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E-Marketing Performance Blog

3 Steps to Research & Define Buyer Personas

Author’s Note: Defining your buyer personas is a key step when developing your content marketing strategy. Market analyst Ashley Verrill offers three easy steps to research and define your ideal customer profiles in this guest post.

Customers today are constantly bombarded with demands for their attention, from social media to email to text messages. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to push their message through the noise. So what’s the solution? Make them come to you.

In order to do this, you need to create something your customer already wants and is actively searching for. And that something is content. In today’s article, I’m going to describe the first step in creating this customer-attracting content: researching your buyer personas.

The buyer persona is a hypothetical profile of your ideal customer. They include demographic information and describe what the potential customer values, wants, fears, and objects to when they shop for your product. These personas help you relate to your customers as real humans, and guide both content creation and distribution.

“You’re discovering what [your ideal customer] is passionate about, which can lead naturally—organically—into a discussion of how you can solve a problem or improve their lives, and why your company is the right choice to help them,” Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara told Software Advice recently.

Am I your ideal customer?

To create your buyer persona, you need to follow these three essential steps.

1. Survey Your Real Customers

In the most simple terms, your ideal customer means those people with the highest propensity of buying from you. Rather than making assumptions, why not collect data about your real customers’ demographic profile, likes, dislikes, challenges, motivations and pain points?

The best way to garner this information is through customer interviews. Here’s a list of the kind of information you should gather:

  • Their professional title or role in their organization
  • Key facts about their company
  • Demographic profile: Gender, age, income
  • Challenges to their success
  • How your product helps them move toward this goal or overcome barriers
  • Quotes from these conversations to post along with your persona

As a final step, interview your sales team to define the buyers’ primary objections. What have they cited as reasons they are not buying at this time? Or reasons they are still considering other products? What other common questions do they have?

2. Refine Your Persona with Team Feedback

Once you have your persona mapped, create a physical representation of that persona. This should include an image, name, and all of the characteristics you gleaned from your interviews with customers and your sales team.

Post these in your sales room and in your customer service departments. Invite your team to add onto these profiles with sticky notes, a white board, or another predefined process. Do they keep getting the same questions over and over again? Are customers using your product in a way that indicates they valued something different when they were still shopping?

All of these answers will help your content creators better target these personas.

Customer service can also help refine your personas in another way—they can help prioritize your marketing spend. If one particular persona requires more support, follow-up and hand-holding post-sale, marketing might choose to focus efforts on attracting a different customer profile.

3. Validate Your Persona Online

Finally, using these demographics, find your ideal customer on the web and see if their interests/concerns/values match yours. If your buyer persona is a working mom with two kids, find relevant blogs and look for articles geared toward professionals. “How Busy Moms Maintain Work-Life Balance,” is a great example.

Look for relevant blogs on news sites and even competitors’ website. Then open a few articles from each and view the comments from readers. Take note of which articles are shared and commented on most and see if any trending topics emerge.

There are a few more steps needed to ensure your article, blog, white paper, eBook, or other content attracts the right customer—optimizing it with appropriate keywords, for example—but it all starts with defining what kind of customer is most likely to buy from you, and targeting your efforts in that direction.

Author Bio: Ashley Verrill is a market analyst with Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.


Kathy Gray

Kathy has over seven years of web marketing experience with an emphasis on social media marketing for the past five. When not on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or reading her favorite blogs, Kathy can be found spending time with her husband and wrangling their two young children. She also has a garage sale addiction and can smell a deal a mile away! Read Kathy’s full bio.

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2 Responses to 3 Steps to Research & Define Buyer Personas

  1. Alan Smith says:

    Very nice article… Collecting details of niche customers is very essentials. You can easily get a better idea about to whom to target and how to attract more persons.

  2. Mike Fleming
    Mike Fleming says:

    “it all starts with defining what kind of customer is most likely to buy from you”

    That’s right. What’s sad is that so many companies won’t invest in the resources to get the kind of data that will more effectively help them do this. They might go as far as looking at what keywords they use or where they live or how old they are, but they won’t get down to what makes them tick.

    If they would actually do what you have suggested here, they would more efficiently select the prospects that will be most likely to respond to an offer, thereby increasing the percentage of responders. Since there is typically neither the time nor budget to reach all prospects, you can and should leave out the ones that are less likely to respond. This maximizes your marketing spend on the prospects that will bring in the best ROI and saves tons of money in the end.