Developing B2B Buyer Personas: Find the Simple Path before Your Complexity Costs You
Many complexities emerge when building an engaging business website. Whether B2C or B2B, every successful website works through key foundational elements including such things as developing compelling content, navigation and information architecture, social media integration, and so on.
When drilling into the success factors of a B2B marketing website specifically, where much higher price points and longer sales cycles are commonplace, a new game is revealed. The hurdles get higher and the impacts get deeper.
For the B2B marketer, developing the right set of buyer personas can make or break your conversion rate — and it’s no easy task. A complex purchase environment and process can easily be broken down into an overwhelming number of personas that could potentially be involved in the purchase. The complexity blurs the path to the right primary category solution, if not making it entirely untenable.
The key is to keep things simple. Leveraging B2B buyer personas to maximize website value isn’t new, and has delivered consistent value helping prospects and products connect faster and more effectively. There’s one key element that can help the B2B marketer maintain simplicity on the persona path — and it’s all about introspection at your company.
If Simple Questions Don’t Bring Easy Answers, Look Inward First
A strong position in your market is a key foundation to success in any B2B marketing project, especially the website. Without it, you may find gaps in understanding your target audience and ultimately who your ideal buyer is. Sales teams who don’t have a clear value proposition to drive lead generation and build trust with prospects and customers. Three simple market position questions set the tone from which different personas can be drawn and relied upon:
- Why should your product or service be purchased?
- Who does your product help?
- What differentiates you from your competitors?
Strong, confident answers to these questions indicate solid market position, and from there you’re ready to dig into examining different personas and breaking down the roles they contain.
The Trinity of B2B Persona Groups in Tech
Though new design and development trends continue to reshape the B2B landscape, the nature of the customer, sales cycle and purchasing decision are essentially the same: There’s a lot more to it than putting a product in a shopping cart and checking out. Converting a high purchase value target customer may require a marketing campaign that delivers content broadly, then follows up with product trials, demo requests, and sales calls. Understanding the customer process and people involved is the primary step in supporting this extended purchase funnel. There may be dozens of roles involved, but each can be described as part of one of three major categories:
- The Users: This category covers the front line roles, typically engineers, analysts, developers, consultants and project managers. It is this group that gets into the details, looking for deep understanding of your company’s products and services, how and why they work. They are best served by product detail pages, white papers and case studies that are developed with their specific needs — especially questions they might ask — in mind.
- The Recommenders: This group focuses on narrowing down options of B2B product and service providers from an initial short list. The roles within this group are typically directors or executives in IT, information security, cyber security and so on. The content that best serves them and calls them to action are ROI calculators, support pages, customer success stories, and in-depth content marketing.
- The Decision Makers: This group sets aside the details and nuances, and instead looks to understand the benefits of the business solution and validate that it is the right fit for their organization. Roles within this group are typically senior executives, including CTO, CIO, ISO, executive VPs. Meeting the needs of this group is best done through instantly relatable content in your Who We Are and What We Do pages.
Avoid Common Pitfall by Focusing across Target Personas
The most effective B2B technology websites deliver rich content that addresses pain points across the three audience types. Due to process complexity or, perhaps, inexperience a B2B marketing strategy may end up with a narrowed focus that targets only one group. Teams can be lured by exciting insights in a direction that ultimately limits the broader approach. For example, a company might find a key differentiator on how a security engineer might solve a problem, or how a developer might use certain software to provide a better solution.
Creating pathways that are too specific, in this situation, can lead to failure on how the product provides business solutions overall. The most effective content marketing — and the data supporting it — is able to convince any user that your solution has delivered for organizations like their own.
This risk is best addressed by distributing and reviewing your B2B buyer personas in depth with your team, and evaluating adjustments in lead generation pathways, messaging and flows that connect each customer persona group to insights and sales information that best fit their respective roles.
Meantime, as machine learning and personalization help modernize how a B2B marketing team engages with each customer persona, stay diligent in making sure messaging speaks not only to individual groups but the organization as a whole. Personalizing each interaction will only help you provide the information, context, and calls to action your prospects desire to move forward with you.
WebEnertia is a full-service Silicon Valley digital agency with offices in San Jose and San Francisco. With 20+ years of experience in delivering award-winning results for its clients, WebEnertia specializes in building strategic digital brands and web experiences for B2B technology companies. Also check our, How to Use Buyer Personas for Better Conversion Rates article for further reading.