The development of buyer personas is a vital part of any marketing strategy. It informs marketers on how to find the right audience and develop the right message. Often times buyer personas are just characters on a poster hanging on office wall.
But can marketers get more use out of buyer personas?
Yes. By creating personas inside reporting systems like the CRM, marketers can measure marketing performance in terms of how well they engaging audiences who fit persona criteria. In other words, personas are no longer characters but real contacts inside your CRM.
In this post we’ll describe how to create personas in your CRM and measure marketing performance in terms of reaching and engaging the right people.
We’ll also show how to measure whether content is driving engagement among audiences who fit into your persona definitions.
How To Define And Create Personas In Your CRM
Defining personas in the CRM is a lot like grading leads.
Grading leads, or accounts, is based on information such as company size, geographic region, and other information relevant to your ideal buyer. Persona definitions refers to individually identifiable information such as job seniority (manager, director, VP, etc.) and job function (IT operations, project management, backend engineer, and etc.).
When a new lead or contact comes into your system via a form submission or list buy, it’s likely you have job title information available to you.
But there are thousands of job titles and many of them are variations that fit into a group or bucket. For examples, CIO, Chief Information Officer, and Assistant CIO all code for the same persona: Senior Level Executive.
So to report on whether your marketing content is attracting Senior Level Executives you’ll need to bucket job titles into a custom field.
Let’s go over how to do this.
You can group contacts by persona in your CRM by creating a custom "Persona" field in that reads the Job Title field and buckets your contacts based on whether they meet certain criteria. At Bizible we use Job Title fields but it is possible to define personas by other information like industry/vertical.
Let’s go through creating this custom field in Salesforce.com.
Go to Setup and then click the Customize drop down menu on the left.
Now choose the Object you’d like to create a custom field for. Choose the Leads or Contacts Object, depending on your current setup. At Bizible we currently use Contacts because we take an account-based marketing approach.
Click New to create a new custom field.
- Select the type of custom
Enter in the formula to sort through and bucket contacts based on Job Title field. Let’s discuss this further below.
There’s some syntax involved for defining the custom field. It’s a lot like an Excel formula.
Let’s use IT personas as an example. Below is the syntax for converting job titles into an inferred VP/CIO persona inside Salesforce.com.
The following syntax says, if the Title field includes the text “hief”, “Vice”, or “CIO” then label the contact in your new custom field as “IT - VP/CIO”.
if(contains(Title,"hief"),"IT - VP/CIO",
if(contains(Title,"Vice"),"IT - VP/CIO",
if(contains(Title,"CIO"),"IT - VP/CIO",
if(contains(Title,"ead"),"IT - Head/Budget",
if(contains(Title,"AVP"),"IT - AVP",
This syntax also says, if the text does not contain “hief”, “Vice”, or “CIO” then make the value blank. Note: We use “heif” due to case sensitivity, “Chief” and “chief” are used in job titles and Salesforce.com is case sensitive.
The above is just a sample and your actual persona syntax will be quite long depending on the number of personas you have. You may have twenty job titles bucketed into one persona.
We bucket by job function and job seniority. There are other ways to group buyers so use the one most relevant to your business.
How To Create And Run Persona Reports In Your CRM
Now that you’ve created a custom persona field, it’s possible to run reports and slice your data in terms of persona.
It’s time to consider how to use this newly created persona field.
Let’s first explore where your target personas come from. For example, what are the channels and sources that CIO’s come in through to discover your brand and become a lead or contact?
To answer this, let’s create a report that looks like the screenshot below:
This kind of reporting is helpful for marketers kicking off a new campaign or markedly adjusting spending in a new channel/source and wanting to measure whether there was an uptick in new contacts that fit a certain job title/level.
For example, you sponsor ads on a site or platform the specializes in reaching senior IT leaders. You can now see whether leads who come from that campaign actually fit your target persona, signaling to you whether this is a valuable place to spend.
Let’s look another report focuses on the number of days from First Touch to Lead Create by channel. This report can signal to marketers whether there’s an opportunity to shorten this cycle with optimizations and improvements targeted at certain personas.
The report focuses on the Social channel and days from First Touch to Lead Create.
We all love short sales cycles and any way that marketing can support this has business value. So which persona has the highest cycle from FT to LC?
Here’s a chart of the number of days from FT to LC conversions by persona. It compares the upper band and the lower bands, 0-50 days and over 200 days, respectively.
A high percentage of contacts that take over 201 days to convert may signal a problem or opportunity for improvement. And high percentages of contacts that take less than 50 days shows that you are doing something well and can replicate the success across different personas (with targeted messaging or improved ads).
Looking at our own data a greater percentage of prospects who fit into our paid media persona take over 200 days to convert. But difference is not so great to warrant concern. Overall it would be nice to decrease the overall cycle time between First Touch to Lead Create for every persona.
What to Look For When Reporting Performance Based On Personas
Look for the following when exploring your performance data sliced by persona:
Large differences between personas. This can signal that you are doing a better job at attracting and converting one persona over the other. New or better content is likely needed to convert those personas where conversion rates are low.
Large percentages of prospects who take too long to convert. In product marketing it’s a good idea to interview closed lost opportunities to understand why a company decided not to purchase your product. If you find that a large percentage of anonymous visitors take too long to convert into a lead then it’s a good idea to find out why.
Large percentage of prospects who take a short amount of time to convert. You are doing great in this channel and there is an opportunity to learn why and replicate across other personas or channels.
Average Persona engagement needed for conversion. When marketers know how much engagement they need to drive before earning a conversion they can better plan their budgets and control the funnel. A close look at engagement may reveal differences in how much engagement is needed to convert a persona. For example you may find that accounts that convert into opportunities or customers is correlated with high engagement from your decision maker persona.
Using Persona Data To Set Benchmarks and Goals
Marketers can set benchmarks and goals around personas using Bizible’s First Touch to revenue tracking. Using Bizible makes it possible utilize persona fields for account-based marketing measurement, e.g. measuring account coverage and measuring account engagement through the entire sales cycle.
A focus on personas in the CRM can help marketers find patterns around marketing touches among stakeholders in accounts, adding predictability to the sales process. For example, setting a benchmark for engaging key personas in order to support sales in converting an account by measuring average persona engagement needed for account conversion.
Marketing personas are a powerful tool for defining messaging and go-to-market strategy. It’s even more powerful when tracking data can be added to it from an attribution solution like Bizible.