How To Build Buyer Personas for Content Marketing

Lauren Oliver

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January 27, 2023 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

Marked checklist on a clipboard. How to build customer personas concept.

Every customer is different. But take 10,000 individual customers, and you’re likely to find some patterns. By using these shared characteristics, we can build up a better idea of exactly who enjoys our services. Creating buyer personas from these allows us to reverse engineer high-impact marketing campaigns. Today, we’ll be exploring how to build buyer personas with the following topics:

What Is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is a fictional representation that describes your target customer. By outlining the demographics and psychographics of your target audience, your personas provide a closer look at the customers who are most likely to engage with your brand. In this way, your personas turn into a powerful marketing tool.

According to a NexProspex study, using buyer personas can increase marketing revenue by 171% and boost visit duration by 900%. These aren’t numbers to sniff at. These figures highlight just how potent buyer personas can be. And for successful marketing and advertising, you need personas because it’s practically impossible to get to know each potential customer who engages with your brand.

Instead, buyer personas give you a generalized representation that reflects a large portion of the audience. You can also use personas to predict how potential customers would move through your marketing funnel. These details are beneficial for understanding how customers might respond to certain content and take action on your digital platforms.

Even though personas showcase fictional people, they’re critical for driving content creation. Understanding what your audience wants to see when searching online can ultimately shape your campaigns, voice, tone, and content types your team uses going forward.

Read more about it: What Is a Persona?

Buyer Personas vs Ideal Customer Profiles

Buyer personas and ideal customer profiles are similar marketing tools—and common in both B2B and B2C environments. Each creates a profile around a fictionalized individual who is likely to do business with your company. But just because they offer a similar service to businesses, doesn’t mean they’re exactly the same.

With an ideal customer profile (ICP), you create a generalized example of what your business’s ideal customer would be. On the other hand, the buyer persona goes into more detail, breaking down specific factors that support why this individual would choose your brand. Here’s an example of an ideal customer profile and a buyer persona for the same software monetization company:

  • ICP: The company’s ICP consists of enterprise-level tech companies with over 500 employees and yearly revenue of 5 million dollars or more. It might highlight key decision-makers in this profile, such as the CEO or CMO, and indicate the ideal locations of these profiles.
  • Buyer persona: The buyer persona showcases the senior director of the data team who’s frustrated by the difficulty of building software billing of material documents and is looking for a solution.

The first example of an ideal customer pertains to the larger details of a company or decision-maker. The second focuses on a specific individual, painting a picture of what they need to solve their challenges.

Typically, you’ll find ICPs in top-of-the-funnel marketing, where content is meant to attract before moving customers through the middle and bottom levels. Then, customer personas dig deeper, giving you the insights you need to increase engagement in the middle and bottom levels of the funnel.

Related reading: Audience Profile vs Customer Persona: Pick Your Fighter

How To Build Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are a great way of pushing your marketing campaigns in the right direction, especially considering the importance of personalization. Crafting buyer personas is an ideal first step toward making sure your customers feel accommodated.

While you don’t have to create all of your buyer personas at once, it’s useful to have at least a selection before starting any marketing campaign. Not only will they help you craft better messaging, but they’ll improve the results of any campaigns that you launch. To get started on your buyer personas, follow these key steps:

1. Research With Surveys

Of course, to generate accurate buyer personas, you need to hit the books first. Beyond just generating a report of what your current customers are doing, a persona should be forward-thinking. Who would you like to work with in the future? If you have a clear response in mind, you could use this future customer as a cornerstone of your persona.

Beyond demographic and psychographic data, focus on asking questions and using a mixture of company insights and surveys to answer them. Luckily, you can approach this in layers, starting off with data that your team has easy access to.

You should also start with the customers who are already buying from you. Find out why they chose your brand as a solution. Surveys are extremely valuable for this. Send out a survey to your customers, keeping it short and sweet. You might even offer an incentive or reward in return for gathering feedback. When conducting surveys, you want to ask questions like:

  • What are your job title and role?
  • Define your main roles in your workplace
  • Do you make decisions at work, or do you report to a supervisor?
  • Outside of work, what hobbies do you have?

Questions like these can give you a clearer idea of what sort of customers engage with your brand. If you work in B2B, questions about internal management hierarchies can be very useful. For example, there’s no point in a business advertising to junior-level employees, as they won’t have the final say on the products or services their companies purchase.

2. Research With Conversation

Beyond sending out surveys to your audience, use direct conversation to gather data. This is often a slower process, but definitely not one to overlook. There are two methods to starting the conversations: your customer feedback and your sales or customer service team.

No one knows your customers better than themselves. Find some loyal customers and invite them for a chat about their lives, presenting yourself as a core contact within the company. You can always offer incentives to get them on board. However, if you focus on customers with a high lifetime value (LTV), you may be able to get people who are happy to provide their feedback for free.

After talking to your available customers, it’s time to turn to your internal teams. Any team members that have direct contact with your customers are excellent resources. They’ll understand more about the typical problems that a customer presents and how your company solves those issues.  Collect all of this information into a single spot so you’re ready to conduct analysis once the time comes.

Related reading: Creating and Using an Audience Profile Sheet for B2B Marketing

3. Consider Future Markets

The third step when constructing buyer personas is to think about the future. As we stated earlier, a buyer persona doesn’t have to just be a reflection of your current audience. This is a fictionalized profile that you’re creating, so it can be whatever you’d like.

But think about how you can support future growth and development. Maybe you want to start working with enterprise-level clients. Or maybe your brand wants to reach new business niches. Think about the ideal candidates that you can visualize in each of these new places. From there, you can start to answer your own questions about what this fictional buyer would be like.

One of the leading problems brands can have is reaching new customers. By projecting into the future and seeing what sorts of customers you’d like to appeal to, you can start to get ahead of this issue. Another way to generate insight into possible new avenues is through competitor analysis. With this, you can research the types of customers your direct competitors engage with and create personas that outline similar characteristics.

Across these three areas of data farming, you should have a more detailed picture of the different buyer personas you can create. That’s another great thing about this marketing tactic—you can create as many personas as you’d like. As long as you have the budget to personalize your marketing campaigns, you can construct as many buyer personas as makes sense for your business.

4. Find Similarities

After pooling together all of your research, you should have a good bit of information on your customers. You’ll know baseline demographic and psychographic data, along with the motivations behind purchasing habits. From here, you can flesh out the details more specifically, including points like:

  • Problems and solutions: Nothing motivates a customer more than a product or service that solves all their problems. If you notice that lots of customers work with your brand because you solve a problem, you can use this as a cornerstone of your buyer personas.
  • Goals: There could be a common goal that unites your different buyers, especially if your brand offers different types of products or services.
  • Industry or role: Do all of your buyers end up being managers in tech companies? Or do you notice a large portion of your audience works in upper management roles? Dive into the data and find out if there are patterns like these related to the industry, niche, or customer’s role in their work.

One point about buyer personas not to overlook is the element of fiction. Although you’re using real data, you’re still going to be designing a story about a fictional person. That’s why understanding and pinpointing motivations, goals, problems, and solutions are so important.

Read more about it: Using Buyer Personas to Boost Your Content Marketing

5. Get Creative

Now that you have the data you need, it’s time to get creative and build your personas. Typically, it’s easier to start with the basic details and then fill in the nitty-gritty as you build up this fictional person. Write down the demographic data about your buyer persona, including details like:

  • Their job or position within a company
  • Their location
  • Their age
  • Their interests or hobbies

Remember that a persona tells a story about someone. To get to the core of who they are, you’re going to have to invent a little bit of fiction behind this person. So your goal should be to have a whole story that you can share with your marketing and sales teams. The more information you include, the better. Here’s a list of several more characteristics you might include in your personas:

  • Role: Who is this person, and why would they be interested in your business? Are you helping them reach a goal, or is your product making their lives easier?
  • Goals: What are the incentives behind working with your company? Does this person want to increase revenue, simplify a task, or automate a process?
  • Lifestyle: Is this person someone who’s in charge, or are they a mid-level employee that has only a little influence?
  • Challenges: What’s currently frustrating this person, what gets on their nerves, and what challenges do they want to overcome?

6. Put Your Personas to Use

Creating buyer personas can actually be a really fun exercise. Especially if you enjoy being creative or sharing stories, then you’ll have a chance to flex the old creativity muscles here. But this isn’t just a pointless exercise; we are able to instantly put buyer personas to use.

Once you’ve created a buyer persona, assess your current marketing campaigns and materials from their perspective. How would this person react to certain tones? Would they enjoy reading a professional tone, or would they prefer something a little more relaxed? From there, you can start to personalize the content you create going forward.

By starting with your buyer persona and then working backwards, you can optimize your content ahead of time. Across your messaging, marketing materials, and landing pages, you can accommodate the persona you’ve created. And producing quality content your ideal customers want to see ultimately boosts lead generation and conversions on your website.

Related reading: How To Create a UX Persona (With Template and Example)

Importance of Buyer Personas in Content Marketing

Buyer personas form a central part of your content strategies. Instead of hoping that your audience connects with a certain message, using a buyer persona leads you toward a path of success. Starting with your personas and working backward, you’ll generate highly-personalized marketing campaigns.

You can’t go five minutes without seeing personalization in content marketing, and for a good reason. According to the Statista Research Department, 90% of U.S. consumers find personalization very or somewhat attractive. With this in mind, building buyer personas for content marketing is increasingly important for several reasons:

  • Better targeting: Building buyer personas allow you to focus your content, increasing the likelihood of it connecting with your audience.
  • Refined content strategy: If you’re stuck for content ideas, ask yourself what your buyer persona would like to see or read about. This can quickly become a treasure trove of content ideation.
  • Greater chance of discovery: Buyer personas can be a useful tool for future planning and working toward breaking into new markets.
  • Negative personas: Buyer personas can also be used to create group profiles that you don’t want to market to. Creating these helps you avoid certain messaging that would attract low-value customers to your brand.

These are just a few of the reasons personas are so important. So if you want to make your content marketing strategy count, then building effective buyer personas should be at the top of your to-do list. With detailed snapshots of your ideal readers, your team will have the insights they need to create targeted content that delivers value.

Author Image - Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver

Content Manager at CopyPress

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