Marketing Strategy

How to Create Buyer Personas That Boost Your Content Marketing

Content that isn’t targeted to a specific audience helps no one. It doesn’t help your customers, because they aren’t getting their needs met or questions answered. And it doesn’t help your organization, which is trying to move specific prospects into their sales funnel.

The first step to solving this issue is to develop buyer personas. By doing so, you get an idea of the real people who buy—or might buy—your services. And you can use these personas to inform each piece of content.

But while many marketers trumpet the value of buyer personas, few really know how to create effective ones.

To create valuable buyer personas, you must conduct user research. There are several approaches to follow:

1. Qualitative

Qualitative research generally means you’re trying to draw conclusions from a small sample size. User interviews, usability testing, and buyer interviews all fall under this category.

2. Quantitative

Quantitative research means you’re drawing conclusions from a larger sample size. Website analytics data, social listening, and survey results would fall under this category.

3. A Mix of Both 

Quantitative research helps marketers understand what is happening (for example, it tracks the activity of your users). It informs the creation of personas by tying actual web behaviors or habits to a specific kind of user. Qualitative research, on the other hand, is great at telling marketers why it’s happening (for example, users can explain themselves).

Here’s the tricky part: what people say isn’t necessarily what they do.

Here’s the tricky part: what people say isn’t necessarily what they do.

For example, if “Director of Human Resources” is your buyer persona, that person may tell you qualitatively that they’re interested in XYZ, while their data-backed online behavior provides quantitative evidence that they’re interested in ABC. That’s why “a mix of both” approach to user research is best if you want to create effective buyer personas. You’ll not only understand what actions your users are taking, but the motivations behind those actions.

Once you’ve pulled your data, start assessing who these people are. Most of the time, B2B customers fall into several categories. Identify those categories and feed their attributes into a representative buyer persona.

When you’re done, you’ll end up with several buyer personas that give you a holistic view of your customer base. These buyer personas will not only help guide content, but will also inform your team about how to promote that content, offering insight into where customers are spending time online.

Stop developing content based on assumptions and start analyzing exactly who you’re talking to and what they need.

Liz O'Neill Dennison

About Liz O'Neill Dennison

Liz is a former Content Marketing Manager at Kapost. She's psyched about human-friendly content, beekeeping, and playing outside. Reach her at @lizkoneill.