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75 Questions To Jump-Start Your Content
The Ultimate Guide
INBOUND MARKETING PERSONAS
to
Introduction to Personas
What Is a Persona?
Why Using Personas Is Important
The Connection Between Personas and Inbound Marketing
What Industries Should Use Personas?
The Persona Development Process
1. Kickoff Meeting
2. Interview Customers
3. Create Persona Profiles
Interview Questions for Persona Development
Interview Questions for the Sales Team
Interview Questions for the Marketing Team
Basic Interview Questions for Customers
Conclusion
Appendix: 75 Persona Interview Questions
Demographic
Career
Daily Life
Consumer Habits
Pain Points
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 1
INTRODUCTION
TO PERSONAS
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 3
An essential component of inbound marketing is the utilization of online
contentto attract potential customers. Many different types of content can be
developed, and in many cases, marketers might target your customers by
using a combination of approaches, including:
All these methods can be effective, but only if you truly understand your
audience. What type of content is most likely to generate a response from a
particular type of customer? How does your ideal customer prefer to engage
in the sales process? What problems do customers need to solve, and how
does your business help them?
These are the types of
questions that you can answer
by developing personas.
Blog articles Online videos Podcasts White papers
E-books Email newsletters Social media posts Online advertising
WHAT IS A PERSONA?
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 4
A persona is a representation of
your target customer. It’s a picture
you paint based on research and
interviews with actual customers.
A persona goes beyond basic
demographicstoincludetheintangible
elements that make a person tick.
Market research can tell you some
essential information about the
people who are most likely to
purchase your products or services;
for example, one customer type
might be:
This is useful data that you certainly
need to know. However, persona
development gives you a deeper
level of understanding that allows
you to truly speak to your target
customer. Using the example above,
an interview with a customer that
fits this description might also tell
you that:
She doesn’t own a car, so the
ability to make online purchases
is important to her.
She has disposable income but
still likes getting a good deal.
She uses her smartphone more
than her laptop.
She would rather interact by
email than by phone.
She uses social media to stay
current on trends.
Caucasian
Female
Age 25-35
Employed
Single
Urban
Armed with this information, you can develop an inbound marketing campaign
with content that is most likely to reach this customer type. Most businesses
actually market to multiple personas, so developing unique profiles for all of
your different customer types is essential.
No matter how large or small your business is, you want to get the most from
your inbound marketing budget. Persona development is a critical first step for
any marketing campaign. The information you gather and the profiles you
create will lay the foundation and guide you through every marketing decision
you make. Without this fundamental research, you will not truly know what
attracts new leads and drives them to make a purchase, potentially leaving
profits on the table.
This research extends to all aspects of an inbound marketing campaign; all the
time and effort you spend developing a blog and writing white papers will pay
off much more if your content is created with a persona in mind. Additional
reasons to use personas for inbound marketing include:
Objectivity
It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that you (the marketer,
salesperson, or business owner) are the target audience.
Although you might be one type of customer, yours is not the
only persona you must reach. Developing multiple personas
allows you to empathize with all of your customers so that you
can create marketing messages from multiple perspectives, not
just your own.
WHY USING PERSONAS IS IMPORTANT
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 5
Focus
When you know what makes your customer tick, developing the
content that is most likely to speak to them is easier. Without
this ability to focus your marketing message, you will dilute your
efforts and miss opportunities. Personas also ensure that
everybody on your sales and marketing teams share a common
understanding of your customers.
Strategy
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a marketer is to
assume that you know what the customer wants and needs. The
only way to truly know this is to ask questions that will help you
identify the gaps that your product or service is able to fill. Once
you know what problems your customers need to solve (whether
they know it or not), you can craft more effective inbound
marketing strategies.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 6
Without a comprehensive understanding of your customers, you are taking a
shot in the dark with your inbound marketing materials. Yes, you might be
making educated guesses that produce some positive results, but taking the
time to develop personas is a much more cost-effective solution.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 7
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN
PERSONAS AND INBOUND MARKETING
Inbound marketing is used primarily to capture new leads and convert them
to customers. How can you do this if you don’t know whom you are trying to
reach?
How will you know what type of content to create if you don’t know how your
ideal customers research new products or what product features are most
important to them? These are exactly the types of questions that the persona
development process can answer.
Creating an inbound marketing campaign without persona development is
like shooting in the dark. You might hit a few targets, but your rate of success
is likely to be low. When you create an inbound marketing campaign with
personas in mind, you can focus your efforts and increase the return on your
investment.
When developing inbound marketing campaigns, persona
development can help you determine:
Which format(s) will garner the best response
Which media channels are likely to reach the most potential customers
The tone you should use when writing content or communicating with customers
The types of content that will attract the most new leads
The calls to action that will generate the best response rate
WHAT INDUSTRIES SHOULD USE PERSONAS?
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 8
Businesses of all types can use
inbound marketing to grow sales,
which means that virtually any type
of business can benefit from persona
development. These are just a few
examples of the industries that use
personas to better understand
their customers:
If you are in the business of selling a
product or service to an individual
or company, you must understand
what drives your customers to
make a purchase. Optimizing your
inbound marketing efforts with
persona development is the best
way to ensure that your message
resonates with the people that keep
your company profitable.
Business-to-business sales
Business-to-consumer sales
Service providers
Manufacturers
Consultants
Online businesses
Brick-and-mortar retail stores
Creating an
inbound marketing
campaign without
personadevelopment
is like shooting in the
dark. You might hit a
few targets, but your
rate of success is
likely to be low.
THE PERSONA
DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
Finding out what makes a person tick is no small task. Where do you start?
What questions do you ask? How can you draw conclusions from the responses
you receive? The following three-phase persona development process will help
guide you through the steps toward better understanding your customers.
1. Kickoff Meeting
The first step in the persona
development process is a kickoff
meetingwiththesalesandmarketing
teams to understand the types of
customers that make purchases.
Your salespeople will have some of
the best insights into which factors
influence whether a prospect
makes a purchase or not. They will
know what questions are commonly
asked, the objections that they
frequently face, and the unique
selling propositions that are most
meaningful to your target customer.
Although most good salespeople
possess an intrinsic knowledge of
your ideal customer, they may not
be able to effectively articulate the
various factors that come into play
when that person is making a
purchasing decision. Preparing
interview questions for salespeople
can help you elicit the valuable
information that they might not
even know they have.
Your marketing team will have
valuableanalyticaldatafromprevious
and current inbound marketing
campaigns, including important
information such as:
All of this information gives you a
goodstartingpointforunderstanding
your customers, but the only way to
really get inside their heads is to
speak with them directly.
Which pages customers visit on
your website
Which pages they leave
Whether they abandoned a
shopping cart
The lead generation tactics that
had the greatest impact
Themostviewedcontentonyour
site
Whereyourcustomersarelocated
The keywords and phrases that
customers use to reach your site
The call to action that generates
the best response
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 10
2. Interview Customers
After gathering information from your sales and marketing teams, validate
the assumptions you have made by interviewing actual customers. Ask a
series of questions designed to help you understand their behavior and the
challenges they face in daily life so you can develop online content and
marketing messages that resonate.
The way you form interview questions is a critical factor in developing a
persona. Posing an open-ended question will give you much more valuable
information than a simple yes/no query. Avoid leading questions that are
likely to generate the response you want to hear instead of eliciting a more
valuable and meaningful statement from your customer.
For example, asking customers if they would purchase your product or service
will not give you much valuable information. On the other hand, asking them
why they would or would not make a purchase will likely result in a broader
range of responses from different customer types. You can use this information
to tailor your products and services for different personas. Perhaps you will
discover an opportunity to develop a premium line for people who want to
feel like they’re making a luxury purchase. On the other hand, you may discover
that a certain segment of your target audience places more emphasis on value
for money.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 11
Making incorrect assumptions about your customers is an avoidable mistake
that can cost you lost profits. You won’t know what they want (or don’t want)
unless you ask. Remember, the objective is to understand customers’ behavior.
Craft your interview questions with this in mind so you can develop a
comprehensive persona profile.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 12
3. Create Persona Profiles
After interviewing several different types of customers (and if you have done
it right), you should be able to create unique personas for each of them. These
profiles can be used by your sales and marketing teams and integrated into an
effective inbound marketing strategy. For each type of customer, create a
persona that includes the following elements:
Many marketers use descriptive
names such as Thrifty Tom,
Elegant Annie, or Practical Pete.
You can use these nicknames to
help guide you as you develop
new products, brands, and mar-
keting campaigns. When your
focus starts to wander, you can
bring it back by asking questions
such as “What would Practical
Pete think of this offer?”
Name
Each persona should include both
demographic data and a narrative
of the customer’s behavior. The
narrative should include a
description of daily life, common
challenges, purchasing behavior,
and other factors that influence
how your sales and marketing
teams will interact with this type
of customer.
Description
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 13
You will probably find it helpful to
have an image that
corresponds to each persona. Y
ou might find stock imagery that
matches, or you may be able to
use photographs of actual
customers if they are willing.
Image
How will salespeople know if they
are talking to a Practical Pete or
an Elegant Annie? Provide a list of
traits that help identify each
different persona so your team
members can quickly select the
most appropriate marketing
messages when they encounter a
potential customer.
Indicators
Personas are dynamic and should be periodically updated, especially if you
have changed your products or services, have expanded into new territory, or
have been faced with dramatic shifts in the economy.
Starting with a template is a great way to ensure that you capture and present
all the essentialinformation.Downloadourfreepersona worksheet if you need
help getting started.
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR
PERSONA DEVELOPMENT
?
The more prepared you are, the better able you will be to develop useful
personas. Use the following interview questions to help guide the process.
You can also create your own questions based on previous experiences with
customers and your sales and marketing teams.
Your sales team interacts with customers every day. It knows better than
anybody what works (and what doesn’t) when selling your products or
services. However, the sales team doesn’t always know how useful this
knowledge is. Use these interview questions to draw out this valuable
information as you develop personas:
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE SALES TEAM
1. What types of customers do
you typically meet?
Have your salespeople describe the various
types of people they interact with on a
daily basis. Are they business owners,
stay-at-home moms, athletes, or elementary
school teachers? Remember, you most
likely sell to multiple customer types, so
don’t settle for just a single response. Make
sure the salespeople answer these questions
in detail. The more detail the better.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 15
2. Why do different types of
customers typically make a
purchase?
Different people buy the same products for
different reasons. One woman might
purchase an expensive nail polish because
it’s her favorite color and the brand she
always uses. On the other hand, a different
customer might purchase the same bottle
of expensive nail polish once in a lifetime as
an indulgence or, perhaps, because it is on
sale. These are two different customer
personas, and your salespeople know how
to distinguish between them.
3. What reasons do customers
cite for selecting your business
over a competitor?
Often during the sales process, customers
will mention the benefits or
drawbacks of your company versus the
competition. Your salespeople will
know which product features or service
offerings are the most meaningful
to different customer types.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 16
4. What are the most common objections you hear?
Why do potential customers not make a purchase? What objections must
the salesperson overcome to close a sale? Understanding the negative
perceptions that your customers feel is critical when creating marketing
messages that are designed to increase sales.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 17
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE MARKETING TEAM
Your marketing team also knows how your customers behave, typically from
indirect interactions rather than direct ones. For the purpose of inbound
marketing, you are primarily interested in the ways your customers find your
company online. Even if your sales process goes offline after an online lead is
captured, working with your marketing team during the persona development
process will help you better understand who you need to reach and how best
to reach them.
1. What technical and demographic information do you
have about your website visitors?
Analytic data can tell you where your online visitors are located, how they
reached your website, and even important demographic details. Your
marketing team may also have insights based on customer surveys, lead
capture forms, and other information sources that will help you paintarough
pictureofyourtargetaudience.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 18
For the purpose of inbound marketing,
you are primarily interested in the
ways your customers find your
company online.
2. How do you currently market?
What are the existing components of your
marketing strategy, and how effective are
they? Which online marketing tactics do
you use? What other types of media do
you use? When developing personas,
knowing how your various customer
types reach your business is important.
You may find that certain customers are
more inclined to click on an online
advertisement, while others are more
likely to find your company through a blog
post or white paper download.
Equally important is thinking about what
is missing from your current marketing
strategy. You may find that some personas
are underserved because you aren’t using
the tactics that are most likely to reach them.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 19
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 20
3. Describe marketing campaigns that have been the most
successful
Most marketers carefully track the success or failure of campaigns and other
activities. The most common metric used is the return on investment for
each campaign. Although this is certainly important, it is not necessarily the
only metric that matters for inbound marketing. Pay attention to other
measures of success, such as:
4. Describe marketing campaigns that have failed
In marketing, knowing what doesn’t work is always useful.
Find out which messages garnered a negative response or
simply fell flat.
Which online campaigns received the most impressions
Which advertisements received the most clicks
Which white paper was downloaded the most times
Which coupon code was used the most
Which link was clicked the most in an email newsletter
FAILED
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 21
6. What are the most frequently asked questions from
customers?
Do they want to know how a product works? Are they looking for more
general information about your industry? Do they want to know your refund
policy before they buy? These are the types of insights and customer behaviors
that can help you develop personas.
5. Which blog posts have received the most traffic?
Find out what content attracts the most attention. Are there any common
traits between the most popular posts?
Do customers prefer informative posts, recaps of industry news, infographics,
or other types of content? Knowing how your customers spend time with your
content can help you understand what they find most valuable.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 22
7. Which page on the website receives the most impressions?
Getting eyes on a page means that you attracted a potential customer for
some reason. Just because you didn’t close a sale does not mean that you
weren’t successful in some way. Possibly, your site navigation is too confusing,
your call to action wasn’t strong enough, or some other factor played a role in
losing the sale. Focus on what brought customers to the page in the first place
to help you develop personas, improve inbound marketing, and optimize your
sales process.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 23
BASIC INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR CUSTOMERS
Every industry is different, but some customer characteristics and behaviors
can be universally applied when developing personas for inbound marketing.
Whether you sell vacuum cleaners or accounting services, getting the
answers to some basic questions is the first step in understanding personas.
Demographic Questions
The basic details about a customer won’t paint the entire picture of a persona,
but they are an important starting point.
1. What is your marital status?
Single individuals and couples face different challenges in life and have
different household needs. You might want to know if you’re marketing to a
husband that wants to please his wife or a bachelor who wants a fast and easy
way to make meals.
2. What is your household income level?
You want to know which customer types have more or less disposable
income so you can tailor marketing messages. Consider providing income
ranges so your customers are more comfortable giving you this type of
information.
Consider providing income ranges so
your customers are more comfortable
giving you this type of information.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 24
3. Where do you live?
A customer who lives in a city with
public transportation, cultural
activities, and multiple shopping
options has different needs than
one who lives in a more secluded
area. Various parts of the country
also have differing customs or
preferences.
5. What is your gender?
Although both men and women use
many of the same products and
services, the reasons they select
one company over another can be
dramatically different.
4 . Are you a homeowner
or renter?
Customerswhoownhomesgenerally
carry more financial responsibilities
and purchase different products
and services than a renter does.
Also, knowing the type of building
in which they live is useful in
determining which of your products
or services to market to a particular
persona.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 25
6. What is your age?
Customers in different stages of
life face unique challenges.
Knowing the age range of your
target customers will help you craft
marketing messages for each
segment of the population.
7. Do you have children?
How many and what ages?
Families with children have different
lifestyles than those who do not.
Knowing the ages of the children in
the home will give you a better idea
ofthedailychallengesyourcustomers
face. Do they need to feed three
hungry teenagers, juggle an infant
and a toddler, or keep up with
tween trends?
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 26
Career Questions
If you market products or services to other businesses, you must know about
the industries you serve and the customer types with which you will be
interacting. Does the sales process begin with an entry-level employee or a
business owner? What factors do customers consider when making certain
types of purchases? This type of information is also important for
business-to-consumer marketers because a customer’s work life (or absence
of one) significantly influences the overall persona.
8. In what industry do you work?
A florist has different needs than a farmer, even if they purchase the same
type of fertilizer. An office manager who works for an environmental
nonprofit will likely purchase different types of office supplies than one
who works for an oil company. Just because two different customers make
the same purchase or need products in the same category does not mean
that they share the same persona.
9. What is your current job level?
A blue-collar laborer faces different challenges than a CEO. A purchasing
agent who needs approval from a manager will respond to different
marketing messages than a small business owner who does not go through
multiple channels to make a purchase.
10. To what job level do you aspire?
Job satisfaction plays a major role in customers’ lives and influences the
choices they make. For example, a marketer who sells language-learning
programs would benefit from knowing that a particular persona is
interested in an international career path.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 27
11. How long have you been
in your current position?
The length of time that customers
stay at a job can tell you about their
loyalty to a company, their desire to
climb the corporate ladder, or a
possible aversion to change. While
some personas are keen to try new
things, others like to stick with what
they know. This type of behavior
often crosses multiple areas of life,
including their purchasing habits.
12. What is your education
level?
In addition to getting a better sense
of customers’ level of knowledge, you
might also learn that they are paying
off student loans from college or
graduate school. On the other hand,
a customer who didn’t finish high
school is less likely to respond to
certain types of marketing messages.
Knowing a persona’s education level
can also help you decide what inbound
marketing tactics to use. For example,
apersonawithahighschooleducation
may click on a link to a video but be
less likely to download a white paper.
A florist has different
needsthanafarmer,even
iftheypurchasethesame
type of fertilizer. An
officemanagerwhoworks
for an environmental
nonprofit will likely
purchase different
types of office supplies
than one who works
for an oil company.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28
Daily Life Questions
Understanding how customers spend their days will help you learn what they
find frustrating, how they prefer to spend free time, and the other choices
they make on a daily basis.
13. What does a typical
day look like for you?
This open-ended question gives
your customers the opportunity to
share the behaviors that they deem
most significant. Allow them to
describe the entire day, and then
ask for more details about the
areas that are important
to you.
15. What do you do for
fun?
Although many people spend a
good portion of their day working,
this is not necessarily the only
aspect of life that defines them. Do
your customers like to surf the
Internet,gotothemovies,participate
in a book club, golf with friends, or
watch sports on TV? Understanding
how your customers spend their
free time will tell you what is
important to the various different
personas you are trying to reach.
16. Who are the people in
your life that are most
important?
Do your customers most care
about their children, parents,
spouses, or friends? Perhaps their
pet is the first answer that comes
to mind.
14. How much time do you
spend at work and at home?
If your customers feel that they
don’t get enough time at home,
perhaps you offer a product or
service that can help them get the
most from their time away from the
office. On the other hand, a
stay-at-home parent might
be interested in coupons for local
restaurants so they can get out
more on a tight budget.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28
17. What types of vehicles do you own and why?
A customer who bicycles to work every day will have a different perspective
than one who drives a diesel truck. The mom with the minivan is more likely
to respond to a marketing message about practicality, while the CEO with
the sports car might respond to one about indulgence.
18. What do you watch on television?
Do your customers like to stay current with international news? Do they
watch cartoons with their children? Do they like game shows? Perhaps they
don’t watch television at all. You can learn a lot about a persona from the
television choices that an individual makes. Perhaps offering an online
game is the best way to attract a certain persona, while another might be
drawn to an ongoing series of videos that build on each other.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 29
19. Where do you go to learn
about a product or service?
Everybody has to do a little research now
and then. Some consumers immediately
reach for a smartphone to get online
customer reviews of a product, while
others call a trusted friend or relative for
even the smallest purchases.
20. What offline resources do
you use?
Is there a local product guide or coupon
book that Elegant Annie keeps in her
purse? Does Practical Pete subscribe to
Consumer Reports? You must ensure that
your inbound marketing strategy
accommodates the personas that do not
use the Internet as a first resource.
Consumer Habit Questions
Consumer behavior can be difficult to predict, which is one reason that
developing personas is so important. Ask your customers how they make
purchasing decisions so that you can reach them more effectively.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 30
21. What online resources do you use?
Some consumers rely on a handful of trusted blog writers for recommendations,
while others just click on the first result of a Google search. If resources such as
Angie’s List are the first stop for certain personas, you need to know about it.
22. Where do you prefer to do your shopping?
A young, single woman who is busy with her career might buy everything online,
including groceries. Ask her specifically where she shops and why. On the
other hand, another customer might enjoy window-shopping downtown. In
this case, knowing what draws that customer into the shop to make a
purchase might be useful.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 31
23. How do you prefer to interact with vendors?
Technology has changed the way marketers and salespeople interact with
consumers, but not every consumer moves at the same pace. One customer
may prefer a web chat to pose a question about a product, while another
would rather pick up the phone and call customer service or schedule an
appointment in person.
24. Who do you ask for product/service recommendations?
You want to know who has the most influence on your customers. If they want to
know which shampoo to buy, do they ask their hair stylist, their best friend, or
their mother? Does a celebrity endorsement carry any influence? You can
tailor marketing messages to specific personas based on the response to
questions like this.
25. How important is it to get a good deal?
Thrifty Tom might wait for a restaurant to offer a coupon on a daily deal site,
while Elegant Annie would never dream of even joining such a site.
Offering a deep discount is an excellent way to attract some personas but
could possibly deter others.
One customer may prefer a web chat
to pose a question about a product,
while another would rather pick up
the phone and call
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 32
26. What types of mobile devices do you own?
A persona that uses a tablet or smartphone on a regular basis will be more
inclined to regularly visit your site if it is optimized for these devices.
27. What type of indulgent or luxurious purchases do
you make?
One persona might occasionally indulge in a manicure, while another gets
one on a weekly basis. Perhaps one of your customer types considers a trip
abroad a worthwhile indulgence, while another splurges a few times a year
by going to a fancy restaurant.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 33
Pain Point Questions
Every individual has frustrations, fears, and other negative feelings that
regularly occur, often called pain points. These important parts of a persona
give you insights into what problems your product or service can solve, and
how to create marketing messages that demonstrate this. Most people will
give quick responses to these interview questions, which is an indicator that
a solution to these pain points will be most welcome.
28. What is the most
frustratingpartofyourday?
Whether a customer becomes
annoyed by waiting in line for
morningcoffee or doesn’t like filling
out expense reports when at work,
the frustrations of personas tell
you more about what makes them
tick. Perhaps they would benefit
fromamobileappthatyourcompany
offers or a white paper about how
to improve workplace efficiency.
30. What regular activity
doyoufindstressful?
Thedailycommute,payinghousehold
bills, making dinner for the whole
family, and getting the kids to school
on time may be mundane tasks, but
for many people, this small stuff
adds up to become stressful.
31. What makes you
nervous?
Perhaps you learn that Thrifty Tom
has some social anxieties that make
him less likely to go to a retail store
to get answers to his questions.
Promoting a free webinar might be
the best way to reach this persona
so he can get all the information he
needs without the pressure of an
in-person interaction.
29. What is the worst
customerserviceexperience
youhaveeverhad?
Was it the overbearing salesperson,
the long wait time on the phone, or
the email full of spelling mistakes?
Asking what a customer’s best
experience was is also worthwhile
in getting a full picture of each
persona’s preferences.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 34
32. What is the fastest way for
somebodytomakeyouangry?
Practical Pete can’t stand it when
somebody lies or tries to deceive him.
How do you think he would feel about a
coupon offer with several lines of small
print at the bottom?
34. What is the worst job you
canimagine?
For some personas, the idea of sitting
behind a desk all day terrifies them. On
the other hand, manual laboris
unappealingtootherpersonas. You want
to know what types of behaviors each
customer type wants to avoid.
33. What is your least
favoritepartofyourjob?
ElegantAnniemanages10peoplebut
really doesn’t like giving performance
reviews. Perhaps asking her to
complete a survey or provide a product
review is not the best way to attract her
attention.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 35
35. What purchase under
XX dollars did you most
regret?
Selectadollaramountthatcorresponds
to your industry and find out why
customers were regretful. Did they
feel that they didn’t get value for
money? Did the product not last as
long as they had expected? Did they
feeldeceivedbytheproductdescription?
36. What do you worry
about?
Are your customers worried about
their mortgage payments, whether
their children will get into college, or
how they will take care of aging
parents? What do you provide that
can help ease their minds?
37. What accomplishments
are you most proud of?
Learn about the obstacles that your
customers have overcome and the
challenges they have faced to achieve
success. You will also learn much
about what customers value. For
example, if they are proud of raising a
child, family is clearly important to
them.
For some personas,
the idea of sitting
behind a desk all day
terrifies them. On the
other hand, manual
labor is unappealing to
other personas.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 36
38. What are the top three things on your bucket list?
Find out what a customer most wants to do in this lifetime. This information
will give you insights about the activities customers feel they are missing
out on, and again, you will learn more about what they value most.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 37
INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR CUSTOMERS
The interview questions listed above will get you started on developing
personas for each of the customer types that typically make purchases, but
to get the most from the persona development process, you need to ask
industry-specific questions. Remember, the people you are interviewing are
already your customers. They have made purchases (and not made purchases)
for a reason.
Customer Interview Questions
The following types of questions should be included when interviewing
customers to develop personas:
39. What are the most common challenges related to your
industry?
If you are a software developer, you can expect customers to ask questions
about version upgrades, operating system compatibility, and other
technical issues. If you sell bubble gum in bulk to grocery stores, your
customers’ complaints or concerns will be of a different nature, possibly
about packaging, lack of flavor diversity, or the ordering process.
Because tax preparation is a much different industry than confectionery,
this part of the persona interview should be customized. Ask the types of
questions that will elicit clear responses about the challenges your
customers face that are related specifically to your industry.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 38
40. What value is typically associated with your industry?
Find out what your customers value when they make purchasing decisions
related to your industry. The accounting professional might discover that
customers appreciate when tax codes are explained simply, while the candy
manufacturer could learn that their buyers want an automated sales process
that can be completed online.
Ask your customers what they look for in a company when making
purchases. Again, these questions should be tailored to match the unique
aspects of your industry.
41. What is the preferred type of sales experience in your
industry?
Customers who are looking for tax preparation services have several
options. They can search the Yellow Pages and call the company with the
most compelling advertisement, look online for the most highly recommended
firm, ask friends and family for referrals, or use one of many other methods.
After the initial contact with customers, what type of sales process do they
prefer? Do they want to see a list of customer referrals and testimonials so they
can confirm that your business is legitimate? Do they want to interact via email
to schedule an appointment?
Each persona is different, and the responses will vary depending on the type of
product or service you sell.
42. What are the most common objections to your
product or service?
Find out why your customers choose not to buy your product or
service. Some personas might be waiting for a better deal, while
others need to shop around before committing to a purchase.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 38
Understanding the most common reasons that a persona decides not to
make a purchase can help you craft a marketing message to help overcome
these obstacles. Perhaps a 30-day trial period will ease the mind of a
persona that is reluctant to commit to a purchase. Limited-time discount
offers might spark Thrifty Tom into a purchase because there might not be a
better offer around the corner.
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 39
43. What are the top
questions asked by
customers?
What questions most frequently
come up after a sale has been
closed? Do customers have certain
expectations that are not being
met? Is there an informational gap
that you can fill either before they
make a purchase or immediately
following a sale?
44. What are the top
questions asked by
prospects?
When trying to close a sale, what
questions arise most frequently. As
previously discussed, your sales
team may offer some insights into
this question. You can also find out
which FAQs get the most hits on
your own website or browse public
help forums for the most commonly
discussed problems.
CONCLUSION
Every marketer understands the importance of maximizing ROI for
campaigns, including inbound marketing efforts. The more you understand
about your customers, the better you will be able to reach them. Persona
development is a cost-effective process that will allow you to get the most
from your inbound marketing budget. You will be able to:
Do you find the persona development process overwhelming? Do you want to
feel more confident about how well your marketing dollars are being spent? If
you have not gone through the persona development process before, working
with an expert is the best way to ensure that you are getting the desired value
for money.
Focus the efforts
of your sales and
marketing team
Reach your
target customers
Tailor marketing
messages to each
persona
Attract your ideal
customer
Increase
conversion rates
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 41
APPENDIX: 75 PERSONA INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
This handy list includes all of the persona interview questions described
above, plus bonus questions to help you create comprehensive customer
profiles.
Demographic
1. What is your marital status?
2. What is your household income level?
3. Where do you live?
4. Are you a homeowner or renter?
5. What is your gender?
6. What is your age?
7. Do you have children?
8. If you do have children, how many and what ages?
9. What is your ethnicity?
10. How would you describe your political views?
11. Do you have a religious preference?
12. Are you a smoker?
13. What languages are spoken in your home?
Career
14. In what industry do you work?
15. What is your current job level?
16. To what job level do you aspire?
17. How long have you been in your current position?
18. What is the highest level of education you completed?
19. Do you make purchasing decisions at work?
20. What is your favorite part of your job?
21. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
22. How do you get to and from work?
23. Do you socialize with your co-workers?
24. Are you satisfied with your job?
25. How is the success of your job measured?
26. What skills are required to do your job?
27. What tools do you use to do your job?
28. Do you supervise other people?
29. How large is your company?
30. What job-related blogs or other online content do you read?
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 42
Daily Life
31. What does a typical day look like for you?
32. How much time do you spend at work and at home?
33. What do you do for fun?
34. Who are the people in your life that are most important to you?
35. What types of vehicles do you own and why?
36. What do you watch on television?
37. What type of online content do you like?
38. Do you belong to any societies or clubs?
39. What social networks do you belong to?
40. What types of social activities do you enjoy?
41. How close are you with your neighbors?
42. What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
43. How much time do you spend on the Internet?
44. What websites do you visit most frequently?
45. Do you prefer written or oral communication?
46. How often do you check your email?
47. How do you manage your emails?
48. Do you like to travel?
Consumer Habits
49. Where do you go to learn about a product or service?
50. What offline resources do you use?
51. What online resources do you use?
52. Where do you prefer to do your shopping?
53. How do you prefer to interact with vendors?
54. Who do you ask for product/service recommendations?
55. How important is it to get a good deal?
56. What type of mobile devices do you own?
57. Do you use mobile devices to research products or services?
58. Do you use mobile devices to make purchases?
59. What types of indulgent or luxurious purchases do you make?
60. Do you read product reviews online?
61. Do you write product reviews online?
62. Describe a recent purchase that you made.
63. What was the most impulsive purchase you ever made?
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 43
Pain Points
64. What is the most frustrating part of your day?
65. What is the worst customer service experience you ever had?
66. What regular activity do you find stressful?
67. What makes you nervous?
68. What is the fastest way for somebody to make you angry?
69. What is your least favorite part of your job?
70. What is the worst job you can imagine?
71. What purchase under XX dollars do you most regret?
72. What do you worry about?
73. What do you fear?
74. What do you do if you’ve made a purchase you regret?
75. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 44
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media
and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several
venture-backed technology companies. When he's not
leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane
marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters
and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps!
ABOUT SMARTBUG MEDIA
SmartBug Media is one of only six HubSpot Diamond partners in the world
and is the highest rated agency in the history of the HubSpot ecosystem. We
also boast the highest ROI documented from any HubSpot partner -- 3,558%
and 14,500% ROI on a six-month and three-year campaign.
For more than seven years, SmartBug Media has been helping businesses
increase sales leads, close more customers and enhance the reach of their
brands. From building comprehensive online marketing programs to designing
new websites, driving leads through social media or sales enablement, we’re
an extension of your marketing team that delivers.
For a free inbound marketing or web design consultation, or to learn more,
visit http://www.smartbugmedia.com/ or call 949-236-6448.

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The Ultimate Guide to Creating Inbound Marketing Buyer Personas

  • 1. 75 Questions To Jump-Start Your Content The Ultimate Guide INBOUND MARKETING PERSONAS to
  • 2. Introduction to Personas What Is a Persona? Why Using Personas Is Important The Connection Between Personas and Inbound Marketing What Industries Should Use Personas? The Persona Development Process 1. Kickoff Meeting 2. Interview Customers 3. Create Persona Profiles Interview Questions for Persona Development Interview Questions for the Sales Team Interview Questions for the Marketing Team Basic Interview Questions for Customers Conclusion Appendix: 75 Persona Interview Questions Demographic Career Daily Life Consumer Habits Pain Points 2 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 15 18 23 40 42 42 42 43 43 44 TABLE OF CONTENTS The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 1
  • 4. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 3 An essential component of inbound marketing is the utilization of online contentto attract potential customers. Many different types of content can be developed, and in many cases, marketers might target your customers by using a combination of approaches, including: All these methods can be effective, but only if you truly understand your audience. What type of content is most likely to generate a response from a particular type of customer? How does your ideal customer prefer to engage in the sales process? What problems do customers need to solve, and how does your business help them? These are the types of questions that you can answer by developing personas. Blog articles Online videos Podcasts White papers E-books Email newsletters Social media posts Online advertising
  • 5. WHAT IS A PERSONA? The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 4 A persona is a representation of your target customer. It’s a picture you paint based on research and interviews with actual customers. A persona goes beyond basic demographicstoincludetheintangible elements that make a person tick. Market research can tell you some essential information about the people who are most likely to purchase your products or services; for example, one customer type might be: This is useful data that you certainly need to know. However, persona development gives you a deeper level of understanding that allows you to truly speak to your target customer. Using the example above, an interview with a customer that fits this description might also tell you that: She doesn’t own a car, so the ability to make online purchases is important to her. She has disposable income but still likes getting a good deal. She uses her smartphone more than her laptop. She would rather interact by email than by phone. She uses social media to stay current on trends. Caucasian Female Age 25-35 Employed Single Urban
  • 6. Armed with this information, you can develop an inbound marketing campaign with content that is most likely to reach this customer type. Most businesses actually market to multiple personas, so developing unique profiles for all of your different customer types is essential. No matter how large or small your business is, you want to get the most from your inbound marketing budget. Persona development is a critical first step for any marketing campaign. The information you gather and the profiles you create will lay the foundation and guide you through every marketing decision you make. Without this fundamental research, you will not truly know what attracts new leads and drives them to make a purchase, potentially leaving profits on the table. This research extends to all aspects of an inbound marketing campaign; all the time and effort you spend developing a blog and writing white papers will pay off much more if your content is created with a persona in mind. Additional reasons to use personas for inbound marketing include: Objectivity It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that you (the marketer, salesperson, or business owner) are the target audience. Although you might be one type of customer, yours is not the only persona you must reach. Developing multiple personas allows you to empathize with all of your customers so that you can create marketing messages from multiple perspectives, not just your own. WHY USING PERSONAS IS IMPORTANT The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 5
  • 7. Focus When you know what makes your customer tick, developing the content that is most likely to speak to them is easier. Without this ability to focus your marketing message, you will dilute your efforts and miss opportunities. Personas also ensure that everybody on your sales and marketing teams share a common understanding of your customers. Strategy One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a marketer is to assume that you know what the customer wants and needs. The only way to truly know this is to ask questions that will help you identify the gaps that your product or service is able to fill. Once you know what problems your customers need to solve (whether they know it or not), you can craft more effective inbound marketing strategies. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 6 Without a comprehensive understanding of your customers, you are taking a shot in the dark with your inbound marketing materials. Yes, you might be making educated guesses that produce some positive results, but taking the time to develop personas is a much more cost-effective solution.
  • 8. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 7 THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PERSONAS AND INBOUND MARKETING Inbound marketing is used primarily to capture new leads and convert them to customers. How can you do this if you don’t know whom you are trying to reach? How will you know what type of content to create if you don’t know how your ideal customers research new products or what product features are most important to them? These are exactly the types of questions that the persona development process can answer. Creating an inbound marketing campaign without persona development is like shooting in the dark. You might hit a few targets, but your rate of success is likely to be low. When you create an inbound marketing campaign with personas in mind, you can focus your efforts and increase the return on your investment. When developing inbound marketing campaigns, persona development can help you determine: Which format(s) will garner the best response Which media channels are likely to reach the most potential customers The tone you should use when writing content or communicating with customers The types of content that will attract the most new leads The calls to action that will generate the best response rate
  • 9. WHAT INDUSTRIES SHOULD USE PERSONAS? The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 8 Businesses of all types can use inbound marketing to grow sales, which means that virtually any type of business can benefit from persona development. These are just a few examples of the industries that use personas to better understand their customers: If you are in the business of selling a product or service to an individual or company, you must understand what drives your customers to make a purchase. Optimizing your inbound marketing efforts with persona development is the best way to ensure that your message resonates with the people that keep your company profitable. Business-to-business sales Business-to-consumer sales Service providers Manufacturers Consultants Online businesses Brick-and-mortar retail stores Creating an inbound marketing campaign without personadevelopment is like shooting in the dark. You might hit a few targets, but your rate of success is likely to be low.
  • 11. Finding out what makes a person tick is no small task. Where do you start? What questions do you ask? How can you draw conclusions from the responses you receive? The following three-phase persona development process will help guide you through the steps toward better understanding your customers. 1. Kickoff Meeting The first step in the persona development process is a kickoff meetingwiththesalesandmarketing teams to understand the types of customers that make purchases. Your salespeople will have some of the best insights into which factors influence whether a prospect makes a purchase or not. They will know what questions are commonly asked, the objections that they frequently face, and the unique selling propositions that are most meaningful to your target customer. Although most good salespeople possess an intrinsic knowledge of your ideal customer, they may not be able to effectively articulate the various factors that come into play when that person is making a purchasing decision. Preparing interview questions for salespeople can help you elicit the valuable information that they might not even know they have. Your marketing team will have valuableanalyticaldatafromprevious and current inbound marketing campaigns, including important information such as: All of this information gives you a goodstartingpointforunderstanding your customers, but the only way to really get inside their heads is to speak with them directly. Which pages customers visit on your website Which pages they leave Whether they abandoned a shopping cart The lead generation tactics that had the greatest impact Themostviewedcontentonyour site Whereyourcustomersarelocated The keywords and phrases that customers use to reach your site The call to action that generates the best response The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 10
  • 12. 2. Interview Customers After gathering information from your sales and marketing teams, validate the assumptions you have made by interviewing actual customers. Ask a series of questions designed to help you understand their behavior and the challenges they face in daily life so you can develop online content and marketing messages that resonate. The way you form interview questions is a critical factor in developing a persona. Posing an open-ended question will give you much more valuable information than a simple yes/no query. Avoid leading questions that are likely to generate the response you want to hear instead of eliciting a more valuable and meaningful statement from your customer. For example, asking customers if they would purchase your product or service will not give you much valuable information. On the other hand, asking them why they would or would not make a purchase will likely result in a broader range of responses from different customer types. You can use this information to tailor your products and services for different personas. Perhaps you will discover an opportunity to develop a premium line for people who want to feel like they’re making a luxury purchase. On the other hand, you may discover that a certain segment of your target audience places more emphasis on value for money. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 11
  • 13. Making incorrect assumptions about your customers is an avoidable mistake that can cost you lost profits. You won’t know what they want (or don’t want) unless you ask. Remember, the objective is to understand customers’ behavior. Craft your interview questions with this in mind so you can develop a comprehensive persona profile. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 12 3. Create Persona Profiles After interviewing several different types of customers (and if you have done it right), you should be able to create unique personas for each of them. These profiles can be used by your sales and marketing teams and integrated into an effective inbound marketing strategy. For each type of customer, create a persona that includes the following elements: Many marketers use descriptive names such as Thrifty Tom, Elegant Annie, or Practical Pete. You can use these nicknames to help guide you as you develop new products, brands, and mar- keting campaigns. When your focus starts to wander, you can bring it back by asking questions such as “What would Practical Pete think of this offer?” Name Each persona should include both demographic data and a narrative of the customer’s behavior. The narrative should include a description of daily life, common challenges, purchasing behavior, and other factors that influence how your sales and marketing teams will interact with this type of customer. Description
  • 14. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 13 You will probably find it helpful to have an image that corresponds to each persona. Y ou might find stock imagery that matches, or you may be able to use photographs of actual customers if they are willing. Image How will salespeople know if they are talking to a Practical Pete or an Elegant Annie? Provide a list of traits that help identify each different persona so your team members can quickly select the most appropriate marketing messages when they encounter a potential customer. Indicators Personas are dynamic and should be periodically updated, especially if you have changed your products or services, have expanded into new territory, or have been faced with dramatic shifts in the economy. Starting with a template is a great way to ensure that you capture and present all the essentialinformation.Downloadourfreepersona worksheet if you need help getting started.
  • 16. The more prepared you are, the better able you will be to develop useful personas. Use the following interview questions to help guide the process. You can also create your own questions based on previous experiences with customers and your sales and marketing teams. Your sales team interacts with customers every day. It knows better than anybody what works (and what doesn’t) when selling your products or services. However, the sales team doesn’t always know how useful this knowledge is. Use these interview questions to draw out this valuable information as you develop personas: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE SALES TEAM 1. What types of customers do you typically meet? Have your salespeople describe the various types of people they interact with on a daily basis. Are they business owners, stay-at-home moms, athletes, or elementary school teachers? Remember, you most likely sell to multiple customer types, so don’t settle for just a single response. Make sure the salespeople answer these questions in detail. The more detail the better. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 15
  • 17. 2. Why do different types of customers typically make a purchase? Different people buy the same products for different reasons. One woman might purchase an expensive nail polish because it’s her favorite color and the brand she always uses. On the other hand, a different customer might purchase the same bottle of expensive nail polish once in a lifetime as an indulgence or, perhaps, because it is on sale. These are two different customer personas, and your salespeople know how to distinguish between them. 3. What reasons do customers cite for selecting your business over a competitor? Often during the sales process, customers will mention the benefits or drawbacks of your company versus the competition. Your salespeople will know which product features or service offerings are the most meaningful to different customer types. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 16
  • 18. 4. What are the most common objections you hear? Why do potential customers not make a purchase? What objections must the salesperson overcome to close a sale? Understanding the negative perceptions that your customers feel is critical when creating marketing messages that are designed to increase sales. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 17
  • 19. INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE MARKETING TEAM Your marketing team also knows how your customers behave, typically from indirect interactions rather than direct ones. For the purpose of inbound marketing, you are primarily interested in the ways your customers find your company online. Even if your sales process goes offline after an online lead is captured, working with your marketing team during the persona development process will help you better understand who you need to reach and how best to reach them. 1. What technical and demographic information do you have about your website visitors? Analytic data can tell you where your online visitors are located, how they reached your website, and even important demographic details. Your marketing team may also have insights based on customer surveys, lead capture forms, and other information sources that will help you paintarough pictureofyourtargetaudience. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 18 For the purpose of inbound marketing, you are primarily interested in the ways your customers find your company online.
  • 20. 2. How do you currently market? What are the existing components of your marketing strategy, and how effective are they? Which online marketing tactics do you use? What other types of media do you use? When developing personas, knowing how your various customer types reach your business is important. You may find that certain customers are more inclined to click on an online advertisement, while others are more likely to find your company through a blog post or white paper download. Equally important is thinking about what is missing from your current marketing strategy. You may find that some personas are underserved because you aren’t using the tactics that are most likely to reach them. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 19
  • 21. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 20 3. Describe marketing campaigns that have been the most successful Most marketers carefully track the success or failure of campaigns and other activities. The most common metric used is the return on investment for each campaign. Although this is certainly important, it is not necessarily the only metric that matters for inbound marketing. Pay attention to other measures of success, such as: 4. Describe marketing campaigns that have failed In marketing, knowing what doesn’t work is always useful. Find out which messages garnered a negative response or simply fell flat. Which online campaigns received the most impressions Which advertisements received the most clicks Which white paper was downloaded the most times Which coupon code was used the most Which link was clicked the most in an email newsletter FAILED
  • 22. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 21 6. What are the most frequently asked questions from customers? Do they want to know how a product works? Are they looking for more general information about your industry? Do they want to know your refund policy before they buy? These are the types of insights and customer behaviors that can help you develop personas. 5. Which blog posts have received the most traffic? Find out what content attracts the most attention. Are there any common traits between the most popular posts? Do customers prefer informative posts, recaps of industry news, infographics, or other types of content? Knowing how your customers spend time with your content can help you understand what they find most valuable.
  • 23. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 22 7. Which page on the website receives the most impressions? Getting eyes on a page means that you attracted a potential customer for some reason. Just because you didn’t close a sale does not mean that you weren’t successful in some way. Possibly, your site navigation is too confusing, your call to action wasn’t strong enough, or some other factor played a role in losing the sale. Focus on what brought customers to the page in the first place to help you develop personas, improve inbound marketing, and optimize your sales process.
  • 24. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 23 BASIC INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR CUSTOMERS Every industry is different, but some customer characteristics and behaviors can be universally applied when developing personas for inbound marketing. Whether you sell vacuum cleaners or accounting services, getting the answers to some basic questions is the first step in understanding personas. Demographic Questions The basic details about a customer won’t paint the entire picture of a persona, but they are an important starting point. 1. What is your marital status? Single individuals and couples face different challenges in life and have different household needs. You might want to know if you’re marketing to a husband that wants to please his wife or a bachelor who wants a fast and easy way to make meals. 2. What is your household income level? You want to know which customer types have more or less disposable income so you can tailor marketing messages. Consider providing income ranges so your customers are more comfortable giving you this type of information. Consider providing income ranges so your customers are more comfortable giving you this type of information.
  • 25. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 24 3. Where do you live? A customer who lives in a city with public transportation, cultural activities, and multiple shopping options has different needs than one who lives in a more secluded area. Various parts of the country also have differing customs or preferences. 5. What is your gender? Although both men and women use many of the same products and services, the reasons they select one company over another can be dramatically different. 4 . Are you a homeowner or renter? Customerswhoownhomesgenerally carry more financial responsibilities and purchase different products and services than a renter does. Also, knowing the type of building in which they live is useful in determining which of your products or services to market to a particular persona.
  • 26. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 25 6. What is your age? Customers in different stages of life face unique challenges. Knowing the age range of your target customers will help you craft marketing messages for each segment of the population. 7. Do you have children? How many and what ages? Families with children have different lifestyles than those who do not. Knowing the ages of the children in the home will give you a better idea ofthedailychallengesyourcustomers face. Do they need to feed three hungry teenagers, juggle an infant and a toddler, or keep up with tween trends?
  • 27. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 26 Career Questions If you market products or services to other businesses, you must know about the industries you serve and the customer types with which you will be interacting. Does the sales process begin with an entry-level employee or a business owner? What factors do customers consider when making certain types of purchases? This type of information is also important for business-to-consumer marketers because a customer’s work life (or absence of one) significantly influences the overall persona. 8. In what industry do you work? A florist has different needs than a farmer, even if they purchase the same type of fertilizer. An office manager who works for an environmental nonprofit will likely purchase different types of office supplies than one who works for an oil company. Just because two different customers make the same purchase or need products in the same category does not mean that they share the same persona. 9. What is your current job level? A blue-collar laborer faces different challenges than a CEO. A purchasing agent who needs approval from a manager will respond to different marketing messages than a small business owner who does not go through multiple channels to make a purchase. 10. To what job level do you aspire? Job satisfaction plays a major role in customers’ lives and influences the choices they make. For example, a marketer who sells language-learning programs would benefit from knowing that a particular persona is interested in an international career path.
  • 28. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 27 11. How long have you been in your current position? The length of time that customers stay at a job can tell you about their loyalty to a company, their desire to climb the corporate ladder, or a possible aversion to change. While some personas are keen to try new things, others like to stick with what they know. This type of behavior often crosses multiple areas of life, including their purchasing habits. 12. What is your education level? In addition to getting a better sense of customers’ level of knowledge, you might also learn that they are paying off student loans from college or graduate school. On the other hand, a customer who didn’t finish high school is less likely to respond to certain types of marketing messages. Knowing a persona’s education level can also help you decide what inbound marketing tactics to use. For example, apersonawithahighschooleducation may click on a link to a video but be less likely to download a white paper. A florist has different needsthanafarmer,even iftheypurchasethesame type of fertilizer. An officemanagerwhoworks for an environmental nonprofit will likely purchase different types of office supplies than one who works for an oil company.
  • 29. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28 Daily Life Questions Understanding how customers spend their days will help you learn what they find frustrating, how they prefer to spend free time, and the other choices they make on a daily basis. 13. What does a typical day look like for you? This open-ended question gives your customers the opportunity to share the behaviors that they deem most significant. Allow them to describe the entire day, and then ask for more details about the areas that are important to you. 15. What do you do for fun? Although many people spend a good portion of their day working, this is not necessarily the only aspect of life that defines them. Do your customers like to surf the Internet,gotothemovies,participate in a book club, golf with friends, or watch sports on TV? Understanding how your customers spend their free time will tell you what is important to the various different personas you are trying to reach. 16. Who are the people in your life that are most important? Do your customers most care about their children, parents, spouses, or friends? Perhaps their pet is the first answer that comes to mind. 14. How much time do you spend at work and at home? If your customers feel that they don’t get enough time at home, perhaps you offer a product or service that can help them get the most from their time away from the office. On the other hand, a stay-at-home parent might be interested in coupons for local restaurants so they can get out more on a tight budget.
  • 30. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28 17. What types of vehicles do you own and why? A customer who bicycles to work every day will have a different perspective than one who drives a diesel truck. The mom with the minivan is more likely to respond to a marketing message about practicality, while the CEO with the sports car might respond to one about indulgence. 18. What do you watch on television? Do your customers like to stay current with international news? Do they watch cartoons with their children? Do they like game shows? Perhaps they don’t watch television at all. You can learn a lot about a persona from the television choices that an individual makes. Perhaps offering an online game is the best way to attract a certain persona, while another might be drawn to an ongoing series of videos that build on each other.
  • 31. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 29 19. Where do you go to learn about a product or service? Everybody has to do a little research now and then. Some consumers immediately reach for a smartphone to get online customer reviews of a product, while others call a trusted friend or relative for even the smallest purchases. 20. What offline resources do you use? Is there a local product guide or coupon book that Elegant Annie keeps in her purse? Does Practical Pete subscribe to Consumer Reports? You must ensure that your inbound marketing strategy accommodates the personas that do not use the Internet as a first resource. Consumer Habit Questions Consumer behavior can be difficult to predict, which is one reason that developing personas is so important. Ask your customers how they make purchasing decisions so that you can reach them more effectively.
  • 32. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 30 21. What online resources do you use? Some consumers rely on a handful of trusted blog writers for recommendations, while others just click on the first result of a Google search. If resources such as Angie’s List are the first stop for certain personas, you need to know about it. 22. Where do you prefer to do your shopping? A young, single woman who is busy with her career might buy everything online, including groceries. Ask her specifically where she shops and why. On the other hand, another customer might enjoy window-shopping downtown. In this case, knowing what draws that customer into the shop to make a purchase might be useful.
  • 33. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 31 23. How do you prefer to interact with vendors? Technology has changed the way marketers and salespeople interact with consumers, but not every consumer moves at the same pace. One customer may prefer a web chat to pose a question about a product, while another would rather pick up the phone and call customer service or schedule an appointment in person. 24. Who do you ask for product/service recommendations? You want to know who has the most influence on your customers. If they want to know which shampoo to buy, do they ask their hair stylist, their best friend, or their mother? Does a celebrity endorsement carry any influence? You can tailor marketing messages to specific personas based on the response to questions like this. 25. How important is it to get a good deal? Thrifty Tom might wait for a restaurant to offer a coupon on a daily deal site, while Elegant Annie would never dream of even joining such a site. Offering a deep discount is an excellent way to attract some personas but could possibly deter others. One customer may prefer a web chat to pose a question about a product, while another would rather pick up the phone and call
  • 34. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 28The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 32 26. What types of mobile devices do you own? A persona that uses a tablet or smartphone on a regular basis will be more inclined to regularly visit your site if it is optimized for these devices. 27. What type of indulgent or luxurious purchases do you make? One persona might occasionally indulge in a manicure, while another gets one on a weekly basis. Perhaps one of your customer types considers a trip abroad a worthwhile indulgence, while another splurges a few times a year by going to a fancy restaurant.
  • 35. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 33 Pain Point Questions Every individual has frustrations, fears, and other negative feelings that regularly occur, often called pain points. These important parts of a persona give you insights into what problems your product or service can solve, and how to create marketing messages that demonstrate this. Most people will give quick responses to these interview questions, which is an indicator that a solution to these pain points will be most welcome. 28. What is the most frustratingpartofyourday? Whether a customer becomes annoyed by waiting in line for morningcoffee or doesn’t like filling out expense reports when at work, the frustrations of personas tell you more about what makes them tick. Perhaps they would benefit fromamobileappthatyourcompany offers or a white paper about how to improve workplace efficiency. 30. What regular activity doyoufindstressful? Thedailycommute,payinghousehold bills, making dinner for the whole family, and getting the kids to school on time may be mundane tasks, but for many people, this small stuff adds up to become stressful. 31. What makes you nervous? Perhaps you learn that Thrifty Tom has some social anxieties that make him less likely to go to a retail store to get answers to his questions. Promoting a free webinar might be the best way to reach this persona so he can get all the information he needs without the pressure of an in-person interaction. 29. What is the worst customerserviceexperience youhaveeverhad? Was it the overbearing salesperson, the long wait time on the phone, or the email full of spelling mistakes? Asking what a customer’s best experience was is also worthwhile in getting a full picture of each persona’s preferences.
  • 36. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 34 32. What is the fastest way for somebodytomakeyouangry? Practical Pete can’t stand it when somebody lies or tries to deceive him. How do you think he would feel about a coupon offer with several lines of small print at the bottom? 34. What is the worst job you canimagine? For some personas, the idea of sitting behind a desk all day terrifies them. On the other hand, manual laboris unappealingtootherpersonas. You want to know what types of behaviors each customer type wants to avoid. 33. What is your least favoritepartofyourjob? ElegantAnniemanages10peoplebut really doesn’t like giving performance reviews. Perhaps asking her to complete a survey or provide a product review is not the best way to attract her attention.
  • 37. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 35 35. What purchase under XX dollars did you most regret? Selectadollaramountthatcorresponds to your industry and find out why customers were regretful. Did they feel that they didn’t get value for money? Did the product not last as long as they had expected? Did they feeldeceivedbytheproductdescription? 36. What do you worry about? Are your customers worried about their mortgage payments, whether their children will get into college, or how they will take care of aging parents? What do you provide that can help ease their minds? 37. What accomplishments are you most proud of? Learn about the obstacles that your customers have overcome and the challenges they have faced to achieve success. You will also learn much about what customers value. For example, if they are proud of raising a child, family is clearly important to them. For some personas, the idea of sitting behind a desk all day terrifies them. On the other hand, manual labor is unappealing to other personas.
  • 38. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 36 38. What are the top three things on your bucket list? Find out what a customer most wants to do in this lifetime. This information will give you insights about the activities customers feel they are missing out on, and again, you will learn more about what they value most.
  • 39. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 37 INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR CUSTOMERS The interview questions listed above will get you started on developing personas for each of the customer types that typically make purchases, but to get the most from the persona development process, you need to ask industry-specific questions. Remember, the people you are interviewing are already your customers. They have made purchases (and not made purchases) for a reason. Customer Interview Questions The following types of questions should be included when interviewing customers to develop personas: 39. What are the most common challenges related to your industry? If you are a software developer, you can expect customers to ask questions about version upgrades, operating system compatibility, and other technical issues. If you sell bubble gum in bulk to grocery stores, your customers’ complaints or concerns will be of a different nature, possibly about packaging, lack of flavor diversity, or the ordering process. Because tax preparation is a much different industry than confectionery, this part of the persona interview should be customized. Ask the types of questions that will elicit clear responses about the challenges your customers face that are related specifically to your industry.
  • 40. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 38 40. What value is typically associated with your industry? Find out what your customers value when they make purchasing decisions related to your industry. The accounting professional might discover that customers appreciate when tax codes are explained simply, while the candy manufacturer could learn that their buyers want an automated sales process that can be completed online. Ask your customers what they look for in a company when making purchases. Again, these questions should be tailored to match the unique aspects of your industry. 41. What is the preferred type of sales experience in your industry? Customers who are looking for tax preparation services have several options. They can search the Yellow Pages and call the company with the most compelling advertisement, look online for the most highly recommended firm, ask friends and family for referrals, or use one of many other methods. After the initial contact with customers, what type of sales process do they prefer? Do they want to see a list of customer referrals and testimonials so they can confirm that your business is legitimate? Do they want to interact via email to schedule an appointment? Each persona is different, and the responses will vary depending on the type of product or service you sell. 42. What are the most common objections to your product or service? Find out why your customers choose not to buy your product or service. Some personas might be waiting for a better deal, while others need to shop around before committing to a purchase.
  • 41. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 38 Understanding the most common reasons that a persona decides not to make a purchase can help you craft a marketing message to help overcome these obstacles. Perhaps a 30-day trial period will ease the mind of a persona that is reluctant to commit to a purchase. Limited-time discount offers might spark Thrifty Tom into a purchase because there might not be a better offer around the corner. The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 39 43. What are the top questions asked by customers? What questions most frequently come up after a sale has been closed? Do customers have certain expectations that are not being met? Is there an informational gap that you can fill either before they make a purchase or immediately following a sale? 44. What are the top questions asked by prospects? When trying to close a sale, what questions arise most frequently. As previously discussed, your sales team may offer some insights into this question. You can also find out which FAQs get the most hits on your own website or browse public help forums for the most commonly discussed problems.
  • 43. Every marketer understands the importance of maximizing ROI for campaigns, including inbound marketing efforts. The more you understand about your customers, the better you will be able to reach them. Persona development is a cost-effective process that will allow you to get the most from your inbound marketing budget. You will be able to: Do you find the persona development process overwhelming? Do you want to feel more confident about how well your marketing dollars are being spent? If you have not gone through the persona development process before, working with an expert is the best way to ensure that you are getting the desired value for money. Focus the efforts of your sales and marketing team Reach your target customers Tailor marketing messages to each persona Attract your ideal customer Increase conversion rates The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 41
  • 44. APPENDIX: 75 PERSONA INTERVIEW QUESTIONS This handy list includes all of the persona interview questions described above, plus bonus questions to help you create comprehensive customer profiles. Demographic 1. What is your marital status? 2. What is your household income level? 3. Where do you live? 4. Are you a homeowner or renter? 5. What is your gender? 6. What is your age? 7. Do you have children? 8. If you do have children, how many and what ages? 9. What is your ethnicity? 10. How would you describe your political views? 11. Do you have a religious preference? 12. Are you a smoker? 13. What languages are spoken in your home? Career 14. In what industry do you work? 15. What is your current job level? 16. To what job level do you aspire? 17. How long have you been in your current position? 18. What is the highest level of education you completed? 19. Do you make purchasing decisions at work? 20. What is your favorite part of your job? 21. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? 22. How do you get to and from work? 23. Do you socialize with your co-workers? 24. Are you satisfied with your job? 25. How is the success of your job measured? 26. What skills are required to do your job? 27. What tools do you use to do your job? 28. Do you supervise other people? 29. How large is your company? 30. What job-related blogs or other online content do you read? The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 42
  • 45. Daily Life 31. What does a typical day look like for you? 32. How much time do you spend at work and at home? 33. What do you do for fun? 34. Who are the people in your life that are most important to you? 35. What types of vehicles do you own and why? 36. What do you watch on television? 37. What type of online content do you like? 38. Do you belong to any societies or clubs? 39. What social networks do you belong to? 40. What types of social activities do you enjoy? 41. How close are you with your neighbors? 42. What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself? 43. How much time do you spend on the Internet? 44. What websites do you visit most frequently? 45. Do you prefer written or oral communication? 46. How often do you check your email? 47. How do you manage your emails? 48. Do you like to travel? Consumer Habits 49. Where do you go to learn about a product or service? 50. What offline resources do you use? 51. What online resources do you use? 52. Where do you prefer to do your shopping? 53. How do you prefer to interact with vendors? 54. Who do you ask for product/service recommendations? 55. How important is it to get a good deal? 56. What type of mobile devices do you own? 57. Do you use mobile devices to research products or services? 58. Do you use mobile devices to make purchases? 59. What types of indulgent or luxurious purchases do you make? 60. Do you read product reviews online? 61. Do you write product reviews online? 62. Describe a recent purchase that you made. 63. What was the most impulsive purchase you ever made? The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 43
  • 46. Pain Points 64. What is the most frustrating part of your day? 65. What is the worst customer service experience you ever had? 66. What regular activity do you find stressful? 67. What makes you nervous? 68. What is the fastest way for somebody to make you angry? 69. What is your least favorite part of your job? 70. What is the worst job you can imagine? 71. What purchase under XX dollars do you most regret? 72. What do you worry about? 73. What do you fear? 74. What do you do if you’ve made a purchase you regret? 75. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas 44
  • 47. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! ABOUT SMARTBUG MEDIA SmartBug Media is one of only six HubSpot Diamond partners in the world and is the highest rated agency in the history of the HubSpot ecosystem. We also boast the highest ROI documented from any HubSpot partner -- 3,558% and 14,500% ROI on a six-month and three-year campaign. For more than seven years, SmartBug Media has been helping businesses increase sales leads, close more customers and enhance the reach of their brands. From building comprehensive online marketing programs to designing new websites, driving leads through social media or sales enablement, we’re an extension of your marketing team that delivers. For a free inbound marketing or web design consultation, or to learn more, visit http://www.smartbugmedia.com/ or call 949-236-6448.