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by Gillian
on May 14, 2015

Buyer personas are a key part of the inbound marketing process. 

They help you to segment your contacts, create content that speaks to a specific profile, and generate leads and customers more efficiently.

In an ideal world, every contact that comes in through your website would fit neatly into one of your persona buckets so that you could put them in a workflow and wait for them to convert. Of course, the reality is a lot different than that. You might have anywhere from 10 to 50% of your contacts that don't seem to fit with your persona profiles. The higher that percentage is, the more strongly you might want to look into revising your persona data. However, if you're toward the lower end of the spectrum, that's perfectly normal.

So what should you do with these contacts that come in and don't fit with your personas? As it happens, you have a few options.


Ignore Them Completely

If you want to, you can ignore these contacts altogether. Throw them in the proverbial trash. Delete them from your list. Cut them off. Don't market to them. Don't pay attention to them. Pretend they don't exist. Admittedly, this is probably the easiest option. But if you're like most inbound marketers, it is probably not so easy to ignore potential leads. Let's look at some of your other choices.


Address Contacts on a Case by Case Basis

If you have the time, you can look at each contact that comes in and address them on a case by case basis. You might be able to look at a contact's LinkedIn profile, for instance, and get more information that tells you that contact could actually fit into one of your personas. If there is no additional information, or if your research proves that the contact is not a viable buyer for your company, simply remove them from your workflow or from your contacts altogether. This does take a little extra time, but it will be a good exercise if you are getting quite a few contacts that don't fit with your buyer personas.


Reassess Your Personas

If you're getting a lot of contacts that don't fit into your persona profiles, it might be time for a change. Either:

  1. You haven't defined your personas as well as you could, or

  2. The content you're publishing is speaking to the wrong people

It's impossible to say on a general basis which is true. Rather, you need to take a step back and figure out if the contacts you are getting that don't fit with your personas are actually viable leads or not.


Create a Negative Persona Template

One tip from HubSpot that is easily overlooked is the idea of a negative persona. When you create your personas, you are looking for those buyers who are your perfect customer. But while you are doing that, you may want to use that same persona template to create a profile for the persona that is absolutely wrong for you. For instance, someone without the budget to afford you would never be right. Likewise, someone who doesn't have the authority to make purchases might not be worth pursuing. If you take the time to create a negative persona profile, you can help your new contacts self-identify themselves right out of your inbound marketing strategy.

Overall, there is no one right answer for how what do with contacts outside of your buyer persona profiles. You will get them. Some will be worthwhile while many will not be. When you get into the swing of inbound marketing, you will be able to better decide what to do about these contacts.