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An Advanced Guide to Creating and Using Buyer Personas to Convert Leads

creating buyer personas

The amount of information every one of us gets on a daily basis is enormous. From things we search to stuff we run into by chance or because we were targeted by an ad. Every brand is trying to reach out, engage and retain a community. You can imagine the competitive buzz in the online conversations!

As with any person, there’s a higher chance of opening specific ads, if they offer something you need or are interested in. That’s precisely why companies need to use buyer personas to determine who can be led to their brand in the first place so that they can target those people.

Having a psychographic profile of your customers helps you not only determine who they are but how to tailor your content, messaging and services to suit their needs and tastes. It also gives you some pretty good insight on what annoys your customers – which could save you a lot of potential problems in the future.

Of course, having smaller, more specific target groups reflects significantly on your cost-per-lead as well. Reaching mostly people whose needs, challenges and interests are answered by your brand, makes the ROI index so sweet, you could sell it in a pastry shop.

But Who Don’t You Want as a Client?

Knowing who’s your dream customer, must already provide some idea as to which people are your worst nightmare when it comes to targeting potential leads.

For example, if you have a consultancy agency, running a blog for freelancers and startups, reaching the CTO of a large corporation is not your goal at all. Your exclusionary (negative) persona, let’s call them CTO Bob, doesn’t have the need or interest in what your blog is addressing. He already has all the knowledge you could publish on starting a business.

Even if you somehow manage to turn this person into a lead, you’ll never be able to convert them into a client because they’re probably never going to need your services. That makes CTO Bob an exclusionary persona and a person who your cost-per-client is begging you not to target.

What You Need to Know About Your Buyer Personas

buyer persona template

Now, that we’ve already covered the importance of psychographic profiles of your customers, let’s go through what characteristics you have to consider. Background and demographics of your buyer persona are the first layers of info.

Although our past doesn’t make us who we are, and neither does our age or gender, it’s something to take into consideration. This might not mean a lot when it comes to retailers, but let’s imagine you have a platform that’s offering a new form of recruitment – through video CVs.

Such technologies aim to reshape the market and offer more effective or time-saving alternatives to old practices. This type of innovations usually appeals to younger generations as they’re less accustomed to commonly used methods.

Thus, such audiences are able to look at old practices more critically and determine possible flaws. For a video CV platform, for example, you just can’t expect to have a lot of customers over 50 because they’re most likely accustomed to old habits and, in general, use such innovations only after they became a necessary trend.

That said, you must look at demographics, not just as numbers but as sources of information. Analysts have to look for trends, behavioral patterns and specific interconnections between interests that could be attributed to a whole generation.

Such practices have even added the opportunity to target and look for information on enormously large groups of people based on their age-related lifestyle. But that’s not the only thing. If a brand is considering expanding to new markets or is just determining the right location for their future business, websites like PopulationPyramid can help the company assess population composition, trends, historical development, et al.

Such information could point to the fact that the population gap between Asia and Africa is slowly fading, making the African continent a place with potentially powerful labor market for outsourcing opportunities.

What gives us more insight are the goals and challenges of our buyer persona. That’ll basically point you to what your customers need. Probably a lot of the keywords for your next campaign are going to come from exactly this information.

For example, you could’ve discovered that your buyer personas already view common recruitment practices as ineffective and are searching for more engaging ways to approach employees.

Such discovery implies that your potential customers are aware of a particular problem on the market (ineffective recruitment) and are already searching for solutions. As you’re offering an alternative to commonly used recruitment methods, you and your buyer personas are practically on the same page. That’s why your goal should be to reach them through content that is going to address their issues and offer a solution – video CVs.

You don’t have to waste hours explaining why the current system isn’t working; you just have to address the problem briefly and put emphasis on possible solutions and the one you are offering – video CVs.

You might’ve also found out that recruiters have challenges with reducing the time it takes them to go over applications. That’ll automatically indicate you have to suggest a quicker way to achieve the same results or address the problem and offer a solution that delivers more efficient results in the same amount of time. But be sure to consider “lowering recruitment times” as part of your targeting keywords.

Last, but by no means least, buyer persona interests. That’s where the magic happens! Let’s say you found out that your clients are reading a specific magazine or article on time-management. These are already two facts you could use to target leads.

When we add everything up, we find that customers are interested in new digital practices and technologies, so now the picture is getting clearer. Let’s imagine these people are also watching inspirational speeches and most of them like TED talks. That’s like a concept on a plate – you could easily target people who are watching inspirational TED talks on digital topics via YouTube.

Your buyer persona interests are the hidden gem of each campaign and discovering them will most definitely predetermine the results of your marketing efforts.

How to Create Buyer Personas

We’ve already covered why you need to know your customers and what information you should have on them, but how to acquire it? It’s not rocket science if you already have a real customer base. You should have paying clients.

As a start, go through your client and/or user databases. What you’re looking for are common characteristics, behavioral patterns, challenges, goals. Of course, this information is possibly going to be limited, less than what you really need, but it’s a good start.

Don’t forget to also work with the leads you already have. That could happen through in-site contact forms, email communication or even chats (especially via LinkedIn). The thing you should be careful about is gathering information without annoying your leads.

Skip any pop-up ads or newsletters begging for information. Do it as part of the overall process, ask for contact information to send helpful materials, guides or valuable content. Measure your open rates and click ratios to discover how relevant this information is to a client group.

You could also find a way to extract valuable information when leads are giving you feedback. Ask politely, always explain why you need feedback and how you will use it – don’t emphasize on “let’s know everything about you”.

Your sales team communicates with prospects and clients on a daily basis. But they’re not the data analysts guys, you are. Try speaking with them; you just have to ask the right questions to extract the information you need.

Up to this point, you should already have an overall picture of your buyer persona. Now comes the exciting part. Try listening to online conversations. Select topics you should follow on social media and monitor comments.

Your community manager could then join such conversations to try to steer the direction of the talk and promote your brand, especially if he is well informed about who is your buyer persona and their behavioral patterns.

Social media listening will not only provide significant insight, it will most likely point you to problems you need to consider. Look through the profiles of people in the conversations and search for trends you could use for your campaigns.

The Tricky Interviews

Working with interviewees and asking the questions you need to be answered is of great value as it presents you with vital information to base your marketing and sales efforts on. The only problem is that people usually do not tell the truth in such situations, knowingly or not, so keep that in mind.

The first and foremost part of conducting an interview is to find people willing to take part? If you’re already in the market – clients, leads and prospects will do the trick, if you’re not – referrals are a good way to start.

We also suggest that you take into consideration working with a 3rd party provider, especially if you don’t have the expertise to conduct social research by yourself.

When approaching people with such an offer you should be cautious. Keep the message clear, there’s no point in trying to sell it as an amazing deal and if you do so, most users are going to be annoyed.

Such reaction by the consumer could affect the online conversation you are listening to and turn into a crisis. Don’t forget you are asking for a favour after all so keep a friendly tone.

Offering something in return, such as. discounts, valuable content, or direct payment, could help you get lots of positive replies as well.

Interviews are way more beneficial for you than for the participants. To some extent, the interviewees are doing you a favor. Furthermore, a significant number of these people have probably never been interviewed before.

These factors will make consumers approach the process more carefully. To ensure the effectiveness of the interviews, your primary task is to make prospects feel comfortable. Ask people what way of conducting an interview would suit them the most – verbal or written.

We strongly suggest abstaining from oral communication unless your prospects explicitly require so. People tend to feel more uncomfortable when speaking, usually forget important information, and easily mislead the researcher.

Image via AmyWright.me

The most essential part of an interview are the questions you are going to ask as the answers will be the information that forms your buyer persona. This said we are sure you’re going to ask questions like “What’s your position in the company,” “What are your goals,” and “How old are you?” even without our help.

What we want to provide you with is a set of questions that are often forgotten:

  • How is your job measured?
  • What do you search for in Google (workwise/to overcome challenges/meet goals/when you have problems with a project)?
  • What channels do you use to get additional info on a service/product you’re considering?
  • What are the requirements you have when it comes to the services we’re offering?
  • What are your interests outside of work?
  • How do you approach vendors?
  • What do you read? (blogs, books, on what topic?)
  • Which social media platform do you use on daily basis?
  • WHY?

“Why?” is like the uber-question you should be asking all the time. It’ll give you all the additional information you need to understand the behavioral patterns of your consumers.

Helpful Practices

Until recently, Facebook presented marketers with an enormous tool that was able to provide tons of inside information on specific groups of people – Custom Audience Insights. We could see where these people hung out, what media they read, who were they influenced by, and much more.

Unfortunately, Audience Insights on Facebook are now gone. The social network now presents an opportunity to gain additional knowledge only on users who’ve already engaged with your brand (viewed a video, liked your page, stated they were attending your event).

Such data is accessible through Facebook Connections Insights. The recent change in the information providing policies of the social network makes it harder for marketers to craft buyer personas’ profiles as they have far fewer data at their disposal.

The new way of getting insights also brings back the importance of the long-abandoned Page’s Likes Campaign. Now, a bigger audience, no matter active followers or not, means more information to work with and base our marketing efforts on.

Furthermore, the death of Custom Audiences as a social research tool, means we need to adopt new platforms and old practices quickly.

LinkedIn has always been an extremely robust platform for finding, monitoring and reaching business audiences. For the B2B companies, social media offers a powerful Website Demographics tool that gives marketers significant information on their website audience like job title, industry, company size, company name, location, function, etc.

Even if you’re not using LinkedIn Website Demographics, tracking the traffic on your pages is always helpful. Through monitoring who views your site and what their bounce rate is, you can determine the audience’s demographics, devices used, and whether your content resonates well with your leads.

But don’t forget there is a valuable market knowledge that is already provided in the form of statistical data. Such information is widely used by marketers to conduct effective data-driven campaigns.

Useful tools like Google’s Consumer Barometer can help you find large-scale tendencies and statistics that might be quite interesting. For example, we used it to discover that 48% of the people in the US equally use mobile and computer/tablet to browse online.

If you have to plan your content strategy location-specific, the World Factbook Website is a platform you need to check. It provides country-based information in a brief, statistical, easy-to-grasp manner.

For example, you might want to introduce a brand that’s offering weight-loss programs, diet products, and advice on healthy living in Europe. Let’s take the UK and Germany and decide where our target market is bigger.

Looking at the obesity index, we can see that Germany presents us with around 300 000 more people that could be potential leads. That is one of the things that can help us determine which market is more convenient for our brand, based on our buyer persona and the number of potential consumers.

How to Use Your Buyer Personas to Convert Leads

We’ve already talked about the ways of using your buyer personas to turn prospects into clients, but let’s go back to the video CV case and dive more deeply into the practical field.

Having the psychographic profile of your customers basically represents all the stepping stones of your campaign. Knowing your buyer personas are young to middle-aged employees, executives and recruiters with interest towards digital practices and technologies, allows you to determine the messages needed to present your service as innovative, engaging, practical and time-saving.

These people are progressive thinkers who obviously understand the latest trends. More provocative articles based on statements or facts and that are connected to recruitment practices will probably resonate well. To make your messages shareable, you need to present yourself as an authority in the matter.

You’re branding your product as engaging, but most people have not had any interactions with such platforms before. What better ways to present your services than actually showing how they work?

For example, you might determine that a video ad is the best approach for that. It needs to capture the attention right from the first 3 seconds. Addressing the problem right away will make viewers acknowledge you as a trustworthy source that understands them. A question like “Did you have enough of the boring, non-interactive way people are recruiting today?” will do the trick.

Then you just have to show the solution and why it works. Based on their interests in TED talks, these people like to be approached with innovative ideas and causes, so be sure to add such messages.

You have to also think of channels through which to carry on your campaigns. Facebook, Google and LinkedIn are perfect to reach your audience. Instagram is a huge platform when it comes to videos, but in your case – these professionals simply don’t use it for work-related experiences.

Your buyer personas also visit sites like Upwork and Craiglist. Use this knowledge when determining the keywords you’re targeting.

Various groups of people have different levels of knowledge, are driven by different purposes and even communicate differently. To appeal to potential consumers and gain them as leads, we have to present them with content specifically tailored to them.

In this example case – you need to make it non-technical enough to target employees as they most probably aren’t that familiar with the market. However, it’ll be a good practice to keep the business talk because our buyer personas are also executives and recruiters. It might even be an excellent idea to create different pages for each primary group with specifically craft content.

Don’t forget that these people are your community; they empathize with your brand and its causes. Try to use that. Engage with them. You could find both outstanding creative ideas and product-development concepts coming up from your followers.

They’ll not only enjoy giving advice but will appreciate your reaction to it! Feedback from people, who are your buyer personas, is way more important than one coming from other users.

And finally, use the “why”-questions and interests research to close the deal. If you know your customers are searching for new interactive ways of recruitment but are not investing actively in such because they approach them with caution and prefer to work with tested platforms only, offer them just that.

Give your leads a free trial or think of a way to provide free access. Convert prospects by understanding their needs and concerns!

Now, it’s your time to make the buyer personas work for you! Are you already coming up with new ideas as you read this? Let us know in the comments below.

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