know our buyer personas restructuring process – WAU
Personas are an essential part of the Digital Marketing strategy. Updating the personas is essential for the Content Marketing strategy to continue to apply. Therefore, this year, Websites Are Us restructured its three personas. Understand how we did it and replicate in your company!
If you work with Digital Marketing, you certainly know the concept of Buyer Persona. Essential to the success of any digital strategy, this semifunctional character helps to better understand your audience and their pain. Facilitating not only the conversation with him, but also the direction of his Marketing actions.
Because of this importance, this concept has become one of the pillars of Content Marketing. So important, that we here at Websites Are Us talk about it all the time in our content, in addition to being a mandatory step in building our clients’ strategy.
Therefore, it is to be imagined that Websites Are Us, the leading content marketing company in Latin America, which says so much about it, would have its personas very well aligned with the production of content, right?
Well, the truth is that our personas were lost along the way, not being updated as the company grew and, over time, losing its influence. This resulted in some strategic misalignments until they were completely reformulated this year.
And this content is an account of how this whole process went. Not only so that you don’t let your Marketing lose sight of your personas, but also to learn (from our successes and mistakes) the process we created to build them in a precise way.
I guarantee that, at the end of the text, you will be able to apply this to your business and get the most out of your strategy.
Blacksmith’s house, wooden skewer
At Websites Are Us we always extol the importance of revisiting your personas from time to time for updates. It is something very natural and needs to be done constantly once your company changes, your services change and, of course, your audience changes.
However, we have never done this since the day they were created. And look, that was in 2013!
They would probably remain the same today if a few months ago, in a somewhat unpretentious hallway conversation, one of my co-workers did not tell me:
“I don’t know who our customers are. As much as I try, it is not clear who we are talking to and how we can help them. ”
Here I make a small parenthesis to say that I have been working at the company dealing with our customers for a few years, so it was quite clear to me who these people were.
But when I got back to work, I opened the Websites Are Us personas and saw that they were the same since 2013. Worse, they were none of what I worked with today, nor what my other colleagues worked with.
The truth is that everyone saw that outdated document, understood that it no longer corresponded with reality and created their own definition. And as this happened, the mentality of “producing content for the persona” was lost.
And so that you can better understand the situation we were in, I’ll give you an example of who we were talking to.
Now I’m going to put an image here and I want you to tell me if you notice any similarities:
I think you noticed some things in common, right? The reason for this is that back in 2013, the Websites Are Us personas were made by Hubspot in an automated way. The American company gave some of its customers a standard persona.
The truth is that they were not our personas, but an adaptation to our reality. So, with that in mind, we decided to start from scratch and finally fully understand who we were talking to and who we were talking to.
And the first question was: how do you know who these people were?
Understanding who buys Websites Are Us
To understand your audience, you need to listen to as many people as possible. And nothing better for that than a survey.
However, a survey is not just a bunch of questions. It needs to be very well constructed so that, in the end, it will be able to give us the desired answers, with the necessary reliability.
Building your research
Every survey starts with a question that needs to be answered. And ours was:
- What is the profile of Websites Are Us customers and what do they expect from our company?
For this we divided our research into 3 parts to understand the entire context of our customers, which were:
- work and habits of our audience;
- profile of the company in which they work;
- customer relationship x Websites Are Us.
After a lot of thinking about what we wanted and needed to know, we arrived at the final format, which you can check out now:
Websites Are Us Customer Survey
A little about you
- What is your position?
- How old are you?
- What main content format (s) do you consume?
- What do you like to see in marketing content?
- Nowadays, you have more need to know about which of the following subjects for your work?
- Where do you prefer to learn about Marketing?
- What is the main marketing portal that you follow?
- About your habit of consuming content about marketing and sales, you:
About your company
- How many employees do you have in the company you work for?
- How big is your Marketing team?
- In your company, is the person responsible for Marketing also responsible for the sales sector?
- Does your Marketing department have an automation tool?
- Can you measure the impact of content strategy on your business?
- Do you have someone (or a team) solely responsible for the content strategy?
- Today your Marketing department has clear functions (Example: One analyst for email and one for content management)
- Today, what are your biggest difficulties with the Content Marketing strategy? (you can check more than one alternative)
- What is yours main goal with Content Marketing? (As you can have more than one goal, think about the one that is most important to you!).
About the partnership with WAU
- How did you hear about Websites Are Us?
- What attracted you to close a deal with Websites Are Us?
- Did you have any concerns before purchasing our products / services?
- How long have you been a Websites Are Us customer
- What is your biggest difficulty in relation to our services?
- When did you first perceive value in our service / product?
- Mark the most relevant moments during our partnership so far.
- For you, what is the main value that Websites Are Us delivers today?
- On a scale of 0 to 10, how much would you recommend Websites Are Us services to friends and colleagues?
- What platform features are you most comfortable using?
- What platform features do you have the most difficulty using?
- What resources are missing from the platform for your content strategy?
- What could we do to improve our product / service, and help you with your goal?
I hope you can get some insghts out of this questionnaire. But even if your company is in a completely different branch from ours, the idea here is that, in the end, you can understand:
Demographic profile of your audience (according to your company’s interests)
In our case, an extremely relevant question was to know the person’s position. In the case of your company, it can be the region, marital status, professional training or even education.
How is his journey to the need to purchase your product or service
What content and formats does he consume, what is his routine at home or at work and the difficulties.
How he uses his product (if he is already a customer) or why he uses it from the competitor
If you are interviewing people who do not necessarily have any experience with the product or service in any way, you can try to understand what would lead them to do so.
But, please, never ask questions like, “If there was a product that made X, would you be interested in purchasing it?”
With the research ready, the next step was to disseminate it. Among our more than 1,500 customers, we had more than 4 thousand registered users and we wanted to get as many people as possible.
We chose to use our customer base as a sample since they are people who have already chosen to do business with us and with that we would be able to know not only what led these people to buy our services, but also how they deal with it.
We made this decision because we understand that, when talking to our customers, it would be easier to understand the complete purchase journey. Since the questionnaire data could be cross-referenced with the usage information in our database, giving us the complete experience.
With the base defined, we set up our engagement strategy, which consisted of raffling a speaker for the research participants, in addition to some access to WAU University, our platform for Marketing courses.
The survey lasted throughout the month of April and to ensure the greatest possible participation, we set up our strategy as follows.
Email was our main channel of dissemination, since we do not use social networks (which are a great option if your company is B2C or does not want only customer responses, as was our case).
First, we send an email on behalf of each account manager, who is the person who has the most direct contact with customers.
In this first email there are 3 points to consider:
- to emphasize the importance of the client’s participation in building the partnership and in the quality of our services;
- be honest with the duration of the research, since it is quite extensive and he needs time to do it;
- make clear the reward he can earn.
The second email was sent 20 days after the first. However, it was more focused on the feeling of urgency, with the content more focused on showing that the deadline to participate in the research was already running out.
One last point, but no less important, is that every email had an automatic follow-up scheduled for 3 days after sending. Containing the two distinct scenarios:
- people who have not opened the email;
- people who opened the email but didn’t click the search.
Finally, we have here an exclusive newsletter for Websites Are Us customers that was also used to reinforce the client’s participation in the survey.
Push notifications and support chat
A very pleasant surprise were the responses that came directly from our platform. Using push, we configure notifications to appear whenever a customer logs in to our platform.
Another place also used was the support chat. Always at the end of an appointment, a request to participate in the research was made.
These last two points were responsible for more than 27% of our responses.
The results and first understandings
You who made it this far, I’m sure it is now that this text starts to get really interesting. With the result in hand, we started to analyze the responses and understand the patterns that appeared.
When checking the data we started to notice some similar points. And right from the start, we already noticed some tendencies that already made many of our assumptions fall apart.
The main one is that, until then, Websites Are Us was divided into 4 main business segments:
- Micro companies
- Small business
- Medium-sized companies
- Big companies
However, on seeing the results we could see that in reality there was not so much need for these four profiles. Since even a certain number of employees, the pains of a micro or small company were the same.
So we broke down the answers to questions and usage data based on job title and number of employees to try to understand which patterns were repeated. Until we understand 3 distinct behavioral profiles.
See their summary below.
The person who talks to us is the owner of the business, with almost no staff and a tight budget. It is someone who is divided between different functions and needs assistance to take care of Marketing precisely because of the lack of time and expertise.
So it consumes content like tutorials and hacks to help you.
Who speaks to us is the Marketing manager, with a small independent and agile team.
He is a young manager with vast knowledge in Digital Marketing, but little management – the main focus at the moment. It has a lot of support from the directors and deals very well with technology.
The manager is also responsible, but here he is not concerned with the operational part, only deliveries.
It has a large team with very clear functions and needs innovation. Its main purchase decision factor is the indication of other peers in the market.
With this brief summary, you can see that we were able to structure a very clear work profile, right?
However, these were still far from being our personas. With the information obtained, all we had was a direction that would now tell us who we should be looking for in the next phase.
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How do I build my persona if I don’t have customers?
Now that it was clearer how Websites Are Us customers were divided, with the data showing the way, it was time to finally start bringing the personas to life. Better understand your habits, your pains and desires.
And for that, it is essential to listen directly to customers. That’s why we chose to conduct a telephone interview.
As the profile was established, we selected our most successful customers within each of those profiles so that we could understand exactly the ones that made them successful.
We interviewed a total of 36 clients over 20 days. And before sharing how the interviews went, here are some tips:
1. No matter how engaged a person is with your company, he is still doing you a favor. So, whenever possible, try to reward her for this time;
2. Unforeseen events happen. If you need to conduct 10 interviews, schedule 15. In the worst case you will have more information;
3. Give feedback whenever possible. The people who help are interested in how their collaboration was used. Then share when everything is done so they can see what they collaborated on.
4. Let the interviewee speak. As much as you have a script, it only serves as the conduction of the conversation. Try not to restrain the interviewee. A lot of relevant information is just when you manage to pull some loose wire that the person let go.
5. Record the interviews and write down only keywords. During interviews, you may even write down a crucial point to remember later, but your focus should be on listening and asking the right questions. So, always remember to record the conversation in case you need to retrieve some information later.
Ready! Now with these tips you will be able to make an excellent use of the interview script that we used to set up to guide our conversation.
To conduct the conversations equally, we created a basic script divided into X steps. A nice detail is that we always said when we went from one stage to another.
Not only because it caused the feeling that the conversation was going and how far it had been completed, but also because it helped to direct responses.
1) Personal life
- Tell us a little about who you are.
- How old are you?
- What gender do you identify with?
- Do you consider yourself a person …? (Qualities, defects, characteristics)
- You are in a relationship? If so, what kind?
- Where do you live and with whom?
- How is your home?
- Is your home like you would like?
- What are your personal long-term goals?
- And in the short term?
- What aspects of your life would you like to improve?
- What is success for you?
2) Consumer habits
- Where do you usually get information?
- What media types do you accompany?
- What types of sites do you usually visit?
- Where do you shop online?
- What subjects do you usually find out about?
- What content formats do you like best?
- What is your favorite website or blog?
- What social networks do you use on a daily basis? Tell us some profiles you follow.
- And what do you like to do to relax?
- What kind of places do you go to? How often?
- Do you usually travel? What was the last trip you took?
- Which social class do you think fits?
- In general, how do you direct your income?
3) Professional history
- Talk about your professional qualification.
- What is your education level?
- What is your graduation?
- What do you consider yourself an expert on?
- What subjects do you master?
- What would you like to learn?
- What would you like to learn today to help you with your job?
- What is your goal in your current job?
- What is your professional background?
- What jobs have you taken?
- What did you learn in each one?
- What skills have you acquired?
- What is your dream job?
- What do you consider a good professional?
- What is professional success for you?
4) Relationship with the company
- Why did you choose to use our solution?
- How did you hear about the company?
- What led you to acquire our product?
- How is the structure of your company to manage the use of our product?
- What was your biggest concern when hiring our services
- What is your biggest difficulty with our services today?
- How do you use our service?
- Which of the points that we give you today that you see the most value?
- Why do you remain our customer?
- Which communication channels do you use the most to talk to us?
As you can see, this questionnaire is more geared towards B2C interviews, but it can be easily adapted to your reality. It can be very useful if you want to follow this structure.
Building the personas
After conducting the interview, we started looking for similarities between the stories told. And with these points in common, we started to build a narrative that fit each of them.
And this proved to be a crucial step, since this storytelling helps to humanize your persona, giving it a story and making it easier to understand.
A curious fact here is that when we finished this step, we were already treating our personas as an almost real being. One of the highlights of this was when in a conversation someone said to me:
“This is not something that Paula (one of our personas) would do. She doesn’t enjoy working on the weekend. ”
It may seem simple. But the truth is that this is something essential, since personas are fixed in memory in an almost natural way.
So, the first thing is to build the story completely, with as much detail. Which will even make the next stage go much more smoothly.
To help, we’ve created a narrative model that you can follow if you want.
A phrase spoken by the persona that sums up your desires
Here tell a little about the persona’s life:
- Your hobbies;
- How she usually spends her time and money;
- Concerns and motivations (personal and professional);
- How is your routine at home and at work
- Your daily difficulties.
Try to create a narrative involving all these points to humanize your character.
Here you can list which social networks your persona uses and how they relate to each social network.
Try to explore points like:
- What times does this person use the social network in question.
- What is the purpose of the network? Personal or professional?
- How does he use each of the social networks? Follow profiles? Interact?
- How much time does he spend on each one?
Contents you consume:
Here try to list what types of content he seeks to consume more in his day to day.
Your content references are:
List some portals that he usually accesses as a reference.
What moves you
List the items that motivate you daily.
Put motivations that may be connected to the use of your product / service.
Example: If your company sells health insurance, you may want to state that one of your persona’s motivations is to see your children healthy without having to worry about it.
What are his life goals and what are the goals with the product / service you offer.
Again, starting from the previous example, you may want to state that one of your persona’s goals is not to have to spend a lot of time finding a doctor if you need to.
Finally, list here your client’s main pains that can be solved with the help of your company.
In order to maintain the line of reasoning, a possible pain for this persona is having to face several hours waiting for assistance, or even not wanting to make appointments on such distant dates.
Relationship with your company
Here, try to put together a narrative telling how the persona experience with your company is. Important detail: do not hide the bad parts.
Some things that can be put here are:
- How did the persona know your company?
- How was the purchase process?
- How was the initial use of the product / service? Was there any difficulty?
- How is your product / service used today?
- What advantages does it see in relation to your product / service that it does not see in competitors?
How can your company help?
Among the difficulties and problems experienced by your persona, how can your company help you? How can it present itself as a solution and in what aspects would the persona’s life be facilitated by using your product or service?
Need help with your strategy? Talk to one of our consultants!
Top of the funnel: list here subjects the persona would look for at the top of your funnel.
Middle of funnel: list here subjects the persona would look for in the middle of your funnel.
Funnel bottom: list here subjects the persona would search at the bottom of its funnel.
Ready! Now that the narrative has been built, the work was very close to the end.
But an essential stage was still missing.
You see, I said that storytelling helps to fix personas, but the truth is that that alone was not enough. We had already lost our personas once and we couldn’t let that happen again.
Thinking about it, we decided to put a visual reinforcement that is easy to understand. So that our team could just “catch the eye” and know who we were talking to.
That’s when we had the idea to build the “Cards”.
Bringing Personas to Life
The last step was to give each person a face and raise points that could synthesize each one very well.
With the profile created, this step turned out to be very quiet, since the faces were already in our minds. It was just a matter of finding one who could make this tangible.
And to raise the key points of each one, we created a standard format that helped to quickly understand what was most relevant for each one.
So we built the cards with the following structure
Card persona template
Using this script was just to fit the information into the template and everything was finished.
With that, I would like to introduce you to the three people who are today essential in our Marketing team.
In addition, to make it easier, we have created a comparative chart for each of them, to help understand the differences between personas and why each one exists.
Making personas part of everyday life
As I said, you must be very careful that the personas do not fall by the wayside. And in this highly visual world of ours, the saying “who is seen is not remembered” is stronger than ever.
Thinking about it, at the idea of our Marketing Director, we decided to hang pictures with each one of our personas at the entrance of the Marketing corridor.
So not only do we go through them every day, but we also arouse the curiosity of everyone who passes by, making the personas even stronger in the company as a whole.
Since then it is not strange to always see someone standing in the corridor looking at the wall with a keen eye.
And it was in this way that we gained these 03 new members in our Marketing team and that today they are already helping us to produce better content for you, and to keep our focus where it should be.
If you want to share with us any tips to build your pers