A customer avatar or buyer persona is the starting point of any smart marketing campaign. It informs your copywriting, graphic design, brand messaging, and virtually every element of your marketing strategy.
While it can be tedious, developing a buyer persona is key to ensuring your message resonates well with your target audience and positively impacts your bottom line.
What Are Buyer Personas?
A buyer persona or customer avatar is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It helps you clarify precisely whom you’re marketing to. If you don’t use your real customer data and market research to pinpoint your buyer persona, you can’t be certain that your marketing messages will connect with your target audience and prompt them to take up whatever you’re offering.
Keep in mind that it’s okay to have more than one buyer persona. Ideally, your products and services will be effective solutions for several types of people. So, more than one buyer persona is expected and encouraged.
This way you’ll have each of your buyer persona(s) in mind when you write ad copy, email newsletters, or blog posts, ensuring that you achieve higher conversion rates with your audience.
Developing Buyer Personas
If you have existing customers, you’ll want to start with doing some research on them to determine their demographics and other characteristics. If you have a sales or marketing team, then they’ll likely have the data you need to begin forming your buyer persona. However, you don’t want to rely on this information alone. Take the following steps as well.
- Survey Your Current Customers and ProspectsIf possible, contact your current customers by phone and speak with them one-on-one to learn more about them. Use something like Xtensio’s User Persona Creator to help guide the questions you ask during each call. While this can be time-consuming, it’s highly effective if you’ve got the time or staff to pull it off.If you don’t have any customers yet, then speak with any other leads you have via your Social Media following, email subscribers base, or other contacts you’ve gathered. When you approach them just be honest and mention that you’re doing some research and would like a few minutes for a brief call.
- Research OnlineYou know how when you visit Amazon to look for a new lawn chair, and suddenly you see ads for that lawn chain on Facebook, CNN.com, and every other website? You feel like Amazon is stalking you, right? Well, you’re going to do something similar with online research.Select one person and track them down all over the Internet – LinkedIn, Facebook, other social media, online publications, and other web properties. Compile the data you find into a spreadsheet with links to everything you find. These links will be helpful when it’s time to create your buyer persona.
- Create Your Buyer PersonaNow it’s time to get your hands even dirtier and develop your buyer persona in writing. Thankfully, there are tons of tools and templates that help make this exercise a breeze. The point is to take everything you’ve learned and to use it to create a fictional character that anyone in your organization can reference to better understand your target audience.
Buyer Persona Examples & Templates
There’s no shortage of templates for creating buyer personas available online. Here’s a short list of the best ones.
Digital Marketer’s Customer Avatar Worksheet – This is one of the simpler templates you’ll find out there. It’s available in a fillable PDF format that you can download, complete, and save to your hard drive. They also have one sheet for males and another for females.
HubSpot’s Buyer Persona Template – This template comes with a guide for developing buyer personas. It also sections off everything into the who, what, why, and how questions that are key for creating your customer avatar.
Filestage’s Buyer Persona Template – This template is simple and pleasing to the eye. It includes a version for PDF and PowerPoint. It also incorporates a production adoption group, archetype, and tag cloud.
Xtensio’s User Persona Creator – is an online app that lets you input your buyer persona’s demographic information along with their bio, goals, motivations, frustrations, preferred brands, and ideal channels. Xtensio also allows you to add custom modules to the avatar to suit your needs. You can even get started with a free account.
Demand Metric’s Buyer Persona Template – This easy-to-use Excel spreadsheet incorporates several tabs for several personas. The template makes it easy to pull up all your customer avatars at once within a single file. Demand Metrics also has a simple video to help step you through the process of using the template.
Marketo’s Marketing Persona Cheat Sheet – This template is a bit different from the others. It comes with a fill-in-the-blank map for developing creating your customer avatar journeys. It also comes with directions for mapping out the journey.
MakeMyPersona – This unique HubSpot creation is an online generator that spits out buyer personas in a few clicks. Simply click the “Start Making My Persona” button, and the generator guides you through several questions about your target customer. When complete, HubSpot automatically sends you a PDF of your buyer persona complete with a headshot.
Questions to Ask When Creating Buyer Personas
If you intend to rough it and don’t want to use any of the cool online tools referenced above, here are some questions you can use to guide you through developing buyer personas.
- What are your personal demographics?
This is where you ask for things like marital status, annual household income, city and state where they live, gender, age, number of children, etc.
- What’s your educational background?
Ask what schools they attended, the highest level of education that achieved, what their field of study was, Be as specific as possible.
- What has been your career path?
How did they begin their career and land where they are today? Is their current role related to their educational path or is it different? Have they remained in the same industry for their entire career or have they switched industries over time?
- What industry does your company occupy?
This question is asking for the type of service their company offers and not a description of their job or the department they work in. It might also be helpful to ask which industries the company serves.
- What’s your company’s size?
Here you’re asking how many employees the company has and how much revenue it generates.
These are just a few questions to get you started. The buyer persona templates referenced earlier can provide guidance for creating your own questions to get what you need to craft your own customer avatar.