As inbound marketers, we often come into contact with business owners who say, “this has been working for ten years - why isn’t it working anymore?” Times are changing and with that consumer mindsets and products are changing as well. If you've been marketing to the same customers for several years, chances are your target customers have changed beyond your marketing strategies and tactics. Is this you? We have some steps to get you thinking about your buyer personas and how they should evolve.
What are Buyer Personas and Who do they Benefit?
To catch you up, buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They are used across a wide range of internal departments, such as marketing, sales, product, and services, to understand your ideal customers and to help you find ways to reach those customers.
Buyer personas help you separate your clients into specific categories, then create content targeted specifically to them. If you have never created these personas, or have personas but haven’t looked at them in awhile, it’s time to revisit and reevaluate. Follow these 5 tips on how to update your personas and make them more effective when it comes to capturing new leads for your business.
1.) Avoid the Mistake of Creating too Many Buyer Personas
How Many Buyer Personas Should You Have?
There is no cut and dry number that businesses should follow when it comes to buyer personas. The key to creating the right number of personas is to develop your personas based on realistic and viable objectives. No matter if you are an established larger business or new, smaller business, it’s important not to exclude the buyers who are successfully closing with you, and then add personas over time as you continue to expand your desired client base.
Having too many personas often blurs the lines from one persona to the next, making it difficult to determine how best to communicate with, target and relate to those overlapping identities. We recommend starting with three personas and adding personas over time. If possible, pull client data from your existing database when creating your new personas, and always make sure there is a clear defining line that separates one buyer persona from another.
2.)Ensure Your Buyer Personas Align with Evolving Business Objectives
Why Update Your Buyer Personas?
Your buyer personas should evolve over time to align with your business goals. This is not a bad thing! Adjusting your buyer personas is often a great way to open up new opportunities that may not have been attainable in previous years. Considering how much the economy changed in 2020 alone, should be reason enough for smart business leaders to take time to evaluate your target customers.
When you go over your previous year’s budget and progress, and next year’s goals, don't breeze through your yearly marketing plan. Review old buyer personas and see if there is a new niche you want to start capturing, and any new ways you can serve the needs of the clientele that has been serving you so well. Remember, your buyer personas may only need a few changes, but those changes could have a significant impact.
3.) Understand How Your Target Audience Communicates with Your Brand
Are you spending marketing dollars on the most effective platforms?
As technology continues to evolve, brands are faced with the challenge of knowing where and how to communicate with customers. If your 7-year-old buyer personas are out of touch with preferred channels and platforms, then you could be spending marketing dollars on driving traffic to the wrong target audience. Channels of communication and social media engagement is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to generating new leads, nurturing your leads, and driving sales. Your buyer personas may very likely outgrow certain attributes over time and brands that pay attention and pivot accordingly will be more successful.
4.) Boosting Website Traffic and Generating Qualified Leads
Are you sending the right content to the right buyers?
If your traffic is on the decline in comparison to last year’s traffic, your outdated buyer personas may be part of the reason. When the blogs you post aren’t getting much traction and your offers are falling flat, it may be a sign you are targeting the wrong people and/or pushing the wrong content.
Before driving more marketing dollars into your existing strategy, or making changes on the fly, you need to get to the root of the problem. A reduction in traffic and diminishing leads means you are off target with your potential customers. This is a good time to step back and realign your approach, and it starts by looking at your buyer personas.
- Do you need to account for a new channel or communication or social platform?
- Have your persona’s pain points or challenges changed?
- Is there a niche audience you aren’t accounting for with your existing personas?
You can overcome a decline in traffic and leads if you take the right steps to get to the root of the issue. Just make sure your personas are part of the evaluation process.
5.) The Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. This journey is a three-step process:
- Awareness Stage
The buyer realizes they have a problem.
- Consideration Stage
The buyer defines their problem and researches different options to solve it.
- Decision Stage
The buyer chooses a solution.
Buyer personas are a crucial part of the buyer’s journey and for supplying your leads with the content they need. By focusing on the characteristics of the consumers you want to sell to, you can create more personalized content that hits them at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Buyer personas are a simple but effective way to set your company's goals, and help align your marketing objectives for the upcoming year. With that said, buyer personas are only one piece (but a very important one) of your inbound marketing campaign. To learn more about how to effectively create an inbound campaign for your company, download our checklist below.