Buyer personas, inbound marketing’s greatest tool, are fictional in nature, but their accuracy depends on real data. To keep personas up-to-date, it’s common to periodically conduct market research.
What is Market Research?
Market research is the process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting the effectiveness of a new product or service with techniques that can include customer surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups. This process allows companies to learn valuable information about a target audience or find out what customers think about a product or service. It can also be used to study consumer characteristics and demographics.
The information produced during surveys and focus groups can help solve marketing challenges. It is used to inform the creation of strategies, such as market segmentation and product differentiation.
What are Buyer Personas?
According to HubSpot, “Buyer personas — sometimes referred to as marketing personas — are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you visualize your audience, streamline your communications, and inform your strategy.”
But, these fictional representations aren’t exactly dreamed up.
How to use Real Data to Improve Buyer Personas
Since buyer personas are central to your marketing success, it pays to devote time to researching them thoroughly. Personas built with real data give your company a significant advantage over the competition. They allow you to visualize your audience, tailor your communications and develop an effective marketing strategy.
Before jumping into interviewing whoever you can find, identify research priorities. If you know your goals and objective, the process will be much smoother.
2) Define Your Personas
The key to successful inbound marketing is thoroughly understanding who your buyer personas are. This will help you segment your audience and collect the right information from your interviewees.
3) Plan Out Interviews
Planning is essential, because you’ll likely only get one chance at each interview. To make the most of the time, create a script and memorize it.
4) Recruit Qualified Interviewees
When looking for interviewees, it’s smart to leverage personal and company networks. It helps to over-recruit qualified subjects in case interviews include poor results. It’s also a good idea to create an open call for participants on social media channels.
5) Conduct Interviews
HubSpot suggests interviewing at least 10 people per persona. You can interview any participants that match your persona, but try to not to include too many similar people. Focusing on contacts you have recently interacted with will help you build relationships.
Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Work towards keeping the interviewee on topic. Interviews should last between a half-hour and an hour. Finally, setting a deadline to complete all interviews will keep you on track.
6) Offer an Incentive
Since finding interviewees can be difficult, try offering a free gift to entice your contacts. It doesn’t have to be a big prize, but an incentive can increase participation.
7) Summarize Your Findings
Once you’re done, compile the findings into a report to share with your colleagues. An executive summary gives a brief synopsis of the overall results. Tell everyone what you learned, and what you plan to do about it. Most importantly, detail what propels your interviewees through the awareness, consideration and decision stages of the Buyer’s Journey.