Personas take your target demographics deeper and help you understand not only WHO your customer is but also HOW to talk to them. When you understand their motivations, you can more easily speak to your customer's questions, desires, and needs in your marketing materials.
You can read more about personas and learn to create them in another blog post: Creating Personas: What Are They and How Do I Develop One. Once you've created your personas, you can use them strategically to support your inbound marketing efforts. Let's dive into why personas are important and how they can help your business. A persona is a fictional representation of your real customers. At the most basic level, understanding your leads and customers will help you better understand how to sell your products or services. By understanding who your customer is, what they value, and what information they're hoping to gather from your business, you can better speak to their needs and how your company fits into their buyer's journey.
There are five overall ways that developing a buyer persona for your ideal customer can help you create better relationships with leads and customers, gain attention online, and close deals. Let's look at each item separately and then address how they can all work together.
Why Your Inbound Marketing Needs Buyer Personas
1. Identifying Customer Needs and WantsBy evaluating the goals, challenges, and objections of your buyer personas, you have a better sense of what your leads are looking for from your business and what information and answers they're hoping to find online. Understanding your persona's motivators is crucial in understanding how to sell to them and what you should offer them. It might even lead you to identify opportunities to develop new products or services to solve other problems they might have. At the least, it can and should help you determine what marketing and sales materials to create across your website, emails, blog, and social media.
2. Understand Purchasing DecisionsUnderstanding how your personas go about purchasing something will help you understand where and when to get in front of them. Maybe you have a persona who does 95% of their research online before ever approaching a company. Knowing that will help you get in front of them early in the process with educational information relevant to what they're looking for and sell to them without directly selling to them. I'll explain what I mean by that in the example below.
3. Behavioral InsightKnowing where these personas spend time on the internet and in the world. This will give you insight into how to communicate with them, how to reach new customers, what types of content to produce, and where and how to promote it.
For example, you can't speak to a LinkedIn Audience the same way you would speak to a TikTok audience. However, you may have personas in each of these. Education is finding success using TikTok as a platform to engage with potential students. However, staying engaged with parents on LinkedIn is critical. This is a great way to utilize persona campaigns to target a family in their separate social spaces leading them both to the same solution.
4. Targeted ContentUnderstanding the needs, wants, goals, challenges, etc., of your personas allows you to better understand what type of content will appeal to them. Since you know what is valuable to them, you can strategize about what to create that is in line with those values.
EXPERT TIP: ALL of the content you create should be targeted towards one of your personas and be information that they deem valuable. Remember, just because you as a business owner think that the information you're presenting is valuable does not necessarily mean your customers will. It doesn't matter how relevant you think your information is. If your customers don't find it valuable, they won't consume it.
5. List Segmentation
Having buyer personas in place will help your email marketing through the use of list segmentation. If you segment your contacts based on your personas, when you are developing content that is specific to specific personas, you can email that persona list to get the valuable content in front of them without them having to seek it out.
EXPERT TIP: When you are asking a visitor to fill out a form on your site for a content offer, make sure to ask them a question that helps you determine what persona they fit into. This will help you add new contacts to persona lists immediately.
Now that we understand all the things that a buyer persona provides us with and how we can use the individual items to help us promote our businesses, let's look at a quick example of how all of these things work together:
Let's pretend we own a tire company in Denver that is trying to push sales of their snow tires. One of our personas is Outdoor Owen. Owen is an avid skier. Every year he purchases the EPIC Pass and tries to ski every weekend during the season. He lives in Denver but skis in Breckenridge. He's usually the driver for his friends to go to the mountains and really wants to make sure that his car is safe and performing well in the snow. He is 27, grew up with the internet, and loves to Google things (because we don't have to wonder about things anymore!). How do we, as the tire company, get in front of Owen and convince him to buy our snow tires? Let's take it from the beginning.
Based on our buyer persona, we know that Owen wants to make sure that his car is safe when driving to the mountains. This is something he wants and needs. We also learned that he's doing the majority of his research prior to reaching out to a salesperson at any company. That is how he goes about making his purchase decisions. Because gets all the information on his own before making a purchase using Google searches (a behavioral insight of this persona), we want to make sure we get in front of him in the right way, at the right time, with the right information.
Through developing the Outdoor Owen persona, we've learned that he starts out his buyer's journey, not even knowing that he needs snow tires. Instead, he's trying to figure out how to get his Subaru to perform better in the snow. So maybe, in order to help him with that problem, we provide him with an ebook that outlines some tips and tricks for better winter driving. One of those tricks could be addressing your tires to make sure they're good for winter driving or investing in snow tires. Owen comes across this information through a Google search and fills out a form to download the ebook. In filling out that form, we ask him to answer a question about his lifestyle. One of the available options is "avid skier." By selecting this option, Owen has self-identified himself as the Outdoor Owen persona, and we automatically enrolled him into our segmented list for that persona so we can follow up with emails.
Once he's finished the ebook, we're hoping he's started thinking about snow tires, and he wants to learn about why they're important for winter driving in Colorado. To help him in that stage, we might develop a video showing two different people driving I-70 in mid-December; one person with snow tires and one without. We know that this persona would value this information, so we have created this targeted content specifically to address that. And we use our list segmentation from above to get that video in front of him.
Once he's convinced that he needs snow tires if he's going to be hoofing it up to Breck this winter, he starts looking into the differences between the types of snow tires. This is when he's ready to see some actual product information from us. So maybe we develop a chart that measures the differences in the types of snow tires and convinces him that ours are the best. By this time, we've convinced him that we are industry leaders and that our snow tires are the best, and he's ready to buy! But we didn't do that by shoving product information at him immediately or bombarding him with sales emails or calls. We looked at what he values, what problem he is trying to solve, and how he purchases. Then we used those findings to fit ourselves into his world.
Developing personas is a crucial component of understanding who your customer is and how to talk to them. Meeting your customer where they already are and presenting them with the information they value in a way that they want to consume it will not only help you better understand these people, but it will also build a foundation of trust and respect for your business and ultimately help you develop a stronger relationship with your customer.
Personas are a huge component of developing and implementing an inbound marketing strategy. Download our free buyer persona worksheet to get started!