I’m sure you’ll agree: Online advertising is so bloody hard…
For one, there are too many variables at play making it difficult to achieve great results every time.
But it gets much easier if you know exactly whom you’re promoting to.
Did you know: Only 1 out of 10 people in your target audience actually needs your solution.
The remaining 9 aren’t even interested. They just don’t care about you. Full stop.
And so, by targeting ads to wide audiences you’re wasting 90% of your resources – not just money but also time and everything else you invest in your advertising.
Luckily there is a way out… Using buyer personas to increase the effectiveness of ad targeting.
And in this post I’ll show you how to develop a proper buyer persona to improve your Facebook advertising targeting.
Ready? Let’s go…
What is a Buyer Persona
Hubspot defines it as:
“A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
Having a buyer persona means that you can be more focused in your advertising:
Increase your ROI
Since you’re targeting people who are likely to need your solution, you could expect a much greater result at a lower cost (i.e. less ad clicks but more conversions).
Attract the most valuable visitors
Knowing whom you’re targeting will help you create ads directly relating to those people’s needs, desires and thus attract users likely to buy.
Create more engaging ads
Since you target a specific person, you can create advertising that speaks to their exact needs, desires, pain points and matches their buyer behavior.
But why would you use buyer personas in the first place?
Facebook is great when it comes to targeting, the amount of different ways to identify an audience is truly impressive:
- Education and more.
But… The only way to make your advertising more effective is by choosing the RIGHT targeting options.
But without buyer personas you pretty much rely on your good guesses when doing so.
Buyer personas on the other hand allow you to specify the exact targeting settings for your ads to reach exactly those people who are interested in your offering.
Still not convinced?
Consider this then: Your audience wants you to improve ads targeting too.
According to the results of a Zongby Analytics’ poll (link to full report), 40.5% of respondents confirmed they prefer to see ads directed towards their interests.
And this comes as no surprise: Targeted ads mean more value and less clutter and distractions.
After all, how happy you typically are when seeing completely irrelevant ads in your newsfeed?
Like this ad Massimo saw in his stream the other day:
The bottom ad by Cloudyn seems highly targeted (AdEspresso runs on AWS so the content may be interesting for its CEO).
But the other one from Siemens? Massimo doesn’t even know what the product is.
This example confirms one thing: Poor audience targeting delivers nothing else but low CTR, lack of relevancy and confusing users.
So how to develop buyer personas to improve Facebook ads targeting?
Here is a simple step-by-step plan.
Developing a Buyer Persona
A solid buyer persona is actually nothing else but a collection of the most common traits you find among your current clients:
- Their most common needs and pain points relating to your solution,
- Demographic characteristics,
- Psychographics and,
- Buyer behavior traits.
And so, to develop a strong persona you’ll need to first conduct a thorough research on your current customer base.
Here is a series of exercises that will help you develop a complete persona.
Two things before we go through each exercise:
The more people you get involved in those exercises the better
It may seem counterproductive but to get the most of this process, you should involve more people in it.
The core of the process is a series of brainstorming exercises that aim to collect the common traits of your customers.
And thus, the more people share their ideas, the better.
There are no wrong answers in these exercises
By its nature, brainstorming is all about putting ANY ideas on the paper. Therefore, it’s normal to collect plenty of even ridiculous ones during the process. But that’s OK.
As part of the process you’ll also validate the findings to separate real customer characteristics from guesses.
So encourage whoever will be working on those exercises to feel free to throw in any ideas they have. No restrictions.
The process in a nutshell:
- Brainstorming customers’ needs.
- Brainstorming customers’ demographic attributes.
- Brainstorming customers’ psychographic attributes.
- Analysis and validation of findings.
- Brainstorming buyer behavioral traits.
- Construction of a persona.
Sounds simple? Let’s dig into each step in detail then.
Exercise 1. Brainstorming Customer Needs
The purpose of the first exercise is to identify as many needs of your target market as possible.
Think of as many problems, challenges and wants your customers may have. Those needs don’t even have to relate to your products but everything that drives your customers.
For instance, here are some of the needs I think AdEspresso customers have:
- Higher traffic.
- Cheaper advertising cost.
- Higher conversions.
- Faster campaigns creation.
- More automation and less menial tasks.
How to conduct the exercise:
Take 15-20 minutes and list as many needs as you can think of. Don’t judge any items on the list, or think whether they make sense or not. At this stage you want the list to be as long as possible.
At the end of the session collect all responses for analysis later on.
Exercise 2. Brainstorming customers’ demographic attributes
In this exercise you’re trying to identify your customers’ most common demographic characteristics.
So, list everything you know about your customers.
- Race / Ethnicity,
- Education level,
- Their income level,
- Languages they speak,
- Relationship status,
- Professional status,
Follow the same process as with the previous exercise – take a couple of minutes and list as many characteristics you can think of.
Exercise 3. Brainstorming customers’ psychographic attributes
Psychographics attributes relate to a person’s:
- Interests, and
- Lifestyles, among others.
And so, in this exercise you need to discover what drives, motivates and inspires your customers.
List such information about your customers as:
- What brands do they identify with?
- What websites they frequent?
- What aspirations do they have?
- What kinds of hobbies do they enjoy?
- What ideals do they hold to?
- How tech savvy they are?
- Who or what influence their product choices?
Exercise 4: Analysis and validation of findings
At this stage you’ve collected a good deal of ideas about your customers.
It’s time to analyze and then, validate them. First, go through responses for each exercise and list the most common answers.
Then provide relevant data to validate those characteristics.
These could be anything:
- Call your customers. It’s extremely time consuming but it’s also the most reliable way to validate your findings and discover new information about them. We did it for AdEspresso and most of our customers where happy to help us. Pro Tip: After every answer, ask them three times “Why?”. You’ll uncover priceless insights
- Existing customer data. Probably the easiest way to validate demographics is by looking at the data you have on your current customers.
- Support calls / live chat conversations etc. Many customers mention their needs but also interests and other personal attributes during support interactions.
- Surveys (both internal and external). If you lack the data, consider running short surveys to validate anything from needs to customer interests. You can use software like Hotjar to run surveys on your checkout or SurveyMonkey to invite customers to share their insight.
Similarly, you could look at other companies’ survey findings to find data supporting your results.
- Studies (external and internal). You can also find a lot of information in studies, reports and whitepapers.
- Social media conversations. Monitor online discussions about your brand or products.
- Articles, papers etc. The web’s full of research, analysis and other useful content. And there could be data to prove your customers’ traits in there too.
The rule for this exercise is simple:
No data to back it up equals irrelevant customer trait.
Something you should know: This could easily become the lengthiest and most cumbersome part of the process.
And if you’re working on this process on behalf of the client, that’s the part when projects typically go stale. Mostly because clients tent to either take this too seriously, launching a couple months long research project. Or lose interest in the process in the face of such a huge task in front of them.
But don’t ignore the importance of validating your ideas. Without this data your personas will be nothing more but a collection of good guesses.
And in marketing these are nothing more but wishful thinking.
Exercise 5. Brainstorming prospects’ behavioral traits
The final exercise involves one more brainstorming session. This time however you’re listing ideas about how your prospects buy things.
Take 15 minutes to list:
What are your customers’ preferred methods of communication with a brand?
List them in order of importance. Chances are your prospects will have the same preferences.
What’s their behavior towards your products / services / brand?
Are your prospects familiar or unfamiliar with your brand / service or product when coming in contact with it.
What are their buying habits?
Why do they purchase what you sell? (i.e. to make them look good, raise their social status, the feeling of self importance etc.)
This point closely relates to the top needs you identified in the first exercise.
Most common objections?
What would prevent them from buying from you?
Putting It All Together
If you’ve completed all 5 exercises you should now have a bulk of information about your customers and prospects that you could use to create a buyer persona.
From now on, the process revolves around imagining your ideal buyer based on the information you have and using that to construct your persona.
So, take your findings and match relating information together to create a final persona.
You can use this template to do so (or download the Buyer Persona Workbook containing worksheets for every exercise in the process):
- Income level:
- Education level:
- Professional status:
- Main Need:
- Favorite brands:
- Favorite websites:
- Preferred method of communication:
- Behavior towards your product or service:
- Buying habits:
- Personal Description: