If you’re creating customer personas or adding more depth to existing personas, it’s important to involve people in the organization outside of just marketing or sales.
One approach I’ve used successfully is to ask the customer support team for help. Their daily interactions — and direct contact with customers — provide information that will help you better understand your audience and create content that actually helps.
Successful buyer personas are informed by data such as the information your customer support team gathers. Consider this stat: 42% of online shoppers contacted a retailer about a purchase in the last six months, according to Jupiter Research/Forrester Research.
Someone on your customer support team knows why buyers (and prospects) are contacting your company. Yet, the data gathered by the customer support team isn’t always shared across the company or outside of the department. But if you’re willing to ask questions of your customer support team members, they likely are willing to share and help you better understand your audience.Ask questions of your customer support team to better understand your audience, says @KaneJamison. Click To Tweet
Below are five questions to ask customer support team members as you build or enhance your buyer personas, as well as advice on how you can use the responses to craft content marketing projects:
Buyer Personas You Want to Use: The 9 Essential Parts
1. What questions do you receive from prospects?
Before making a decision or a purchase, prospects want answers to their questions. Are they concerned about warranties? Maybe they want to know about the support model or how your product or service has benefited a particular industry. There are hundreds of questions any prospect could ask.
“Because I’m in the research phase of my decision, I’m looking for a site that will educate and inform me, not one that is chock-full of jargon and hype,” writes marketer Adele Revella in Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insights Into Your Customers’ Expectations, Align Your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business. “I’m browsing and not ready to buy, so I’m not interested in a sales come-on. I’m expecting that the people who built the site have anticipated my need for helpful information.”Customers in research phase look for sites that educate & inform, not chock-full of jargon. @buyerpersona Click To Tweet
Your customer support team can share the specific questions for which your prospects require answers.
Ask to export the interrogatory data from the customer support system, including customer type if possible. Segment the questions asked by customers’ company size, job title, purchase frequency, etc. This analysis will help a lot to figure out which customers are asking which questions — which is essential to building better buyer personas.
How to use in your content: Use these questions to create always-accessible content such as a FAQ page on your site or in a white paper your prospects can download.
Does Your Content Answer Searchers’ Questions?
2. What are existing customers saying?
Your current customers had their original questions answered. Now your buyers have more specific questions based on their experience — they need help figuring out how to apply the product to their business model or the details of how something works.
By understanding what your customers are asking, you can build out your buyer personas based on what those who have bought still want to know.
How to use in your content: Use these questions to inform and create content that demonstrates your commitment to meeting customer needs. For example, you could create a Q&A video or include an article answering a popular question in your monthly newsletter.
Why – and How – to Map Out Your Customers’ Journeys [Template]
3. What internal content is used to help your work?
Managers of customer support teams know it doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel. Chances are they provide their team members with an internal FAQ-like document to help them in their daily work. This document is a treasure trove when it comes to learning more about who the customer is (to inform your buyer personas) as well as when it comes to ideas for content creation.An internal FAQ document can be a treasure trove to inform your buyer personas, says @KaneJamison. Click To Tweet
How to use in your content: Use internal FAQs to create relevant content on your blog, which is a perfect venue to deliver support content that engages your customers. You also can pull from the internal document to answer questions that your readers ask in the comments more promptly.
How to Create Content People Actually Search For
4. What skill set do customers need to purchase our product?
Nobody understands better than customer support what skills customers should have to successfully use your product or service. (They’re the ones who receive the irate calls and emails when people don’t have the skills they need.) By identifying those missing skills on the front end, you can better detail your buyer personas. And subsequently, you can address those front-end challenges with your content.
How to use in your content: Address customer pain points up front by offering how-to guides or video tutorials easily accessible and provided to customers immediately after purchase.
5 Types of Video Content Perfect for Each Stage of the Customer Journey
5. What do customers say about our product?
Customers not only focus on what’s not working, they offer accolades about what your company does well. The customer support team is often the first group to hear those compliments. Be sure they’re documenting any words of praise and sharing them with you.
How to use in your content: Create testimonial-related content. Mix up the format to ensure that your message reaches the most people possible. Include quotes on your website, use customer videos, and highlight positive customer experiences in case studies.
How to Create Easy, Yet Actionable, Content Marketing Personas
Keep in mind that these are suggestions — not prescriptions — for how you can use the data from customer support to inform and create content marketing materials. The beauty is, once you’ve collected insight about your audience from your front-line team, the possibilities of how you put it to use are vast.
The most important thing is to first put the data to work for your personas. If you’re overwhelmed about how to organize customer persona information, consider one of these tools or templates.
TIP: Don’t let your personas become stagnant. Ask your customer support team for input every few months and tweak your personas accordingly.Don’t let your personas become stagnant. Talk to your customer support team regularly, says @KaneJamison. Click To Tweet
The bottom line is that a consistent voice customized to meet buyer needs can have a huge impact on your marketing. By talking with customer support to better understand your prospects and buyers, you can better align your content marketing. You can have data-driven personas, which are necessary to help you create relevant, engaging content for years to come.
After (or before) you talk to your customer service team, subscribe to CMI’s free daily or weekly digest newsletter for ongoing tips, trends, and more to improve your personas and content.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute