Picture your customers. Not just their industries and business functions. Not just their geographic locations and levels of seniority — although all of those things are important. But picture them. What motivates them? What are their pain points? Who are they?
This extremely specific description of your model customer is a buyer persona. Buyer personas help you target prospects with surgical precision and nurture them with custom content they care about.
Read on to learn seven tips for integrating buyer personas into a lead nurturing campaign:
1. Personas first, content second
Response rates plummet when you send generic content to a broad, untargeted audience. So before building a lead nurturing program, figure out who you are trying to reach. After all, you’ve got to know who you’re talking to before creating your marketing messages.
To gain deeper insight into your buyers — and to build better buyer personas — you can hold focus groups, interview current customers, conduct surveys, or check out who’s engaging with you via social media.
Buyer personas may be fictional, but they uncover key insights into the real people you’re striving to connect with. Personas can help you craft messages that make your prospects feel like you’re speaking directly to them. This is especially important when employing an automated process, like lead nurturing. These targeted messages help nurturing feel less like a pitch from a robot, and more like a conversation between humans.
Give each of your buyer personas a name, job, likes and dislikes, pain points, purchase drivers, activities, success measurements, and more. If most of the CEOs you want to reach are female, name your Executive persona “Emily,” not “CEO-Persona-B.”
3. Uncover pain points
Think about the challenges your personas face. Your lead nurturing messages should explain how you will provide relief. For example, if one of your personas feels his or her current tool is unreliable, talk about predictable performance — perhaps by focusing on the reliability of your solution. You can research which pain points are plaguing your customers through interviews, surveys, or conversations with sales.
4. Follow digital footprints
Measure, test, track, and combine data from your customers’ online behavior to get a feel for the habits and motivations of each buyer persona. Where did they go for information? To which messages did they respond?
Ask the right questions to learn where and how they devour your content. For example, did they find your site via social media? How much time do they spend on your site? Which pages, microsites, or areas of your site do they visit most? In what order and quantity do they access your content? Find their hot spots and give them what they’re looking for.
5. Update regularly
Remember when you created those buyer personas five years ago? Chances are, they no longer fit today’s customers. The buyer’s journey — how customers search for a solution, interact with you, and respond to sales — is constantly evolving. Make sure your personas and lead nurturing tracks line up with their behavior.
Refresh personas at least every year or two. Once you’ve revisited your personas, update lead nurturing tracks to fit them.
6. Include your sales department
Sales has the most direct access to your customers. They understand pain points and motivations — so get their input on personas. You’ll craft marketing messages that are more cohesive from the top of the funnel to the bottom. If sales isn’t aligned with your messaging, the conversation will feel disjointed.
7. Segment based on personas
Finally, it’s time to plug your buyer personas into your lead nurturing tracks. At its simplest, you can segment your database so that each prospect is labeled with a persona. For example, every record that has a job title in the C-suite might map to your Executive persona, “Emily,” while records with engineering titles are mapped to your Technology persona, “Jim.”
From there, tailor content for each buyer persona segment that addresses the pain points, motivations, and specific influences you’ve already identified. Now you’ve got a campaign that really makes business personal.
Sam Boush is the founder and President of Lead Lizard, an Act-On partner and marketing automation agency in Portland, Oregon. Sam works with enterprise clients to develop demand generation strategies. He has an MBA from the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon.