B2B demand-generation marketers—including many Leadspace customers—think a lot about persona segmentation. The concept makes perfect sense; the better you know your customers and the business problems they’re facing, the greater your chances of delivering a meaningful message they will read and remember.
But like most things worth doing, creating useful personas is harder than it seems. Too many experienced marketers skip the work necessary to succeed. Creating marketing personas is much more than just listing titles. It requires thought and effort, and needs to be a continuous process.
Based on what I see working with customers every day at Leadspace, there are three key steps many companies miss that not only cost them time and effort, but money.
1. Go beyond the title
Most B2B marketers have a database full of contacts, gathered from their marketing automation tools like Marketo and Eloqua, and other sources such as leads from events and tradeshows. The problem is that the data is often severely limited, which severely limits your chance of success.
If you’re looking to an external vendor or software solution to help you define and segment personas for your demand-gen efforts, look for a vendor that goes beyond the title. To give you what you need, any solution will need deep understanding of people on an individual level: the person’s roles, responsibilities, technologies used and day-to-day pain points. Very little of that can be easily and reliably determined by title alone.
For example, a ‘Director of Marketing’ might be a marketing operations person or a demand gen person. Or she could be focused on product marketing, solutions marketing or a field marketing. And by the same token, the primary decision maker for marketing in a given company could have any of a dozen titles.
By going beyond the title to understand the roles and responsibilities of a person—on an individual level, specific to that person—you can successfully personalize your outreach to make sure it is topical, timely, practical and personalized. Even on the simplest level, a marketing operations person is more likely to open an email or engage with an SDR on a phone call if the phrase “marketing operations” is mentioned, compared to a generic pitch targeting the marketing domain.
2. Match content—new and existing—to persona
One of the biggest problems B2B marketers think they face is the challenge of creating content that resonates with their audience. Many companies ignore the content they already have in their resource library and the opportunity to repurpose it. But it has to be done in a relevant and targeted way.
Review the content you’ve already created and identify which specific job functions each piece relates to—in other words, which role will be interested in consuming the content. Without too much work, your existing content can often be adapted for each persona you want to address. This exercise will make you think about the small yet critical differences between the ideal buyers you are going after and lead you to better engagement with your prospects.
Here’s an example. I wrote this blog post with one of Leadspace’s primary customer personas in mind: B2B demand-generation marketers, who spend most of their time thinking of better ways to reach and engage their prospects. They understand the concept of “persona segmentation” and its value to them, so I didn’t hesitate to use it in the title of the post.
I also talk about the value of personalized content as a way to engage the people you want to reach, once you’ve segmented them by persona. So this post (I hope) also has value for content marketers who feed the demand-gen machine.
If I wanted to repurpose this post for an email to content marketers, for instance, I could easily re-arrange the order of the “three ways” and change the title. The term “persona segmentation” might not be as enticing for content marketers, so I might change the title to “3 Ways to Optimize Your Content for Demand Generation,” or even “Why You Should Use Persona Segmentation for Your Content Marketing.”
3. Consider company context
Finally, a key element of creating accurate personas is an understanding of company context. There’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” Your targeted persona will vary based on company industry and size. Make sure your persona segmentation takes those relevant company characteristics into account.
For example, the job level of decision makers usually depends on the size of the company. A director might have ultimate say in the buying process and unlimited signing and budget authority. Or he might have three levels of vice president between him and the person who signs the checks. This can vary by industry as well.
If you’re basing your persona segmentation on title alone, you may be aiming too high or too low, or even both.
Do the work now
It’s easy to create quick personas based on title or a few other factors, and never look back. But if you do the work now of creating accurate personas based on role, company size, industry, job function, technology used level and department, keeping them up to date will be much easier. It’s a valuable investment of time and effort that will pay off in better engagement.
You can also save time by working with Leadspace to help define your personas, segment them automatically and score them based on your Ideal Customer Profile. To find out more about persona segmentation—and 9 other ways predictive analytics can boost your B2B demand creation…
Download our free ebook, “Top 10 Use Cases of B2B Predictive Analytics.”
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