The Ultimate Guide to Buyer Personas

One of the most crucial aspects of modern digital marketing is targeting, or precisely tailoring content and advertising materials to the audience and customer base that resonates the strongest with your brand. Casting a very wide net to attract as much attention toward a brand as possible may seem like the best available option to many modern marketers, but the reality is that targeting to buyer personas offers much greater return on investment per marketing dollar spent. A buyer persona is an archetype of the customers you want to see interacting with your brand.

A solid modern marketing team can identify the core customers that contribute the most to a brand’s success with a few basic identifiers, such as age, gender, income level, and other basic traits, but taking full advantage of the potential buyer personas offer requires a much deeper dive, extensive consumer research, and a constant finger on the pulse of shifting market trends

Imagine the ideal customer for your brand’s products and services. That image is your buyer persona. Many businesses will have more than one. While it may seem easy to determine what your ideal customer looks like, how they spend their time and money, and how your brand can help them achieve their goals and satisfy their needs, implementing this ideal customer profile into a marketing strategy requires research, planning, and experimentation.

Again, most modern brands will cater to more than one type of customer. When developing customer personas to refine a marketing strategy, segmentation is an essential step toward maximizing the efficiency of the strategy. Reaching one type of customer may require a vastly different approach than another. This means that the individual buyer personas you develop inherently improve your marketing strategy. As you develop these personas in more detail, you’re going to need to research your target market extensively and get to know your customer base very well during this process.

As you research your target market and get to know your ideal customer profiles more intimately, your marketing strategy organically improves. You begin to learn how your target customers spend their time online, which types of content and marketing materials appeal to them the most and hold their attention the longest, and you absorb crucial information about their goals, needs, and wants. This information is useful for more than just refining your marketing strategy. Your team can also leverage this data to improve your brand’s profitability by tailoring your products and services to your audience’s exact preferences.

Too many companies make the mistake of striving for mass appeal. While some companies may see large numbers of leads by casting a wide, loosely targeted marketing net, ultimately, they tend to gather lukewarm leads at best and fail to give their ideal customer profiles the attention they deserve.

Developing products and services around buyer personas inherently improves the quality of those products and services. In a way, buyer persona research is also a key component of product development. As your team researches and carefully defines buyer personas in greater detail, it becomes much easier to see which features and benefits of a product would appeal to them the most.

If your team sells within a niche, honing your marketing strategy by creating robust customer profiles is one of the best ways to improve your brand power and boost customer loyalty. Niche markets are vital to small businesses operating locally as well as medium-sized companies with greater reach but precisely defined market parameters. Developing a buyer persona for a niche business enhances targeting, makes marketing efforts more effective, and ultimately streamlines the marketing budget to the point where every marketing dollar spent has a maximized return.

It is absolutely essential for any team marketing to a niche consumer base to know the consumers within that base in as much detail as possible. Research conducted into customer personas helps marketing teams understand who is buying their products and services and encourages them to reach out to those buyers on a deeper, more memorable level.

Your ideal customer profiles hinge on the industry in which you operate and the target audience you want to draw toward your brand. Marketing teams must not only identify their target markets but also define groupings based on the types of people found within those markets. Some of the most common types of marketing groupings include:

  • Gender groupings. Marketing teams should take preferences of men, women, and nonbinary individuals into account when developing their advertising strategies. Defining customer personas around gender groupings is a common first step toward creating precisely targeted buyer personas.
  • Socio-economic groupings. Some brands must implement segmentation between customers at different income levels. For example, marketing to target customers who earn $75,000 per year is very different from advertising to customers earning $500,000 per year
  • Age groupings. Marketing teams must also take the age of their target audience into account. It’s essential to know the habits and marketing preferences of buyers across age groups. Younger consumers tend to absorb the most brand marketing through social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Older consumers may respond well to advertising on Facebook but are generally more receptive to email marketing.
  • Education level groupings. Just as marketing teams develop unique approaches to customers of different genders and earning levels, they must also refine their approaches to consumers with different education levels.
  • Family and lifestyle groupings. Does your brand appeal to consumers who are single, or are you a family-oriented brand that offers products and services geared toward parents of young children, teens, or kids of all ages?

Defining these basic characteristics of your ideal customer profile helps you create better marketing strategies. Remember that your brand’s industry is one of the most important factors in determining the groupings that apply to your customer profiles, but it will require extensive research on your part to parse them out accurately for the best results.

Now that your team understands the value of carefully defined buyer personas, it’s time to put that information into practice and create buyer personas unique to your specific business. Gathering as much data as possible is an essential first step in the process of creating a customer persona, and every brand will have at least one unique buyer persona.

To start creating your first buyer persona, start by considering the aspects of your own business that will narrow down your target market, such as the type of industry in which you operate and the locations your business serves.

Are you a business-to-business service provider capable of serving clients across the country or even in other countries? Does your company create products that can reach a large region of the United States, or are you a business-to-consumer organization that focuses on a strictly defined local market? One you have narrowed down the criteria concerning your industry and geographic limitations, you can start thinking about your target customers and how they shop.

After defining the first layers of your customer persona, start considering the previously mentioned groupings to more carefully define this persona. Determine your products’ and services’ appeal to customers of different genders, income levels, age groups, and educational backgrounds. Each layer helps you create more precisely targeted marketing, so deep research is essential if you want to see the best possible results.

During the course of developing your buyer personas, you will tend to focus on the qualities of your ideal customers. However, you will also naturally uncover traits and trends that do not resonate with this audience. In developing customer personas, you naturally create negative personas at the same time. Negative buyer personas are the consumers you do not want to target in your marketing campaigns. Defining them can be an important step toward creating a more carefully refined buyer persona profile.

Negative buyer personas may include people well outside your target customer demographics. For example, if your brand caters to a younger audience, then wasting time developing products and services geared toward retirees will likely cost more time and effort than it’s worth and ultimately waste marketing dollars and your team’s valuable time. Segmentation between your ideal customer profiles and negative buyer personas is an essential step toward creating the most effective and most detailed buyer personas possible for your brand.

Does your brand focus on selling products and services to other businesses, or does your brand follow a consumer-focused business model? This is yet another crucial aspect of creating your buyer personas, as marketing to businesses is very different from marketing to consumers. Some considerations for this journey include:

  • When marketing to other businesses, you must position yourself as an authority within your niche, capable of delivering the best possible results to future partners with stellar products and services aimed at helping your B2B customers achieve their goals. In B2B buyer persona creation, take your target customers’ industries and customer demographics into account to create effective marketing strategies that will capture their interest. Essentially, you may need to research buyer personas for your buyer personas for the best possible results when it comes to B2B marketing.
  • If you’re a consumer-focused business model, then you need to carefully define the types of customers who are most likely to resonate with the products and services your brand offers. This requires not only determining the basic groupings into which your ideal customer profiles fall but also defining how they spend their time, their habits, their preferences, and their personal and professional goals.

B2B and B2C marketing strategies require vastly different processes. However, in either case, it is essential to get to know your target audience in as much detail as possible.

Developing robustly detailed buyer personas will be for naught if you don’t know where to reach them or imprecisely target your marketing campaigns on a geographic level. Does your company operate at a regional level, or do you have international reach? Do you provide physical products or in-person services to your customers, or do you provide your offerings remotely?

As you develop your buyer personas, think carefully about the geographic regions in which you’re likely to find your target customers. This information is critical for developing timely, relevant, and impactful content and marketing materials tailored to your buyer personas.

It’s unlikely that your brand focuses on selling products and services to just one particular type of customer. As you refine your customer profiles, you will likely discover that your brand appeals to several types of customers in different ways. This inherently leads to creating multiple buyer personas and segmenting your marketing campaigns with variations designed to appeal to different parts of your target market.

Segmentation is another aspect of buyer persona creation that helps your brand develop and provide better products and services. During the course of your research, you may find that while multiple segments of your target audience share some goals and preferences, they likely differ in a few key ways that create potential for your brand to expand products and services, often in surprising ways.

You might discover that a slight variation to one of your products would increase its appeal to multiple customer personas or creating a new style of one of your existing products would open your brand to a new buyer persona. These all become options on the table for expanding your brand power in the future.

Unless your business operates in a very tightly defined niche, you are going to generate a spectrum of buyer personas instead of just a single highly targeted customer persona. As you work through the previously mentioned groupings, industry-specific factors, and other details of your buyer personas, you will discover the best ways to reach your target customers through your marketing campaigns.

Once your dataset for your buyer personas is in hand, you can begin creating your buyer personas and determining which questions you need to ask to define the limits of the spectrum of those personas. Start by determining how your leads find you. How do consumers who fit into your ideal customer profiles spend their time online and which channels tend to generate leads? Once you answer this question, you can capitalize on predictive lead scoring tools. Automated software applications like predictive leading scoring tools use the data you’ve gathered in your customer relationship management (CRM) platform to determine the potential value of new leads.

You can also uncover marketing trends in your niche by simply asking your customers and leads questions directly. Form fields on your website are a fantastic source of user data acquisition, and you can also experiment with survey tools and other data collection techniques to glean useful insights into your target buyers’ behaviors online as well as their preferences as they apply to your brand. Depending on the types of products and services your brand offers, interviewing prospective customers can also be an incredibly effective way to hammer out your spectrum of buyer personas and to get to know your target customers on a deeper level.

Sales and marketing teams should work together to determine the best methods for lead acquisition. Synergy between sales and marketing is a necessity when it comes to developing buyer personas and growing a brand. While the marketing team may have piles of user data and carefully researched buyer personas, the sales team needs to know how to properly capitalize on this data and reach customers in an impactful way.

Account-based marketing, or considering individual prospective customers as markets of one, is much more effective when sales and marketing teams work cohesively to not only create customer personas but also connect with prospective customers and transform them into hot leads.

If you’re interested in creating a process for interviewing prospective customers, start by talking to your current customers and finding out what they like most about your brand and how you can make their experiences with your products and services better. This is an important step in lead acquisition as it will naturally lead you to create better products and services while ironing out the kinks in the customer experience that may be holding your brand back from fully capturing your target audience.

Referrals from existing customers are one of the best ways to connect with new leads as most modern consumers are more likely to take the plunge on the purchase if a brand comes highly recommended by a close friend or relative. Ultimately, you want to generate a chain reaction of positive customer experiences by tailoring your products and services to the buyer personas you create, improving those customers’ experiences with your brand, and encouraging them to advocate on behalf of your brand to their friends and families. This, in turn, creates a new wave of customers, and the cycle repeats until you have a finely tuned marketing machine perfectly geared toward your market niche.

This process demands a great deal of data collection, analytics, and market research. It may be worth considering a third-party customer data gathering service to help you along and streamline the buyer persona refinement process.

Leads come in many varieties, and, just as you want to cater to your ideal customer profile while avoiding negative buyer personas, you want to concentrate marketing efforts on your optimal prospects. Working toward your optimal prospects may require you to incentivize the process in some way. For example, offering customers a discount, free gift, or other promotional offer for completing a marketing survey could be a great way to gather data directly from the source that you can later leverage to create better experiences.

When you ask customers for more information about their goals and expectations when it comes to interacting with your brand, be clear about your own expectations. Let them know you genuinely want to get to know them and serve them better and are not selling anything.

Your team can likely find countless buyer persona tools available from various sources today. Some of them can work very well, helping you quickly and accurately define your target market and develop content and advertising material that resonates with them in meaningful ways. On the other side of the coin, you can potentially have some very poor experiences with other buyer persona tools.

Ultimately, the success or failure of a buyer persona tools comes down to the data pumped into it. All the data you gather for buyer personas needs to be organized and carefully analyzed so you can extract the most impactful trends and data points. If you’re going to invest in buyer persona tools, look for the tools that offer the best methods of organizing and optimizing the data you gather.

It may be worth your while to experiment with different templates to help you create your buyer personas. These templates will help you arrange the data you have collected into concrete buyer personas. You can adjust these templates over time and create new templates as you expand your range of products and services. Some of the best templates to experiment with include:

These free options can be great starting points if you’re trying to develop carefully refined buyer personas but don’t feel inclined to invest in more robust paid services at the moment.

Ultimately, investing in data-driven tools and strategies for creating your customer personas not only helps with lead scoring but also drives your business toward creating better products and services that have been specifically tailored to your target audience. Eventually, you may want to take buyer persona creation a step further with advanced tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

When it comes to creating buyer personas for your brand, there are countless moving parts you need to weigh and leverage effectively. Creating effective buyer personas certainly hinges on efficient data collection, but it also requires using that data correctly with the right tools. Coglide takes a data-driven and automated approach to buyer persona creation. While manual applications like the HubSpot template can help you arrange and analyze your collected customer data in a coherent format, our system leverages the power of artificial intelligence to take a great deal of the legwork out of creating your buyer personas.

Modern marketing is hyper-competitive, and markets can shift dramatically at a moment’s notice. It’s vital to remain responsive and agile when it comes to connecting to your target audience and providing them with content, products, and services that help them achieve their goals and satisfy their needs. In the end, well-defined and detailed buyer personas help you grow your brand, improve your products and services, and expand your sphere of influence.

An automated approach to buyer persona creation streamlines marketing processes and empowers you to create your ideal customer profile in a fraction of the time required with a manual approach to customer data implementation. Coglide can become an AI sales assistant to your team that not only assists in the collection of new user data but also consistently leverages the collected user data into regularly updated and enhanced customer personas.


Coglide helps marketers automatically build and manage buyer personas so they can run high-performance campaigns.

© 2020 Coglide, Inc. All rights reserved.