Want Better Buyer Personas? Dive Into CRM Data
Here’s a look at how you can test out your ideal customer profiles using information that’s already in your CRM system.
In the initial stages, building out buyer personas—also known as ideal customer profiles—can share a lot in common with a dartboard.
As your products gain traction, you’ll start to see “clusters” of similarities around certain qualities that characterize your best customers—just as well-thrown darts begin to group in a particular dartboard section. When you move those qualities to the center of the dartboard, a picture of your ideal customer emerges—and you get a clearer target to shoot for.
However, if your product has been in the marketplace for a while, any data-driven marketer will tell you that it’s time to start building better buyer personas. How? By diving into your CRM data. Here’s how you can test out your ideal customer profiles using information that’s already in your CRM system to optimize your outbound lead generation program.
•Get a customer sample that allows you to test at scale: It’s absolutely key to test the assumptions you’re making about your buyers by generating prospect data from your CRM system on a large scale. For example, if you reach out to just 10 prospects that seem to fit your ideal customer profile with an email filled with test content, you might get one person who responds right away and thinks the content is awesome, one who responds with an “unsubscribe,” and eight who don’t respond at all.
Frustrating? Actually, a 20% response rate with 10% of responses being positive is pretty good. But it isn’t enough to go on to make an educated decision about your ideal customer and what kind of content this customer responds to best.
So go into your CRM system with the goal of pulling a sample size that will give you a more representative point of view about what’s resonating with your ideal customer profile. The size of the sample will vary based on your prospect database, but go bigger, rather than erring on the side of a smaller sample. Marketers work with test batches of 1,000 all the way up to 10,000 leads per month, depending on their overall prospect pool.
The idea is to add more people to the top of your lead funnel, so that the data you get nearer the bottom of the funnel is more targeted, tailored, and actionable.
•Retest your ideal customer profiles continuously: Unfortunately, vetting out your ideal customer profiles isn’t a one-and-done exercise. It’s vitally important to the quality of your content—and the ultimate quality of your leads—to look at testing ideal customer profiles as an ongoing process, rather than an infrequent exercise.
Just like the real people they represent, ideal customer profiles aren’t static. While they are targets, they’ve moving targets at best. You’ll have to look at your digital marketing function capacity to determine what kind of capacity you have, and as a result, what level of testing frequency you can support. However, once your team (and organizational stakeholders) see ideal customer profile testing as simply another necessary---and incredibly valuable—step in the lead generation workflow, testing becomes part of the plan along with all other lead generation activities. Trust me—it’s worth your organization’s time and investment to do it well and do it often.
•Iterate, iterate, iterate: Because you’ll be testing your ideal customer profiles frequently, you’ll continuously be gathering data about what they need, what they want, what resonates with them, and what doesn’t work at all. It’s critical that you not only accumulate this information, but act on it by iterating your testing content. Like the dartboard example, the idea is to home in closer and closer on the hallmark qualities of your ideal customers and what drives them to take the step to the next level of the lead funnel.
Make it a goal to work toward identifying the buying characteristics that matter most. You may land on timing as being key to conversions, based on a customer’s stage in the purchasing journey. Or your testing may show that understanding customer needs is critical to aligning your company and product as a trusted partner they want to work with. The more you know which buying characteristics most influence conversions, the more targeted you can be in your outreach.
With all of these approaches, be sure that with every test and iteration, you’re capturing findings and refining your lead pool in your CRM system. That way, your CRM system will be a data treasure trove for developing ideal customer profiles today—but will also continue to increase in value to your organization over time.