Editor's Note: This post was originally published on May 20, 2014, and was updated on July 9, 2019.
Creating buyer personas can remedy many digital marketing mistakes because they'll put your focus where it belongs: on your customers. One of the biggest digital marketing mistakes companies make is failing to truly understand who their customers are. Whether it's a weak unique selling proposition, a poorly designed website or an unorganized publishing schedule, a lot of content marketing fails.
But the majority of the time, these mistakes can be avoided.
Luckily for you, we've created an infographic that visually outlines the science behind creating buyer personas! We've broken this image into its various sections below to give you more details and included it as a full download at the end of this post.
The simple fact is, you're not going to be able to create very successful content if you don't know who you're creating it for. Here's our nerdy, scientific approach to building buyer personas that will help guide not only your content plan, but your whole digital marketing strategy.
Web analytics is a great place to collect the kind of customer data that will ultimately help you create buyer personas. Figuring out where your website visitors are coming from, what they're searching and asking for, how long and how often they visit your pages, and what devices and social media platforms they use are all valuable insights. This information will help you begin to form a baseline for multiple different living, breathing buyer personas.
What better way to build buyer personas than mining data you already have? Customers who have previously bought your products or at least had some sort of interaction with your brand are obviously representative of your potential buyer groups. Your only task is to organize and silo the data into a few different groups that each has defining common denominators.
Sometimes to get the information you need, all you have to do is ask. Whether it's on the phone, in person or via a survey, asking for general details from your customers can go a long way in helping create diverse groups. If it seems too simple, you'd be surprised by the number of people who willingly give out their private details without much thought. If on the phone or in-person aren't options for your industry, try online survey tools like SurveyMonkey and SurveyMoz.
As an example, check out the sample personas we created for our social selling strategy. It's always going to be more effective when you can create a vivid portrayal of a real human being to represent each of your personas. That way, when you're in the throes of crafting perfect content, you'll be able to visualize your target audience in your mind's eye. Name your persona, give him or her a face, a style, heck even devise their pretend likes and dislikes. The more details you have the more effective your buyer personas will be. We'll call this guy Mike. Hey Mike. Sup?
Unfortunately for poor Mike, he's in a lot of pain. Your job is to figure out what kind of pain he's in, why he's in this pain and, most importantly, how to alleviate this pain. Easier said than done, but as it happens, you've collected a boatload of useful information prior to reaching this step, so it should be easy. Thank goodness for awesome infographics (we have a new one every month, folks!).
Behavioural patterns and demographic trends often influence purchase decisions, so these are two areas you'll want to closely monitor. If the demographics of your buyer personas vary, this is even more important to your content creation efforts because it means each group will be asking very different questions. This step will help you perfectly tailor your content to its audience, so don't leave it out!
And that's it! Once you've reached the end of our scientific process, all you have to do is put the pieces together and construct the final profiles. Mike here is a fully functional person that fits one demographic and has a behavioural pattern, a lifestyle and a specific set of products that he uses. Mike and the other persons you've created are now the intended target audience for your content. Use the buyer personas often, and wisely!
Here's the full infographic in all its visual glory: