A business without a steady stream of qualified leads is like a plane without enough fuel: it’ll eventually crash. But it’s not enough simply to have more leads—you also need to nurture your prospects through the stages of the buyer’s journey.
With timely, relevant engagement as they go through the steps of their decision making process, you’ll ultimately persuade them to make a purchase from you.
Most marketers don’t have an effective lead nurturing strategy.
Apparently, marketers spend a lot more time generating leads than nurturing them. Consider these stats from Hubspot:
- 80% of leads never convert into sales
- Only 27% of leads are sales-ready.
- 57% of marketers say, “converting leads into paying customers” is a top priority.
- BUT 65% percent of marketers have no comprehensive lead nurturing strategy.
How do you nurture leads in inbound marketing?
The inbound marketing methodology is built on the central principle of serving your website visitors with highly relevant content that answers their questions and keeps them engaged with your company until they make a purchase (and beyond). Again, that’s called lead nurturing.
To create the content that effectively nurtures your leads, you need to know:
- who your leads are
- what their problems are
- how your organization and its productions or services can solve those problems
And here’s where buyer personas come in.
Every lead is an individual. But you can’t create content for every individual lead. What you CAN do, however, is segment your leads into groups which have similar characteristics. You can then create content that aligns with the needs of each group. We call these groups “buyer personas.”
What are buyer personas?
If you’re a marketing old-schooler, you certainly remember “target audiences,” which were usually demographics-based. Buyer personas take that idea to the next level. A persona is a fictional composite of a segment of your target customers, comprising shared interests, concerns, and problems. Digital Marketing Institute provides a useful description:
“In a nutshell, a buyer persona is a profile that represents your ideal customer. By creating your own buyer personas, you’ll gain the ability to tailor your marketing efforts and connect with your target audience to meet their needs and solve their problems.”
Buyer personas will provide structure to your marketing campaigns, directing the creation and serving of the content which will be most effective in moving leads through the buyer’s journey.
Creating buyer personas takes some time, but you’ll absolutely come out of the process with a far deeper understanding of your customers—and that can’t help but make your inbound content marketing efforts more effective. Here are some best practices to guide you:
To create effective buyer personas, ask the right questions.
The process of creating personas is slightly different for B2B and B2C companies. In both cases, however, you need to gather and aggregate the data which best characterizes their interests and best predicts their future behavior. You can do that by asking the right questions. For B2B companies, this entails gathering information about:
- Job: What is the person’s job title, required skills and decision-making authority?
- Goals and challenges: What are the person’s daily responsibilities? What obstacles and pain points stand in the way of their success?
- Company: What industry is the business in? How big is it (number of employees and annual revenue)?
For B2C companies, ask about:
- Personal background: How old is the person? What’s their educational level? What’s their marital status?
- Shopping preferences: Do they prefer communications via phone or email? How do they acquire information about purchases they’re considering?
What we’ve touched on so far is pretty high level. The leading marketing automation platforms like HubSpot: provide their users with templates that make the creation of personas easier and help you dive deeper into the above questions as you create their profiles.
And here’s the payoff:
“Companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are 4 times as likely to use Personas for demand generation than those who missed lead and revenue goals.”
By integrating your personas into marketing automation workflows and assigning a persona to each lead, you’ll be set up to automatically nurture every lead. As prospects interact with your business, your website, and your content, they’ll progressively receive relevant information that builds the case (without high pressure) for why they should spend money with you.
According to Hubspot, marketers on average spend more than half of their budgets on lead generation, but most have no effective strategy to nurture those leads. That’s like a farmer without an irrigation system. The combination of robust personas, appropriate content, and marketing automation can upgrade your marketing efforts to business class.
Now that you’ve got the basics of personas, download our ebook, “The Basics of Growing Your Business with Marketing Automation.” It’s a great primer on how technology can accelerate your sales and growth.