To get to the heart of the pains, problems and passions that drive buyers towards to your product, you need to learn as much about your buyer as possible. Thankfully, there are 4 actionable strategies you can use for defining and refining your SaaS product's buyer persona.
1) Customer Interviews
Interviews with existing customers should always be your primary method for understanding your buyer persona.
Interviews offer a comprehensive way of learning about the reasons behind a customer's decision to buy. In almost all instances, products and services are bought because of their ability to solve the customer's problem(s). By identifying the particular problems that drove your customer to purchase, you can refine your marketing message and sales process to highlight exactly how your offering solves them - and help potential customers view your product as the solution to their own problem.
Crucially, it's important to identify the customers which are most reflective of your ideal buyer. In smaller SaaS businesses, existing customers may not be reflective of ideal customers. Interviewing these poor-fit customers will only serve to dilute and confuse your buyer persona, and limit your ability to attract the right people in the future.
2) Staff Interviews
Customer-facing staff can be incredibly helpful in understanding your buyer persona. From sales people to account managers, any team member who comes into regular customer contact will gradually learn about their passions and problems. Better yet, this information will be learned from a unique perspective - offering insights into your persona that other channels will miss.
Whilst staff interviews are invaluable for 'fleshing out' your personas, it's important to avoid using them in isolation. Without customer interviews to back them up, it's easy to build lots of unproven assumptions into your persona models.
Instead, use your team's insight to prepare for customer interviews. Ask your staff about the types of problems and issues your customers most commonly need help with - and use their guidance to shape the questions you ask during your customer interviews.
3) Customer Surveys
Customer interviews are designed to be as comprehensive and in-depth as possible. However, there's also a need to constantly refine and improve your persona; and using a less resource-intensive research method can be helpful for managing this on a regular basis.
By surveying your existing customers, you can earn focused insights into any topic of your choosing; and by asking for less information than in an interview, you'll earn a higher response rate. This technique is ideal for identifying problem areas of your persona, and testing out new hypotheses you have about their motivations and needs.
4) Data Mining
In addition to defining and refining their personas through customer and staff interaction, SaaS companies have access to a wealth of customer data.
Website metrics like visits and page views can be used to calculate userflows, and identify the path customers take through the website. This can be used to simplify the user experience, and identify which pages (and pain points) are the most crucial during the buying process.
High traffic, high converting blog posts offer clear insight into the topics that resonate most with your target audience. When combined with the data collected through contact forms and blog post CTAs, blogging can be invaluable for identifying where your persona's interests lie.
There's also an abundance of insight tied-up in your app, allowing you to see which features are most popular, and identify the functionality that goes unused. Insight into how your customers are using your app allows you to better understand the problems they're trying to solve - and it's these problems your marketing needs to solve.