Developing buyer personas is difficult. Through scheduling meetings with sales managers, wrangling up actual customers for lengthy interviews, and behind the scenes data analysis... there's enough research required to put even the most savvy of marketers on the fritz. Not only is the process of developing thorough buyer persona outlines challenging, but the exercise itself doesn't provide tangible returns in traffic, leads, or customers.
Try selling that to management.
I found myself answering some tough questions when I arrived at this realization: For whatever reason, some marketers, business owners, and sales managers hate buyer persona development. I don't think it's because they don't understand the importance of buyer personas. After all, your buyer personas will play a part in every single thing you do in inbound marketing. Everything you create from blog posts, to automated emails, and even down to the smallest details of effective calls to action should be created with your buyer personas in mind.
Within this idea of content creation lies the challenge. How exactly will our buyer personas play a role in our inbound marketing strategy? Sure, we’ve just invested 20 hours in the development of our buyer personas. We have Director Dan, Small Business Sam and Marketing Mary… but now what?
What we need to know as business owners, marketers, and customer advocates is how to make our buyer persona development process actionable. What can we actually take from our findings that will drive tactical changes in our inbound marketing doings?
There are many ways to do this, but here are a few of my favorites:
Develop premium content offers that help your customers accomplish their personal or professional goals.
In our own internal persona development, we found that a certain grouping of clients of ours that happen to be internal marketing managers. Referring to these people as “Marketing Mary’s”, we discovered that often times they are tasked with increasing the ROI of their digital marketing efforts, and sometimes have trouble doing so. Knowing this professional challenge of these targeted potential clients, we created an eBook to help them do just that… boost their ROI with marketing analytics.
Create blog posts that answer your customers’ most frequently asked questions.
This one is incredibly easy to work into any inbound marketing strategy. When interviewing your customers, or even connecting with your salespeople about your customers, make sure to arrive at your customers’ most frequently asked questions. Each common question that may arise is a perfect opportunity to cater directly to your customers in more ways than one. Begin with creating blog posts to answer each question… one blog post per question. By doing this, you’re not just creating content for your prospects (not to mention Google) to munch on-- you’re also providing your salespeople with pre-packaged answers to the questions they will inevitably be getting all the time.
Use imagery in your digital assets that your customers can identify with.
Often times, we’ll be able to paint pretty good pictures of exactly whom we’re trying to reach once our buyer persona development process is completed. Basic demographic information is just scratching the surface, but often times this information can help us to decide on the imagery we might consider using when developing digital assets for our company, such as the website. Say you’re in eCommerce for an online business that sells quilting supplies. Using your buyer persona insights, you might end up producing assets including imagery that your primary buyer persona can identify with: females between 40 and 60 years old with families including one or possibly two generations of children. An instructional guide might be developed that features pictures of women that fit this demographic.
Cultivate your customers’ commonly used phrases to describe your services and include them in your keyword strategy.If your interviews with customers are particularly detailed and insightful, you might be lucky enough to arrive at keyword-level data that these people are using to find your business online. If not, you’re not alone… this information can be tricky to extract. Free tools such as Google Analytics can help you arrive at what phrases people are using to find your business, although this is much more difficult in the era of Google’s not provided keyword encryption. Try expanding your date range to include several years’ worth of data. Once these keywords are identified, start creating content that includes these phrases in the URL, title tag, title (if we’re talking about blog posts), headers, and even in the copy of the page itself.
There are plenty of other ways to include your buyer persona insights into your tactical inbound marketing efforts, but these are some low hanging fruits to get just about anyone started. What other ways have you used your buyer personas in your inbound marketing strategies? Please let us know in the comments section below.
January 20, 2015