How to Create (and Target) Custom Buyer Personas
It’s important to make sure your marketing strategy delivers a great return on investment. It wouldn’t be sustainable (or sensible) to spend thousands on a campaign that only delivered a few hundred bucks in return.
You might think the ROI can only be determined once the campaign's over. You can't predict how people will respond, right?
Actually, you can.
There’s one not-so-tiny thing that can influence the ROI of any marketing campaign: buyer personas.
Buyer personas are fictional characters identical to your perfect customers. They include key details like age, gender, interests, job, daily problems, and more.
You can think of them as the people you'd want to target in a Facebook ad.
Using buyer personas helps you create marketing campaigns that are highly targeted, relevant, and specific to your ideal customers. They help you cut out the guess work and see consistently great returns.
In this guide, I'm going to show you how to create your own buyer personas and supercharge the ROI of your campaigns.
Why Are Buyer Personas Important?
Buyer personas help you understand who you’re targeting. Whether you’re reaching people through inbound marketing or offline advertising, a great understanding of your perfect customer gives you the best possible chance of reaching and converting them.
Not convinced? Take a look at this case study. After using buyer personas as the basis of their marketing campaigns, Marketing Sherpa saw a:
- 900% increase in length of website visit
- 171% increase in marketing-generated revenue
- 111% increase in email open rate
- And a 100% increase in the number of website pages visited
Talk about a great return!
4 Steps to Create Accurate Buyer Personas
Ready to create better marketing campaigns with higher returns? First follow these four steps to create accurate buyer personas.
1. Look at existing data.
You can't guess when it comes to buyer personas. Although you might think the majority of your customers fit a specific mold, failing to have any hard evidence behind them will make them useless – and a complete waste of time!
Accurate buyer personas are created from data.
Comb through your CRM or sales sheets. What common denominators do these people have?
Are they all based in the same area? Do they all have the same income, or number of kids? Do they all work the same hours, or are they mostly the same age? Are they mostly interested in one product or spending within a specific range?
Pay attention to what your data says. This is how you find trends in your customers and what they want from you.
2. Talk to your support and sales teams.
Your sales and support teams spend hours every day talking to your target customers (and others who aren't a good fit). Talk to them! Ask them what characteristics are common in your best customers.
When you’re creating buyer personas, organize an internal meeting (or send them a text or email).
Pick your staff’s brains, and ask them for help with each section of your buyer persona. You might think that a huge percentage of your customer base is older men, for instance, but your support and sales teams might tell you otherwise.
Chances are you'll learn a lot. So listen!
3. Send a customer survey (or talk to your customers).
Sending customer surveys and engaging in one-on-one conversations with your best customers is a fantastic way to learn more about them. It's probably the best way.
But be wary of what questions you ask. You don’t want to bore them with questions you could answer through customer data. You want to ask open-ended questions like:
- What’s a typical day for you?
- What would make your life (at work) better?
- What caused you to purchase our product/service?
- Which competitors did you compare before choosing us?
4. Bring it all together.
Once you’ve collected the data, spoken with sales and support, and asked customers for help with your buyer personas, it’s time to move onto the fun part - turning that info into usable buyer personas.
You might that your perfect customers fit neatly into one box. Or, more likely, you might find that your ideal customers tend to fit in one of a few boxes. These will be your buyer personas.
To create those buyer personas that you can target in your marketing campaigns and share with your teams, you'll need to detail the:
- Education level
- Job title
- Income level
- Buying motivation
- Pain points
- Or any other relevant details
To take things a step further, turn each persona into a mini-infographic, like this example from Mallory Haack:
Store your buyer persona details on a shared folder (like Google Drive or Dropbox), and tell all marketing staff to refer back to it when planning a new campaign.
Since you’ll have a clear picture of who you’re targeting, you’ll see results in no time.
6 Ways to Target Your Custom Buyer Personas Effectively
You’ve created your buyer personas and are ready to start using them. Great job! How exactly do you target these people?
1. Social Media Advertising
To get started, head over to your Facebook Ad account and begin to create a new campaign. If you don't have a Facebook Ad account, follow this guide.
After defining your campaign objective, it’s time to map your buyer personas to the ad targeting settings.
The age, gender, and location qualities of your ideal customer are easy to add. However, you might not have realized that you can target other qualities of people that fit your buyer persona criteria, like personal interests, income level, and job title.
Begin to type a general interest of your buyer persona into the Detailed Targeting section. Once you’ve entered a few, hit the Suggestions tab to see Facebook’s recommendations:
In the same Detailed Targeting section, press “Browse”, followed by “Demographics” and “Financial” to define the income level of your ideal customer:
Looking to target a specific person by their job title? Facebook ads offer this feature. Simply head to “Work” beneath the Detailed Targeting section and search for job titles:
It’s a great way to generate a return on your investment for social advertising – and get a lot of use from your buyer personas!
You could also use Facebook ads to tweak your buyer personas, too. If you run a campaign and spot that a certain group of people are responding better to your campaigns, consider altering your buyer persona to include this. Remember, accuracy and data are key!
2. Email Marketing
Did you know that email marketing has an average ROI of 4,400%? You could increase that conversion rate by creating targeted email campaigns – especially considering that using buyer personas in email marketing increases open rates by 2-5x.
The best way to target buyer personas through email marketing is to cater to their pain points. These can be things your target customers are struggling with, or things that are preventing them from making a purchase.
If you can remove these pain points, why wouldn’t they be tempted to convert? You can send emails with things like:
- Customer testimonials
- Stories about the birth of your company
Just take a look at this example from Handy, catering to their audience’s pain point of struggling to find a cleaner that fits around their schedule:
By clearly explaining the problem – and offering a solution (their company) – through email marketing, they win the trust of their customers. In the end, that’s bound to lead to a sale.
That’s the goal, right?
People are always using Google to find new products, services, and information. In fact, Google receives over 67,000 searches per second on any given day. People who perfectly match your buyer persona are guaranteed to be included. (Even if you’re targeting an older generation.)
A great way to reach those people is to write on your company blog. Create a resource hub, full it to the brim with information they’d love to read, based on the interests you defined when creating your buyer personas.
Let’s use an example.
If I were selling children’s toys, my buyer persona is likely to be parents with young children. A blog topic they might find interesting could be “5 Things to Keep Kids Entertained in Summer” – which targets their pain point of preventing kids' boredom, and briefly mentions how my product could help.
Sounds simple, right? It is.
In fact, companies are always using blogs to connect with their ideal audience. Just take a look at the Text Request blog! We share information that our buyer personas (small businesses and marketers) love to read.
It’s not just us who benefit from this content strategy, though.
Blogging for buyer personas helped one company grow their organic search traffic by 55%, and you could see similar, high ROI results by basing your blog content around your ideal customer.
4. On-Site Content
Following blog content, let’s take content marketing to the next level and discuss on-site content.
The homepage, about section, and service pages of your website should all be written with your buyer persona in mind. After all, they’re the people you're trying to convince to buy your product or service.
You can do this by asking:
- What words and phrases do they use?
- What tone of voice do they use online? (Professional vs. casual)
You can find this information by doing some research on your buyer persona. Check where they hang out online, and study their language.
Once you have an accurate picture of their online language, replicate it for your website. This will help attract your ideal persona, and make you more relatable, too.
Here’s a great example of how The Hustle nailed their on-site content and appealed to their buyer persona:
Targeting young people in the tech industry, phrases like “climb aboard our growing pirate ship” and “your smart, good looking friend” demand their audience’s attention.
Plus, this content appeals to their pain point of missing out on important industry news, which makes them feel like the brand understands them and their needs.
If customers feel this type of connection with your on-site content, they’re much more likely to convert. That’s because buyers are 48% more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address targets' specific issues.
So, don’t just litter your business’ website with complex jargon if your buyer personas don’t use them. Instead, follow your targets online, note common phrases that come up, and use them in your copywriting!
5. Guest Posting Opportunities
Think about the websites, blogs, and magazines your buyer personas read.
A few of them might be your competitors, but others can be fantastic guest posting opportunity. Guest blogging happens when you contribute an article to another website. It’s great for:
- Brand awareness – you’re exposed to a new pool of people who might not have heard of your brand before
- Building authority – lending your knowledge helps to prove authority in your niche
- SEO – you get a backlink to your website through author bio sections
As an example, Silvo Porcellana increased website traffic by 20% and his Domain Authority (a score which predicts how likely you are to rank in search engines) by 5 points through guest blogging.
That’s not a bad result!
I use guest blogging to experience all three of these benefits, and only focus on sites where my ideal buyer persona is. So, because I’m a freelance writer for marketing companies, I guest post on:
But how do you find these sites? Well, head back to the buyer persona creation steps and include the question in your one-on-one discussions with previous customers.
You could also follow your ideal customers on social media. That way, you can keep track of the links they’re sharing and the content they’re enjoying – and get featured on those sites!
6. Communicate the Way They Prefer
With businesses now having complete choice of how they communicate with customers, it might feel overwhelming. Do you put all of your eggs into one marketing basket, or spread your communications across multiple platforms like social media, Skype, email, and text?
To get an accurate answer for your business, use your buyer personas.
Knowing their preferences will avoid you wasting time on platforms they’re not actively using, and build a marketing strategy that actually works. You can find your customer’s preferred methods of communication by:
- Analyzing communication boxes on your on-boarding forms. Did customers tick boxes and give permission to be contacted via telephone, email, or mail?
- Asking them directly through surveys and one-on-one discussions
- Look at general research studies, like this one for Millennials
By finding and using this information, you’re communicating with your perfect customer in the way they prefer. Remember, you have to communicate and connect with people to turn them into customers!
Final Thoughts on Buyer Personas
Although you might need to invest time into creating your buyer personas from scratch, it’s well worth the investment.
Knowing your ideal customer’s needs (and targeting them throughout your marketing strategy) helps to minimize wasted budget and get the most bang for your buck.