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What are buyer personas, and why do they matter to your marketing strategy?

Every marketer wants to make sure they're reaching the most interested and engaged audience in the best of ways. But before taking the leap, you have to set some ground rules about who your ideal audience members actually are, and what they want from your product/service. Cue buyer personas - the first step to upgrading your marketing strategy.  

What is a buyer persona?


“A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” - Hubspot


Typically a buyer persona (by the way, they're also known as customer personas!) is a snapshot of your ideal customer that includes their:

  • Basic demographics (age, sex, location etc.)

  • Job title

  • Identifiers/behaviours

  • Motivators and goals

  • Challenges or pain points

  • Common objections they might have to your product/service

  • Information seeking/research habits


To really bring them to life, a persona would also include an example (fictional) image of the customer and a name or nickname. Since they represent your target customers and not everybody, most businesses might only have 1-3 buyer personas.


For a persona to be credible, it should be based on research so that everything is validated by real feedback and data from your customers. It should also be detailed enough that you and the whole team can envision these personas like they were real people.

 


Discover what a buyer persona is and how you can start creating one - from the alphawhale team

Why are buyer personas important to your business?


Here’s a little quiz you can take to decide how buyer personas would matter to your marketing:


Do you currently:

  • Know who the top buyers of your product/service are?

  • Know how people are finding your site, and why they’re converting?

  • Know which of your social media channels convert well, and which ones don’t?

  • Know the most common challenges your customers face, and how to solve them?

  • Know whether your cost-per-acquisition is higher than it should be or how to lower it?

  • Feel that your marketing is totally on point, and no resources are being wasted?


If you answered “No” to any of the above, this is where having personas will help. You’ve probably heard before that personas are essential to any successful marketing and content strategy. They can also help align the vision and goals of the customer service, sales, product and website design teams.


Without knowing who your ideal customers are, what they need and how they behave at various stages of their buyer journey, you might as well be pitching in the dark!


Only by knowing your personas can you begin to better personalise your marketing to attract/retain the customers you want and decrease cost per acquisition. Take this success story, for example.

 

A MarketingSherpa case study found that buyer personas added the following value: 

  • A 900% increase in length of visit,

  • A 171% increase in marketing-generated revenue,

  • A 111% increase in email open rate,

  • And a 100% increase in the number of pages visited. (Act-On)


Pretty inspiring, right?


But how can you make sure that buyer personas will deliver the same outcomes for your business? The answer is easier said than done - how well personas work for you ultimately depends on how well you research and create them.


OK, so how do I get started creating a buyer persona?


We'll be upfront: the rules and methods on creating personas vary from business to business. Here’s our preferred method at alphawhale:


  1. Research target audience

  2. Get qualitative data

  3. Validate with quantitative data

  4. Map out a buyer journey

  5. Finalise buyer personas


We can safely say that the better researched your personas are, the more value they will add to your business. It’s also really important to stay true to the data and to your method (whatever you end up choosing). Here are some tips on making sure of this:


  • Have your Google Analytics set up configured properly and know what reports/tabs you should be tracking.

  • Establish SUPER clear research goals (that don’t change as you go) and make sure everyone agrees on them before starting the work.

  • Avoid biased research, leading interview questions or skewing the outcome wherever possible.

  • Prepare yourself and others to be challenged on the key assumptions you had about customers, and let the data do all the talking.


For a more practical breakdown of how you can start researching and creating buyer personas that will actually work for your business, don’t forget to grab a copy of our latest resource, Buyer Personas: A 5 step guide to knowing your ideal customer. 

Happy researching!

Buyer Personas Guide

Christina Peng
Christina Peng
Christina is a content strategist with a digital marketing background. She loves bringing words to life and harbours an unwavering affection for 80's music and digital art.