Whether you are a B2B or a B2C eCommerce company selling a product or service, it is important to know and understand who your buyers are. It is becoming standard practice for companies to create buyer personas to better understand their customer base. A buyer persona is a general, somewhat fictional, representation of your target customer created with data obtained from existing customers and prospects. A persona typically includes demographic information such as age, location, and income range, as well as other information like background, needs, interests, and concerns.
Why is it necessary to define buyer personas? They help you determine where best to focus your time and energy to attract customers and visitors to your site. They can provide direction for marketing, messaging, and sales follow-up, and can help drive content creation and strategies for customer acquisition and retention.
How do you create buyer personas? Buyer personas are built by performing market research and by interviewing a mix of current customers, prospects, and outside contacts or referrals that fit your target customer profile. Your sales team can also provide profiles of the type of customers they serve or the prospects they are pursuing. This exercise should include both happy and unhappy customers, and feature questions about what they like or dislike about your product or service.
Here are the kinds of questions you typically ask to create a buyer persona:
- What is your job title or role?
- What is your educational background?
- What is the size of your company (employees and/or revenue)?
- What is your company’s main industry?
- What are your job responsibilities?
- What are the challenges you face at work?
- How do you research vendors or products?
- How do you search for information (online, referrals, trade journals)?
- How do you prefer to interact with vendors (online, in person, phone)?
- How do you decide to purchase a product or service?
- What do you care about most in a product or service?
- What are the challenges in using a product or service?
This list of questions is only a start. You may have to add or remove questions to make them relevant to your business. After the market research, interview, or survey process is completed, you will have a lot of data available about your existing customers, prospects, and target customers. So, what do you do with this information?
First of all, the data has to be organized in a way that is not only easy to understand, but also makes sense for your business. It’s a good idea to utilize a template where you can arrange the information so that it is easy to read and interpret. Next, try and identify patterns or common elements in the answers to your questions. These common characteristics or patterns will create a persona. Depending on the type and size of your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10.
Once you’ve identified your personas, give each of them a name and a stock photo to make it easier to identify that type of person, such as Operations Manager Olivia, Purchasing Manager Paul, or IT Manager Ivan. This will not only help your sales and marketing teams visualize the ideal buyer by their persona type, it will also make it easier for them to see the personas as real people.
Once you have created your personas, segmenting them by buyer persona makes it easier to tailor marketing content and messaging to the specific needs, concerns, and interests of specific groups in your target audience. By identifying prospects by persona type and creating the right messaging that best positions your product or service to that persona, you can create a consistent, more productive approach to customer acquisition.
Personas evolve and change over time as the business grows, therefore, periodic validation is necessary. Well-developed personas can have a considerable impact on your business, so you may find it to be well worth the effort.