The most significant challenge B2B marketers face is in effectively communicating with target audiences and prospective buyers. While we all have goals and objectives for lead generation, brand development, and customer experience as examples, the overarching challenge is making the right decisions to achieve them.
Goals become more complicated to achieve as evolving marketing technology continues to promise an opportunity to target more specifically and create unique customer experiences buyers demand.
B2B buyer personas provide a foundation for accomplishing the research and development of effective online marketing campaigns designed to achieve strategic marketing objectives.
What Are B2B Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are fictional characters that represent types of users that typically use, evaluate, and authorize the purchase of B2B products and solutions.
In coordination with buyer journey mapping, personas help marketers conceptualize how target audiences may interact with an organization and associated solutions.
Here are additional definitions from around the web:
- Ardath Albee & MLT Creative: “A buyer persona is a composite of different factors that affect your buyer and motivate him/her to buy. Your prospect’s buying cycle and buying decisions are situated within a larger context that must be understood in order to motivate his/her buyer behavior.” (source)
- Adele Revella: “A buyer persona as an archetype; a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy, products like the ones you market, based on what you’ve learned in direct interviews with real buyers.” (source)
For online marketers, buyer personas can provide direction in the channel-specific campaign development.
SEO and PPC Keyword Research
Keyword research is both a fundamental and critical component of search marketing programs; paid and organic. The key to effective keyword research is how understanding target audiences use keywords to discuss client solutions.
When B2B search marketers apply buyer personas in keyword research, they have a more specific direction for determining the applicability of keyword opportunities.
Here is an example:
- In one scenario, despite the fact that a particular keyword opportunity had significantly more estimated search volume than another, we knew through search result analysis that the type of content successful for ranking would not resonate with the target audiences. Buyer persona review enforced direction and the associated SEO keyword recommendation.
For PPC, buyer personas can aid search marketers in creating more targeted ad copy, more specific landing page offers, ad settings such as geographical focus or time of day, or defining website for PPC display campaigns.
Content Marketing Strategy and Development
By leveraging comprehensive buyer personas, content marketers can better define critical content themes, address buyer pain points, and specialize content to market-specific environments.
My colleague Ryan Young previously outlined tips for developing buyer personas in coordination with content marketing efforts. The answers to questions associated with these four elements of buyer persona development, in particular, should be considered.
- Individual Motivators: Determine [the target buyer persona’s] goals within the organization. Are they focused on increasing ad sales? Technology advancements? Increasing ROI? This will help to ensure content addresses the proper motivators on an individual basis.
- “A Day in the Life”: Consider what a normal day looks like for the target buyer. How do they go about researching new solutions and vendor capabilities?
- Business Goals: Identify why this individual might be performing research. Are they looking to answer a very specific need? Are they looking to purchase an all-encompassing service or solution for their organization? Are they simply looking to expand their knowledge or looking to share with others?
- Challenges / Solutions: Within each buyer persona, specific pain points need to be identified to ensure content marketing efforts address these issues and relate them back to products or solutions in an effective manner.
By addressing themes like the ones listed above, content marketers can combine keyword research and content marketing to create more effective SEO and paid acquisition campaigns.
Social Media Marketing and Advertising
There are two direct benefits buyer personas provide for social media activities alongside a series of indirect benefits as well.
- Titles, roles, and industries associated with buyer personas provide a path for user/interest research in social media platforms that can be used for organic network development and audience targeting in paid advertising.
- Industry emphasis will also help identify influencers on social media platforms, which in turn can be used for direct influencer marketing efforts or social media network analysis and client-specific profile development.
Indirectly, the integration of buyer personas educates social media marketers on the needs and challenges of target audiences. This enables better communication of content marketing efforts and more effective engagement through applicable platforms.
Additionally, the ongoing learnings through social media activity may aid in spotting trends and development that can lead to proactive campaigns for social media advertising and even SEO link building initiatives.
Third-Party Campaign Creation
The benefits of buyer persona integration extend beyond social media to cross into all facets of third party campaign development online. Because buyer personas inform digital marketers on target audience titles, roles, and industries, in particular, consider the following broader third party campaign benefits.
- Publication research – identification of publications that buyer personas trust and read for research, vendor information, and thought leadership. These publications can, in turn, be leveraged for tactics like SEO link building (byline contributions), content syndication, and various advertising programs.
- SEO link building campaigns – not only tackled through third party publications but also in coordination with industry-related blogs for guest post opportunities, forums/communities, and other applicable industry-specific website platforms.
- Influencer marketing – also defined above, industry/market awareness helps identify influencers for brand communication efforts in particular.
In order to get the attention of specific target audiences, B2B marketers need a presence in the most appropriate third party publications and websites. Effective buyer personas lead marketers in this discovery and selection process.
Buyer personas can improve the effectiveness of a range of B2B online marketing campaign requirements. While this post focuses on a series of capabilities KoMarketing emphasizes, we have also experienced how personas can be leveraged for a range of online and offline marketing initiatives such as webinar development, event marketing, and email marketing optimization to name a few.
Is your organization leveraging the information found in buyer persona development? How have you been successful or what challenges have been realized?