One thing we tell our clients to always remember about their website is that they're designing it for people. And not just any people, but specific people. Knowing who these people are and how they think, feel, and behave is key to creating a website that does what you want it to do. One way to discover this is by creating buyer personas.
What are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are a composite representation of a segment of your target market; a fictional character based on real-life characteristics. Your buyer personas should tell you everything you need to know about who you’re trying to attract. For each of your buyer personas you should know their:
Professional and company background
Goals (short- and long-term)
Challenges (Why do they need your help?)
Common objections (Why don't they buy?)
Keywords they use to search for you online
Perception of you vs. your competition
Popularity and Effectiveness of Buyer Personas
Just 44% of B2B marketers use buyer personas, yet 93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals segment their database by buyer persona (source: protocol80). For companies who created buyer personas for their target market, website traffic increased by 210% and leads increased by 97%.
According to Hubspot, “personas make websites 2-5 times more effective and easier to use by targeted users."
Why Should You Care About Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas shape every aspect of a website. They direct which images to use, the language and tone, content, priorities, navigation, even colors! If you’re not using your buyer personas to guide your website development and design, you’re shooting in the dark.
Think of your closest friends. You know them well; their personalities, preferences, what motivates them. If you were building your website to attract them, you’d know what would grab their attention and convince them to be a customer. You need to know your target market this well. But since you can’t know every one of your customers on an individual basis, you have to organize them into sets and market to each of these sets, or personas, as if they were one actual person.
To create buyer personas, get inside your buyers’ heads. There are a number of templates available online with questions like, “What things do they compare you against competitors on?” and, “What professional or industry associations do they belong to?” These questions can help guide your process, along with the following steps:
Talk to Your Customers: Conducting customer surveys and interviews will allow you to gather insights that lead to the strongest buyer personas. Listen to both what makes your customers happy and unhappy, as both will tell you how to target them more effectively.
Start with What You Already Have: Comb your customer database for trends in your clientele. Maybe most of your customers tend to be in managerial roles or be males over 40. Working with the data you already collect about your buyers can be a good starting point or help fill in the blanks.
Prioritize: You have multiple buyer personas, so you’ll want to prioritize in terms of desirability and lifetime value. Start with creating your highest priority persona first. Don’t forget prospective employees as one persona.
Give Them a Name: A good way to bring personas to life is to give them a name like Software Developer Susan or Bargain Hunter Brad that describes a dominant characteristic and helps make them memorable.
Meet with Your Leadership and Sales Teams: When developing your buyer personas, you must get the insight of your leadership and sales team. Leadership is closest to your company’s mission and the sales team has the most direct interaction with your target market.
Now that you have your buyer personas, what do you do with them?
Design Your Website to Solve Their Problems
Create content on your website that addresses your buyer personas' unique problems and offers the solution. Speak to their wants, needs, pain points, goals, and challenges. Show that you understand them. Then use your website's imagery and text to tell them how you can make their lives better and easier. Remember, your customers don't care as much about you as they do about what you can do for them.
Speak Your Customers' Language
Meet your clientele where they are. Use terminology and a language style that they'll relate to and understand. You want your website to be easily readable and compelling to your target market. Talk to them how they talk to you to establish trust and common ground.
Optimize Your Site With Your Personas In Mind
How do your customers like to consume information? Do they like to download e-books or read online case studies? Do they like to use forms or the telephone? Do they like to do a lot of research on your products and services or do they come to you prepared to make a quick decision? Knowing your buyer personas' preferences will help you organize the information on your website in the most effective way.
Cater to Their Technology Preferences
Are your customers primarily on mobile devices? Then make sure your website is highly mobile-optimized. Do they love social media? Then incorporate your social feeds into your website. When are they online the most? This will tell you when you should publish your blog posts.
Buyer personas are fundamental to successful marketing and web design. That’s one of the reasons it’s a key part of our Digital Marketing Growth Plan service that helps our client achieve their marketing goals and shapes their strategies. Simply put, buyer personas will help you with choosing what to include and what not to include in your website, and how to prioritize every piece of content, navigation item, and call to action.