How Are B2B Marketers Building Buyer Personas?

December 17, 2015

This article is included in these additional categories:

B2B | Content Marketing | Customer Engagement | Customer Relationship Management | Customer-Centric | Digital

Cintell-Data-Included-in-B2B-Buyer-Personas-Dec2015Buyer personas are one of the top ways by which B2B marketers better understand their audiences’ needs for content creation purposes, according to recent research. Indeed, a new study [download page] from Cintell – based on a survey of 137 B2B marketers – indicates that personas are most often used for messaging purposes. So how do marketers go about building those buyer personas – and what data are they using?

The Cintell study segmented respondents into 3 groups: those who exceeded lead and revenue goals (22% of the sample); those who met those goals (49%); and those who missed them (29%). Among the respondents (and it should be noted that segmenting them into 3 groups results in small sample sizes for each group), those exceeding their goals were more likely than the rest to have documented personas and to have updated their personas within the previous 6 months.

In looking at the various sources of data used to build personas, the study finds that those exceeding their lead and revenue goals are far more likely than those missing them to be using a variety of sources. The most commonly used sources by the high-performing group are:

  • Conducting qualitative interviews (both customers and non-customers) – 82.4%;
  • Interviewing the executive team – 70.6%;
  • Interviewing sales people – 58.8%;
  • Reviewing CRM/MA data – 52.9%; and
  • Interviewing customer success teams – 52.9%.

So what kind of data are marketers deriving from these various sources? Interestingly, while demographic information is the most commonly used data type for the lowest-performers, other data types are more likely to be collected by high-performers. In fact, the top 5 data types used in buyer personas by the high-performing marketers are:

  • Drivers and motivators (93.8%);
  • Fears and challenges (87.5%);
  • Role in buying process (87.5%);
  • Buying preferences (81.3%); and
  • Organizational goals and priorities (75%).

Overall, the study found that high-performers are less likely to segment their databases by demographic than by other fields. Meanwhile, their focus on fears and motivators – particularly as these apply to buyers as individuals – appears to be well-placed in light of previous research from Google, the Conference Executive Board and Motista, which demonstrates the power of emotional messaging that appeals to the personal value inherent in a purchase.

For B2B marketing data, see MarketingCharts’ recent study, the 2015 B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report.

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