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How to Identify the Buyer Personas in Your B2B Contact Database

Feb 12, '21 / by Rachelle Koenig

How to Identify the Buyer Personas in Your B2B Contact Database

So, you have a B2B contact database with thousands of leads. That’s impressive, but what do you really know about those leads?

  • Where are they in the buyer’s journey?
  • Which of these contacts will make great customers?
  • What messaging will help convert them into customers?

Without these insights, you really just have a list of names.

How do you find these insights? As it turns out, identifying which buyer personas are in your database can help with that.

Remember Buyer Personas?

We’ve told you before that buyer personas come in handy, and now we’re going to prove it. Buyer personas are realistic profiles that represent the type of people who either decide or influence the decision to buy your product or service. These personas are incredibly useful for your marketing and sales teams because they help you:

  • Create targeted messaging.
  • Identify and address pain points and barriers to conversion.
  • Anticipate customer needs.
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Buyer personas also help identify the low-hanging fruit in your existing contact database, which allows you to target your efforts to reach that low-hanging fruit. This in turn ensures your marketing will produce results and your company will achieve key goals more quickly.

“Mapping your contact database to your buyer personas definitely helps marketing, but it also sets sales teams up for success,” says Clariant Creative’s fearless leader, Beth Carter.

How to Map Contacts to Buyer Personas

Map contacts to buyer personasIf you only have one buyer persona, this process is pretty simple. But if you have multiple buyer personas, you’ll need to think through how you’ll identify the different personas already in your B2B contact database.

1. Understand the Criteria That Identify Your Personas

When you initially created your buyer personas, you would have noted the specific characteristics that define each persona. For example, if you market both to small businesses and global organizations, you might offer different types of solutions for these different audiences. Important criteria for you might be number of employees in the company or number of locations the company has.

Use this information to analyze and segment the contacts currently in your database. Do you have data on the size of the contact’s company, or industry, or location? Is there a specific job title associated with each persona? Or, if job titles in your industry aren’t standardized and can vary from company to company, try looking at broad categories of job titles that potentially speak to the role a contact might perform in their company.

“Knowing exactly who is in your database makes it possible for your marketing teams to quickly target each contact with the right content and your sales team to have more productive, focused conversations that help move those contacts toward conversion,” says Beth.

2. Segment Your Database into Leads Lists for Each Buyer Persona

Once you know who is in your contact database, the next step is to sort the contacts into meaningful categories. Start by adding a field into your database that identifies the buyer persona for each contact, and then create lead lists of all the contacts who fit each persona.

If your company has a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, this should be fairly straightforward. However, if you’re using a spreadsheet to house your database, you’ll either need to create filters or logic to separate your contacts into buyer persona-specific leads lists.

3. Analyze Contacts That Aren’t Easily Categorized

It’s possible you’ll have contacts that can’t easily be mapped to your buyer personas. This may be due to several reasons, such as data that’s missing for some contacts, or it might be an indicator that you need a new category of buyer persona.

Enriching Your Contact Data

If you’re unable to identify the persona for a contact because you simply don’t have enough information on that contact, you have several options to gather this missing information (a process that is called “data enrichment”).

For starters, you can manually research each contact by looking them up on LinkedIn, conducting a good old-fashioned Google search, and using other social media channels to fill in the blanks. You can also subscribe to a service like ZoomInfo, a market intelligence platform that helps companies find out more about existing contacts and purchase contact lists.

In the meantime, think about the data points you typically collect on new contacts, and consider whether you should change your data capture process moving forward to ensure your database is more detailed and accurate. (More on this below!)

Creating a New Buyer Persona

If enough of these “persona-less” contacts appear to share certain similarities, this might suggest you need to create a new buyer persona. This new persona might represent an entire new market you hadn’t previously considered – which might also be a great potential new growth opportunity.

It’s also possible these contacts represent a negative buyer persona, which is a category of buyer who is not a good fit for your offerings and that you don’t want to market to. It often happens that not-ideal contacts make their way into marketing databases – and therefore, being able to identify and segment out these negative personas can help prevent you from wasting your efforts on contacts you don’t really want to target.

How to Pre-Sort New Contacts into Lead Lists

Pre-sort contacts into listsSegmenting and enriching your B2B contact database can be a hefty undertaking. So once you get your database into good shape, save yourself some hassles by setting up processes to identify the buyer persona for all new contacts right up front, so you can automatically segment these contacts into the right lead lists – without a massive effort.

Here are some way to do this.

1. Ask for the Right Information on Forms

Hopefully, you already offer valuable content on your website, such as webinars, ebooks, etc. And hopefully, you gate the most valuable of this content behind a form, which a contact must submit before they can view your great content. These forms are a perfect opportunity to ask for information that will help you identify the contact’s persona.

“For example, one of our clients sells corporate wellness programs,” Beth explains. “They sell these programs directly to employers, but they also work closely with health plans and insurance brokers. We added a simple question to their forms: ‘I am a …’ where the contact can select from a set of dropdown options that include ‘I am a health plan’, ‘I am a broker’, or ‘I am an employer’. This simple question lets them immediately and accurately identify the persona for every new contact.”

It is worth noting that you should be judicious when adding more questions to a form. Conventional wisdom says the more questions you ask on a form, the fewer contacts will submit the form. In practice, we haven’t always found this to be true. We suggest testing this approach on a few forms to see how it impacts your conversion rate. Even if your conversion rate does drop slightly, having better information on the contacts who do still submit the form might be worth the risk.

2. Create Persona-Specific Content Offers

Another option is to create content so specific to an individual buyer persona it would only be downloaded by those contacts. This is a useful tactic when your target customers are less likely to fill out a multi-question form.

“If you work for a company that sells to both small businesses and global organizations, you might create an ebook titled ‘The Small Business Owner’s Guide to [X]’”, Beth suggests. It’s probably safe to guess that the contacts who download this ebook are in fact small business owners.

3. Automatically Update Contact Records

All of this is great information to have on your new contacts. But how do you incorporate this information into your database and indicate which new contacts are which buyer personas, without a lot of manual processes?

If you’re using HubSpot as your CRM, this is easy to automate using workflows and hidden fields on forms.

Workflows enable you to update a contact’s buyer persona property based on whatever criteria you identify. For example, if job title is an identifier, you can create a workflow that updates the buyer persona property for every new contact with a job title that includes certain key words in the title. You can create similar workflows to update the buyer persona property based on the contact’s associate company revenue, or location, or whatever other criteria is important.

Meanwhile, hidden fields on forms automate this process right as the new contact is being added to your database. To continue with the example above, Beth goes on to say, “On the form users must submit to access the ‘Small Business Owner’s Guide to [X]’ ebook, you can add a hidden field that updates the buyer persona property to ‘small business owner’ for every contact who submits that form – no manual updating of contact records needed.”

How to Use Your Personas to Drive More Sales

Use personas to drive salesOnce you have identified the personas in your B2B contact database and you have a process in place to maintain this quality of information, you can create ongoing content campaigns that specifically target the unique challenges and goals each buyer persona is concerned about. This in turn enables your sales reps to have richer, more productive conversations with these different categories of leads.

However, all of this requires you have a solid understanding of who your buyer personas really are. Our Buyer Personas Guide walks you through the process of creating accurate, detailed, and meaningful buyer personas. Our guide also shows you the many ways buyer personas can help drive your content and steer the most qualified leads through the buying journey, from marketing (where you help these leads learn about the solutions you offer), to sales (where you help these leads decide to buy from you), and hopefully on to customer service (where you can delight your new customers and turn them into evangelists for your brand).

If you’d like to talk with an inbound marketing expert about creating your buyer personas or evaluating whether you have the right buyer persona strategy, the Clariant Creative team is here to help. Simply reach out to us, and we’ll be happy to offer our thoughts.

The Marketer's Guide to Buyer Personas

Topics: Content Marketing, Lead Management, Strategy

Rachelle Koenig
Written by Rachelle Koenig

Unapologetic word nerd here, with a full career in both the corporate world and as a freelance content writer and business/communications consultant. My specialty is people—empathizing with them and understanding what motivates them. I’ve spent decades arranging words to connect people with products, services and companies.