The importance of creating useful buyer personas is often times skipped and neglected because it takes quite a bit of time and effort.
Hopefully, seeing how well it worked out for other businesses will inspire some to spring into action and give buyer personas a shot.
Take a look at these four powerful buyer persona case studies that illustrate what buyer personas can do for your content marketing strategy.
#1 Pegasystems Case Study
Pegasystems, aka Pega, is a software company that develops solutions for customer relationship management, digital process automation, and business process management.
It's a global company that has 41 locations across 4 continents.
I'm only mentioning this to illustrate how even the large companies are leveraging buyer personas to drive positive business results.
What made Pega consider creating and then further improving their buyer personas?
Here's a VERY powerful quote straight from the company itself that answers this question:
"We are Pega centric when we need to be Customer centric."
It takes courage to admit something like that when you're a company of that size.
A few more reasons why Pega decided to develop their buyer personas:
- To get Marketing and Sales teams on the same page and working congruently
- To learn more about their customers in order to engage them more effectively and successfully
- To develop a more nuanced approach to various segments of their customer base
- To switch from a predominantly outbound marketing strategy to an inbound one
- To be able to create content with purpose instead of winging it
The company was very thorough and honest about the flaws in their approach.
That honesty ultimately worked to their advantage and helped them reshape their marketing strategy for the better.
After recognizing problems and goals, Pega sprang into action and identified 3 different buyer personas.
They then performed a content audit and mapped their existing content to their buyer personas and buyer journey to identify content gaps.
Ultimately, the company decided that this wasn't enough.
They needed to enrich their buyer personas with more concrete findings like:
- Information sources considered the most influential when making a corporate purchasing decision
- The best tactics for effectiveness when gathering information
- Places where their customers congregate with peers to learn about best practices or to network
- Which social networking or other online interaction forums their customers are active professionally
Pega spent months analyzing data and even engaged a third party agency for additional expertise.
All this work started paying off almost immediately.
Here are some of the ROI points that they attribute to their new and improved marketing strategy that was born out of the creation and refinement of their buyer personas:
- Number of interactions with target accounts increased 20%+, a net increase of 300 per month
- Number of marketing generated leads into the pipeline 10%+, a net increase of 35 per month
- Number of opportunities in pipeline and value of pipeline increased 10%+, a net increase of 4 opportunities and pipeline value of $3 million per month
- Conversion rate of marketing generated leads to opportunities increased from 32% to 40%+
- Increased number of marketing sourced opportunities in the active pipeline by 20%
Buyer personas help different departments in the company and team members inside each team stay on the same page and maintain brand consistency.
Having content across the entire buyer's journey is important and the fundamental step in achieving that is creating a buyer persona so that you can better visualize the buyer's journey of your ideal customer.
Letting buyer personas influence your content marketing strategy positively impacts the number of leads and opportunities.
#2 Twilio Case Study
Twilio is a company in the cloud communications platform-as-a-service space.
This case study is a broader content marketing case study in which buyer personas had a key role.
Twilio is a widely known company among the developers in the cloud communications industry.
The challenges, however, arose when Twilio decided to get into the Product Management suite.
All of a sudden, the company was in untested waters and in need of assistance in order to engage new audience and accomplish broader product adoption.
They decided to hire Campaign Stars, a customer acquisition platform, to help them produce highly-engaging content assets quickly.
Among the actions taken by Campaign Stars was to analyze the buyer's journey of Twilio's ideal customers to build new buyer personas.
The key discovery was the fact that even though developers use Twilio's product, it's the product managers and team leaders who are the decision-makers when it comes to actual purchasing decisions.
Armed with this insight, Campaign Stars developed new buyer personas to target these decision-makers.
The next important piece of the puzzle was developing content assets that were going to be used to grab the attention of the decision-makers they were targeting.
For that, Campaign Stars used an already existing Twilio's 60-page white paper that was largely underutilized by the company, made some adjustments, and turned it into an interactive microsite that was, in their own words, "appealing, educational, and digestible."
The aforementioned 60-page white paper wasn't the only piece of Twilio's older content Campaign Stars improved and repurposed, but it was the most notable one.
Creating new content from scratch takes time, so improving and repurposing older content was the right move by Campaign Stars.
Newly identified buyer personas helped organize Twilio's content library to hit home with the decision-makers responsible for purchasing Twilio's product.
Some of the results of this campaign were:
- Reduced content production time by 40%
- Accelerated go-to-market with Twilio's new persona in <90 days
- Repurposed Twilio's existing content assets quickly and affordably
- Established a robust and repeatable customer engagement strategy
Content alone will not yield the desired results.
Identifying and creating the right buyer personas should guide your content production and distribution activities.
Your existing buyer personas might become obsolete if your company goes into uncharted territory with new products or services.
Researching the new audience is critical to identify new buyer personas.
#3 Skytap Case Study
Skytap is a company in the cloud computing space.
Skytap's biggest challenge was not understanding their audience well enough.
They understood that they had to create "great content" to succeed with content marketing but the team at Skytap also realized that they had to first understand what "great" meant to their audience.
The company had already done some research and established who their audience is, but that wasn't enough.
They decided to dig even deeper to refine their buyer personas and figure out exactly who the decision-makers are when it comes to purchasing their products.
The data was collected from many sources, including:
- CRM and lead-tracking data
- Search and other behavioral data
- Information from sales reps
- Conversations with existing customers
The power of simply engaging your customers and asking them targeted questions in order to gather insights and build your buyer persona has yet again proven to work.
The team managed to pinpoint the decision-makers they needed to target with their content.
Once it was clear who they were selling to, the team at Skytap started building the buyer personas.
In his Marketing Sherpa interview, Skytap's Marketing Director Nate Odell said that creating and refining buyer personas is an ongoing effort for the company.
He also offers a word of caution not to go overboard and try to "understand everybody" which would make the work spiral out of control.
Instead, they're very methodical with their buyer personas and only target the individuals they typically encounter when doing business.
This strategy lead the company to a very comfortable place where they "can know with probably 90-95% accuracy that if we approach these folks in other organizations who are similar, we are going to have a much higher rate of success selling into these organizations," according to Odell.
That is the power of building useful buyer personas that accurately represent your ideal customers.
Instead of following the vague hunch of what "great content" is, the company decided to study their audience and customers to find out what great content meant for them.
Creating and refining buyer personas is an ongoing effort for the company.
Once you understand who the decision-makers are, the success rate goes up significantly.
#4 Genesis Systems Group Case Study
Genesis Systems is a company in the robotic systems integration space.
Genesis hired Amplify, a marketing agency specialized in industrial marketing and guidance, to develop a new marketing strategy.
Immediately, people from Amplify recognized the importance of developing new buyer personas as a cornerstone for all actions that were to follow.
They used two data-gathering methods that would ultimately shape the personas:
- Historical data
- Surveys filled by marketing and sales personnel
Again, you can see the value and importance of gathering insights from people in direct contact with customers.
The new buyer personas were then distributed among both companies to assure that both teams stay aligned and on the same page.
Another example of the unifying factor buyer personas have on any collaborative setting where multiple people or teams have to act congruently with each other.
The results of this campaign were significant, as Amplify reports in their case study article:
- Buyer personas served as a framework for planning, execution and success of the campaign
- Personas revealed fundamental problems in the previous strategy and made the path clear for the new one
- Personas reshaped Genesis to become more of a consumer-centric company
- Exponential increase in lead generation
Buyer personas are at the root of their successful content marketing campaign.
Personas shaped and informed decisions that lead the company to become more consumer-centric, which is at the core of content marketing.
The company used historical data and surveys filled by staff members who are in direct contact with customers to gather insight used to building buyer personas.
Buyer personas help put content marketing strategies on rails and give them direction and purpose instead of different team members pushing and pulling in various directions.
All of the four case studies featured in this article are unique in their own way but they all have one thing in common – reliance on buyer personas to inform and shape their marketing strategies.
Creating truly useful buyer personas is a laborious task of gathering and analyzing customer insights that takes time and effort, but it pays dividends down the line.
To keep your buyer personas relevant, allow them to evolve with your business.
Are you inspired to create a buyer persona?
Take a look at my article on how to create a buyer persona.
You can even use one of the buyer persona generators featured here.