Buyer Personas: The Ultimate Guide

by Sean Blake, Head of Marketing

18 Nov 2020

Whether you’re a marketer, a salesperson, a product manager, or even a developer, your work comes back to one thing: the customer.

When you understand who they are, what they want, how they talk, and how they get things done, you can make better products and promote them in the right way to the right people.

One of the most powerful ways to understand your customer better is to create buyer personas. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide that includes everything you need to know to create, refine, and use your buyer personas.

What are buyer personas?

Buyer personas lay out the typical characteristics of someone who is likely to buy your products - usually on a single page.

Personas aren’t profiles of real people. You shouldn’t use real names, photos, or personal information on your buyer personas. But they should reflect the general behavior and goals of your real customers


You might create a buyer persona for your ideal customer, or several types of ideal customers that regularly buy your product or service. For example, at Easy Agile, we have personas for the most common roles/titles of our ideal customers, like:

  • Release Train Engineer
  • Product Manager
  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master
  • Developer

You might also create anti-personas for the types of customers you don’t want to attract.

What are some other names for buyer personas?

You might know “buyer personas” by a different name, depending on your industry, department, or how you plan to use the persona. For example:

  • User persona (if your product is software and your user is also the buyer)
  • Audience persona
  • Customer persona
  • Buyer avatar
  • Customer avatar
  • Ideal audience avatar
  • Buyer profile


While there are some slight differences between some of these names and how they're used in marketing or product management, they are often used interchangeably with "buyer persona".

What are buyer personas used for?

Buyer personas can be used in just about any role or department.

The main purpose of buyer personas is to gain a deeper understanding of your customers. This will help you:

  • Improve targeting and reach
  • Increase conversions
  • Increase ROI and profitability
  • Communicate more effectively
  • Identify pain points
  • Create products that solve problems
  • Improve the user experience
  • Improve customer loyalty
  • Offer the best value to your best customers
  • Help the customers who need your product or service the most

Why create buyer personas?

It’s clear that buyer personas are useful for a lot of different things. But let’s take a closer look at the top 6 benefits.

1. Increase revenue

One case study found ROI increased by 124% by using personas as part of a marketing strategy. Another case study found that personas have the potential to significantly increase time spent on a website and could boost marketing revenue by 171%. This makes sense when you consider that the insights from personas can allow you to use your marketing budget to better target and convert customers.

2. Make good decisions fast

Whether you’re a marketer, salesperson, or product manager, you won’t always have time to run a proper analysis, get consensus from your team, or survey your audience before you make a decision. Fortunately, with a clear picture of your audience always at your fingertips, you can make snap decisions with confidence. Buyer personas allow you to anticipate how a feature or change will impact the buyer (and therefore your conversions, retention, and bottomline) by seeing things from their perspective (goals, objectives, fears, and motivations).

3. Understand how people buy

Buyer personas can help you map out the customer journey, showing how your audience goes from the first point of contact with your brand to purchasing your product. Personas can reveal what issues matter to them, what content they’d like to consume, what platforms they prefer to consume it on, and what products they’re most likely to invest in first. When you understand how people prefer to buy from you, you can make this more streamlined by:

  • Creating different funnels for different personas
  • Showing people the right thing at the right time
  • Tackling objections with your content
  • Focusing on the most effective channels for your audience

4. Talk directly to your ideal audience

With clearly defined buyer personas, your team will have the data needed to target ads directly to your ideal audience. Not only that, but they’ll be able to use ad creative that talks to your audience pain points and uses language that they can understand. In turn, this should lead to more clicks, more conversions, and more customers that are the ideal fit for your product.

5. Be more consistent

Buyer personas can help your whole team get on the same page about who your customers are and how to target them. This can help you deliver more consistent messaging and support for customers, which will help build customers’ trust, confidence, and loyalty.

6. Stay focused on the customer

One of the top benefits of using buyer personas is that they help keep your team focused on what’s important: the customer. With so much data available these days, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. And it’s just as easy to go down rabbit holes, chasing features you want to work on without fully considering what’s best for the customer. With customer personas, it’s much easier to remember that real people buy your product - and that your job is to deliver value to them above all else.

How to research your buyer personas

Don’t assume you know everything there is to know about your audience - real data should inform your buyer personas. Here are some ways you can research your buyer personas:

Survey customers

Customer surveys are one of the most powerful ways to gather data. You can create online surveys through tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms, then send these to your existing customers or prospects. Use these surveys to ask questions about audience demographics, habits, goals, challenges, fears, objections, platforms, technology, and preferences. This data will directly inform each section of your buyer persona, so make sure you ask questions that are most relevant to understanding your buyer and how they might find, purchase, or use your product.

Interview key customers

One-on-one customer interviews or focus groups are another powerful way to learn about your audience. Unlike an online survey, this format is more flexible. You could start with some questions to help start a discussion, and then dig further based on the answers that come up. It does, however, require more of a time commitment from you and your customers, so be sure to offer a fair incentive.

Review your database

If you already have a list of current or previous customers stored in your database, they can be a really valuable source of information. Look through the list and see what trends and categories emerge. For example, you might find buyers from small, medium, and large companies. Or you might find that most of your customers fit into one of 3-4 departments or roles, like marketing, sales, and project management. Once you can categorize your customer list, you’ll be able to see how different customer types use your product, consume your content, and other useful insights.

Check your analytics

Analytics can be a goldmine for researching your customers. You likely have access to analytics from your product, any social media pages, and your Google analytics. This data can reveal demographic information, typical usage patterns, preferred devices, preferred social media channels for different audience groups, what they search for, and more.

Do social listening

Social listening means monitoring your social media channels to see what your audience is saying. You might uncover valuable feedback, pain points, objections, and topics that your audience is interested in. You could also find this information by looking at competitors’ channels, searching for industry keywords, and even looking at online forums. Sometimes the best way to get to know your audience is when they’re asking for help or recommendations from their peers.

Talk to your team

Finally, ask your team members to share their audience insights. Especially those that regularly talk to customers, like salespeople and customer support. They’re probably familiar with the types of people who buy your product, their biggest challenges, and the questions they need answers to.

A simple buyer persona template

You don’t have to start your buyer personas from scratch. Most buyer personas follow roughly the same format, so find a buyer persona template that fits your needs and goals and start with that. Use the data you’ve collected from your research to fill out a profile for each of your ideal customers.

Let’s go through the above sections on your buyer persona template.

Title and name

The persona title helps you identify the buyer group you’re referring to. Depending on your product, this might be their industry, demographic, job title, aspiration, or something else that helps differentiate them from your other buyer groups.

But sometimes a title isn’t enough. Naming your buyer persona and giving them a photo helps to humanize your buyers. It can help you remember that while the profile is fictional, real people buy and use your products.

Bio

A short bio can help to tell your buyer’s story, summarizing their personality, fears, challenges, and their main goals. While you’ll have all these details listed elsewhere on the buyer persona, putting it in story form can also help to humanize your buyer and make this information more meaningful and memorable.

Personality

The personality section is usually based on one of the popular personality tests, like Myer Briggs, DISC, or Enneagram. This can be helpful to understand tendencies like introversion vs extraversion, decision making styles, and how much information your buyer is likely to need when choosing or using your product.

Motivations and goals

Under motivations, list the things that help move your buyers onto the next step in the buying process. You might include things like fears and goals, but also external triggers like ideas and anything that might help them trust your brand or product.

Your buyers’ goals or objectives might include their bigger vision for their career or life, but also the smaller goals that they want to accomplish by interacting with your brand or buying your product.

Challenges

Challenges should summarize any problems your buyer is experiencing that relate to your product - or the reason they might buy your product. You could also touch on fears and pain points, or create a separate section for these.

Tools and technology

Tools and technology are especially useful if your buyer needs specific skills or integrations to effectively use your product. Or it might just reveal how they prefer to communicate - whether via social media, email, or phone.

You can, of course, add other sections to your buyer persona. It all depends on how much information you need to get a clear understanding of your customer, target them, and have meaningful conversations with them. At the same time, keeping your persona short (a single page is ideal) and straight to the point will make it easier for your team to use.

How many buyer personas should you create?

Most organizations will need around 3-4 personas to cover most of their audience groups. But the right number of buyer personas will depend on how diverse your audience is.

The main point here is that your buyer personas shouldn’t cover every possible buyer - only your ideal prospects. Consider the 80/20 rule - it’s likely that 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your sales, so don’t be afraid to prioritize the 20%. Including personas that aren’t ideal customers will take the focus away from those that are.

Tip: If you’re struggling to categorize your audience into groups and narrow down your buyer personas, try a card sorting exercise. Create mini profiles for all your audience types on separate cards and then eliminate the audiences that aren’t profitable or ideal customers. Then group the remaining profiles together based on similar demographics, challenges, and goals. When you can’t easily combine any more cards to make groups, stop the exercise. These are your buyer personas.

Start using your buyer personas

Buyer personas are incredibly versatile - any part of your business that interacts with customers or impacts them can benefit from using buyer personas. So, don’t leave them sitting in a folder somewhere… start incorporating them into your teams’ processes right away.

Now that you know just about everything there is to know about buyer personas… now’s the time to create yours and (most importantly) incorporate them into your processes so that you can reach more of your best customers and build a better product for them.

Get a headstart with Easy Agile Personas for Jira

If you use Jira, you can add your buyer personas inside the platform by following this step-by-step guide. Sign up with Easy Agile Personas for Jira and link your personas to issues in your backlog and story map.

In the meantime, we’ve got more articles you might want to check out, like:

And tag us on Twitter @EasyAgile if you’d like to share how your teams create buyer personas and build them into your processes!


Subscribe to our blog