October 22, 2019

Building Buyer Personas for SaaS Companies

What differentiates the successful marketer from the struggling marketer? A firm grasp on not only customer behavior and demographics but also their intent, desires, and needs. 

It’s like the old adage – walk a mile in their shoes. If you want to persuade your consumers to pick your business above all others, you need to understand them. Understanding their motivations and behaviors helps you better provide answers to their questions. And the most successful companies not only provide the answers, they provide them before potential customers even think to ask.

How do you learn how to anticipate and ultimately discover a customer’s intent and fulfill their needs and desires? By building buyer personas for your SaaS company.

What are buyer personas?

A persona is a fictional profile of your ideal customer or customer segment. For SaaS companies, it’s your ideal customer decision-maker(s). The profile includes in-depth information on that customer segment. Information could include demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, goals, frustrations, and challenges. Lead Forensics summarizes it perfectly: “Buyer personas are basically about researching and fully understanding who your target customer is, so you can effectively tailor your sales and marketing activities to maximize their impact”.

Why are personas important?

According to a study by David M. Raab, 79% of customers are more loyal to brands that they feel understand them. Companies reported that using persona profiles made their websites 2-5 times more effective and user-friendly. 

Without a proper understanding of who your customer actually is, you are wasting time, energy, and budget.

Using the customer data you have

Your current closed customer data is a treasure trove of information and what better foundation could you have for your personas than insights from people who already buy and use your service. Combining customer data with analytics from your SaaS website and social properties is a great place to start building your personas. 

  • Current closed customer data.  Analyze the data of your current closed customers to determine behavioral trends and demographics. This data should also show you common threads of frustrations, challenges, goals, and needs. Not sure how to get started? A good place to begin finding this data is to talk with your sales team about what they have gathered in their outreach. If you don’t already have this data, survey or interview your current customers to determine what problems you solve for them and why they chose to go with a service like yours.
  • Data from your website and social properties. Website and social analytics data can give great insight into who is interacting with your brand – even those who aren’t customers yet. Understanding what information you are providing (or not) and how potential customers are utilizing it is key to building a persona that is actually reflective of the customers you want. Seeing what touchpoints made the difference at what stops on your customer journey can also be found in this data. This information can help refine methods that each persona might be open to for your messaging. Consider adding website exit surveys to gather more data about what content pieces you might be missing. 

Gathering new data

Good buyer personas are born out of combining your current closed customer data with research. Some of the additional information you can collect to round out your personas includes potential customers and competitor data. 

  • Data from potential customers. Conduct research on a few of the target accounts that you are going to reach out to but haven’t yet. Check out what they are reading and sharing, what influencers they follow, their place in their organizational structure, and any other professional services they use. This data will be key to plugging any holes in your personas, but also to showing new SaaS marketing avenues you could target. 
  • Competitor data. Take a look at what your competitors are doing to reach customers you might also want. Check out their websites, frequency and method of content sharing, social media presence, and any events they attend. By understanding what your competition is providing, how they are providing it, and how they are speaking to your potential audience, you can round out your personas with information you may have been missing. 

Building personas

You’ve got your data. What comes next? Building your personas. 

  • Go beyond the demographics. Demographic data is, of course, important, but they do not make a persona. Including other data – like challenges, value propositions, desires, and needs – is what makes a persona truly useful to both your marketing and sales teams. 
  • Name your personas: Though not mandatory, giving the extra human element of naming your personas helps to better market to them human to human. 
  • Visualize them. We aren’t just talking about thinking of a physical representation of your persona, though that is a key component to making them more usable. Visualizing your personas through building out actual profiles with statistics, graphs, charts, quotes, and other visuals is the final step to making them relevant. 
  • Updating personas. People are always changing and evolving, so it is important that you keep up. Make sure to update your persona profiles every 6-12 months so they remain accurate and reflective of your closed customers. 

Using your personas

Your persona profiles are your marketing strategy guides. They help you in your decision-making and in cultivating positive relationships with your market. With a data and content-rich visual profile, your marketing team can create more impactful ABM campaigns and your sales team can have more valuable conversations with quality leads.  

Buyer personas are key to delivering relevant, personalized messaging to your ideal target accounts. By utilizing data from customers that were qualified and led to closed deals, as well as information on potential customers, you can more efficiently utilize your marketing resources, while saving your sales team time.

Want to learn how we can help you build out your buyer personas? Let’s talk.

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