Buyer’s Persona: A Success Guide That Works Every Time

I was sitting in a hookah bar one day, enjoying my sheesha when a woman walked over to my table and asked if I could give her two minutes.

After a quick greeting, she started asking some general questions like how I earned a living, what my typical day looked like, whether or not I smoked cigarettes, how much I spent on smoking each month and a few others.

I immediately understood that she was working for some upcoming cigarette brand and was researching personas.

I liked how they had chosen hookah bars for this purpose as people who smoke hookahs are easier to convert to a specific brand of cigarettes, compared to those who are already addicted to a certain brand of cigarette.

The incident made me realize, once more, that regardless of the size of a business, or whether it’s an established one or a startup, businesses always need buyer persona research to better understand their target audience to create  marketing strategies that are highly-effective and engaging.

In my opinion creating and executing marketing strategies without the buyer’s persona is like shooting arrows in the dark. You don’t know if you’re going to hit the mark. In simple words, buyer’s persona is essential to making informed and powerful marketing decisions that save costs and bring desired results, faster.

Why is buyer’s persona important?

  • Researching buyer’s persona for your company has multiple benefits, including; Your marketing campaigns are based on your target audience instead of a random study that you found online that might or might not apply to your business.
  • Your customer service will be better aligned to the values and needs of your customers. Buyer’s persona will help guide you about your target audience and the kind of service they expect from your company. You can then train your customer service department accordingly.
  • Your buyer’s persona will provide you with clear directions on how to create your messaging, product and service in a way that resonates strongly with each of your customers, instead of reaching out to everyone with the same line of reasoning. .

The alignment in your messaging, marketing and customer services that your buyer’s persona will afford you will naturally result in an increase in sales and better customer retention.

What is a negative persona?

The buyer’s persona discussed above helps you find out who your ideal customer is, what he does, where he works, his problems and the kind of solutions he expects from your business.

Negative (or exclusionary) personas are people who do not fall into your target audience or are generally a misfit with some or all aspects of your product or service, are too expensive to retain or are over or under-qualified for your product or service.

Let’s suppose you offer beginner or intermediate level digital marketing courses. People who have worked for six years or more in the digital marketing industry or are currently holding senior managerial positions within the industry will fall under the negative persona category for your business.

How to create buyer’s persona?

Buyer’s persona can be created via interviews, research and surveys.

In order to make up the various business personas, we have to interview existing customers, prospects and referrals.

The answers that we get from all three of these categories will provide us with valuable data, and help us learn about our own products and services, understand customer expectation, recognize areas that need improvement, and better comprehend practices that are a big hit with customers.

Here are the three types of people you can interview to create buyer personas.

Customers

Your customers are one of the best resources to help you create your buyer’s persona document. However, this is not applicable to new businesses that are still working to create a customer base.

People who have purchased from your website before are better able to explain more about how they felt, whether the product met their expectation or not and what else they want to see happening in your business.

While interviewing your existing customers, make sure you also include a few unhappy ones in the list because their feedback will shed light on those areas of your business, product or service that require improvement.

Your Business Prospects

This is the second step in developing the buyers’ persona. It’s also important to interview people who haven’t bought anything from you yet.

Understanding your prospects better will not only give them the impression that you are a responsible brand that is concerned about its customers, but the information provided by them will help you build a better and more detailed buyer’s persona document.

Referrals

If you are new business, you are pretty much left to depend on referrals only as you might not have substantial number of customers or prospects.

Interviewing referrals is still important even if you have a large customer base because referrals will gives you varied buyer personas to work with.

The best way to find people via referrals is through your contacts, or you could also find your target persona on LinkedIn and then catch up with them through mutual friends.

Tools

You can try tools like UserTesting and similar services to run questions and get answers from different people. The website also allows you to run remote user testing (with some follow-up questions). You’ll have less control over sessions, but it’s a great resource for quick user testing.

When interviewing people, it’s always good to invest whenever required. 

So, if you want to give away some gifts, discounts or special bonuses to your referrals or customers for their support, by all means do.

Also, remember that their time is as important as yours, so your questionnaire should be concise and to-the-point. Most importantly, do not sell. You are trying to collect the data, so stay focused.

What questions should you ask?

This one is very important. What kind of questions should you ask your interviewees to get a detailed understanding of your buyer’s persona?

You need to know the Who, What, Why and How…

Here are the few questions you should be asking;

  • What do they do? (Job title, position in the company.)
  • What does their typical day look like?(This will tell you more about his routine.)
  • What skills are required to do their particular job? (Ask this question only if your product requires it.)
  • What industry is their company part of?
  • Size and revenue of the company?
  • What is their biggest challenge?
  • What do they read? (Both online and offline)
  • Which social media platform are they most active on?  (Facebook, Twitter or any other?)
  • Personal and educational background? (This covers everything from name, age to location, educational background and anything else that’s relevant.)
  •  Preferred purchasing method and why? (Also, discuss their most recent purchase and understand the philosophy behind it)

Now that you have some substantial raw data, the next step is to sort it out, find commonalities between people, and then organize those points into different personas. It should look something like this:

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Sort that data and make a list of fictional characters that explain in detail the characteristics of your current and potential target audience. If your marketing strategies will be based on your targeted persona, there will be more chances for you to increase your customer’s lifetime value

Conclusion:

Once you have a better idea of your buyer’s persona you will know how to train your customer service team to serve your customers best, and see the changes required within the marketing and sales strategy to acquire and retain customers.

So if you don’t have a buyer’s persona document, start building one today!

So What’s the Future of Google Plus?

Since day one Google Plus has been under heavy attacks: Many people were fast to predict it to be dead… And who would blame them: Google is notorious for closing up awesome projects and many things (Google dropping Authorship, Vic Gundotra leaving, lots of instances of Google Plus employees calling the project a failure, etc…) seemed to be proving Google Plus is there for not too long…

But is it really a failure? Is it really ever going away?

With that question I reached out to the actual Google Plus users… Let’s see what they have to say!

What’s your prediction: What will eventually happen to Google Plus and WHEN will it happen (months? a year? 10 years?)

Jon Wade (Blogger)

How often do you use Google Plus? I use it daily. I will miss it if it goes away because Google is the most professional social platform in the tech / Internet. Discussions are far more civilized and mature than elsewhere. But, I don’t think it will go away in a hurry!

What do you think is the future of Google Plus

I assume that Google plan to demerge some of their core areas to improve usability and engagement. Few people liked the integration of Youtube and G+ and while many photographers used G+, Picasaweb provided a better platform in many ways. 

Google will keep Google+, but maybe it will be more geared to networking, hangouts, chat and news sharing. I cannot see it ever going away because Google use it for so many core services now.

Steve “berto” Bertolacci (The Beard of SEO)

How often do you use Google Plus? Yes, I use G+ for both personal and work related things. And yes, I would miss it if it weren’t there. G+ fits a niche that doesn’t exist on most other social sites.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

My prediction is that G+ will go through another re-branding, but will by and large remain the same. Streams are the new Circles — #amazeballs. One of the needs that G+ fit was the ability to segment a social site based off your own personal interests as you define.

So rather than have every connection all jumbled together, you can watch and interact with each Stream individually or as a whole. This need has not really been done better in any  other social site, so there’s still a need to keep supporting it.

So in terms of re-branding, I’m betting it will happen this summer if not sooner.

The real question is what will happen to Twitter.

Cormac Reynolds

How often do you use Google Plus? I’m a semi-active Google+ user. It’s was a fine platform in a lot of ways but just lacked the x-factor – an identity. It was a sum of a number of other social media site’s parts. When I think of social media sites this is what I associate:

  • Facebook – the big one I use everyday
  • Twitter – the short, trending one for news and up to the second opinions
  • Instagram – the retro, cool picture one
  • Pinterest – the one with lots of wedding dresses and soft furnishings
  • Google+ – the one that’s a bit of all of these that Google (or the SEO communities paranoia) made SEOs obliged to use

I think it speaks volumes why it never took off. Then again the last social network I truly loved was Bebo.

So, in a few words, no I don’t really care!

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

I’d say about a year we’ll see a further fragmentation and then a disintegration in the most part. Google may split its stronger/ useful parts into new services or use them in different ways. I did a MBU interview on Google Authorship and its future – general consensus was it’s probably dead too. It was a big part of G+ for a lot of us in this industry I’d imagine. All change so!

Erik Emanuelli (No Passive Income)

How often do you use Google Plus? I’m not a Google+ addicted, as I post updates in my profile just once every week.

Surely I will not miss it if it’s going to be removed.

My favorite social media channel for marketing still remains Twitter.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

When Google Authorship was killed, I found it an injustice to users. After all, it is known that Big G has reached an extreme power and their commercial purpose is known to many.

Regarding the Google + social platform, I don’t think is going to close, but surely there will be some major improvements.

Whether will be the future of Google+, a lesson learned is not putting all your digital marketing eggs in one basket.

Relying “just” on Google (its services or traffic) is a bad move, we should become “independent” and  include “all things about Google” only as a part of our whole business strategy.

Jason Quey (Gamification Marketer)

How often do you use Google Plus? I currently use G+ about once a week, but I see a lot of potential value in it. The two biggest upsides to it is segmenting your users and creating/joining a community that can also let the users know about what’s happening in their inbox.

There’s also some value in having your search results pop up with your name and picture to those you’ve connected with too.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

Personally, I don’t see Google+ really going away. Although Google has been detaching itself from the project, there is a large enough user base that someone will finally find the right use for it.

I’ve noticed a lot of teens have started to gravitate toward using G+ over Facebook, perhaps because they enjoy the exclusivity away from their parents prying eyes, but without the debauchery of SnapChat.

Todd Mumford (Founder & CEO of Riverbed Marketing)

How often do you use Google Plus? I see Google+ more as a necessary place that you should have a presence on, so long as it’s live. It’s Google’s owned social entity and this fact should not be ignored. Despite the lack of participants it could still be a disadvantage to not be there. I’ll make sure we have a presence there so long as it’s available, but I would not miss it if it was canned tomorrow.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

Google + never received the kind of traction, nor attracted the audience it was intended to capture. This was mostly because it wasn’t innovative or disruptive enough and other social media networks like Facebook have a deep and meaningful market share. My feeling is that Google + will be a distant memory, probably by 2016.

Social communities are building at the experience level now, independent of specific networks. Facebook is likely the last to market for large scale social startups. The new trend is social experiences, on the toes of the “Internet of Things”. Social networks will ultimately be a thing of the past as “social networks” are absorbed into “social experiences” and baked into the product, service and living level.

David Leonhardt (President, THGM Writers)

How often do you use Google Plus? I love Google Plus and I use it more than any other social network.  I have over 40,000 followers, and I have put a lot of effort into building those connections.  I would miss it terribly if it was closed down.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

I am not totally sure what the implications of splitting the social network from the photo galleries could be. Perhaps Google wants to do something more with the photo galleries. Google Plus is much bigger than predecessors like Google Buzz, so I am wagering that they won’t close it down.  With Communities, Circles and Hangouts, it is also a richer experience that FaceBook and LinkedIn don’t match.  My money (and time and effort) is on Google Plus remaining for the long haul.

Brian Lang (Small Business Ideas Blog)

How often do you use Google Plus? I’d say I’m a semi-active G+ user. I would miss it if it went away as it does provide another platform to connect with others. 

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

I don’t think Google will completely kill of Google Plus. This isn’t the first time Google’s tried to create a social network, so it clearly sees value in that. And they already have a sizable group of active Google Plus users.

Instead, I think Google will morph it into something else that aligns with its own goals. I would guess that they would make changes so that they can incorporate ads easier. But more importantly, they will also make changes to try to attract new users. 

It’s hard to say when these changes will occur, but considering the recent announcement from Bradley Horowitz, I think something will happen sooner rather than later. 

Don Sturgill (Writer, Dreamer, Believer)

How often do you use Google Plus?

I had big hopes for Google+… I bought into the hype about it being the hub of Google, the importance of authorship, how any writer not on G+ was headed towards obscurity. 

We now know it was all hogwash.

It’s just like the “Don’t be evil” motto. At one time, it was believable. Before long, it became obvious Google is committed to no one but Google.

Another dream burst.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

The future of G+? It will continue to mean less and less. Devotees will move elsewhere. And — if Google keeps showing its monster face — the whole deck of cards will tumble behind it.

This year… Google+ becomes the home of Google fanboys and girls. Everyone else moves to Ann Smarty’s new social media platform: Don’t be evil (really) 🙂

Here’s the rock and hard place: Entreprenuers start off with visions of saving the world. Successful startups end up being either sold off to the highest bidder or taken over by corporate cogs.

All you have left is the once-trusted brand name. But the core becomes rotten. Such is life…

Peter Lunn (Digital Marketer, Cracking Media UK)

How often do you use Google Plus? Yes, I am and have been so for the last 18 months. For me Google+ is the closest social networking experience to offline face-to-face networking. There is a depth and breadth to relationships and engagement that I have not seen before on any other social networking platform

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

Despite the continual flow of incorrect and misplaced assumptions by the press on the demise of Google+, I do think Google need to work harder at marketing Google+ and working with the many committed and active users to make it work better for a broader audience.

An example is that they re-branded Google Places nearly a year ago to bring Google+ more front and center into Google My Business. But nearly a year on, adoption by business is slow, because most businesses don’t know about it! There’s an initiative for Google My Business in the USA called GYBO, but nowhere else. So in the vacuum of information, the press fills the void with Google+ is dying/dead articles – and people believe them because they don’t know any better.

I don’t think we will see decoupling of the products in the way it’s been suggested, but Google will need to do a better job of bringing businesses and people into the “Google+ experience” through marketing the different Google+ products better. When will this be? Of course I don’t know, but I think unless they do so in the next 12-18 months then it may be that Google+ as we know could well be unrecoverable.

Greg Coopers (Helping small and medium sized businesses use LinkedIn to grow)

How often do you use Google Plus? I am an active G+ user. I have used G+ to build a strong international network and build my personal brand. I don’t believe that G+ will go away it is part of the fabric of what Google do linking together all the key properties. It may however be re-branded and the Google+ name could disappear.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

It would make no sense for Google to “desocialise” it’s properties so although Google+ will like other platforms evolve I think it is here to stay in one form or another. In my experience in the UK there is an upsurge of interest in Google+ from the business community who appreciate both the search and local marketing benefits.

Ivan Widjaya

How often do you use Google Plus? I’m basically using G+ for broadcasting my blogs’ recent updates.  So I don’t think I will miss it.  I was one of the first movers and gained some following – easily, so…

There are some benefits of getting into G+, but it’s not as significant as before. IMHO, I think Google made a mistake by adding G+ as a perk for SERPs.  There are marketers who joined G+ for the wrong reason (read: for SEO) The perk has been pulled out, and what’s left now is plenty dead, fake accounts. Not good.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

I am a follower of Gary Vaynerchuk.  He’s a social media all-around guy, and when he talks about social media, I listen. Carefully.

He said that by 2020, there are two major social media sites that will be shutdown: Google+ and Tumblr (I’ve written about this on one of my posts)

GV says that the main reason for the extinction is that both are owned by big corporations, and big corp politics don’t suit social media platforms.  So, in my opinion, Google Plus will disappear – just like any other social media platforms before it: Mixx, BusinessWeek’s BX, Chime.in, and so on.

To note why I trust GV: He said it on late 2014, and it’s happening right now. So… I think I will have to agree with GV: Google+ will be gone in 5 years time.

Denisa-Alexandra Cinca (MyBloggingThing)

How often do you use Google Plus? Yes I am an active Google+ user, usually I share my blog posts on my Google+ profile and in a few communities. If it goes away, yes I think I will definitively miss it.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

I don’t think that Google Plus will ever go away, it’s just my opinion as I don’t see it happening in the near future. I think Google+ will continue to evolve in the future but I’m not sure how things will be in the next years, will just have to wait and see.

Jan Kearney (Local Search Consultant)

How often do you use Google Plus? On a personal level, I’m not the most active G+ user.  Of all the “social” sites it is my favorite and I pop in most days to scan communities and comment.  

On a business level, Google Places is now Google My Business and an integral part of G+.  My days are spent grappling the Google and I’m often logged in clients GMB accounts rather than my own!

Will I miss it if G+ goes away?  Of course I will, but I don’t think G+ is going anywhere any time soon.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

I’m in the Google+ is Google camp.  I really don’t think G+ will go away.  

People have said G+ is dying since 2011, I think it’s because they view it purely as a social platform something like Facebook.  That thinking quickly leads to disappointment because people tend not to live their lives out on G+.  Public feeds aren’t as cluttered with passive aggressive updates, checkins and pointless statuses saying how people feel today.  There’s still cats though…

For the average person on the street (like many people I work with) the silence is deafening.  They’ll post a few updates and wander off back to Facebook without exploring the idea of posting to specific circles or joining communities – the more social part of G+

Yet G+ is still working away in the background via the services they use everyday – Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Chrome and more.  Silently collecting data, Google really doesn’t care if you are social or not!

No, I don’t think G+ will go away.  No doubt it will continue to evolve and change.  I would expect a re-brand and relaunch of the social aspect of G+ at some point over the next year or so.

Craig Fifield

How often do you use Google Plus? Google+ is the only platform I enjoy and use with any regularity.. so yeah, I’ll be a little pissy if they shutter it.

What do you think is the future of Google Plus?

The data that Google gains from having their own social layer is something they’ve wanted for many years in order to keep up with Facebook and the other networks.

Google+, although smaller than the other networks, provides that value and it is a well designed platform that people truly enjoy using. G+ may not be the Facebook killer many were predicting, but unless there’s a cost to running it that I don’t see, G+ is here to stay.

B2B Social Media Measurement Proves ROI

In the B2B space, there persists a belief that social media only works for B2C. This is because to date most have no proof it works for B2B. According to MarketingProfs and The Content Marketing Institute B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, measurement is a key area where B2B marketers are struggling:

Only 21% say they are successful at tracking ROI.

 

New social media management solutions make tracking leads and identifying which social shares generate leads and conversion possible. Businesses that implement social media measurement tools have the advantage of focusing their time and resources where they get results.

Many still think social media only works for B2C not B2B. Interested in how many other B2Bs are using social media? All of the statistics below are specific to B2B and come from the above-linked 2015 research.

  • 92% of B2B companies use social media content (beyond blog posts) as a content marketing tactic.
  • 48% of B2B companies use social media ads to either distribute or promote content
  • 42% of B2B companies use promoted posts – such as promoted posts on Facebook or promoted tweets – to promote or distribute content
  • 41% of B2B companies say promoted social posts are the most effective paid advertising method to distribute content
  • 38% of B2B companies say social media ads are the most effective paid advertising method to distribute content

Percentage of B2B Companies Using Each Social Network

  • 94% LinkedIn
  • 88% Twitter
  • 84% Facebook
  • 72% YouTube
  • 64% Google+
  • 41% SlideShare
  • 33% Pinterest
  • 24% Instagram
  • 20% Vimeo

Most Effective Social Networks for B2B Content Marketing

  • 63% of B2B companies say LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform
  • 55% say Twitter
  • 48% say YouTube
  • 42% say SlideShare
  • 40% say Vimeo
  • 32% say Facebook
  • 25% say Pinterest
  • 24% say Instagram
  • 20% say Google+

User data from social media management tool Oktopost agrees. Their user data indicates LinkedIn generated 80.33% of conversions, compared to 13.73% for Twitter, 6.73% for Facebook, and 0.21% for Google Plus. Further, their user data shows that B2Bs should be focusing on interacting in discussion groups because 86.30% of conversions were generated in groups versus 10.07% on company pages and 3.63% on personal profiles. Source of stats:

B2B Social Media Measurement

It is possible to measure not only which social network generates the most leads or conversions, but exactly what lead a specific piece of content generated. Once a lead is recognized, all touches with your creatives and social shares are recorded.

Drill down into exactly which post in which LinkedIn group generated a lead. Find out which groups never convert so you can focus your time on the ones that do. It is clear that LinkedIn produces the most leads and conversions. Sales teams have the additional benefit of knowing much more about each lead before contact.

Leads obtained from LinkedIn provide access to profiles which reveal major insights into their backgrounds, authority, and job descriptions. Their titles may indicate whether they are decision-makers. And you can use LinkedIn’s InMail to contact them.

It is unclear why brands are so focused on Facebook. Leads from that source often provide little information for your sales team to go on. You have to request connection which many reserve only for friends and family. Without being connected first, any message you send is likely to end up in a mailbox the user never sees.

B2B Social Media Case Studies

Still not convinced social media converts for B2B? Lee Odden of TopRankBlog compiled 12 B2B Social Media Case Studies with details on how these twelve B2Bs benefited from specific social media strategies. Here are examples of what some of these B2Bs accomplished:

  • SunGard generated over 3000 leads in just 3 days
  • Toshiba: 19,000 opens, 1,100+ clicks and generated 309 leads
  • LivePerson: 800 downloads, 11% open rate with a 17% click-through-rate (CTR), generated 270 marketing qualified leads and cited as “the most successful e-book of 2013”
  • LinkedIn: 10,000 downloads in less than 30 days, more than one-third by marketing qualified leads

Impressive conversion rates like these are attainable by using social media management tools that include the ability to measure results. Case studies provide ideas for what to test and what kind of results other B2Bs have been able to achieve.