One of the key challenges facing B2B marketers is understanding their buyers - or more specifically -buyer personas - to both tailor content, outreach and profiles. Making it work - or putting buyer insight to use within their own companies - remains elusive for many B2B marketers as many cite a lack of budget and lack of commitment overall to create and maintain a buyer ‘persona.’
The highest performing companies, however, see it differently. They put buyer insight to use within their own business and are far more likely to see revenue and lead generation growth, a benchmark B2B study by Cintell suggests.
It is evident that garnering buyer insights remains a huge challenge. The report-surveyed companies of all sizes from 25 to 5,000 employees with respondents asked to describe whether they hit or miss goals related to lead generation and revenue creation. Looking at how these companies create or maintain personas and put their insights to use revealed that companies who exceed revenue and lead goals are more effective at creating, using and consistently maintaining 'buyer personas' than those companies who miss lead and revenue targets.
The effort appears to be invaluable as the report suggests that those companies who maintain or have updated their buyer personas within the last six months are seven times more likely to exceed lead and revenue goals.
Some of the top challenges most commonly faced in creating and maintaining buyer personas include getting the organization as a whole to invest in building a 'buyer persona', which includes applying quantitative measures to validating personas, budgeting, training and finding third-party data to support persona creation.
The study notes that the top five sources of persona insights used by top performing companies involves research techniques like conducting qualitative interviews with customers and non-customers (84 per cent), interviewing the executive team (74 per cent), interviewing sales people (58 per cent) reviewing CRM/MA data (52 per cent) and interviewing customer success teams (52 per cent).
The report also suggests that interviewing real buyers (both potential and existing) is one of the most important components for building personas. Additionally, the report found that 70 per cent of companies who missed revenues and lead goals did not conduct qualitative persona interviews. Further, that learning much more than just job titles or demographics is essential. Questions should include organizational goals and priorities, drivers and motivators, fears and challenges and buying process information. Finally, high performing companies that spend time researching the motivations of buyers while also looking into the fears and challenges of their buyers are two times more likely to establish and understand the buying preferences of their personas.
It was also discovered that among those companies who were missing lead and revenue targets, 70 per cent do not have a complete overview of the various needs and preferences of each of the stakeholders involved. At least 70 per cent of those companies who miss revenue and lead goals do not account for the full buying committee with their personas. Additionally, organizations that do not assign the task of creating personas within their organization or have a budget or job description for the task are three times less likely to reach goals than companies who have resources dedicated to building 'personas.’
The study notes that the content marketing team is one of the most likely to use personas as a way to guide messaging and tone of voice. However, only 12 per cent of respondents said they use personas to train customer service and support teams to improve client interaction.
Further, the study found that companies who exceed their lead and revenue goals are three times as likely to segment their database by persona-related fields than demographic criteria. The data shows that the most effective marketers go beyond demographic information and fine-tune their persona-based strategy so that the right content is being sent to the right people. Additionally, many organizations admit that one reason why personas fail is that they are stored in a static format. Most of the organizations cannot list primary personas or key attributes as at least 21 per cent said their personas are stored in PDF-files and are rarely used. Only eight per cent of those surveyed said that at least 75 per cent of the individuals in their organization could name their personas and key attributes.
In summation, there are some leading indicators of persona success and for those companies who want to ramp up lead generation and revenue goals, they should create and document personas and update their personas if they have not done so within the last six months.
Customer-centric marketers also use a variety of sources for persona intelligence, and will conduct qualitative interviews that account for the full buying committee. Understanding the drivers and motivators of their buyers is also a huge factor in developing a buyer persona. By allotting a budget for it, marketers are three times more likely to successfully use personas for demand generation. Finally, successful marketers who segment their database by persona, and often with fields other than demographic data are using a greater depth of information to build their buyer persona.