We all take in multiple considerations every day. Do I wear the black shirt or the green shirt? Do I have a sandwich for lunch or go with the sushi? La Croix or Sprite? And it’s not just personal decisions we have to weigh. As marketers, we constantly vacillate between options for our marketing program. Should we run display ads or social ads? Is that piece of content a better fit for a blog or ebook? Should we sponsor that conference or use the money to hold our own event? Our next move is often decided by a never-ending series of educated guesses.
The one thing that has helped lessen my mental load as I navigate the murky marketing waters are the buyer personas I dusted off of our Dropbox shelves recently. We, like many other companies, had no problem putting them together. It was the implementation that was the tricky part and thus, their reason for being forgotten about for so long.
Using buyer personas to build content is the easy part. But what about setting up ad budgets? Choosing keyword targets? Putting together the architecture of your sitemap?
When you let buyer personas permeate your entire marketing plan, it helps to provide a cohesiveness to your overall strategy. Should we run display ads or social ads? Well, we know our buyer typically spends roughly an hour on LinkedIn each week, so let’s try that.
Here are a few steps you can take to put together in-depth buyer personas that go beyond simple demographics, and how you can start using them as the baseline in all decisions you make moving forward.
Begin with research and be sure to include both qualitative and quantitative techniques, which help illuminate a different side of the picture to your buyer personas. From there, divide your research into two different topics: audience research and user data. Here are a few types of data you should consider gathering for each category:
Audience Research includes language cues, topics of interest, content preferences, contextual language cues and topics of interest. You can use a variety of techniques to capture said information. Start with contextual inquiries, user interviews, competitive research, department interviews or even clickstream data.
User Data includes traffic generation, user engagement, conversion paths, and device preference. Again, the ways in which you can collect the data vary. You can use web forms, various user experience tools (Optimal Workshop is a personal favorite), keyword trackers or web analytics.
Blueprint and document
After the research is done, I think the most important step comes next: drawing it out. Sometimes, taking a physical pen to paper can not only highlight problems in your own strategy but make the communication around the strategy so, so much easier.
Draw a picture, workflow, or whatever makes the most sense to you to determine what that buyer persona’s journey will look like interacting with your brand. Once you have it all drawn out, if you can’t justify a piece of it because it doesn’t make sense to what you uncovered in your research, rework it until it does. Even detailing the purpose of every single interaction can help tremendously. It seems tedious but in the end, it gives that buyer persona a much more cohesive and intuitive journey to purchase.
Set up and implement
Then it’s time to implement. This is probably the easiest part, but when done incorrectly, can have a big effect in a negative direction. This is where it’s important to come back to the blueprint with your team and make sure that each step is accounted for.
The 4 R’s: Run, review, react, report
And last, of course, is optimization. Once you have everything up and running, make sure to review on a consistent basis. You want to make sure you let your data reach a point of statistical significance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye out for the way in which it’s trending. Having a plan B in place for the blueprint and how buyers are moving through it when those types of things happen can make for a quick turnaround.
After all is said and done, be sure to go back to those buyer personas and make adjustments based on what you found. Never go about these documents in a ‘set it and forget it’ mindset. These buyer personas should be evolving along with your organization.
If you’re looking to discover more in-depth information on your buyer, we have experts on our team who can help do just that. Talk to one of them today.