Buyer personas play a massive role in your inbound marketing strategy. After all, what good is a marketing strategy if you don’t know who you’re marketing to?
But what is the best way to create a buyer persona? It’s simple: through customer experience research.
B2B customer experience research is a crucial part of buyer persona creation and will ultimately set up your inbound marketing strategy. This is where you will interview current customers in a “20 questions” game of sorts. Your mission is to gather vital information such as their day-to-day responsibilities and how they find information to solve their job-related problems.
Of course, the game of 20 questions rarely ends with exactly 20 questions. Therefore, feel free to tailor your interview to ensure you gather as much information possible. (Just be respectful of the interviewee’s time.) It’s not about how much you ask, it’s about what you ask.
B2B Customer Experience Research Questions
Before you begin your B2B customer experience research, create a list of questions to ask the current customers of a client. It can be challenging to decide what to include in a buyer persona -- gather as much information as possible so you have the most material to work with.
The questions you ask will differ between B2B and B2C companies. For this blog, we’ll focus on a B2B buyer persona.
As you begin creating your list of questions, use these 10 to help get you started:
- What does your company do?
- What is your role at your company?
- How do you learn new information for your company?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What terms did you search on Google?
- What information did you need to find to make a decision?
- Which product line did you invest in?
- How many units did you buy?
- What social media platforms do you use most?
- What does success look like in your role?
What does your company do?
This is a great starter question if you’re unfamiliar with the customer’s niche. It helps you immediately understand the type of audience you will be marketing toward, and can spark content ideas that will be relevant to every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Understanding the product/service makes it easier to understand the challenges that your buyer persona may face.
What is your role at your company?
The answer to this question should go beyond just their job title. Ask follow-up questions about their specific day-to-day responsibilities.
These questions are a bit more relevant for a B2B persona as compared to a B2C persona. In the B2B industry, your primary target is usually someone in a managerial or director position. The fewer people they have to go through to make a purchasing decision, the more valuable they are to market to.
How do you research problems?
If your ultimate goal is to market and sell to your buyer persona, then it only makes sense for you to know how they find their information. In fact, at least half of B2B buyers have already done their research and made their decision before ever talking to a salesperson.
Therefore, you can assume that most workers do research online. But where exactly do they find it? And if a majority of their research is offline, are they using magazines, trade shows, in-person visits?
Knowing how they find new information gives you a marketing advantage.
What are your biggest challenges?
The overall goal of inbound marketing is to try and solve a prospect’s problem, right? To successfully do this, you need to know what their challenges are.
Try and get as much detailed information as possible when asking this question. Identifying a customer’s pain points allows you to begin crafting their solution through content production. Try and walk away from this question with an accurate quote that demonstrates their challenges. For example:
“We’ve had a difficult time calculating the exact number of units we need. This has led to longer wait times as we place a second order, or leaves us with an overstock of units we no longer need.”
What terms did you search on Google?
Knowing the exact words or phrases a customer originally used to find a company is like winning the lottery. It provides you with keywords that are already proven to be relevant. It can also give you an idea of how customers think of your product/service -- what you call it and what they call it may be totally different.
If their answer to this question surprises you, then chances are you need to take a deep dive into your SEO strategy.
What information did you need to find to make a decision?
Knowing what piece of information has triggered a purchase from them in the past can set you up for success in the future. By knowing what information they find is most relevant during their buying process, you can accurately create a content map that supports both marketing and sales efforts.
Every customer is different, and therefore will require different levels of information to make a purchase decision. This can be broken down into three stages:
- The awareness stage
- The consideration stage
- The decision stage
Which product line did you invest in?
Knowing the product line a client’s customers are investing in allows you to investigate the line further. What’s making this product line so successful? What product lines aren’t getting enough attention, and why? Should we market this product line even more, or spread it out equally?
Whatever route you decide to take, understanding the purchase gives you an idea of what success looks like for the company so far.
What alternate solutions did you consider?
Knowing the answer to this question can provide you with two bits of information: What are some products/services you should look into, and who are your competitors.
It’s best to also follow up this question with “why?” This will help give you an idea of what the thought process was for the customer and why they almost decided to go a different way.
Which social media platforms do you use most?
If you can pinpoint which social media sites your target audience is using most, you can market more efficiently. Every platform has a different “tone” and strategic approach to it, and B2B social media marketing has become a powerful tool for those who use it correctly.
Focus on which networks your buyer persona frequents so that you can join the right conversations. Just remember not to be too aggressive or overtly sales-y.
What does it mean to be successful in your role?
Success can be measured in a lot of different ways. Therefore, it’s important to get a detailed answer to this question.
If you understand what it means for your buyer persona to be successful, then you can do work on your end to make them look good in their company. You’ll also be better equipped to address their concerns and doubts.
10 More Questions
You didn’t think we'd end this post with only 10 questions, did you? (Talk about a betrayal.)
If you liked the 10 questions above, but still feel like you’ll be lacking the customer information you need, then consider these questions as well:
- How did you hear about our company?
- What problem led you to seeking our solution?
- How many units did you buy?
- When you were researching products/services, which attribute was the highest priority?
- Any product/service our company doesn’t offer that you wish it did?
- How long have you been in this role?
- Who reports to you?
- Who do you report to?
- What trade shows do you attend?
- Any other positive or negative feedback about your experience?
Once you feel you’ve gathered enough information for your buyer persona, it’s time to start putting it all together. Try creating a slideshow to represent this persona, and highlight the key bits of information that you gathered during the process. Then give your persona a name! (Purchasing Manager Priscilla, maybe?)
Remember that a buyer persona is ever-evolving. Keep it updated and relevant as your business goals change and as you better understand your customers.
To learn more about the process, check out our free beginner’s guide to creating the ultimate buyer persona: