Create engaging and comprehensive buyer personas
No matter your industry or business model, you need customers who will buy your products or services. And modern consumers have many options, so it’s essential to increase customer engagement in the highly saturated market. It simply isn’t efficient to market to everyone on Earth — brands need to track potential customer data so they don’t use precious resources on people who have no intention of purchasing.
Having comprehensive information will help you clearly define and better engage with your target market — but how do you turn swaths of customer data into actionable insights?
Successful businesses use buyer personas to narrow their market, boost engagement, and close more deals. Follow this guide to gain clarity on buyer persona examples, templates, and a step-by-step process for creating personas.
In this guide to buyer personas, we’ll go over:
- What they are
- Benefits of buyer personas
- Five steps to create a buyer persona
- How to transform your business with buyer personas
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of a key audience segment for your business. Also known as a marketing persona, customer persona, or audience persona, a buyer persona is a valuable tool used by:
Buyer personas synthesize all of the audience data you collect on your current and ideal customers. The goal is to categorize your data in ways that make your customers come alive, and so it will be easier for your team to empathize with their pain points.
Businesses rarely have just one customer persona. Effective businesses will create multiple customer personas so they can target multiple segments of their audience. There’s no “correct” number of personas, but most companies start with two to five buyer personas. The larger and more complex your business, the more personas you’ll likely need.
For example, you might create different personas for C-suite leaders compared to low-level coordinators. Both audiences are important to your brand — but they each require a different approach, which would warrant separate personas.
While you’re free to call personas whatever you like, it’s helpful to give them descriptive names that make it easy to refer to the correct persona. Buyer personas are an internal tool, so you’re free to make them however you see fit. You might create personas like:
- C-suite Savant
- HR Coordinator Colin
- Green Living Gretchen
- Alice the Analyzer
- Marketing Maven
Think of a buyer persona as a type of digital dossier. It should include demographic information about the most common prospects in your business, as well as their motivations and pain points.
While most buyer personas describe the type of customer you want to target, anti-personas are also a helpful tool. An anti-persona is the polar opposite of a typical buyer persona because it outlines the types of customers you don’t want to work with.
If you’ve spent time working with customers who aren’t a fit, anti-personas give your team a useful tool to remove unqualified prospects from your pipeline. This way, you ensure your business only works with the best customers for your offerings.
Benefits of buyer personas
Nearly half of B2B marketers reportedly use buyer personas. If such a substantial slice of the industry relies on buyer personas, they’re clearly a useful tool for improving business. Brands invest in buyer personas for many reasons, including:
- Personalizing offerings. Buyer personas make it easier for marketing, product, sales, and other teams to tailor content, goods, services, pitches, and more to ideal buyers.
- Exceeding goals. Of brands that exceed their revenue goals, 71% have defined buyer personas. In a market with increasing complexity and costs, buyer personas have the power to boost bottom-line results.
- Overcoming objections. Every prospect has a reason to walk away from your business. By thoroughly researching your audience, you gain a better understanding of their objections — and the right strategies to overcome those objections.
- Optimizing the customer experience. Buyer personas elevate customer needs by helping your team empathize with its audience. It’s no secret that brands are more successful when they focus on customer needs instead of pushing a sales pitch. A great customer experience (CX) leads to better outcomes, and that starts with solid buyer personas. In fact, 82% of brands with buyer personas improve their value proposition.
- Saving time. Stop spending resources on prospects that aren’t interested in your products or services. With buyer personas (and anti-personas), your team can narrow its focus and find prospects that are more likely to convert into paying customers. Plus, personas distill large amounts of information into a single graphic that can help your team take action in minutes.
Five steps to create a buyer persona
Buyer personas have the potential to improve the customer experience and skyrocket revenue in return. The persona creation process requires a lot of data and iteration, but it will give you a powerful tool to improve your business. Follow these five steps to create buyer personas for your brand.
1. Quantitative research
Buyer personas are only effective if they’re rooted in reality. That’s why it’s important to start with objective data first. To do this, you’ll need to use analytics, audience segmentation tools, and market research to analyze your customer base by certain attributes.
Keep in mind that the information you collect will largely depend on your industry and company goals. For example, if you’re a software as a service (SaaS) company, you might care more about a persona’s budget than its psychographics. Every business is different, but it’s a good idea to collect quantitative data such as:
- Demographics. Confirm basic buyer information like age, gender, race, location, industry, and company type. Not all of your customers will be the same demographic, but they’re a valuable way to identify the types of people who are interested in your services. However, it’s important to note that your buyer personas shouldn’t exclude leads if they don’t tick all of the boxes for demographic information.
- Psychographics. These are internal traits that your audience shares. Psychographic data includes things like hobbies, lifestyle, politics, and motivations. Psychographics can be more difficult to calculate quantitatively, but your website analytics tools should give you some decent insight into your customers’ preferences.
- Revenue. This includes data like average spend per transaction, lifetime value (LTV), and annual contract value. Revenue data matters because it tells you what your buyers’ spending habits are like. If your target audience spends $5,000 per contract and a prospect says they have a $1,000 budget, you can use this data to determine if they aren’t a fit for your services.
- Social media data. If you can find your ideal customers on platforms like LinkedIn, this will give you a gold mine of quantitative data. Learn about your prospects’ skills, industry experience, and personal interests by compiling LinkedIn data. LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help you pull this information together at scale too.
2. Qualitative research
While quantitative data is incredibly valuable, it doesn’t tell the full story. Much of the customer experience comes down to qualitative factors, which is why your team also needs to conduct qualitative research for better buyer personas. Qualitative data can include:
You can glean important insights by digging into the communications you have with your audience. However, the easiest way to do qualitative research is to sit down and interview both your employees and your audience.
Conducting employee interviews
Internally, you can interview sales, marketing, customer service, or IT employees to get their opinions on your audience’s pain points. Ask internal stakeholders these questions to learn more about your target audience:
- What are customers’ top complaints?
- What do customers rave about?
- What did customers try before they came to our company?
- What’s one customer request that comes up a lot but you haven’t been able to address?
Since leadership doesn’t work with customers on a daily basis, these interviews can help you discover unexpected customer pain points that you need to include in your buyer personas.
Conducting customer interviews
Interviewing your internal team will give you all kinds of helpful information, but you also need to go directly to the source — your customers. Choose members of your target audience to interview and add that data to your buyer personas.
You can find customers to interview by checking your social media for engaged followers who are also loyal customers, searching your CRM for your top-grossing accounts, and asking your marketing, sales, or product team to recommend customers who would be receptive.
During the interview, ask your buyers questions like:
- Can you briefly describe your business?
- What is your role within the organization?
- What are the goals and KPIs of your role?
- What are the pain points of your role?
- How do you use our product?
- What do you look for in a product like ours?
Be sure to follow other customer interview best practices, including:
- Standardizing the interview format
- Simplifying scheduling with calendar tools
- Recording the interviews
- Thanking them for their time in the form of discounts, free products, or gift cards
3. Identify trends and define key segments
At this point, you likely have a swath of raw audience information at your fingertips. Now your goal is to look over all of the quantitative and qualitative data to spot major trends. These trends will help you distinguish separate segments within your audience, which you can use to create your different personas.
Follow these tips to find trends in your data:
- Job titles. This is the fastest way to parse your audience data. See how customers interact with your business based on their job titles. Chances are good that a leader in the C-suite interacts with you differently than a junior developer does.
- Customer lifetime value. You may find different segments spend more or less. For example, if customers in the healthcare industry tend to spend more on your services than customers in retail, you have two separate segments right there.
- Motivations. Why did customers choose your business? You might find that one segment chose you completely based on pricing while another chose you based on product features.
- Pain points. What problems keep your customers awake at night? Lump customers together by pain point, and you’ll likely see that their other attributes, like demographics, line up too.
- Decision-making processes. Do customers tend to make a decision by themselves, or do they involve other people? How long do they take? If you see customers taking radically different approaches to decision-making, that’s another signal that you have several audiences.
4. Draft personas
After parsing the data, you’ll have a rough idea of the different personas in your business. At this point, you need to draft your personas using all of the data you collected.
Feel free to get creative while writing your buyer personas. Give names and faces to your newly created personas, treating them like fictional characters in a TV show or video game. Make them seem like real people — write a short story about their home life, hobbies, and career path.
The key is to use your research so you choose believable options — remember, this needs to be rooted in data. Your personas should also touch on:
Define their role at the company and their relationship to the decision-making process. Are they a researcher, or do they have a hand in making important decisions? What do they need to see from your company to make buying decisions?
While it’s fun to write backstories, focus on your personas’ work lives and how they relate to the buying process. Buyer personas are internal tools with the ultimate goal of making more money, so keep them as focused on the buying process as possible.
5. Distribute and use personas
Personas won’t do your team any good if they’re locked up in a vault, so be sure to distribute your personas and integrate them into your workflow. Buyer personas are so important that they warrant a presentation to your managers and teams. This gives you the chance to answer questions and tell your teams how to get more value out of your buyer personas.
Don’t sequester personas within your marketing or sales departments. Since the actions of one department can have a big impact on another department’s performance, shared buyer personas keep all of your employees on the same team. Use personas cross-functionally to encourage cohesion and focus across all of your departments.
While the hard work is over, buyer persona research is never truly done. Buyer personas are living documents that can — and should — change over time as your business, customers, and industry evolve. To that end, it’s a good idea to:
- Monitor metrics. Track customer engagement metrics after you implement your persona messaging. This will tell you if your buyer personas are effective, helping you fine-tune your approach over time.
- Keep gathering data. It’s a good idea to continue interviewing both employees and customers after your initial personas are done. Continued data collection will help you optimize your buyer personas even more.
- Alert the team about any changes. Your team needs to know about any new personas or changes to your existing personas. Explain why you made these changes to team members so they understand the reasoning behind the new approach.
Buyer persona examples
Buyer personas are unique to every business. But even so, it’s helpful to see other companies’ buyer personas for inspiration. Check out these five developed customer personas to understand what your final product should look like.
Semrush — B2C buyer persona
Image credit: Semrush
Buyer personas tend to be more popular with B2B companies, but they’re useful for B2C applications too. If your company sells products to everyday consumers, this B2C buyer persona example from Semrush is a prime example of buyer data in action. While this buyer persona example emphasizes the buyer’s general background, it highlights important data like pain points and buying decisions.
Appcues — personality-based persona
Image credit: Appcues
This buyer persona example from Appcues emphasizes the prospect’s personality, particularly as it pertains to their career. By listing Lisa Montoya’s trusted brands, it’s easier to figure out the types of content she might be drawn to during the customer journey. Visualizing the persona’s personality with a slider graphic can also help marketing and sales craft more effective messaging for either B2B or B2C applications.
UserGuiding — skills-based buyer persona
Image credit: UserGuiding
This buyer persona example from UserGuiding is helpful for B2B use cases where you might look for professionals with certain skillsets. Not only is it visually appealing, but it also highlights the prospect’s technological skills and strengths. This is ideal for B2B SaaS brands and even for service-based businesses like executive coaching firms.
Venngage — visual buyer persona
Venngage’s buyer persona example is visually appealing. Too often, brands overload their buyer personas with text — and the meaning gets lost. But by creating a highly visual persona with custom icons and bright colors, Venngage ensures no detail slips through the cracks. This buyer persona example would be perfect for brands with several personas that need to distinguish multiple segments from each other.
MarketSplash — simplified buyer persona
Buyer personas don’t have to be long or complicated. This example from MarketSplash shows that it’s okay to design a simple, straightforward buyer persona as long as it accomplishes your goals. In fact, it’s much easier to refer to a simple buyer persona during your daily workflow — so if you anticipate using your buyer personas every day, this approach would work best.
Buyer persona templates
Buyer persona examples will help you see what other brands are doing with their personas, but they still require you to do all of the heavy lifting. When it’s time to use buyer personas in your business, you need a replicable template that you can share with your team.
With a template, you can quickly generate multiple personas in a consistent style. Plus, when your personas eventually change, it’s much easier to make adjustments to a template instead of starting over from scratch.
At a minimum, your buyer persona template needs to include critical information such as:
- Pain points
- Media preferences
- Demographic information like occupation, age, education, and marital status
- Name and photo
You’re free to create your own buyer persona templates, but these three free templates can give you a head start.
Interactive buyer persona maker
Image credit: Xtensio
This free buyer persona template builder from Xtensio is perfect for both B2B and B2C brands. The tool allows you to start developing a persona without downloading any software — and the drag-and-drop interface means you can quickly build personas in minutes. You can change the categories, although the emphasis on brands and influencers makes this template helpful for media brands and marketing firms.
B2B buyer persona template
Image credit: Venngage
The categories in this buyer persona template from Venngage make it easy to quickly find pertinent data on your audience in seconds. The simplicity makes this template perfect as a quick reference tool for B2B applications, especially for brands that want to rapidly understand a buyer’s psychographic data.
B2C buyer persona template
Image credit: Iterative Marketing
Iterative Marketing’s B2C buyer persona template might not be as flashy as other options, but it distills important information about a B2C buyer into just a few bullet points. Use the “Worries & Fears” section to overcome B2C buyer objections and emphasize how your product solves common shopper pain points.
Transform your business with effective buyer personas
Business leaders looking to build, shape, and improve the user experience know data is power. With comprehensive buyer personas, you can create relevant, contextual experiences for every customer in your business.
You can follow the five tips we’ve shared to create your buyer personas from scratch. But to get even more value out of your buyer personas, use Adobe Experience Platform. Analyze the data that matters most for customer experience, train artificial intelligence and machine learning models to put your customers first, and connect all of your customer experience technology to a single source of truth.
Experience Platform takes buyer personas to the next level. And it gives you the ability to analyze the data that really matters for customer experience and connect all your CX technology to a single source of truth.