Buyer Personas: The Key to Effective Growth-Driven Design for Websites
As the prohibitive cost and questionable effectiveness of traditional website design come under increasing scrutiny, a growing army of savvy marketers is embracing growth-driven design (GDD)—the notion that website design should be grounded in robust marketing data, and that every website function should be rigorously tested as an integral component of the design process.
What are Buyer Personas?
As Honest Fox correctly points out, "buyer personas" are perhaps the most effective way to define and segment your target audience:
"A persona is a fictional representation of people you would deem as your ideal customer. You will most likely create different groups of these personas. These will typically be grouped by a characteristic they all share. These can be demographic, pain points in common or specific industries and so on. Personas are a key part of this process as GDD revolves around the users of your site. It is extremely important to get this stage right as the rest of the process impinges on this stage."
What are the benefits of creating Buyer Personas?
Every business is different, of course, with different customers, different business goals, and different marketing challenges. That said, the benefits of creating robust buyer personas are similar for most companies and include the following 5:
1. Buyer personas guide marketing strategy: in the absence of key customer demographic and behavioral data (and the insights those data drive), marketers are forced to speculate about what those customers want, how they make buying decisions, how they want to be communicated with, and even the tone of voice they prefer in those communications. Said differently, buyer personas are the lifeline that helps marketers shape the nuances of marketing strategy.
2. Buyer personas shape effective, growth-driven design: growth-driven design is only as effective as the insights marketers bring to it. Arguably, the best way to navigate the 3 phases of GDD is by creating personas that accurately reflect the needs and wants of customers and prospective customers.
3. Buyer personas generate better results: for optimal marketing results—whether conversions relate to generating sales qualified leads (SQLs) or boosting sales—you need to know with some precision to whom you're speaking. The more you know about each segment of your target audience, the more empowered you'll be to move them seamlessly through the buyer's journey.
4. Buyer personas enable more compelling (and persuasive) content: if one segment of prospective customers for a real estate business are first-time homebuyers with limited income, it doesn't make sense to push content about luxury homes at them. With solid buyer personas in place, you'll be better equipped to create content that answers customers' top-of-mind questions and solves their most protracted problems, building trust and credibility for your business.
5. Buyer personas put every member of your team on the same page: a common boondoggle for especially new businesses is the inability of sales and marketing teams to see leads in the same way. What constitutes a qualified lead for a marketer might well seem another wild goose chase for sales. With buyer personas in place, everyone in your business will have the same understanding of each lead's position in your sales funnel—and of what next steps will move them closer to their first purchase, and what nurturing will transform them into lifelong customers.
Are there best practice strategies for creating Buyer Personas?
The short answer is "yes." Although the specifics of the persona creation process will differ somewhat based on your company's principal marketing objectives, the strategic process is remarkably similar for the lion's share of them.
In other words, the companies that are most successful in creating resonant buyer personas follow a similar set of best practice strategies, including the following 3:
1. Identify where prospects are in the Buyer's Journey
Prospects who are new to your business have different needs and concerns from those closer to the bottom of your sales funnel. In other words, a critically important first step is to clearly identify what stage of the buyer's journey each buyer persona is.
2. Get the demographics right
Who is the ideal buyer for one of your products or services? Is your ideal buyer male or female (or both)? How old is he or she? Where does your buyer live? How much money does he or she make?
Each of your buyer personas needs to be grounded in reliable demographic data. After all, you want to push the right content at the right prospects, assured that that content will resonate with them to the extent they resemble each buyer persona demographically,
Imagine, for example, that you have a house painting business. Odds are your target audience will be homeowners who can afford to use your services. Said differently, being laser-focused on demographics will ensure that you get the right messages to the right prospects.
3. Understand your customer's behavior
It's one thing to know your audience based on the demographic buckets a persona resides in. But buyers who are virtually identical demographically often have different experiences and behave very differently online. For this reason, your buyer personas must incorporate key behavioral characteristics.
First, home in on your persona's level of understanding. If yours is a SaaS company trying to expand sales of customer relationship management (CRM) software, you need to understand whether your persona is well versed in CRM or relatively new to the concept.
You should also focus on how each persona behaves online. What content do they like to download? Do they prefer phone calls or promotional email communications? How many fields in a contact form are too many? What times and days of the week is your persona most receptive to business communications? These and similar behavioral patterns will enhance your sales funnel and demographic analysis, ensuring that your business communicates with each prospect in ways that best accommodate what they like—and don't like—on their journey to making a purchase.
Buyer Personas and Growth-Driven Design: Conclusion
The bottom line is this: growth-driven design is a more rational and effective way to build a website, one grounded in robust market research and a keen understanding of who the target audience is for each of your products and services. Effective buyer personas—and the marketing insights they bring to the GDD design process—will greatly enhance the power of your GDD website.
Simply stated, growth-driven design is a more intelligent and responsive approach, one rooted in customer insights, a smart, iterative process, and continual improvement.