Buyer personas are an integral part of lead generation strategies, but many companies fail to use them to build or redesign a website. Marketing industry leaders like Hubspot and Content Marketing Institute offer strategies and ideas for content marketing and buyer personas, but designing a website for personas is an afterthought.
Buyer personas (aka customer personas) are defined by TechTarget as:
The Four Stages of Designing a Website for Buyer Personas
If customers are the future of content marketing, using buyer persona information when building a website will position your company one step ahead of the competition.
There are four main stages to consider when planning a web design makeover to attract potential customers:
Stage One: Awareness
Buyers/customers in the awareness stage are just beginning their search for a product or service. Many brands shy away from creating landing pages for these types of searches because they don’t lead to direct sales or conversions. Creating website pages for buyers at this stage (non-transactional) is a smart long-term strategy; they will build brand awareness, trust with prospects, and drive more website traffic.
What types of content target prospects at the awareness stage?
Awareness content is often published within Resources section:
- White Papers
- Case Studies
- Pre-recorded Webinars
If you’re unsure of the type of content that customers are searching for in the awareness stage, perform some research with the following resources:
- Your customer service and sales team
- Reddit and Quora
- Forums & Social Media Groups
An experienced design team can help you leverage these assets with clear layouts and messaging that invite buyers to click and engage by funneling them into action with color contrasting, minimalistic design, and proven design strategies.
Stage Two: Consideration
Buyers/customers in the consideration stage are looking for trust signals, value, deals, and easy access to products and/or services. They’ve done most of their research, and they’re comparing the brands at the top of their list.
When planning out landing pages for prospects at this stage, make sure each web page can be easily located through the main navigation or the homepage.
- Reviews and Testimonials
- Awards and Brand News
- Free Trials
- Video Tutorials or Training Webinars
- Help Centers and FAQ section
Your website design team can create soft call to action options that invite visitors in the consideration stage to move into the conversion stage. The consideration stage is the time to stand out from the crowd, make sure your design team understands the importance of this content in gaining and keeping website visitor attention. Explain to them from your research what messaging will resonate with your customers. Prepare copy in advance so that the design team can design around the copy and present the funnel into the conversion phase.
Stage Three: Conversion
Most brands don’t have a problem creating landing pages and website content that relate to their conversion keyword list. While it’s tempting to build up a website with conversion content, too much of a good thing can have a negative impact. Creating web pages that target low-level (low ROI value) buyers will drive ROI down in the long run.
Identify conversion paths for your top-level personas and share the information with your design team. Design and messaging for a C-level audience will look very different than a landing page designed for a one-time e-commerce customer, and an experienced design team will understand the difference.
When outlining your conversion design preferences, consider these landing page suggestions to help them click, call, and convert:
- Device Specific. What type of device are your most valuable personas using when they convert? Make sure the web page design supports these devices, the content loads quickly, and forms are short. You can get this information from your existing Google Analytics if you have it set up.
- Click to Call. Every landing page designed for conversions should have a click-to-call option, not just the homepage.
- Keyword Modifier Pages. Also known as the “long tail” option, make sure your website has plenty of pages that offer free trials, tools, and calculators, free audits, worksheets, etc. as extensions of your most popular content.
- Multiple call to actions (CTA) placed on the page to funnel the user into the same action. While you don’t want to offer different CTA options when working on web design of a page, giving visitors the option to click through and engage in more than one section will increase conversions, especially on web pages with higher word counts or large images or when the user is scrolling a lot.
Stage Four: Retention
Retention landing pages are the most underutilized asset for websites targeting buyer personas. Companies are so focused on attracting new visitors and new leads; they forget that their current customers might be going back to search engines for the next phase of their project. Email campaigns are often the focus of retention strategies, but website content should appeal to past customers who are likely to purchase additional products or services in the future.
Here are a few examples of designing web sites for customer loyalty:
- Loyalty Programs
- New Releases & Products
- Interactive Content & Contests
- “Member Only” Deals and Services
- Product/Service Improvement and Upgrade Announcements
Design Backed by Data
Once your initial persona research is complete, dive into Google Analytics and compare your assumptions on buyer actions to what Google is showing to make sure they are correct. A successful website doesn’t launch in one day; it requires careful tracking and analysis to identify problems that can be fixed with a few simple design changes. For user tracking, make sure the following features are set up within Google Analytics:
Audience Reports will help you track new vs. returning visitors, technology (devices), and users flow (the path users take through your site).
Funnels and Customer Journeys
Custom Funnels will help you identify sections of your site where prospects are dropping out of the buyer funnel.
Segments allow you to gather data on a specific set of website users (returning visitors), date ranges, or user sessions.
What are your website visitors searching for? Since keyword data no longer appears in Google Analytics, you can set up a search bar on your site and retrieve the data in your Analytics dashboard. Ask your designer to make it a priority so that you can begin tracking right away.
Designing a website for buyer personas will generate impressive returns, especially if you have access to buyer persona data within your CRM software. The customer journey is the future of web design, but it’s up to you to identify and define your most valuable online customers.