maximize their engagement and willingness to purchase or become a lead in your sales pipeline. Long story short, buyer personas can help you organize your marketing strategies so you can be maximally effective and efficient.
Buyer personas are a representation of your customers.
“A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” – Sam Kusinitz, Hubspot
These representations give insights into the motivations of your potential customers, their goals, and their pain points. The better you understand your customers through buyer personas, the better you will be able to market to your audience.
Buyer personas are an exercise in understanding your ideal customer. While your marketing team might do this ad hoc, creating buyer personas formalizes the process, and the granularity that goes into creating buyer personas is the attention to detail that can turn an average marketing program into a hyper-efficient and high ROI affair.
For PPC professionals, hyper-targeting at a granular level is nothing new. However, if you are more certain about the traits and attributes of your target audience, you can maximize ad spend and ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) to create the budget for other marketing endeavors. Or, you can increase your revenue and sales pipeline beyond expectations to experience crazy growth. Buyer personas are definitely worth your time!
When you can reduce ad spend with better targeting, and fill your sales funnel bucket with higher quality leads, you’re optimizing for conversions before you even start to run a campaign.
Most people think about conversion rate optimization as processes that include anything that happens after the click on the ad. But, this mindset couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are many ways to impact conversion rate before and after a user is shown an ad. For example, if you can weed out irrelevant users from the initial targeting pool, you are increasing the conversion rate, because a higher percentage of your audience should be relevant – and presumably, be interested in your offer.
The increase in conversion rate works in another way: you can also frame your ad message based on what you know works for previous converters. Now, only super-relevant users with a high chance of converting will click on your ad, because you have framed your message in a way to only appeal to these relevant users.
So, how do you know how to create these targeted messages? That’s right, you’ve built a buyer persona.
There is no one way to create buyer personas. Essentially, you want to discover as many trends in the characteristics of your customers as possible so that you can speak to them in the most persuasive manner.
One way to start is to come up with a list of questions to answer that will help you know everything you possibly can about your customers.
The questions are endless, because you want to know everything you can about your customers. But, how can you possibly know everything there is to know about someone? You can’t, really. But you should try.
Via Custom Logo Cases
The more detailed you are about your buyer, the better. Indeed, you can never know enough about your ideal potential customer.
After you ask as many relevant questions as possible to help discover who your ideal potential customer is, the next step is to answer those questions.
One way to start answering your questions is to segment your audience and users into buckets related to your business.
In the following matrix, PPC Hero has four different products or services: SEO, PPC, SMM, and Content. They also have levels of brand engagement.
‘See’ means they are new to the site, have not expressed commercial intent, but could be open to an engaging message. This is like the ‘Awareness’ stage of a sales funnel.
‘Think’ is like the “Consideration’ stage. They are familiar with the industry and the problems that companies in the industry can solve, but they haven’t chosen a company yet. They are actively looking at you and your competitors.
‘Do’ means they are a lead. They are potential users in the decision-making phase. This group of users are close to purchasing and becoming full-fledged customers.
Finally, ‘Care’ means they are loyal customers. Retention and upselling are priorities here.
As you can see, each emoji represents a particular buyer persona for each stage and each product offering. Ideally, this is how segmented you want to get with your buyer personas with respect to your products/services and where your users are in the sales funnel.
Via PPC Hero
Ideally, for each offering and for each stage of the sales funnel, you have a tactic or asset to show your potential customer that will push them closer to becoming your customer. Once you have a better understanding of your potential customer’s goals, frustrations, and motivations, you can show them the perfect message with the ideal offer that will bring them closer to a purchase.
We’ll get to that, but first, we still need to gather intel.
Happy customers are what you are trying to get, so why wouldn’t you try to replicate what you already have?
You not only need customer testimonials and case studies to illustrate social proof, but also the analysis of the reasons behind your customers’ satisfaction. This information is key for building your buyer personas.
Where can you find information on your current customers? Sources of information include:
Create a process for documenting all customer activity so that you can refer to this data when not only creating, but also refining, your buyer personas.
What was important to them in selecting you as a vendor? Why are they continually satisfied with you as a provider? The answer to these questions provides you with an abundance of information.
Take an honest look at how your customers feel about your products and services. Which unique selling points stand out? What are they having a not-so-great experience with? Knowing these things can help you honestly and more efficiently target the right users.
If you’re a digital marketing agency that does Facebook Ads and Google Ads, but most of your customers are using your Google Ads services, maybe that is your highest performing offering. Perhaps that is your competitive advantage, and maybe that’s the offering that you should be putting most of your money into advertising.
Let’s dig deeper. Are you better at serving B2B companies or Ecommerce companies? Are you better at keyword targeted campaigns or display campaigns? What are your customers saying?
Find patterns in the attributes, perspectives, and actions of your customers through your survey questions. Try to distill the essence of your questions to elucidate the core insight.
What is their daily life like? Where are opportunities to connect with them, based on their lives? We all crave empathy. Relate with your customers and you will win them over.
Your sales reps and account managers spend most of their time talking to people who have said ‘yes’ to you. Your sales reps even have counterfactuals of people who say ‘no’. They have answers – all you have to do is ask them the right questions.
Here are the top 10 questions for your sales team, but don’t stop there. The more you pick at your sales team’s brains, the better you will know you buyer personas. Try to formalize and regularly schedule check-ins with this most valuable source of information.
CRM data, company notes, and Google Analytics data are just a few sources of intel on potential and live customers for your buyer personas. Don’t leave any stone unturned.
Social media analytics are great in helping you narrow down who your target audience is. Facebook and Twitter are continually increasing the sophistication of their analytics offerings to give you better insight into those who are interacting with your brand. You’ll want to consistently dig into this data to gain a better understand of your potential customers and your audience. What trends do you find among converters?
Behavioral data that was popularized by Facebook is finding its way into the Google Ads platform.
You can now target by in-market audiences of users who are ready to buy. These audiences are ready-made for you, so you don’t need to do much research here. Other audiences aren’t so straightforward.
Remarketing audiences are segments of your sales funnel that have already interacted with your website or brand. Using your customer data, interviews, and surveys, you can speak to your audience better so that they can mimic the behaviors of your current customers. What worked to get your current customers to convert?
Life events targeting is becoming more popular as machine learning can predict what stage users are in their lives based on their search behavior. When you understand the emotions and desires of your audience, and how they make their decisions, you can better cater to them.
Here is a case study of a mattress firm targeting customers as they are going through key life transitions related to their product. As you can see, if the timing is right, a business can really maximize their spend when combining buyer persona information with targeting methods.
Understanding all the different personas that exist at every sales funnel level can help you to better understand customer lifetime value. This is especially true if the lifetime value is consistent for certain buyer personas.
Let’s take a look at how understanding the lifetime value for different buyer personas or segments of your potential customers can be helpful.
If you know the value that each type of buyer persona brings to your company, you can bid and allocate budgets for different campaigns or segments (for each said persona) with confidence.
What are your buyer personas’ buying habits in terms of return purchases? Can you predict how much each persona will buy over the course of their relationship with your company on average? This information is invaluable in determining the cost per acquisition.
For example, suppose that you know that a customer buys your product that brings in $50 in revenue. You should be willing to pay somewhere close to $50 to acquire this customer. But, what if you know that a customer will buy your product an average of 6 times in their lifetime. Now, you’re willing to pay more for a customer.
Of course, you need to calculate overhead, and costs like the price of goods sold required to make the product. But as you can see, determining how much to spend on campaigns can be more accurate when you:
1) know the lifetime value of a certain segment/buyer persona, and then
2) how much you can spend to acquire a customer with a certain segment of buyer personas.
Once you get those numbers down, your job gets a lot easier. Your main concern after you hammer out the numbers is to find the right messaging and offers.
Basic demographic data can be the best starting place in narrowing down your audience. This is beginner level buyer persona data.
Gender, age, income or education level, job title, and interests are the minimum that you should know about your ideal customers. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have this data yet, everyone has to start somewhere.
If you know the ages and gender of your buyer persona, you can layer a bid adjustment for Google Ads. This is a salient example of how buyer personas can directly impact your PPC campaigns.
Now take location data. If you know where most of your customers usually come from, you can significantly reduce your audience size and increase your chances of reaching your customers with reduced reach and ad spend – just from that one detail.
If you’re a B2B company, delving more into education, job titles, and seniority can really help you target and message a specific audience – especially on a platform like LinkedIn, where the targeting methods can be very user-friendly for B2B companies.
If you are a B2B marketer and you don’t have information related to the above targeting methods, you’re behind on your buyer persona process. At a minimum, try to narrow down your buyer persona based on these targeting criteria.
Understanding demographic data is a good segue into learning more about your market size and your market share. Indeed, each buyer persona can have a separate market size and market share. While this information can be difficult to narrow down with just your proprietary data, making educated estimates can help you avoid wasteful spending.
Here is a chart that describes the problem with more clarity.
Via Search Engine Land
This chart is a great example of how to bring together buyer personas, lifetime value, CPA, market size, and market share to create a strategy to maximize your budget.
Each person represents a buyer persona with a different lifetime value and corresponding CPA. The expected sales are a number that you can gather from information on your market share and market size. ‘Nicki’ represents buyer scarcity. No matter how much money you throw at a ‘Nicki’ buyer persona, there might be only a handful of them that exist in the market. Just because there is a high revenue value and lifetime value doesn’t mean you can throw millions at this target buyer persona, because there simply aren’t enough ‘Nicki’s’. Is there a buyer persona that you’ve been throwing money at in vain? If conversions or sales haven’t increased correspondingly to your spend, perhaps there is buyer scarcity with this buyer persona.
It might be a little dehumanizing, but think of characters that exemplify certain personas that apply to specific customers. You literally want to get inside their heads and get into the reasons why they want what they want and do what they do.
What are the behavioral tendencies that exemplify certain buyer personas for your offerings and at different stages of the sales funnel process?
Where do users go to get their information? Understanding this behavioral pattern can help you understand what sources of information they trust and why.
Understanding a potential customer’s pain points and what you do to solve them can help you target your customer’s objective with the right message at the right time. Understand where in the sales funnel these pain points are realized and the length of each of your sales funnels. B2B sales cycles, and relatedly their funnel lengths, can be longer than Ecommerce products, which are typically bought in narrower time frames.
What are your customers’ goals, values and priorities? What are their objections to taking the final step?
Many companies never formally articulate these characteristics for all of the buying stages of their products and services. Just getting something down in writing is half the battle.
When you know a particular pain point of a buyer persona, you can develop specific messaging to address that pain point at the right time.
Target ads to these specific pain points, objections, and needs. Once you understand your audience’s preferences, behaviors, and concerns, you can speak to them in a way – and shape the perspective of your products or services in such a way – as to appeal to them in the most persuasive manner possible.
For example, if you know price is the most important variable to purchase in your competitive landscape, you can frame each message on how your product gets the most bang for its buck.
Also, what is the value your product brings? Price concerns are as much about money as they are about the value of the product. If you can provide a great deal of value, the price may not be as prohibitive anymore.
If you’re a B2B marketer and pricing is your customer’s main pain point, then perhaps a price quote or comparison can help you stand out. There are numerous angles to approaching each insight.
Use searcher intent to figure out where users fall into different sales funnels depending on keyword searches. If you’ve done your buyer persona research thoroughly, the descriptions will naturally help you segment your keywords into the right stage of the customer cycle and the right products and services.
More importantly, your newfound knowledge on your buyer personas will help you target them with the right offer.
Emotional and entertainment-driven audiences will be more receptive to games and videos of inspiration.
Persuasion-driven users will be receptive to educational assets like case studies, whitepapers, and ebooks.
Does a certain persona need a price comparison? Are they ready for a consultation? Do they need a free trial, or are they ready for the hard sell to make a purchase? You will know the answers to these questions because you know how your buyer persona thinks and acts based on your research.
Can multiple funnels be receptive to similar offers, or is each stage sensitive and receptive to only certain offers? What data, either qualitative or quantitative, do you have to backup your assertions? Sometimes the customer journey is so short that offers tend to overlap across the stages of the customer journey.
Be open to testing. There are no rules that say buyer personas can’t overlap.
Know which attributes are red flags. Have customers ever gone sour? How can you prequalify for users that don’t fit? How can you weed out these customers in your ad copy?
Just like negative keywords in a keyword campaign, certain indicators need to be highlighted and used to narrow your audience for better targeting of high quality customers or leads.
Don’t get too carried away with negative personas, which can significantly limit your audience, but do make decisions on deal-breaking attributes.
Are there users that are too educated for your product? Does your pricing rule out a certain group of users? Are there students or researchers that are interested in your product just to learn? How can you tell who these users are? What are the indicators?
Figure out which websites, social media accounts, and forums your potential customers are perusing. What are the conversations encompassing?
Checking out the comments sections can help you understand your buyer personas frustrations. What are they complaining about? How can you solve these problems for them?
You’re profiling your ideal customer, and a filled out template can be fulfilling and rewarding. You’ll be more confident in the audience you’re targeting.
Literally profile you customer and create a photo to bring personas to life. Treat your personas as if they are real humans to maximize your marketing team’s empathy towards them; they technically are a conglomerate of your current customers.
What are the pain points and personas that your competition is targeting? Are these personas relevant to your’s, or are you missing out on an opportunity?
Generally, you want to find a balance between focusing on your unique selling points and using the competition to supplement what you know. While stealing the competition’s strategies can be effective, you don’t want to depend too much on this tactic.
This is similar to appeasing Quality Score for keywords, ad copy, and landing page – except instead of keywords, you’re pairing personas or targeting audiences with ad copy and landing pages.
When you put it all together, your whole marketing campaign should be tailored to your buyer persona. Anyone who fits the description should immediately recognize and be drawn in by your messaging. It is for them, after all.
There are a few online tools with templates that can help you, such as Xtensio.
This is the level of detail that you want to get to when profiling your potential customers. There are many templates available depending on your business’ needs.
Here’s what a template looks like before it is filled out.
Via Neil Patel
Buyer personas are essentially formalized characteristics of what you already know about your customers. But, to take action on what you know, you have to segment them with granularity- just like you segment campaigns and ad groups in PPC campaigns and paid social media campaigns. A wise person once said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Instead of relying on luck in targeting your digital advertising campaigns, prepare with detail who you are targeting, what message you’re targeting them with, what message you use for certain products and services, and when you show these messages. This is preparation meeting opportunity, and you’ll reap the rewards of more efficient paid campaigns. Buyer personas for the win!