Creating content with confidence means knowing that content you develop will be valued by buyers and help close deals. This confidence comes from truly understanding your buyers’ needs and preferences. And this understanding comes from building rich, in-depth buyer personas.

When you’re developing your buyer personas, nothing beats having a 1:1 conversation with your customers. Actually speaking with your customers is the only sure way to remove the guesswork on what makes your buyers tick and gives you better, more accurate buyer insights than any other qualitative research. It’s only through directly speaking with customers that you learn why buyers engage with you, and what goes through their minds as they purchase solutions like yours. And given how vital relevant, valuable content is to driving conversions, this depth of buyer understanding is absolutely essential. By speaking with your customers, you will gain knowledge that you just cannot get anywhere else – which ultimately means you can more confidently and more efficiently create better content.

So just how many customers should you interview for each persona? The graphic below highlights how your depth of buyer understanding increases with the more customer interviews you perform. It shows how you will gain a sharper incline of understanding initially, with 5-8 interviews for each persona really being the sweet spot. Once you build your personas with the insights you gain from 5-8 interviews, you should continue interviews on an ongoing basis to ensure they’re up-to-date.

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Why is 5-8 optimal? In How Interviewing Customers for Buyer Personas Yields Meaningful Insights, we highlight a few different examples of a customer interview question, the customer’s response, and the marketer’s feedback on how they leveraged the insights they gained from the response. These examples show how just one question-response can lay the foundation for several content pieces. So yes, you will get great content ideas from just a couple of interviews. However, by doing a few more interviews, you not only gain even more insights, but you also start identifying patterns. These patterns guide the creation of your personas and also validate their accuracy.

Although you can build comprehensive, accurate buyer personas after 5-8 interviews, you shouldn’t stop there. Personas are constantly evolving, whether due to new market trends, new technologies, or organizational shifts. That’s why they cannot be static – refining them through customer interviews (and sales collaboration) must be an ongoing process. The best way to do this is to interview new customers. The thoughts and experiences they had throughout each step in their buying process are fresh in their minds, allowing them to provide more accurate, detailed responses.

Don’t shy away from asking your customers to speak with you. It may surprise you, but many are willing and enjoy helping. You will be happy you did – after all, what marketer doesn’t love gaining tons of ideas for content themes that they know their buyers care about?