13 June 2022
Getting To Know Your Customers by Creating Buyer Personas
Do you know who your business’s buyer personas are? And if so, how much do you know about them? Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers, and align all work across your organization – from marketing to sales to service.
A buyer persona, in user-centered design and marketing is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of specific segments. Personas are said to be cognitively compelling because they put a personal human face on otherwise abstract data about customers. By thinking about the needs of a fictional persona, designers may be better able to infer what a real person might need. Such inference may assist with brainstorming, use case specification, and features definition. Pruitt and Adlin argue that personas are easy to communicate to engineering teams and thus allow engineers, developers, and others to absorb customer data in a palatable format. https://www.hubspot.com/make-my-persona?utm_source=mktg-resources
Personas also help prevent some common design pitfalls which may otherwise be easy to fall into. The first is designing for what Cooper calls “The Elastic User”, by which he means that while making product decisions different stakeholders may define the ‘user’ according to their convenience. Defining personas helps the team have a shared understanding of the real users in terms of their goals, capabilities, and contexts. Personas also help prevent “self-referential design” when the designer or developer may unconsciously project their own mental models on the product design which may be very different from that of the target user population. Personas also provide a reality check by helping designers keep the focus of the design on cases that are most likely to be encountered for the target users and not on edge cases which usually will not happen for the target population. According to Cooper, edge cases which should naturally be handled properly should not become the design focus.
The persona benefits are summarized as follows:
• Help team members share a specific, consistent understanding of various audience groups. Data about the groups can be put in a proper context and can be understood and remembered in coherent stories.
• Proposed solutions can be guided by how well they meet the needs of individual user personas. Features can be prioritized based on how well they address the needs of one or more personas.
• Provide a human “face” so as to create empathy for the persons represented by the demographics.
When you first created your buyer personas, you looked at trends in your database in addition to getting feedback from your marketing and sales teams. To validate your buyer personas quantitatively, you’re going to re-examine the data initially collected.
“You do another contact analysis based on everything you’ve learned up until that point — that’s the re-evaluation process,” Karin says. “Anything that you use to qualify the buyer personas, you should be measuring against that. Is it true that job title majority is Vice President of Ops or are we seeing that 80% of the job titles coming in are CTO instead? If that’s the case, either you have your personas wrong or the content you create isn’t speaking to the right personas.”
Data-driven personas (sometimes also called quantitative personas) these methods generally take numerical input data, reduce its dimensionality, and output higher level abstractions (e.g., clusters, components, factors) that describe the patterns in the data. These patterns are typically interpreted as “skeletal” personas, and enriched with personified information (e.g., name, portrait picture). Quantitative personas can also be enriched with qualitative insights to generate mixed method personas (also called hybrid personas).
Buyer personas help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to meet the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of the members of your target audience.
Look at the demographic and firmographic information in addition to their digital body language. Were their early touchpoints through the channels you thought were most effective for reaching them? Did they follow the conversion paths you expected them to? Are your customers coming from the locations or industries you expected them to?
Additionally, look at how the changes in your contact database compare to your company’s growth goals. Even if you currently have a healthy contact database that matches with your buyer personas, if it isn’t growing the way your company wants to, you’ll have difficulty meeting your goals in the future.
Key is always be reviewing your results against your personas and revising with the current information by doing so you are continuously learning about your buyers and can cater your marketing messaging to them better.
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