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What is a Persona? Your Guide to Buyer Personas

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Buyer personas are categories of your customer and potential customer base that are grouped by behavioral traits and demographics. Learn what role they play in marketing and how they are used!

“Know your audience.” That’s a ground rule that just about every writer and performer knows. The same guideline is true for digital marketing; success depends on your ability to measure and meet the needs of users.

How do you go about understanding your digital audience? That’s the function of personas.

What are personas?

Here's the definition:

Personas are categories of your customer and potential customer base; they are groupings by major traits that drive buying behavior.

Personas are based on generalizations that affect the decision to purchase in a certain vertical. B2B companies might divide personas up by company size, revenue, industry, and so on. B2C companies might sort by income, gender, educational level, likes and dislikes, pain points, and so on.

A Brick and Mortar Persona Scenario

Here’s a brick and mortar sample scenario: A retailer of hair products decides to divide personas by in-store shopping personas. Here are a few possibilities:

  • The smeller (decides based on fragrance)
  • The value shopper (decides based on price and discounts)
  • The ingredients shopper (decides based on organic/non organic, etc.)
  • The celebrity shopper (decides based on endorsements)

Organizing shoppers in this way can help the retailer plan targeted marketing campaigns, alter the product and its packaging, decide budgeting, and more.

Personas for Online Businesses

In the digital sphere, personas can be based on shopping behavior, too. But don’t limit your thinking; personas can also be based on demographics, location, job titles, or any other number of online traits or behaviors. Ultimately, the most effective personas correspond to the factor that most impacts the decision to purchase.

Starting Points for Creating Personas:

  • Talk to your sales team. Who are they selling to?
  • Brainstorm a list of problems and desires you think your customers have. What most influences the decision to purchase?
  • Look at your keywords: queries can give you insight into what your customers want and who they are.
  • Look at your demographic analytic data.
  • Consider who is talking about you via backlinksBacklinks
    Backlinks are links from outside domains that point to pages on your domain; essentially linking back from their domain to yours.
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    , social media, and reviews.
  • Create a survey for customers. (Offer a rebate, discount, etc.)

Tip: Look at your competitors’ data as well as your own.

See more advice on how to use data to build your buyer personas in our guide: How to Build a Buyer Persona with Data.

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