Every customer comes with their own idiosyncrasies, rendering every “best practice” of yours ineffective. Even so, you can take cues from attributes across the landscape of SaaS users and narrow down trends. This process isn’t as hard as you believe it to be, neither will it prove as easy as you would like it to be. There’s no way around it. The success of your SaaS product relies on your understanding of your buyer, whether you're trying to expedite your lead generation or send your conversion rates sky-high.
If you're targeting a crowd, you'll have to water down your message to cater to the needs of a diverse audience. In this case, it's likely you're going to miss the mark entirely. Here, you're trying the equivalent of using a single dart to hit ten different dart boards. In today’s marketplace, where every buyer demands a personal touch, merely segmenting your audience by demographic attributes won’t work half as well as creating a detailed buyer persona. A well-crafted buyer persona paints the picture of a multifaceted person who exists in today’s world.
E-commerce and on-premise software companies are a lot harder to set up than a SaaS company. This should also mean, building a SaaS company is equally easier, too. Most SaaS companies are complicating the process and making it a lot harder. Most of us who start out are understandably inexperienced and thus quite awful at understanding our buyer personas and using them to propel our SaaS growth. Work on this aspect, as without a quantifiable buyer persona you aren't doing any favors to your revenue. There are enough companies out there who don’t even have buyer personas, forget quantified ones, which leads to ineffective testing, failing to pinpoint problems which exist in monetization and politicking with data instead of being data driven. This reduces what probably began as an elegant business model into another company limping along under unsympathetic customer acquisition costs. Don’t be this company. Let’s understand what goes into creating quantifiable buyer personas you can use to Moneyball your growth.
Begin by looking through data about current customers and conduct interviews if necessary. Personal interviews are a go-to way to gather buyer information but aren't always practical or timely, if you do choose to take interviews, make sure you’re interviewing customers about their reasons for buying. Don’t turn them into beta testers and question them on the usability and functionality of the product. Also, your sales team and customer service will have plenty of buyer data for you to sift through. Demographics and interest reports from Google Analytics will prove insightful, too. Consider adding a survey popup to your website. Now, if you’re just starting out, look at your competitor's customers, if nothing else take a good look at their social media followers. Your competitors are targeting the same audience, so watch out for what they’re doing to keep the audience engaged. Use this information to create your buyer persona. Additionally, if you have the budget, invest in market research. Analyzing market research data will reveal similarities and common ground within your target audience. Remember, a powerful and effective buyer persona represents something a lot deeper than commonalities, so make sure you take a closer look at the market research data and read the sentences your customers write in these surveys. The personality which shines through will help you flesh out your buyer persona. You’re looking for more than just age, gender, and location.
The buyer perspective
What problems are your target audience trying to solve? Your SaaS should be the solution. Therefore, your marketing should be directed towards mitigating your buyer’s greatest problem. Do you know what features of a product are most important to them? What objections are your buyer’s likely to raise? Price? Performance? Know these objections, address them and overcome them. Your persona should also be defined by the features of the product, and not merely the product itself. What is their buying process? The way a SaaS is priced will determine how it is purchased, and therefore should dictate how you market it. These insights on your target buyer’s preferences and objections will bring you much closer to your buyer. You won’t connect to your customer when you send emails to someone who prefers a phone call. And you will lose their attention quickly if you’re not prepared to address their objections when you do connect with them. You don’t have to create your buyer persona from scratch, piece it together with all these insights as you go along.
The human factor
Emotions are a real and powerful driving force behind decision-making. A B2B customer makes a decision to buy, primarily based on emotion. Your buyer’s emotions catalyze the decision, even though business checks-and-balances impose a certain level of logic-driven methodology to the process. Therefore, your buyer persona must humanize your customers. It will help you build a more realistic picture of the problems they’re trying to solve, what obstacles they’re facing, what their values are, and what constitutes an ideal buy for them. This way when you market, you address these things intelligently.
Quantify your buyer personas
You probably have rudimentary buyer personas in place. What are these buyer personas’ willingness to pay? The guess and check marketing protocol is a dangerous way to do business. You might think you have the answers, but it’s more likely you don’t. Unless you have quantified your buyer personas using relevant data, you will reach the heights you could have. Of course, this takes time and money, but you don’t need to have all the answers, right away. Start by answering one question at a time. What price is each buyer persona willing to pay? Do you know their estimated Lifetime Value? What is the estimated Customer acquisition cost of each buyer persona? What are the top marketing channels you’ll find these buyer personas in? Which value proposition are they interested in? Again, you probably won't have answers to all of these right away. Nevertheless, towards the end, don’t merely descend into having thought exercises about each of these and convincing yourself you’ve found the answer. Justify whatever you write down with some sort of data point.
Ensure you’re researching the buyer, not end user
Buyer personas must be profiled around your buyers, revealing insights into the challenges and motivations which fuel their decision to buy. It's essential to understand the end-user for product development, but if they any involvement during purchasing, don’t profile them for a buyer persona. The end-user of a SaaS product, in many businesses, has very little say over purchasing decisions. Or worse, they are probably motivated very differently compared to the decision makers. In these cases, when you tailor your marketing to the needs of the end-user, it will attract the wrong people to your product. While doing nothing to appeal to the interests of your targeted buyer. To solve this problem, employ two distinct threads of research, buyer persona profiling to understand the buyer, and product development research to understand the end-user.
Current buyers aren’t reflective of future buyers
Your initial customers will play a big role in shaping the path your SaaS product embarks on. Even so, these formative users needn’t be reflective of your targeted buyer. In many newly setup SaaS businesses, the first few customers are earned by any means possible. Favours are called in, and a bunch of disparate users are brought together to test your product. However, it's likely these users won't match the profile of your target buyer. Interviewing them won’t reveal the motivations of organic, full-fledged customers. Don’t use the input from your early users as the sole basis of your persona creation, although it can be a good place to start gaining insight.
Make it a collaborative effort
The first step in developing personas should involve the right team members. Most often the personas are created by your marketing team and then shared with the rest of the organization. But you see, the most effective personas are ones built with involvement from multiple departments. As a SaaS company, you have the benefit of a lot of touch points throughout your customer lifecycle. From sales to marketing to product to account management, you interact with customers from many different angles. Each department can share a valuable perspective, helping flesh out these personas as accurately as possible.
Marketing to your SaaS buyer's isn’t rocket science. You’re selling to people like you and me, not corporates with underlying motives and complicated reasoning. Be genuine, appealing, and relevant. Understand who your targeted buyer is, what their challenges are, and how your SaaS helps them solve it. Analyze and answer critical questions, sketch out your buyer persona, and market to your audience.
Once these personas are built, the applications are endless. Not only do they contribute to the marketing efforts, but they are also extremely helpful in driving sales, product development and customer service. Additionally, being able to align product, marketing, and sales conversations with different personas will align these departments within your organization, increasing teamwork and driving new ventures.