Take Your Buyer Persona Research up to the Next Level

 In Best Practices, Buyer Journey, Customer Experience, Persona Analysis

Buyer persona is a buzzword that is floated around repeatedly in the marketing world. Of course it’s important to know your buyers, but it doesn’t stop there. In order for buyer persona and buyer journey research to be valuable, you must make it actionable by incorporating it into organizational activities and using it to inform marketing decisions. We’ve found that there are 4 levels of buyer persona optimization that exist in organizations today. In this blog, we’ll discuss the four levels of buyer persona optimization, and the steps necessary to move your organization up to the next level. Note: when we say organization, we mean your whole organization – buyer persona insights need to be shared throughout all areas of your business, not just within the marketing department.

1. Non-existent

“We’ll get around to it…eventually”

These are the businesses who are on transmit only. They are blindly and wildly creating content that they hope will resonate with somebody. They have no established buyer persona research, and aren’t informed about who they’re talking to. They rely heavily on batch and blast email marketing tactics and are pleasantly surprised when an audience member engages with their content. They’ve continued to push buyer persona research to the back burner due to their lack of time and internal resources. Instead they use their existing perceptions of their audience to guide content and messaging decisions. Their audience feels unheard, unimportant and unsupported.

Level up: conducting buyer persona research internally or hire a firm to do so.

2. Established

“This is what we think our buyers are feeling”  

Organizations at this stage have conducted buyer persona research, but it isn’t necessarily correct. Their research was limited to conversations with members of the sales team who have exposure to buyers on their journey. The thought is there – but the research is not sufficient enough to provide them with insights into thoughts and feelings of their audience, and how to effectively move them along the buying journey. Organizations at this stage have recognized the need for persona research, but haven’t committed to an in-depth study.

Level up: gain a comprehensive understanding of what your buyers are thinking, feeling, and doing in each stage of the buyer journey by conducting primary research with the buyers themselves, not sales members who are exposed to them on their journey. Conduct 10 in-depth interviews per persona.

 

3. Evolving

“We’ve done our research, yay us! Let’s put the one-pager on our bulletin board and get back to work.”

Organizations at this stage have a comprehensive understanding of their buyer’s journey, and how they’re feeling at each stage of that journey. They’ve conducted primary research to understand the values of their audience and what makes them tick. They’ve listened to their buyers and have transformed that research into documentation that can be kept as a resource in their organization. The downfall of organizations at the evolving stage is their ability to take their research and make it actionable. The insights are there, but not being leveraged to drive strategy and decision making. A dialogue has been opened up with their audience, however that information is not being used to inform content strategies that support, encourage and speak to their audience on a deeper level. Their persona research sits on their desks, waiting to be put to action. These organizations haven’t segmented their lists based on personas, and therefore don’t tailor content based on persona research findings. They know the pain points their audience experiences at each phase in the buying journey, but aren’t making this information valuable by speaking to these identified buyer pain points.

Level up: Sharing buyer journey insights throughout different business units. Crafting messaging, content, and channel strategies based on research.

 

4. Operationalized

“We’ve invested in the research, now let’s make our research valuable by putting it to action.”

These organizations have conducted persona research to understand who exactly their buyers are, as well as each step of their journey from problem awareness to after-the-sale. They are using this information and aligning their web, content, inbound, and outbound strategies to match each persona at each stage of the buying cycle. They’ve listened to their customers to bridge product, content, and service gaps. They’ve established a consensus around their personas and marketing strategy moving forward. They focus on their customers’ values to proactively create content and use messaging tactics to speak to those values. They recognize that the customer is the center of their business and share their insights with the entire organization to gather feedback and inform company-wide decisions. They’re making marketing human again. Their storytelling style engages their audience and value-centric strategy turns loyal customers into brand advocates. They use their buyer persona insights to determine a lead scoring model, as well as media budget allocation. Lists and personalized messaging tactics have been created for each persona profile, mapping out highly targeted content and aligning it based on persona attributes.

Level up: update buyer personas every 12 months to adapt to the changes in how your personas consume information.

 

71% of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas. Do you really want to bet your marketing budget on an out-of-date or incomplete picture of your target personas? Clients such as Staples, Qlik, Iron Mountain, Box, BlueSnap, Schneider Electric, and others have trusted us to provide them with the insight they need to connect, engage, and convert their target personas. Now’s the time for you to get the deep, up-to-date insights you need into your buyer personas and a pragmatic plan of action to incorporate these personas into your marketing strategy. Buyer persona research is no easy feat, and can be a tricky beast to tackle alone. We’re here to help you get to that next level.

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