Revisit Your Buyer Personas in 2016: Why and How to Do It

As time passes, your business and your customer base evolves. If you’re still using the same buyer personas you used years ago, it may not help you target your current customers very effectively. Consider updating your personas if:

  • Your quality of your leads starts dwindling,
  • Your company direction has changed,
  • You’re using more than six personas to drive marketing activities, or
  • You haven’t developed any negative personas.

On average, companies should review personas quarterly. Check the strength, quality, and relevancy, and then move on. Schedule an overhaul for your personas once a year, but make regular changes on an as-needed basis, too.

Why Revisit Your Personas?

Buyer personas provide the foundation for all marketing and sales activities. If you know exactly who to target in a campaign, you can also answer the how, what, why, and where questions that go along with it.

Whether you barely used your old buyer personas or are still basing all your marketing activities on old data, persona refreshment offers a new perspective for your entire marketing strategy. Simply going through the exercise of creating a persona can improve your ability to create return on investment, driving campaigns that add value to your online audience.

Use your personas to map out customer pathways, qualify leads at a certain stage of the sales cycle, and develop content that strikes a chord online. Few companies can effectively target a large market, but refocusing on key niches can improve the quality of any marketing or sales campaign.

Information You Need to Get Started

When the time comes, sit down with all of your persona outlines and start working. To get started you’ll need:

  • Customer analytics – Look for patterns in customer conversion, product/service needs, online behaviors, and other key indicators.
  • Sales and customer service information – Record the subjective experiences of people who interact with your customers. What do they notice about the customers, product matching, and issues that customers commonly note.
  • Interviews – If you haven’t conducted customer interviews or asked for feedback in a while, do so now. Ask questions about the customer’s opinion about the brand, their satisfaction with products/services, and other insights.
  • Market research – Find out who your competitors are targeting and the attributes that make them strong competitors. Do they specifically market to one of your ideal customers? Are they targeting a demographic you should consider?

Collecting the information for the buyer personas takes time, but it will help you refresh your existing personas for better marketing performance. Consider scheduling data acquisition throughout the year instead of compiling the information every time you want to overhaul your marketing personas.

Components of Buyer Personas

Your persona outlines consist of more than market data and consumer behaviors. They also include extrapolations regarding purchasing scenarios and emotional cues. Each buyer persona should include:

  • Purchaser insights – What does research indicate about how buyers reach your brand and complete a purchase.
  • Purchaser descriptions – Which defining factors represent this buyer? This information should include themes within a buyer group. A purchaser description can include a job title and function, but it is typically the factor that most closely aligns a buyer group with your brand. For instance, it could be a stay-at-home mom who needs help with organization, a businessman who occasionally goes fishing and enjoys high-quality gear for his hobby, or a catering chef who focuses on precision and presentation.
  • Emotional qualities – What appeals to this purchaser emotionally? What does this person care about most in life? Consider beliefs, values, and habits in this section.
  • Purchasing scenarios – Start pulling data that helps you define how a purchaser reaches your product. Do your target customers use local directories on their mobile phones or are they more likely to look at customer reviews and do extensive research? Where would this person come across your brand in everyday life?

Trim the Fat

Look at your existing buyer personas. You only need three to five personas, with one serving as your primary/ideal customer. Evaluate the relevancy of your primary persona first. If it still represents your ideal customer, move on to the next personas. Cut out any personas that are no longer relevant. You may need to eliminate personas if you stop carrying certain products or if the portion of the market has significantly diminished.

Cut down your existing buyer personas to the information that still applies today. Get rid of outdated demographics and put questions in their places. Replace, “This individual spends a large amount of time shopping on websites such as Amazon,” with “Where does this buyer spend his or her time today?”

Reconciling the New and the Old

The information you have collected is like an unsolved puzzle at this point. You may have pieces of personas on scrap paper or in piles on a conference table. Create new outlines that include all the components you need to fill in for each persona. Always start with your ideal customer. Fill in any existing information you have, then flesh out the outline with new data. As you complete each subsequent persona, schedule a time for another review in the future.