Creating buyer personas is not a one and done practice.
In some ways, buyer personas are like a unique, fine wine that grows in-depth and flavor as it matures. Each unique customer profile needs refinement and shaping to really work their magic long-term.
And even if organizations start with all the best information as a starting point, buyer personas are estimated “best guesses.” Insights from current sales numbers, industry trends, market research, and social media stats all help shape a buyer profile, but remember, this data is focused on the past. It’s not a crystal ball or predictor of future behavior.
This is why it’s essential for B2B organizations to refine, refine, refine buyer personas in real time based on insights and customer behaviors—beyond initial personal development—in order to truly optimize them.
It’s essential for B2B organizations to refine, refine, refine buyer personas in real time based on insights and customer behaviors in order to truly optimize them.
How? By using the tools, resources and insights already at your fingertips to create better, more buyer-centric content in alignment with current buyer needs and preferences by optimizing buyer personas.
Hooray for the power of content in action!
Trends, Customer Behaviors and the Value of Cross-Team Collaboration
To keep potential customers interested and fuel the B2B sales pipeline, it’s essential to admit something very important: the customers you have, as well as the ones you don’t, all hold the keys to optimizing buyer personas.
However, “SiriusDecisions highlights that the biggest challenge to creating content is a lack of buyer understanding, and only 23% of B2B marketers have adopted a persona-centric focus for their content.” In addition, they found “irrelevance is the number one reason why content is not read by buyers, with 29% of respondents mentioning this as their top challenge.”
“SiriusDecisions highlights that the biggest challenge to creating content is a lack of buyer understanding, and only 23% of B2B marketers have adopted a persona-centric focus for their content.”
This kind of “content disconnect” highlights how buyer personas and the buyer-centric content created from them are missing the mark. It also reveals limited cross-team collaboration to create content that educates and resonates at various levels.
Customer tastes and needs change over time, and businesses need to consider how to update those needs directly into buyer personas using a one-team mindset. Ultimately these profiles should serve as a guide for all the buyer-centric content you create.
When was the last time you refreshed buyer personas? Here are some tips on optimizing buyer personas to create more effective, clear, buyer-centric content.
5 Tips for Optimizing Buyer Personas Right Now
Tip #1: Tap into the same resources customers use to do their research.
It’s important to find out where your target audience goes for support or what motivates them to make a purchase decision. Gems of information can be hidden in plain site, if you know where to look. Then, use the information to create simple anecdotes for each customer type. Storytelling is a powerful tool, especially when you use it to clarify the who, what, where when and why a buyer decides to act.
Tip #2: Review user interviews and see if buyers personas align with current insights from sales and customer service.
Do the sales and customer service teams conduct interviews or keep a detailed log of customer interactions? Is that content included in a shared content repository? The level of detail and insight the sales and customer service teams can get directly from customer interaction is truly priceless. It reveals patterns that can help optimize buyer personas with real world knowledge—and also aid in content ideation. Develop a system to track and organize these details.
Tip #3: Find a common link between people who decide not to buy from you and why.
Some customer’s offer honest feedback, so use it if you’ve got it. It can also help to create an online form for a post-sales review to collect feedback, or work with the customer service team to craft a form that highlights customer hot buttons.
Tip #4: Call on the expert insight of sales and customer service as a combined effort.
Put buyer personas into action! Persona development needs to be a cross-functional effort with sales and customer service. They notice themes you don’t, and have the added human connection factor because they regularly listen to people’s everyday concerns, questions and problems.
To be proactive in optimizing buyer personas, have the sales team use a description of the persona that best fits the profile of the caller, then make note of which profiles are most successful for specific aspects of the buyer’s journey. It’s a great way to target specific content strengths and weaknesses, and improve buyer-centric content overall.
Tip #5: Mind the metrics, then leverage the insights and patterns they reveal.
Are you tracking which types of content – blogs, white papers, video etc. – are being viewed, downloaded and accessed by certain personas?
- How many interactions lead to a purchase?
- What are the average number of “touchpoints” needed before a buy?
- What are the social metrics telling you?
- Is content resonating and sparking conversation online?
- Do you have a content dashboard tracking key numbers and tying them to a persona to pinpoint kind of content that works best with each persona?
These are just some of the ways metrics give you the detail you need to further optimize buyer personas. If you are actively doing these steps, it’s much easier to understand how content is not meeting current persona needs, and then map content to the buyer’s journey.
With so many different types of buyers involved in the long haul B2B sales process, optimizing buyer personas needs to be an ongoing, active effort. The more an organization can align personas with buyer stages in the journey, the easier it will be create buyer-centric content, too.