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How to Build a Dynamic Buyer Persona Profile for the Entire Team

The goal of developing a buyer persona profile is to create a fictional representation of your ideal customers. Creating a persona profile provides a reference point so everyone can remain on the same page.

One major benefit of having a persona profile available is it provides the same customer information to your team and helps align your content marketing.

Another benefit is by having the same information to work from it will help for the entire team to empathize with the customer over the same things.

One additional benefit is in regards to team accountability. Having the same reference point as the rest of the team will help everyone hold each other more accountable. Mostly because everyone is held to the same standard.

Lastly, again because of the access to information, a buyer persona profile can also encourage autonomy. When everyone is invested in delivering the best experience, everyone is going to be more free to generate ideas and more calculated in evaluating them.

A good profile has:

  • Image
  • Background
  • Demographics
  • Goals
  • Customer Economics
  • Customer Objections

Start with the information you know about your personas

Then move on to making some assumptions.

 

Fundamental Assumptions

To goal is to identify the riskiest elements to validate through research and testing.

Starting with your buyer persona.

Your persona (overall market/audience) is the furthest to the left and the most important to get right. Everyone has heard of what can happen when product-market fit isn't just right.

Develop a set of questions that you can ask that builds confidence in your persona and more closely aligns the product and market.

Then do the same for the next most important, your persona's core problems and solutions and develop a set of questions to help validate what you are assuming.

Then move on to your unique value proposition, existing alternatives and web metrics of success.

And finish with an analysis of your pre-sale content experience and post sale content experience. Think about information needs, triggers, first impression, usefulness and stickiness.

Make a list of high risk questions to answer and a list of low risk questions to answer.

 

Experience Mapping

The goal is to develop a holistic view of customer's life before, during and after every contact with content.

Start by mapping out the journey beginning with the awareness stage and ending with the decision lifecycle stage.

Start with a product and persona match, information that is important to their journey such as past research, surveys, NPS, stats etc..., and questions that still need to be researched. In each stage, think about a specific path available to a user to take to move them from visitor to customer completely online.

Thinking about everything they experience and whether it is positive or negative (hurts or helps).

In each step think about emotions, thoughts, feel, see, say, and search. If what they experience is negative, add a dot to the bottom row and if positive add a dot to the top row.

 

Researching Buyer Personas

Define Questions

Start by defining questions that are of most importance to validate. Which high risk questions shall we answer first.

The goal is to find out why a user does something. Getting feedback from the user's point of view.

The key is to focus your questions on validating one assumption. What do you want to know about the challenges you are observing?

Break out the marketing funnel so you can focus on moving the needle, one metric at a time.

Challenges attracting the right audience might be focused on unique visitors, organic traffic or social reach. These metrics are all part of the top-of-the-funnel.

Challenges converting high quality leads might be focused on visitor (maybe channel specific), to lead conversion rate, and these metrics are middle-of-the-funnel.

Then, once you have a focus metric that you are concentrated on, determine where you fit on the journey and define the expected result.

 

Create a google form to capture your responses for your new questions.

Think of each question as a contact property.

Contact properties ask for certain information and form the contact database.

Depending on how certain contact properties are answered, they can tell you a lot about your contacts. This detail is what makes detailed buyer personas.

 

Research

The goal is to gain a clear understanding of the challenges, motivations and behaviors that your visitors, customers, leads, and strangers experience.

Start by picking a research method that best matches the questions you are trying to answer.

To determine the best method of research, choose between qualitative, observational and quantitative.

 

Qualitative

Then move to qualitative research. Qualitative research can be some of your most valuable. It can uncover why users are taking certain actions, rapidly validate buyer persona assumptions (prior to collecting data), and help you to understand into emotional triggers.

Qualitative research is for collecting information and feedback directly from the person's point of view and in their own words.

User interviews are probably the most common type of qualitative research.

They are specifically used to uncover the most pressing challenges the person is faced with at work and what the consequences of their actions are.

Determine what motivates their actions and what common approach to they take to planning their day and solving a problem?

Questions to discover the why behind certain activity.

  • When you scrolled to the bottom of the page and back up again what are you looking for?
  • You download a bunch of our worksheets but never interact with us otherwise, why?

Then think of questions to uncover, in their words, how they would think about a purchase cycle.

  • If you were interested in demoing new business intelligence software, walk me through that process and what's going through your head?

Look for why they started looking, what they were looking for, the problem they were solving, trigger words they use.

Pay attention to body language to pick up on ares that get them most excited or most tense.

Make sure to cover a wide range of customers and internal personnel.

Interview internally, asking salespeople, service and account representatives, and management as well as customers with the longest lifetimes and the shortest lifetimes, interview potential customers that fit different persona profiles. The idea is to find consistency among answers, a common pain, a common threat, a common challenge, and so on.

You can also package interviews up into surveys. Your interview is instantly scalable in this format. It is faster at delivering feedback and can quickly grow to any size.

Surveys can be a great way to follow up with your interviews to gain a wider range of detail from a quality contact.

You can either email the survey to a list or use right on your web pages, collecting data over an extended period of time.

The slide up survey is a great tool for collecting very contextual information on specific website pages.

Great for asking a specific question at a specific time to get a better answer.

The simplest and most valuable is the NPS survey.

Net Promoter Score.

 

Observational

Observational research can tell you a lot about user behaviors so you can set up and track event completions.

This kind of observation can help you uncover how users interact with you. This is the type of data that is difficult to collect via a interview or form.

The goal is to find out why a user does one thing and not the other, is there a pattern...

Scrolls down the entire page and back to the top again, like scanning it first for perceived value. Then they seem to begin reading only to click on the hyperlink in the text promoting a workbook to download. They are taken to a landing page where they fill out the fields and get the guide.

Observational research methods usually involve some software.

One way to perform observational research is with click heatmaps. Heatmaps are a visual representation of where users are clicking on your webpage. The warmer areas are heavily clicked and the colder areas aren't clicked as much, if at all.

They are great for identifying areas where website visitors or content viewers might be getting confused. Either with messaging, confused on what to do next or confused on how it's valuable.

You can also uncover what it is that you users really care about. The types of information and content they are most interested in.

Scroll heatmaps are similar except instead of tracking clicks they track user scrolling.

They can tell you which elements aren't being seen by people or validate whether or not an elements is seen that you think isn't seen.

They can also help you with updating page layouts and templates.

Another form of observational research is a live session where you would record a contact or lead or customer, using/digesting content and navigating around to answer some of their questions.

 

Quantitative

Quantitative is the analytical research. You'll find a lot of data scientists working in this area.

The goal is by using your analytics and other data/metrics, you can analyze every interaction website visitors are having.

Quantitative research is great for validating qualitative research, identifying opportunities and a few low hanging fruits, tracking indicators overtime and performing content audits.

Event tracking is a form of quantitative research. An event is a predefined set of behaviors. By tracking the number of people that complete the event as a percentage of the total people that could have completed it, you'll get insight into the paths your customers take.

A funnel report is another good quantitative research method because you can quickly identify where people are dropping out of the funnel and not converting. Is there something about the experience that is rubbing people the wrong way?

And finally, cohort reporting is also a quantitative research method. This is going to provide us with a data-driven visual representation of different groups over time. It's good for understanding longer-term behavior and experience.

Be sure to document your research through every iteration. A running log of what you researching, what you are asking, when questions were asked, how old answers are and so on.

This will save you massive headaches done the round and make you more efficient, more scalable and more predictable.

 

Final Thoughts

Your buyer personas influence almost every part of a modern/digital business and keeping them up-to-date and accurate has never been more important. Direct marketing has never been as powerful as it is today and it's all predicated on your buyer personas. 

Researching your buyer persona behavior is nothing glamorous, it requires serious hustle, anything else is a shortcut that will hurt you in the long run. 

Keep the communication open between your buyer persona profiles and your fundamental assumptions, as these will be the two assets that feed into your overall experience - allowing you to create more relevant content.