Buyer Persona: The secret ingredient for your digital success
Most businesses fail in their digital attempts because they skip one key step before they start creating and distributing content across different platforms. That key step is called persona building. These businesses skip directly to lead generation most of the times but hardly yield satisfactory results as they ignore persona building.
While some think that they don’t require any persona research since they know the user very well, others think that it is a time-consuming process and skip it as they cannot foresee any ROI directly. Some people also treat persona and demographics (also known as target audience) as equal and hence, decide to skip persona building.
This blog will help you understand
- What is buyer persona?
- Why should we study buyer persona?
- How does persona differ from demographics?
- How to create and leverage a buyer persona?
- Why persona study is an ongoing process?
What is buyer persona?
A persona is a semi-fictional representation of all minute, important and possible characteristics of people in their buying process. A persona is created for every category of people involved in the buying process. Which primarily means potential buyers, but may also include anyone who acts as an influencer in the buying decision. Doing buyer persona presents the brand with all insights about the buyer’s mind so as to accurately promote a product/service.
Why should we study buyer persona?
A brand creates a service or product for business, but often one makes mistakes in promotion despite having a fair chance of success. They observe that even among similar customers, few go for the product and the rest refuse.
This happens because each customer is different in his/her preferences and ambitions. Some might aspire to buy a product while the rest may think it’s not worth it. Each buyer has their own journey. To accurately address their needs, you’d need to know their personalities that lead you to fulfil their specific needs. This is how you build a persona in case of digital marketing.
How does persona differ from demographics?
Old-school marketers see their audience through the lens of demographics and psychography. They ask, for instance, what kind of beverage one likes to have at night. They get coffee or tea as the answer. But that doesn’t help them understand why they chose that beverage.
Persona study helps a marketer predict the willingness, frustration and preferences from the subconscious mind of the target audience. The main focus of persona building is understanding the background and pain points of the customer.
Asking someone what kind of automobile one likes will generate a broad response like “I like four-wheeler” or “I prefer two-wheeler” is the result of demographics study. But this doesn’t help us find out why the user may be interested in buying a two-wheeler in the first place.
But if we ask what worries the user and the answer turns out to be long traffic congestion or long drives, we can imply that the user may be interested in a vehicle that consumes lesser fuel too. We can then narrow down our options and promote the one vehicle suiting his/her needs the best. This is the outcome of buyer persona study.
There are two key differences between demography and persona, wherein the first one gives information about instantly recognizable and well-accepted features of a community or a family. Persona, instead, includes emotional and personal traits too to help understand a buyer more effectively.
Demography only gives standard information suitable for surveys while persona, with its wealth of emotional traits, lets a brand empathize with the issues of the buyer and then provide a solution to them.
How to create and leverage a buyer persona?
The secret to building a persona is being totally human in approach. The more detailed and deep your buyer persona study is, the better will you be able to fulfil their demands with your product.
It starts with one-on-one discussion about the aspirations of your potential buyer. Keep in mind that there are problems that a buyer would refuse to discuss with you directly, but you can always arrive at their issues and subsequently, their pain points, by directing a conversation towards their dreams, which is a macro view of many successful conversions like yours.
There are 10 steps in which persona building is done. They are:
- Understand your target: Understand the behavioural traits, psychography and the demographics of your target audience. Your buyer might be a homemaker or a blue collar professional. Their living standards vary and likewise, perception of a product or service vary drastically.
They don’t gel with each other and that is most blatantly recognizable with the difference in the content they enjoy. They also have different challenges in life and the best way to know them is by genuinely trying to understand them. There is no better way. Get as much information as you can by spending the most time discussing with your potential buyers.
- Segment your target group: There are all kinds of people in your target group. They may know about your product and be interested. They may not know that they need a solution which your product offers.
Don't forget to study those people who would never need your service/product, i.e., the negative persona. Understand the reason behind their reluctance. This makes persona study easier and targeting positive persona far more effective and faster.
So group your targeting tasks according to the different sub-groups in your target group.
- Prepare questionnaire: Create a set of questions for the candidate about his/her likes, dislikes and background and pain areas in life. Ask them about their frustrations in reaching their goals.
- Interview and record: Approach as many people as you can among your target audience and request them for an in-person interview on this topic. Every piece of information matters and thus, record the interview to avoid missing out on details.
- Prepare a transcript: Write down the versions of your interview verbatim. This step ensures that we need not revisit the recording again and again for any future clarification. Thereafter, extract the information by highlighting the necessary sections (like pain areas, goals, etc.).
- Prepare a persona card: Every piece of information, no matter how irrelevant it may seem, helps you shape a clear picture of your ideal buyer persona. The persona card is a pictorial representation of the information accumulated from the interviews. This will now act as the basis of all your digital strategy. Everyone who is part of the process (design, content, etc.) can also refer thus card to visualise the person who will consume the content & interact with the brand.
If you have a large sample set, you can also focus on micro persona building, wherein we create multiple persona in cluster format (the cluster is made by bucketing persona’s with similar traits/pain/challenges into one group). This helps in diversification of content generation further wherein differences in tone can also create drastic impact on the popularity of content
- Keyword Extraction & Mapping Buyers Journey: Segregate keywords identifying the core preferences of your buyer and traits that your product/service has. Map your buyers’ journey based on the data you have now. This also includes mapping the negative persona so that their reasons to refuse you helps redirect energy to approach the right buyer persona. Here we can also complement it with additional information you get on a macro scale with search engine analytics.
- Map user flow and create content strategy: Based on the buyers’ journey, understand how the user will graduate from awareness to consideration and to decision stages. Note their thought processes/pain areas in each of the stages. Map a similar user flow for your website/app so that you can focus on how to reduce the overall cognitive load.
Correspondingly, create a content strategy to help users consume contextual content replete with information for smooth transition across the buyers' journey.
A note of caution: The user flow and content strategy for brand communication and that for website/app are different. Still, they need to be in sync with the overall brand objective.
- Create & Segregate content: You can have two approach while creating content. Either you can create a pillar content from which you can create many micro content or we create micro contents & then build towards the pillar content.
While we segregate & plan, we have to keep in mind that the user’s needs & experience differ across different platform (right from the individual social media channels to other platforms like websites and apps). You cannot have one piece of content of the same format (& size) being posted on each platform. You have to repurpose your content as per the requirement of the platform for ease of user’s consumption.
- Distribute content: Leverage your content by posting them consistently on across all platform. Be sure to explore all forms of media and tweak the tone of content presentation to appeal the customers accurately. Test your content while distribution, so that you find the right combination that works on each platform & then fine-tune it accordingly.
Why persona study is an ongoing process?
An interesting thing about persona building is that it’s never static. Just like how your preferences change as you age, same is the case for persona. Therefore, the persona should be updated at regular intervals. Based on the changes (if any), the brand should modify its communication, so that it resonates with your audience.