This research is conducted by Julie Schwartz
Buyer personas are relatively new territory, and even those marketers who have developed personas have yet to realize tangible business benefits. Recent data from ITSMA’s survey, Increasing Relevance with Personas and B2I Marketing shows that personas are achieving the anticipated marketing benefit but not necessarily the business benefit.
We asked marketers who were planning to implement personas in the next 12 to 24 months what benefits they expected from using personas and compared their responses to the benefits current users are actually achieving. The top three benefits they hoped to see are improved value propositions, a better understanding of their buyers, and higher conversion rates. While marketers are improving their customer knowledge and value propositions, few have yet to see higher conversion rates, more leads, or shorter sales cycles.
Marketers point to a number of reasons for their less-than-stellar results:
- Buyer personas are relatively new to B2B marketers, and most are just learning how to effectively target the right personas and customize content.
- Persona usage is not yet pervasive throughout the organization, being used for some programs and not for others.
- Marketers are unsure about how to apply the knowledge contained in the personas to their marketing and sales initiatives.
The research, however, reveals the most important reason behind the failure of personas to meet expectations: not having the right information in their personas. Too often marketers fill their personas with demographic and firmographic information rather than deep insights into customer buying behavior that can only be gleaned through qualitative customer interviews. Delving into the story of how and why a buyer buys will be the key to knowing exactly what you need to communicate to get customers to choose you.