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December 09, 2008

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Jep Castelein

David, do you know how many iterations they made before they got it right? Or did they build the site and immediately got the improved results?

By the way: I think RightNow is out of Montana, not San Mateo.

Leo Wurschmidt

I think this is so important. Unfortunately, we had already written our website content by the time I found your information earlier this year. That means it is egocentric and all about us.

We had to start from scratch and hopefully sometime soon we will have our website content better suited towards our website personas.

It is always nice to see success stories like this.

Adi

Certainly an interesting approach. Obviously this is mainly for new customers, do they use a similar strategy for existing customers?

Steve Bell

Hi Jep - here are some answers and clarifications:
In terms of number of iterations,
it was pretty much a complete redo of the site, so there was a lot of up front design work and iterations on the draft content, but once launched there have only been minor tweaks. So really just one iteration and we started seeing incremental improvements right off the bat.

And you are correct, RightNow is headquartered in Bozeman MT (I am located in the San Mateo office).

I also wanted to reiterate that I was part of a "Website That Sells" virtual team headed up by our VP of Corporate Marketing, Dan Nichols. Also, we were working with a great external agency ID Branding http://www.idbranding.com, out of Portland OR, who were very influential in conceptualizing the persona-driven concept (they must have read David's book!)

Steve Bell

To Adi's question about a similar strategy for existing customers: in addition to the main web content there is a dedicated customer community site with forums. We haven't (yet) gone thru the detailed multi-persona exercise. As of now, we have a customer community and a developer community. We did do some persona work when we created the latter.

Jen Agustin

Really great post and glad to see actual conversion numbers attached to the effort! A couple of questions: 1) Are you able to track the conversions back though specific persona-related landing pages, etc.? 2) How do you handle visitors who don't fall into one of the designated personas?

Josep T. Dager

Very nice article David, I cannot agree more. I believe the most effective way to build any organization, for profit or non-profit is thru a targeted buyer-person(ideal client).

Michael Ray Hopkin

David, great example of the power of personas. RightNow is a great company; I've been watching them for the past few months since I met Jeff Davidson (CFO) on a flight from SF to SLC. He has (they have) an impressive story to tell and they're obviously doing a great job using personas to tell it. -Michael

Liz

Great post as usual David. This is important to keep up on- measuring the results of the new rules of marketing.

Doug - Velocity, B2B Marketing Agency

Thanks -- we're just starting to integrate personas into our web development process and it's paying dividends.

I'd love to see how others do them. Any other examples out there?

Sam Bowley

Great Post! For companies that are just getting started and don't yet know the real buyer personas, what recommendations are there to get started?

David Meerman Scott

Hi Sam, I write a lot about buyer personas. You can check out other posts on this blog or my book The New Rules of Marketing & PR. You should also take a look at Adele Revella's blog http://www.buyerpersona.com/

Jep Castelein

Steve, thanks for the clarifications. You and your team have done a great job!

Steve Bell

Hi Jen - we are indeed able to track conversions tied to certain Olivia and Chuck areas, such as the Solve Your Problem pages and Customer Experience Strategies pages which specifically are targeted to these 2 personas. The visitors who don’t fall within the main persona buckets (Olivia, Chuck, Atul) are being catered to by the 4th persona called Trinh (the information seeker), to whom we provide general information such as company information, investor information, the careers section, research & analysis reports, etc.

Adele Revella

Thanks, David for a great post that exposes the value of buyer personas. For those looking for another example, go to www.vantagemobility.com. This company saw a 160% growth in revenue in the first year after they converted from a product-oriented site to a persona-based site. They made no other changes to their marketing strategy that year, so they attribute their success to this single investment in buyer personas.

To Sam's question about how to get started on persona creation, ask from 4 to 6 people within your company to meet and agree on what they do and do not know about the target buyers. This is an "ad hoc" persona and not enough to support an important marketing decision, but you may be surprised at how much internal knowledge is locked inside the heads of people who regularly meet with buyers.

Meredith Bell

David, I really got a lot from this post, combined with the related chapters in your book I've been reading. The RightNow example you gave and the one Adele just referenced are both very helpful.

We're re-designing our site based on these principles.

Do you know of anyone who's used surveys of current or prospective customers to help create a persona? We're just wrapping up a survey (using our feedback software) to a key target market for us: management consultants. We sent the survey to our value-added resellers (who are consultants) as well as consultants who own our software and use it with their clients. Even though we've worked with most of them for many years, we felt this would be a good way to get an up-to-date look "inside their heads" regarding the current economic situation and its impact on their business. We've gotten over 100 responses so far, and the data will provide us with rich information for future marketing efforts to this group. I had not seen you reference the use of surveys so was curious if you're aware of others using them for this purpose.

I'm very glad I found your book and your blog.

David Meerman Scott

Meredith

Surveys are NOT a good idea to do primary buyer persona research. In the initial stages of understanding buyer personas you must get out of your comfortable office and meet people. Talk to potential customers (not existing customers) and learn what their problems are. How do they describe those problems? Where do they go for answers? You can't do that in a survey.

However, once you have done primary research, a survey can be used to validate something or to ask opinions about direction (such as which of three homepage designs people like best).

This is important. Don't outsource your primary research.

David

Neil Jesani

Hello David,

After listening to you at Sales & Marketing conference at New Orleans, we have launched persona based website. Check this out www.BeamaLife.com

Thanks a lot for great idea.

Best regards,

Neil Jesani

David Meerman Scott

Neil

Great improvement in the site. You might want to reconsider the big photo you have on the home age. It is REALLY BIG.

Ed H

In my line of work, I don't get to study the buyer persona since we get a lot of one-time visitors. I guess I could use this method to attract customers, but keeping them and having them come back is another story.

Typically, someone visits and hopefully applies for coverage in the same visit.

Ed

Doug Lowell

Hey, Merlyn, thanks for tweeting about this blog post. I never saw it. It's nice to see attention being paid to our efforts, isn't it? Thanks to David for posting on the subject. Still proud of the results this site pulled in.

Doug Lowell
ID Branding

mointernational

Great post- I agree buyer persona is a factor in attracting customers but not necessarily for keeping them.

ETermLife

David,

Thanks for the insight and case study. I have been toying around with trying to increase conversions on my site http://www.etermlifeinsurance.net and this post gave me a ton to think about....

Especially designing it for other people and not my own edification! :)

Robin

This is a really interesting approach. I agree with the above comment about the importance of getting out there and listening to your customers. This can not be beaten as way of building up an accurate picture of 'who they are'.

sermal

I guess I could use this method to attract customers, but keeping them and having them come back is another story.

Typically, someone visits and hopefully applies for coverage in the same visit. Premium Wordpress Themes

sermal

I never saw it. It's nice to see attention being paid to our efforts, isn't it? Thanks to David for posting on the subject. Still proud of the results this site pulled in. http://www.prowordpress.net/

Fermal Sany

Obviously this is mainly for new customers, do they use a similar strategy for existing customers? Premium Wordpress Themes

ザイロリック

Great tips, I would like to join your blog anyway,

TermLifeInsurance.com

Thank you for the post. Using buyer persona is an excellent way to put a face to your target market. Plus, it makes planning your strategy pretty fun :) Thanks again for the post!

Phil Polson

Very sound advice thanks David. I will follow your blogs with interest. It certainly seems that the old "What's in it for me?" (What's in it for me) when it comes to helping customers across the buy-line. Still applies.

Sharon J.

I disagree with the people who are saying that surveys are not good for gathering valuable consumer information. The survey is a type of research tool that has been used in studies for decades.

http://avtomati.net/

Hi. This is important to keep up on- measuring the results of the new rules of marketing.

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