Your buyer personas are bullshit

Buyer personas are a common tool that businesses and marketers use to understand—and deliver more targeted content to—segments of their audience and customer base. Having well-developed, fleshed-out buyer personas make it easier to produce great content and copy that niches of your audience will respond to. This means more results and more sales, especially considering Mobile Ad’s most valuable feature is their targeting system; if you have strong, reachable buyer personas, you can pair them with careful ads targeting for incredible results.

Here’s the problem: the majority of buyer personas are ineffective at best. In some cases, businesses and marketing agencies become so focused on these ineffective personas that it actually weakens their campaigns—and their results.

To prevent this from happening, we’re going to take a look at how to know when your personas need an overhaul and tests that can determine their effectiveness.

How Do You Know if your Buyer Personas Need an Overhaul?

Having weak, ineffective, or inaccurate buyer personas is a common mistake we see people making on their Mobile Ads. These personas are used over and over and over again because most businesses don’t know when or how to test them.

If you haven’t questioned your buyer personas in a while, it’s automatically time for re-evaluation. If they’re working well and helping you get results, testing them every six months is often effective.

There are a few fatal flaws, however, that can damage your persona from the get-go. You want to immediately re-evaluate your buyer personas if:

  • They’re aspirational. Some buyer personas will be aspirational. They might reflect the audience we want instead of the one we have; it’s not uncommon to wish that our audiences had bigger budgets than they actually do, for example. The personas themselves could also be accurate, but are used with the wrong targeting and content.
  • They focus on the buyer and not the buying decision. While we do always want to understand our audience and who they are, buyer personas need to consider how our audience interacts with our product. If we forget to pay attention to how our customer’s make their buying decision, we’re missing a huge piece of the puzzle.
  • They’re not targetable. You should be able to match your personas to targeting criteria on Facebook Or Instagram. That can mean a clearly defined custom audience, or using advanced targeting features like job title, level of education, relationship status, or interests. If you are lost about how to target ads based on a buyer persona, it’s not only not a good persona, it’s a useless one.
  • They’re too similar. If you get your buyer personas confused because they all sound so similar, they’re too similar. Personas should help you separate and target diverse and unique niches in your audience, so they should be diverse, too.
  • They’re untested. A lot of businesses will come up with their buyer personas and stick to them; many never really know how to test them, or that they can be tested. This means that their personas are untested hypotheses, and they have no idea if they’re effective or not.

If any of these criteria matches your buyer personas (or if you haven’t taken a closer look at them in 6 months), it’s time to test your buyer personas.

How to Test & Improve Your Buyer Personas

buyer personas

Testing personas can be tricky; it’s easy to split test Social Ads and determine effectiveness with metrics like CTR and CPA, but personas can be more difficult to clearly evaluate. These four tests are the best way to tell if your buyer personas need an overhaul.

1. Personas Testing
Instead of writing out a list of personas and sticking to them, you should test your hypothetical personas to see if they hold water. To do this, create content and copy (including Mobile Ads) geared towards these personas and target accordingly. When you use Mobile Ads, you can use their extremely detailed targeting system to give your personas a test run in the exact audience you’d conceived them for. If the personas don’t work, replace them. For those that do work, keep running tests to see where there is room for improvement.

There are some metrics that you should watch for, including:

  • Reach
  • Clicks
  • Conversions
  • Relevance score (this will be an important metric that lets you know how relevant your content is to the audience seeing it)
  • Comments

Overtime, you may notice trends in your ads that could indicate the need for new personas. In other cases, your personas may lose effectiveness overtime. If this is the case, dive into the data and try to figure out why. If you stay open-minded and allow your personas to evolve as your customer base does, you’ll have much better results in the long run.

2. Do They Make Content Generation Easier or Harder?
Personas should make content and copy generation significantly easier. If you sit down and stare at your personas while trying to think of a headline for an ad at a blog post and nothing comes to mind after ten minutes, your persona probably hasn’t helped you much. The same is true if you’re only able to come up with generic, vague headlines; personas are all about specificity.

A wedding planning site, for example, could have a generic blog post title like “8 Wedding Dress Styles To Try On.” They could also have a blog post titled “6 Ways to Find the Dress of Your Dreams on a Budget” for one persona, and “The 6 Most Beautiful Destination Wedding Venues in the World” for another. One persona wants tips to plan a wedding they can afford; the other wants the most luxurious wedding money can be. While one site might not have both of these audiences that are so drastically different, it’s more than possible that they do, and audience segmentation and accurate personas are key to maintaining that.

You should be able to map your personas against your buyer funnel stages. This allows you to understand how you can meet their needs at every point of the digital sales funnel. You can then determine a content strategy for each persona at each funnel stage to make your content more effective overall.

The better your persona is, the easier content generation will be—whether for you, or for the agency or freelancer you’ve hired to do so. Ultimately, you should be able to personalize content for these personas—and these customers; doing so requires that you understand the customers’ needs better than your competitors do. To do that, you need to fully understand your customer; you want them to see their blog post and need to click on it because it satisfies their needs.

3. M+M – Focus on Mindset and Motivation
Are your personas focused on customer motivation and mindset? They should be.

Understanding the mood and emotional state that your customers are in when coming to you. Are they frustrated? Excited? Scared? Heartbroken? Angry? Are your customers excited to plan their wedding, or scared they can’t afford it? Are they frustrated with their current self-hosted WordPress site that has too many glitches? Scared that they can’t afford to fix their air conditioning unit, or angry that it went out in the middle of summer in Florida, or both? No matter what industry your business fits into, your customers have needs your business meets—and they definitely feel some emotions about it.

When you’re able to understand a persona to the point where you know both what their motivation is and their level of urgency in that motivation, you can create content that better shows how you can solve their problems.

Make sure you dive deep into the expected behaviors of people; people are complex, and our behaviors can be predictable. No one can be put neatly into a box—no matter how accurate or detailed that box is.

I have a friend, for example, who is extremely thrifty in almost area of her life, but she has one exception: she’ll splurge and spend almost anything on Internet of Things gadgets. She wouldn’t fit into the typical persona we might otherwise use for her, where the customer is looking for good value but cost is the most essential factor. Instead, she buys gadgets the way other people shop for clothes or eat out; it’s her luxury item. Focusing on the features and benefits and how unique the gadgets are would be a stronger selling point for her than saying “best price on the market.”

4. Intuition
While we’ve built Abacus on data-driven results, we also know that sometimes our intuition knows best. When you’re looking at your buyer personas, do they feel “right?” In my experience, every time a company nails a persona, it has that solid feeling of inherently being right.

There isn’t a scientific test for this one, as much as that might drive all of us crazy, but this is still a test all buyer personas should undergo. When you take a close look at it, does it feel obvious that the persona’s value proposition will match the client’s specific needs? Or do they have an unfair advantage to attract that persona? A bank’s online banking services, for example, are more valuable in theory to someone who lives far away than they are to someone who works in the building next door. This intuitively makes sense, and could form a solid basis for the buying decisions that might shape or affect a persona.

A well-crafted persona, after all, should identify a group that finds an irresistible amount of value from your proposition and your solution to their problems. This means you must identify their problem and understand what they need to fix it; you need to understand what will drive them to pay for your solution. If you do this, you can discover an unfair advantage to reach them.

Final Thoughts

If you’re able to develop strong, well-researched buyer personas, you’ll have an unfair advantage in reaching your target audience. More than that, you’ll better understand niches within your audience, which allows you to deliver more relevant ads and content to them. This means that you’ll get more clicks, more sales—and more profit. If that’s not an incentive to invest into researched-and-tested buyer personas for your business, I don’t know what is.

Mobile Social Ads are where well-crafted buyer personas go to shine!  If you can match your buyer persona with a well targeted Mobile ad campaign, you can personalize your messaging and increase your ad performance.  

Want to implement your buyer personas on Mobile Ads? We can help! Ask us how here.

Jeff Goldenberg
Jeff Goldenberg

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