Building your buyer persona requires a lot of effort and is a very complex process. However, buyer persona represents the basis of the pyramid, in a customer-centric marketing strategy. Thus, you might find yourself starting very driven and motivated, and eventually get overwhelmed and lose focus. Say no more! We’re here to help you out. Check out the following 5 steps and contour your personas as easy as do-re-mi.
1. Check out your current audience – First-hand data
Any research should start with what you already know. Of course, the purpose of creating your buyer persona is to discover the things you might not be taking into consideration. The easiest way to start this research is by taking a look at your current data and information and start building on that. However, please don’t jump to any conclusions just yet. Simply take a look at what you already have, so you can have an idea about what are the missing pieces and where to start from.
Take a look at demographics. Do you know your customers’ occupation? That’s great!. Do you know their gender? That’s valuable information. Do you know where they’re from? Again, very helpful.
Alright, so this step is mostly like a what-information-do-I-have, so you know what information you need to find out.
2. Organize and shape your instruments
After you figured out and did kind of an inventory about the data you have and should have, you are now ready to make a game plan. According to what information you need to determine you will choose the instruments you are going to use to obtain that data.
Note: you might be able to obtain some information from your Admin. All the info you can get from other sources other than directly from your customers, do that! Don’t get me wrong, you will still talk to them directly. But you don’t want to bother them with tons of questions. Your customers are willing to help you out, as long as it doesn’t affect their schedule and it doesn’t require much effort from their behalf.
In most cases, the final buyer persona is a mix of all the information gathered with the help of 3 or 4 instruments.
These two tools can help you find out things like demographics, referring domains, interests, needs (what keywords are they looking for) and performance (which channel or social media platform performs the best for you – find out where exactly can you find your audience).
Tip: these tools will make you more aware of who your clients are, where can you find them, what they like and what they need.
Third party data – Power BI & Chart mogul
These two tools are great for business analytics. By simply feeding these tools with your data, you can come up with some impressive insights because buyer and user personas are all about insights. Extracting valuable information about your users will better shape your opinion about what your future clients will act like and what they expect from you. These tools will help you get meaningful metrics such as: why are your clients upgrading/downgrading, recurring revenue, churn and so on. You can create real-time dashboards and reports to find out more about your current customers’ behavior, lifetime value and determine areas that you still need to work on or improve.
Tip: these tools will make you understand the way your clients are thinking, and the reasoning behind their decisions, together with their typical behavior.
Surveys – SurveyMonkey & Typeform
Once you managed to take all the third party information you can get from the tools mentioned above, it’s time to turn to your customers for information.
But first thing’s first. Before talking to your customers or approaching them, you need to establish what do you want to find out from your customers. There are two significant chapters you need to go through with them: them in relation to your brand, and them on a personal level. Here are a few examples of the things you should find out from them. Keep in mind that these questions are just for indicative purposes. They will differ from brand to brand depending on the brand’s nature.
3. Ask the right questions
I. Brand-customer relationship oriented questions
1. Where did you find out about (insert brand name here)?
Here you’ll find out what is the best way for you to reach out to your customers and where (on which channels) you still need to do some work.
2. Did you compare (brand name) to other similar brands, before purchasing?
This question will definitely give you an idea about who are your biggest competitors, even though you should already have one.
3. If yes (there was a comparison), why did you decide to choose (brand name)?
The answers to this question will clarify what your strongest brand point is. Whether it’s quality, price or customer experience, you should know your main differential point. (Unique Selling Proposition). You might be surprised, that the strategy you are trying to highlight is not the one your clients are perceiving.
4. Did you make the purchase decision yourself or did you need approval for it?/ Did you purchase for yourself, or is somebody else the beneficiary.
You might think it’s a weird question, but this actually plays a vital role in defining whether your buyer persona is the same as your user persona. For instance, if you’re selling kids clothes, it’s pretty obvious that the buyer (parent) is not the same as the user (kid).
5. What problem/need does (brand name) solve/fulfill for you? What was the main reason behind the purchase?
Your product should be a solution for your customer. Each purchase that we make, whether it’s food or clothes or anything else, is stimulated & generated by a need.
II. Personal oriented questions
Here, the list can be as long as you want it to be. So far, all the information you have is about where to find your customers & where did they find you, what’s the problem you are solving for them and their relationship with the brand. But it’s time to make your persona more personal. It’s time to add the human touch.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself?
Ask them about themselves. People love to talk about themselves and what defines them as a person. Think about it as an introduction. They know a lot about you, but you don’t know much about them. So, don’t be afraid to say “Tell me a little bit about yourself?”. Here, you should find out about their age, marital status, gender, whether they have children or not and so on.
2. What is your educational background?
Ask them to share with your their educational background and career path. You might be surprised that their studies might not coincide with their current job title. Ask them about their work environment and the roles they have to fulfill.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
This is one of the most important questions out there. Here, you can determine what does their regular schedule look like. Do they walk their dogs? Do they go running? Do they spend most of their time at the office or do they have a hectic schedule and so on. You’ll have a better idea of what they spend most of their time on and be able to understand their struggles better.
4. What does it mean for you to be successful? What are your biggest challenges?
You can find out valuable information about the problems they’re facing and what do they strive for. This way, you might be able to understand their struggles to make them understand why your brand or product is going to fulfill one or a few of their needs, or even better, help them get closer to what they refer to as a success.
5. Where do you learn about new information? Are you active on social media? Do you read any blogs or publications?
Questions similar to these will help you find new ways of reaching out to your customers or potential ones. Do they read the newspaper? Do they follow certain people on Instagram? Once you get this information from them, you might be changing your promotional strategies and add other channels to your exposure approach. It’s useless to be the perfect solution for them as long as you never meet. You have to meet your customer halfway. While they are making an effort your way, you should do the same. The easier it is for them to find you, the better the chance of a purchase.
6. How do you prefer to interact with vendors?
There are a few answers you might get to this question. Some might say chat; some might say email, some may tell you that they prefer to be contacted via phone, or be approached directly in the store. Again, you don’t want to seem too desperate when approaching them. You want to approach them as natural as possible and adjust your style and medium of communication, according to the ones they prefer.
7. Describe a recent purchase
One of the essential questions in a buyer persona study. Ask them to be as specific as possible. This way, you will be able to draw some conclusions. Did they do extensive research before the purchase? Was it an impulsive purchase? Did they abandon their cart and then came back to buy the product? Did they purchase multiple products (like a shirt and some pants) or just the one? Did they follow the product for a while before buying or was it a love-at-first-sight kind of thing? And so on. These insights will give you the change to put yourself in their shoes and then act accordingly. For instance, if they are an abandon-cart type of person, you should consider strategies like retargeting campaigns. It will make you reevaluate the marketing actions you’re practicing, assisting your customer with “bites” all the way to the purchase.
4. Interviews or focus groups
The surveys and questionnaires are a quick way of communication with your customers, but it is a more superficial type of approach, based on quantity. But in order to have the best-defined personas, you have to go a little more in depth. Do some interviews with some of your customers. The ideal case would be to talk to some of your best, and some that are … not ideal let’s say. So you can compare their opinions. Take the best out of it and try to fix the not so best parts.
The interviews should kind of follow the pattern of the questionnaire but in a more open question kind of conversations instead of a yes/no dialog.
You can include questions like:
- How often do you purchase (brand name)?
- Are you satisfied with the product/service? If no, why. If yes, why?
- Are you willing to recommend (brand name) to a friend?
- What are your main objections about (brand name) and what do you consider the best parts of it?
- Did you recommend it to anybody?
- What city do you live in?
- What do you do in your free time?
- What are your main responsibilities at work and at home?
- What skills do you need in order to be successful at your job?
- Do you belong to any social groups or communities?
- What are your favorite brands and why?
How do you find your interviewers?
Do you have a store? Ask them to have a 10-minute talk with you. Are you an online brand? Send them an email! Are you very active on social media, ask them to chat with you. You’ll be surprised how open people are to these kinds of things. Clients love to think that they actually have something to say in their brand’s path, and by doing this, you’re showing them how important they are to you. They will feel very much appreciated.
The same thing should happen in focus groups. Only this time, you will need an experienced moderator that will help you get the information you need. Think about playing some brand oriented games with them, that will make them tell you their honest opinion about it, without thinking whether it’s right or wrong. You want to get their most natural reactions, as raw as possible.
5. Interpret the data
Alright, now that you have all your data, the big question is: NOW WHAT?
Well, the work is not over yet. It is crucial to interpret the data correctly, so you’ll define your persona in the most accurate way.
I have to tell you, that after I was pretty much done with collecting all the data, I entered a panic mode. I had all this information about my buyers but didn’t know what to do with it. I’m telling you, it was a lot. Going back to what I established before I started my research, I went back to basics and pointed out to the things I wanted to find out about my customers.
For instance, I wanted to find out why my buyers were buying my product? And from there, I started to make connections with the questions I asked, or data that I collected, that would give me the answer to my question.
Why are my customers buying Style Society? And the answer to this was found in questions like:
Did you compare us with other similar brands?
What is the problem/need we are fixing for you? What is the pain point that we solve for you?
What is the main factor that made you choose Style Society?
And this process goes on for all the blanks you want to fill in. Of course, the survey answers will be a lot easier to handle.
For the interviews, the easiest way to translate the open answers into actual data is to go through them one by one and see if there are people who gave you similar answers. Believe me, you’ll be surprised.
For example, when asking them (my customers) whether they are active on social media or not, most of them said yes. And they even told me that they prefer Facebook and Instagram. Totally different people from totally different sides of the world kind of gave me the same answers.
And so it started. I was already sketching a buyer persona profile for Style Society according to the most trustworthy source: my customers.
When it comes to interpreting your data, you have to keep in mind two things:
- It is and will be a long process. It’s the time of pie charts, graphics, and scales. It takes a lot of patience to centralize all the information, but believe me, in the end, it will be all worth it.
- Your most valuable and in-depth insights, come from the interview. Simplify all the answers you’ve got the most frequent responses. In the end, your interview will and should translate into charts as well. The same thing applies to the focus groups.
Now that you know the main steps that you need to follow in order to build your buyer persona profiles, I suggest you get going. As soon as you’re done collecting your data, come back for we’ll soon release another buyer persona article, with tips and tricks on how to maximize online conversions with user targeted display ads and a professional ready-to-use buyer persona template. See ya later!