We have written a great deal about knowing your customers. Today we will explore this subject in great detail. We will explain how to build and employ a customer persona for targeting.
So let’s get started:
What is a customer persona?
As defined by Ardath Albee, a buyer persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.
Personas are digital profiles of your best customers — the ideal visitor you want to have to take a specific action on your site. Many personas are based on demographics — gender, age range, education, monthly disposable income, etc
But this kind of classification is far too restrictive – who’s to say that only women under 40 with young children and a master’s degree are all going to flock to your product? While you can tailor your marketing efforts toward a certain kind of persona, it’s short-sighted to think that this is the only strategy you need to amplify your landing pages’ messages.
Instead, consider psychographics — segmenting your audience according to deeper, more meaningful points including:
Aspirations — what they hope to achieve or dream of doing
Attitudes — Their perspective and how they feel about specific ideas
Lifestyles — Their choices relating to health, wealth, family and work
Opinions — Their point of view on a potentially controversial matter
Why do you need personas?
Marketing personas will help you identify with your audience and better solve their problems. And when you solve their problems, everyone wins.
The results will be a better experience for the customer and a more engaged user for your business.
Without personas, you may only be guessing what content your audience wants, which means you are more likely to revert to creating content around what you know best (your products and company) instead of around the information your audience is actively seeking.
Furthermore, you may have a handle on this information, but does everybody who is creating content in your organization have that same vision of your ideal audience? Documenting your personas, even if it is done in a quick way, is key to keeping everybody focused on the same audience.
Check out our thoughts on creative marketing.
The persona building process
Building meaningful personas for your marketing outreach efforts can mean the success or failure of future campaigns. The process of creating a marketing persona allows you to gain deeper insights into the minds of your consumers, and these profiles subsequently can be leveraged to create content that connects with your audience on a deeper level.
It’s important to remember that persona building is not something you do once. It’s a process that requires an open feedback loop for frequent updating.
Personas, just like your customers, are never static.
You’ll need to update their profiles on a continual basis to keep up with emerging trends, new products, and changing economic times.
Start by writing what you believe are the needs of your target market on post-it notes. Use the following categories:
What are the goals of consumers buying your company’s products or services? What do they hope to achieve when they take action to buy? Think critically about the needs that your products or services fulfill for your customers.
How do consumers use your company’s products or services? The intended use of your items from the design and marketing phases may change dramatically once they reach the hands of consumers. Your ground-level employees can provide invaluable insight in this category.
Problems with Products
What are the barriers to purchase? Be as skeptical as possible about your products to discover those issues that could keep potential customers from spending money.
Repeat the process but focus on the psychological makeup of your customers and their demographics. The physiological motivations of your potential customers or clients are powerful elements in shaping your personas.
Segmenting by demographics will help you understand your product’s reach as well as the geographic and economic factors that make up your target market.
Here’s what you need to focus on in this iteration:
What are the opinions, attitudes, and interests of your potential clients or customers? Conduct a fearless examination of these areas focusing on types of buyers as well as their communities.
Where Customers Live
Where do the people who regularly buy your products or services live? Get as granular as necessary here, right down to neighborhoods in your business area.
Ages and Gender of Customers
Are your typical customers older or younger? What age groups do they fall into? What generations (Baby Boomer, Generation X, Millennial, etc.) can you group them into? Can your group estimate the gender most likely to buy from your company?
Economic and Family Factors
Does your company do more business with families or single people? What professions and income levels does your business attract on average?
You should now start to see patterns emerge to help drive the creation of your marketing personas.
Customer persona … do qualitative research early
With your personas created, you can start to estimate the number of customers who potentially fall into them. Using quantitative research, establish how users within your personas behave. You’ll once again reach out to your customers, but you’ll use more targeted methods to get information from them than your qualitative research.
Leverage these methods to return precise feedback:
Use Multiple-Choice Surveys
Ask pointed buying questions so you can assign respondents to your personas. Avoid open-ended questions where the customer creates his or her answer. Each question should have at most three answer choices.
Get More User Data
Many companies use market segmentation tools to cultivate usage data and generate panel surveys. Much of this information is available online for free. Even if there’s a fee attached to a download, obtaining the data can provide invaluable information about your target market. Compare that research to your notes on personas. Google’s Consumer Barometer is a free resource to gauge interest in products across customizable demographics.
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Engage Users to Create Profiles
Customers who create profiles on your business website through a social media login give you important information about their spending habits. Analyzing profile trends puts a quantifiable number to users that may fall under the personas that your company has created.
Knowing what personas your business regularly encounters helps your marketing team focus their efforts. Forming strategies to target personas that your salespeople see all the time can help you solidify revenue in your strongest target market.
You can also develop tactics to earn customers from personas that your business encounters less often.
Verify your customer attribute assumptions
The third meeting of your brainstorming cohort should focus on data that backs up the opinions gathered from your previous two get-togethers. This is an area where your marketing team can shine by presenting their customer satisfaction surveys and internal studies of sales.
You can also include information gathered from testing user experience and interaction on your e-commerce website, if your business has one, via third-party programs.
Assumptions that lack substantive information shouldn’t make it past this phase.
If you find that many of the assumptions that your group labeled as “true” don’t have supporting data, you may need to change your groupings. Missing or outright absent customer data could also mean that the group’s notions of your business don’t line up with consumer opinion in your target market.
As marketers like to say, customers tend to vote with their wallets. Sales numbers are the easiest to quantify for your purposes here.
Adjust your groups as necessary until every assumption has at least one verifiable data point to back it up. This step is essential for focusing your marketing efforts to target personas that exist.
Don’t pour all your efforts into a fictitious customer group or take action based on pure opinion.
The bottom line
It is critical for businesses to segment its customers by several means. Learn about and talk through generational issues so as to assist in building customer relationships.
In engaging customers, acknowledge and appreciate differences. In moving forward, continue to develop your knowledge of each generation’s preferences.
Content marketing works best when you understand – and write specifically for – members of your audience. Meticulously crafted buyer personas can help you identify their interests and motivations, communicate with them on their terms, and keep them top of mind throughout every step of your content marketing process.
Need some help in capturing more customers from your social media marketing or advertising? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with your customers?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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How to Build a Customer Persona for Targeting Brevard County Customers