Buyer personas are a complex component of B2B marketing. To see results from your persona-driven marketing activities personas must be accurate and representative of an ideal buying audience. It can be common for organizations to assume they know who their buyers are which often means omitting any sort of research and data to back up their reasoning. These assumptions can lead to inaccurate representations of ideal buyers, misinforming marketing strategies, sales tactics and more. Buyer personas represent your ideal audience, and any inaccuracies can negatively impact a business overall. Thus, it is instrumental to build B2B buyer personas backed by research, data and solid evidence to show they are accurate and representative of the buyers your organization wants to target. These B2B buyer persona research techniques help in accurately defining buyer personas and building an effective marketing strategy.
Buyer Persona Components
B2B buyer personas consist of four main characteristics: demographics, firmographics, behavior and psychographics. Each is equally as important as the other.
- Demographics: These data points give insight into the common traits of buyers. Age, gender, education level, role/job title and location all fall under demographics.
- Firmographics: These are the attributes of organizations the buyer is a part of. The organization’s annual revenue, number of employees and number of locations are considered firmographic data.
- Behavior: This is the behavior of buyers. Behavioral data can be the type of marketing or sales content they engage with or what they purchased.
- Psychographics: These are the individual, psychological characteristics of buyers. Values, pain points and points of view on certain topics are psychographic factors.
Compiling demographic, firmographic, behavioral, and psychographic data can be done in several different ways. We dive into each below.
Utilize Current Database
The best place to start when conducting B2B buyer persona research is your current database. Even if the database is small, the prospects and customers already engaged with an organization will tell a lot about some of the key characteristics of your ideal target audience. In this instance, having a small database might be easier to analyze, but if the database has a large number of individuals, it can be best to break it down into smaller segments. For example, dividing the database up by industry, then analyzing other characteristics like job title and company size can help uncover some similarities between the customers that might not have been found before. This deepens the understanding of your current customer base and helps contribute additional details to buyer personas.
Conduct Interviews with Clients, Prospects and Lost Deals
Interviews with current clients, potential buyers and lost deals can provide a wealth of information to shape buyer personas. Asking direct, straightforward questions during interviews will help get to the heart of buyers’ needs and pain points, helping build accurate personas.
For current clients, it is a good idea to check in on how the various projects are going. Asking questions such as “What has been working?,” “What are some things we can improve on?” and “What feedback do you have about our service/product/solution so far?” can uncover information about how their experience has been. It might seem like this information is not worthwhile for building buyer personas, but their answers to these types of questions can help your team make improvements on marketing and sales activities in the future when reaching various personas.
Pain points and goals are two of the most important questions to discuss with prospects as well as a few of the most instrumental components of buyer personas. Here are a few questions that can help uncover what prospects are looking for:
- What features and functionalities of a solution are most important?
- What are you looking for in a solution provider?
- What are the criteria that you would use in the solution provider selection process?
- Can you tell us about some of the other solutions you are looking at?
Lost deals can be tricky to navigate but it is worth knowing why an organization did not choose your offering. Having conversations with lost deals uncovers answers to that question and more. Maybe it was a pain point your offering couldn’t touch on or your offering did not fully encompass what they were looking for, but whatever it was, you can use the insights gathered from these interviews to strengthen your personas and make sure common themes are addressed in future marketing and sales efforts.
Update Website Forms to Capture More Data
Chances are there are several forms on your website already capturing key data. When trying to understand in more detail who your audience is, updating website forms to capture even more data can be useful. Expanding these forms with additional fields can help fill in gaps in buyer personas, including key fields such as “Industry,” “Job Title,” “Country,” etc. While some website visitors might be hesitant to complete the form due to a large number of fields, if they do, it shows a heightened level of commitment to view a specific gated asset or interest in the company or product. The more information gathered, the easier it is to update buyer personas as needed.
Stay Updated with Social Media Trends
Social media has become a powerful tool in B2B marketing. Engaging in social listening is one way for B2B organizations to use to gather information and insights. LinkedIn can be the place to go for information about who your ideal buyers are as LinkedIn profiles will show key company information, as well as more specific information around individual roles, tenure of their time with the company, what their interests are and skillsets. Organizations can also dive deep into engagement metrics to see what types of content people are engaging with most giving a better understanding of topics and content types that audiences are most interested in. These elements fill out the basic components of personas such as firmographics and demographics.
Apply Research Techniques for Well-Rounded B2B Buyer Personas That Convert
B2B buyer personas are essential for informing marketing and sales activities. Gathering the most information possible can help round out the characteristics, pain points and other information included in the personas. The more details collected, the easier it is to understand who your audience is, how to reach them and what messages will most likely drive conversions. While these are not the only B2B buyer persona research techniques, these can help yield the most benefits for successful marketing.
Looking for assistance in building B2B buyer personas for your organization? Contact us today or request a free marketing consultation. We have helped clients define buyer personas for effective marketing activities.