What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona otherwise known as a customer persona, audience persona, or marketing persona is a personality construct of your ideal customer, pieced together by your marketing team to better define who to target with marketing campaigns and advertisements.
The purpose, – to improve conversion. It is an important step that is commonly misunderstood and misused. From the perspective of CRO, there are several big holes with this definition, it is an inadequate meaning from yesteryear.
The problem with this definition is that it focuses on what the business wants rather than what the customer wants. The definition is too simplistic and fails to emphasize the importance of new markets and growth. Nor does it fully take into consideration the motivation of buyers. It lumps large groups of people together with a broad range of interests, motivations, and personality types, most of whom should be in far more personalized groups for more focused targeting.
The process of defining and refining audiences groups and the targeting of these groups falls to conversion rate optimization specialists through constant testing and improvement.
Therefore, what a buyer persona should really be used for is as a starting point on a journey to product or service improvement, a reflection point to adapt to consumer needs, wants, and desires in order to give them what they want.
A buyer persona, therefore, should not be used as a basis for a marketing or advertising strategy but instead for product improvement. Redefine your product to meet consumers’ wants and needs.
How to create a better buyer persona?
Rather than basing your targeting on an ideal customer (wishful thinking), base it on hard facts. To do this you must rely on your analytics data and not just your Google Analytics but also your social media analytics, both supply great insights into your existing customers.
For most retailers, it’s a painful learning experience and consequently, a longer journey than it needs to be. Typically, most retailers fail to collect sufficient data to go beyond a few buyer personas for a variety of reasons.
In an age of GDPR and heightened sensitivity to privacy and security-related concerns, the collection of data is no small task, requiring an in-depth understanding of the differing legal requirements internationally.
Alternatively, you can choose to rely on a third party data collection service and the expertise they offer in this regard, but even if you do so you are legally liable for the use of data stored by them.
How to use data about your competitors?
If you have not already done so, then you need to do some competitor research on businesses with similar services or products.
By analyzing your competitor’s organic traffic with an SEO/SEM tool such as Ahrefs or a similar tool, you can establish the search terms your competitor’s customers are using to find their website, including the visitor volumes.
By searching for those same terms yourself, along with the brand name you can find the exact page and meta description that persuaded the visitor to click on the link on Google search. You can learn so much from this, most importantly the principle motivation of each of your competitors’ customers groups.
This is the starting point, from here you can break down purpose, reason and even emotion to create highly precise buyer personas to guide your product improvement efforts.
How to find new audiences?
You will usually find that each one of your successful competitors excels at targeting one or more specific audiences, in many cases things that the others have missed entirely. Leverage these insights to create highly precise personas and target them accordingly to maximize your business potential.
This task typically falls to those managing data, “data analysts”, “data scientists” or your CRO expert. These days CRO and SEO are pretty much inseparable, neither field of expertise can provide optimal results without the other but together provide the means to grow your business by identifying untapped, under optimized audiences.
Social media analytics
Facebook ads provide a wealth of information about your target demographics which in turn allows you to learn about your audience, as to which converts best.
However, the narrower (focused) the targeting the more expensive the ads are, but if money is no barrier then it’s a great way to learn about your customers.
Social media is a double-edged sword, on one hand, it allows you to see who your competitor’s audience is, on the other hand, it also allows them to see yours. Therefore success is increasingly about who can leverage data the most effectively. They don’t need to see your analytics dashboard to see who is following your social customer service channels, or even just those who follow you. Tools exist that enable the scraping of data from social media profiles, from which an expert can easily create additional personas’ to target.
How to convert new audiences?
The answer to this question is to carry out a gap analysis on your website content to see what you are missing in relation to newly identified audiences and then create content that speaks to them personally.
If the new audience source is from competitor research, do a gap analysis on their content to see how better to target their successful audience (your new audience).
Once you feel you understand the needs, wants, desires and pain points of this new audience create a customer journey map with defined steps or stages that map content to a conversion funnel.
Then choose a method of targeting your new audience. This can be via one or more landing pages, through real-time messages or popups that detect user-intent.
Most importantly, leverage consumer psychology and emotion to communicate with your readers in order to trigger that buying urge in your visitors, – which is effectively the art of conversion rate optimization. Always carry out onsite retargeting before resorting to offsite advertising in order to optimize conversion first (i.e. not Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc).
In order to leverage and convert a new potential audience you need to ask the question ‘how can I appeal to this group”. Your competitors provide a good example of how, but your goal should not be to just copy their strategic approach but rather make it even better, “own the audience”. By doing so you cut down your competitors while growing your own business.
In many cases, you will find that your competitors have found their most profitable customers by accident, and thus have not done everything they can to optimize these avenues of income. Thus providing you with the perfect opportunity to own future business.