When, Why, and How to Update Your Buyer Personas

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A Marketing Sherpa case study found that using buyer personas leads to a 171% increase in marketing-generated revenue.

It's probably not hard to believe: Today's consumer prefers a personalized experience.

In fact, buyers are 48% more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues (source: ITSMA).

But buyer personas are only as effective as they are accurate. Are your buyer personas up-to-date and delivering you the best results? Here are indications you should strengthen or revise your personas.

Conversion time

Solid buyer personas reduce lead conversion time by 72% (Tweet this!) according to a DemandGen report.

There are several reasons for this:

When targeting ideal buyers, your solution fits their need closely. You don't have to convince them that you're the right answer, since they come in already seeking a similar solution. These buyers may also come in with important pre-existing knowledge that shrinks your education curve.

Solid personas should identify people who are qualified in many ways for your product.

This guides content offers that attract the right people — aka, people who identify with your solution and have an easier time converting into qualified leads. (See the blog post, "How to Craft Compelling Offers for Your Buyer Personas.")

If your content is hyper-focused to your most important personas, you'll gradually provide and fine-tune the right nurture path. This path will be impeccably clear for visitors to your site.

If they're the right buyer personas, they'll have a quick, easy, and hyper-focused path to take.

On the reverse side, improper personas will have a difficult time bumbling down your purchase path. Conversions won't come as easily to them, and there may be a bigger education curve that lengthens conversion time.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your conversion time lengthy for new leads?
  • Are you losing traffic that bounces?
  • Is new traffic failing to convert on your offers?

If your content strategy aligns with your personas but you still see these problems, this is an indication that your target buyer personas are missing the mark.

A stronger buyer persona with clearly identified pain points will guide clear content offers — and those should cut down conversion time.

When, Why, and How to Update Your Buyer Personas

Content tug-of-war

As you mature your marketing offers over time, you might find a new divide that makes targeting difficult. You may get a divided feeling between a few characteristics within one persona.

(For example, you sell mobile security software and find a distinct marketing difference for leads using iPhones and those with Androids.)

Your content creation shouldn't feel like tug-of-war.

If there's a clear divide in your offers and language, it's a clear sign your persona is trying to accomplish too much.

Clear, targeted content is most compelling to convert leads. If you're creating wishy washy content to hit all the bases (or constantly branching your marketing into two distinct buckets) you're not servicing anyone.

These are clear indications to split one persona into two distinct personas.

When, Why, and How to Update Your Buyer Personas

A caveat to splitting personas: Since each persona is a representation of a group, there will be some differences between individual members. Not all differences call for a persona split. Some are necessary factors that you can address with smart content or other segmentation tools. 

For example, if the buyer persona differs in that some people have relevant formal training and others do not, you can probably cover this with smart segmentation. 

Determine how major this divide is, and decide if there are enough clear characteristics to support two separate personas.

The best litmus test is if your entire marketing strategy could reasonably shift to accommodate two separate personas.

If there isn't enough a strong case for a targeting strategy for each persona, use segmentation tools instead.

Poor organic results

Targeted marketing campaigns lead to a 55% increase in organic search traffic.

This is because you're identifying the right people and understanding the problems they're looking to solve — particularly the organic keywords they're using to research their issues.

With the right buyer personas and an understanding of their search language, your content is naturally SEO optimized.

There are two key organic metrics that may indicate a buyer persona problem:

  • Low organic traffic
  • Low organic conversion rate

If either of these metrics is poor, you should dig in to find the root problem. Do your keywords and optimized content match your buyer personas?

If they do, you may have a deeper buyer persona issue. If your buyer persona's problem has changed, or if the language they use to define it has evolved, you may need to tweak your buyer personas and the language they use to identify problems.

For example, maybe they were once worried about finding SaaS software that integrated easily, but now they're worried about finding such software at the right price.

This subtle shift in needs could drastically change their search habits — and should be recognized in your personas.

Bad clients = negative persona

Just as important as a positive persona is a negative persona.

A negative persona is a client you don't want to target because they characteristically result in unqualified leads or unideal customers.

Maybe you've been targeted a certain persona for a while, but realize that these relationships usually end up badly or that the sales process hits major roadblocks.

These patterns can indicate a "negative" persona.

For example, maybe you're finding that a certain persona just doesn't have the authority or budget in place to invest in your solution, or that the profitability of the persona is low.

Note: It's worthwhile to identify these personas in the first place and mark them as "negative" personas. This can help you identify problem leads early in the process and vet them out of the sales process, saving time and resources.

Takeaway

Buyer personas are proven to bring returns to your marketing — page visits, lead conversions, revenue and more.

But only 44% of B2B marketers use buyer personas, according to ITSMA.

If you're using buyer personas but aren't seeing ROI for your targeting, it may be time to revise them for accuracy. Here are indications that your personas need work:

  • Your conversion time is lengthy and/or the learning curve is steep
  • You have difficulty writing content to cover certain characteristics of a persona, meaning you may need to split a persona into two
  • Your organic search results are low, meaning you aren't targeting the right problems with your persona
  • You see negative patterns in a persona — indicating a "negative persona" that you should qualify, but avoid moving down the funnel

By revising your personas as your business evolves, you'll reap the most benefits of targeting and stay up-to-date with an effective inbound marketing strategy!



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