Lead generation is a challenge among B2B companies today. There are 63% of marketers who say that generating leads and traffic is their top challenge while 70% of marketers say converting those leads is a top priority (State of Inbound).
How is it that companies that have a marketing strategy in place still aren’t seeing high-end results from their efforts? Maybe you’re also experiencing roadblock after roadblock. Are you still struggling to qualify, convert, and nurture the leads in your sales funnel?
You’re not alone. The truth is that your marketing dollars, time, resources, and mental juice in and of themselves will not keep your business afloat. I want to touch on why a buyer persona (also known as a customer profile) is a monumental piece of any successful marketing infrastructure.
Identify your tARGET BUYER
A buyer persona is an in-depth profile that represents your ideal buyer. Data, research, and facts about your existing customers are captured and combined into one profile, representing your ideal customer. This type of profile lends a hand when deciphering which marketing strategies to implement. Therefore, the more information you know about your current customers, the better.
Every person in the world is not going to buy from you. The goal is to hone your marketing efforts to speak directly to those who are more likely to purchase your products or services.
If you want your leads to respond to your marketing message, you first have to bridge the gap between their need and your solution. This means starting to think of them as people, not “leads.” Otherwise, like many other companies, your message will feel cold, dull, and distant. It will be clear to your prospects when you know what they are searching for and why.
Gathering feedback from your current customers through surveys and polls is an invaluable way to begin the research process. It’s best to get facts as opposed to forming assumptions so that you can make sure you are sharing the right messages.
QUESTIONS TO ASK ON SURVEYS
Don’t be afraid to dig deep for answers (without annoying your customers of course). Have an “all-in” approach to discover the answers to some of the questions below.
Wondering where to start? Try answering these broad questions first:
- What are their challenges? What are they up against?
- Are they a small business owner? Do they work for a large company?
- What are their goals?
- What drives and motivates them?
- Why would they buy your product? Why not?
- What are their job titles? Who makes the final purchasing decision?
- What are their challenges? What keeps them up at night? What are they trying to accomplish?
- How and why do your products or services interest them? What would they gain?
- What type of education do they have? Do they have technical know-how?
- How do they research product information?
- What dissuades them from doing business with you?
- What generation are they? Millennials? Baby boomers?
- Where does this demographic spend most of their time online? What types of content to they consume? Who distributes it?
- What social platforms do they spend the most time on? What type of content are they interacting with?
Develop more questions relevant to your industry using the five Ws and H: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
INTEGRATE SOCIAL LISTENING AND SOCIAL MONITORING
Have you implemented social listening into your marketing strategy? Perhaps you’re convinced it will make little difference in your business. Or maybe you’re uncertain of how these realizations will give you insights as to what your ideal customer or clients really want and expect from you.
The key to optimizing your conversions and improving customer retention goes beyond having an excellent product. It’s essential to examine how your prospects are interacting with your brand online as well as offline.
This much is a given: not every one of your customers will have a positive experience with your brand. However, their dissatisfaction presents a valuable opportunity for you to identify where your customers may be feeling confused, cheated, or let down by your company.
An estimated 13% of unsatisfied customers will share their negative experience with 15 or more people. But what’s more surprising is that 91% of unhappy customers who don’t complain will simply leave and not return (Esteban Kolsky).
While there still remains a percentage of people who will pick up the phone and call or send an email to voice their frustrations, social media has become common ground for doing just that.
Have a look at some of the customer feedback a well-known car insurance company received on Facebook.
Unfortunately, there were dozens of more comments from angry and frustrated customers regarding similar issues and experiences. You can draw several conclusions here.
In the above example, both customers were clearly dissatisfied because they thought they would receive something they did not receive. One customer had done business with this company for several years, and the other had lost trust in this brand just shortly after committing to purchase their insurance. While customer retention is a whole other topic, examining this type of feedback can help you to find the holes in your marketing message.
What did your customers think they would receive that your company does not offer? Why are they disappointed in your services? Were they mislead by your marketing message in any way?
Here’s another example of a handful of customers who voiced their opinion of the service they received from a popular restaurant through Twitter mentions.
The problem? This company brands and promotes itself as fast and reliable. With their tagline being “freaky fast”, it’s safe to presume their customers would expect fast service.
Every company has its failures and there’s always room to improve the quality of products and services. However, when your customers do not see consistency in your marketing message and the quality of service they receive, you can be sure it won’t take them long to lose trust and do business elsewhere. Since closing sales are what drives your business, it’s important to nail down the type of customers your targeting and be clear on what they want.
The expectations your prospects form based on your marketing messages should line up with your company deliverables. If there’s a gap, you should seek to address it.
After customers begin to believe your marketing message is “all talk”, the relationship has nowhere else to go but down. Remember that customers are looking for a company they can trust will deliver what they’ve promised. It’s more difficult to convert a new lead than to retain existing customers.
Marketing professionals are beginning to see the importance of social listening and why it’s almost not optional. Social listening tools like Brandwatch provide valuable insight into what’s being said about your brand through social media mentions, forums, blogs, and other online platforms you may not be monitoring.
Since you’ve got one eye on your competitor, you can also use this tool to find out what’s working well for them and what isn’t. As the common saying goes, you can reduce your learning curve just by learning from other’s mistakes.
As you gather information, your buyer persona could look something like this:
ALLOW YOUR PROFILE TO DRIVE YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS
Remember, this profile is not set in stone but should be evolving. Once you have your profile finished, you can use it to build a concrete marketing method that drives all of your content, including the following:
- Content marketing efforts
- Social media campaigns
- Website messaging
- Copywriting projects
Aweber has a neat way of reassuring customers that they won’t be left alone after investing in their product. Aweber targets small to large businesses as well as entrepreneurs who are looking to use software automation tools while still remaining personal and building relationships.
Although they have a broad customer base, they understand the importance of a tailored marketing message. Sure, their prospects know their services are what they need, but how will they overcome challenges that hinder taking action to actually purchase the product? Some are busier than others. Some may not be tech savvy and find marketing automation utterly confusing. While others may understand the concept but not know what to write in their messages or how to make them personal.
As you can see, their content addresses detailed common questions their prospects have. Showing prospects how to use your product before they purchase it can often be more meaningful than just showcasing all the features. If you’re selling technology or anything with complex functionality, this is especially the case. You want prospects to understand that your product will meet their need, but you must also emphasize the ease of use.
Aweber has structured their content in a way that makes it easy for them to overcome objections and build trust, which helps their prospects to take action. The call-to-action below speaks directly to prospects who are in the “Action” stage of the AIDA model (which we’ll touch on next).
The warm welcome emails each new customer receives also helps direct them to the right tools to ensure they are successful from the onset and are set to continually progress in their marketing automation efforts.
The AIDA Model has been around for decades and is well-known by a multitude of marketing professionals.
This model represents the four basic phases a lead will go through before converting to a customer. Here is a breakdown of each phase:
AWARENESS (OR ATTRACTION)
Creates awareness of your products and services through brand outreach. In this first stage, prospects know they have a problem and have begun searching for a viable solution. Prospects are looking for as much guidance as possible and are not looking to make a buying decision right away. Rather, they are searching for in-depth educational content.
Here are some content ideas for this stage:
- Blog content
- YouTube videos
- Content upgrades (or gated content, usually long-form)
- Research reports
- Educational webinars
Your content should be easy to find online. Developing the right content is one thing, but if prospects have to spend lengthy amounts of time searching for it, you’ll lose their attention rather quickly. Invest in a good SEO strategy using long-tail keywords and diversify the channels where you distribute your content.
After you’ve gained their attention, it’s important to generate an interest. This means your content needs to be clear, engaging, and as targeted as possible. If prospects are unable to determine what you offer, to whom, or how it can help them, they’ll remain a low-quality lead and may never end up converting. As they gather information about your offer, prospects need to see that your offer is the perfect solution to their problem.
Here are some content ideas for this stage:
- Product webinars
- Tip sheets
- Cheat sheets
- Case studies
- Product demos
This is where prospects need to see why your product is just right for them. You’ve attracted them. You’ve educated them, and they’ve done their research. They’re sold on how to solve their problem, but now they need to see why your brand is the best on the market.
Although you’ve educated them on how to solve their problem, you can almost be certain they have had their eyes on other potential vendors. Move past selling them on the solution and shift your focus to magnifying the benefits they will experience when they buy from you.
Here are some content ideas for this stage:
- Trial offers
- Cost estimates
- Live demos
- Test drives
Unless prospects ultimately take action by deciding to purchase your product or service, you have no sale and no business growth.
This last phase is most important because you don’t want to lose the lead after the previous three steps. This stage is also known as having a call-to-action (CTA). Now that you’ve attracted your prospect and they’ve gained interest in your brand and a desire for your product, you need to close the sale. Clearly, communicate the next step you want your prospect to take.
Your CTA should align with the marketing objectives you’ve outlined for your business. Whether you’re offering a discount for immediate purchases, a free trial, or want prospects to call for a free consultation, be clear.
After the prospect has purchased your product or service, you want your content to help create a positive experience and keep them motivated and excited about using your product.
Every marketer goes through seasons where they have to come back to the drawing board to assess what’s really working. Your profile will help you refine your marketing strategy, which will lead to better results in the long term.
Now that we’ve covered how to create a customer profile, the next step is for you to get started! Zero in on your target customers by first defining who they really are. If you’ve not had good results qualifying your leads and closing sales, it’s time you do something different.
With the ever-increasing challenge of being “seen” online these days, upping your game with a more effective marketing strategy is vital to your success in 2018. Your buyer persona will help keep you on a steady track to see better results in your marketing campaigns.