How to Make and Use Customer Personas
If you’re running a business, it’s vital to understand your target audience. One of the best ways to do this is through the creation of a customer persona. A customer persona is a representation of the demographic and key traits of their lifestyle. It tells you all about the needs and wants of your average customer.
An ideal customer profile touches on the demographic and lifestyle traits of your ideal customer. The persona helps you understand your audience.
The customer persona includes demographic details like age and disposable income and psychographic details like needs and purchase behavior. Personas define the types of customers and provide an insight into how the customer thinks, behaves, and acts.
A buyer persona enables brands to deliver focused and relevant content to the audience. Let’s start by looking at customer personas in greater detail.
How to Create a Customer Persona
Let’s start by looking at a typical buyer persona and the details you need to fill in.
When you’re creating your persona, think of your buyers as real people. The buyer profile includes demographic data like age, location, and disposable income, as well as the customer’s needs, pain points, and lifestyle choices. The completed persona gives deep insight into customer behavior and their purchase triggers.
The next logical question is, ‘where does one get all this information from?’ The answer is simple; from the customers themselves.
Building a buyer persona involves researching your existing and prospective customers to learn more about them. This will help you build your customer base. Talk to your customers and ask them open-ended questions to get greater details.
Don’t ask questions that can be answered in yes or no. You want to understand why the buyer has a like or dislike. Customer feedback should always be your starting point while building your buyer persona.
Keyword research is another useful tool to generate customer data that identifies what the customers are searching for. For instance, let’s say a fashion retailer finds that a common keyword is ‘discount (brand name).’ Now the retailer knows that the purchase motivation is price and not some other variable like product quality or delivery.
Social media is yet another source for gathering customer details for your buyer persona. Most social platforms give you access to an analytics dashboard which is a rich mine for collecting customer data. For instance, Facebook Insights allows companies to analyze how people engage with their content.
Using multiple data sources and points while creating your customer profile gives you a comprehensive insight into your customer.
Converting Data Into Insights
Collecting customer data is the first step to finding and converting your potential customer. However, equally important is the company’s ability to convert this data into actionable insights that will define how you communicate and what you say. Always think of the persona as a real customer. The company needs to step into the customer’s shoes and think and behave like the customer.
This is the tough part, partly due to the complexity of converting objective data into subjective insights and partly due to the difficulty in maintaining a customer-centric perspective. The insights you develop from your user personas are the foundation of your marketing campaigns.
The process of converting the data into insights is also called empathy mapping, as it helps in building empathy between the marketers and the customers.
An empathy map helps the brand to stay focused on how the customer thinks and behaves. It helps in revealing purchase obstacles as well as the purchase triggers in the customer’s mind. This allows the brand’s communication to be more focused and personalized.
The purpose of gaining customer insights is to convert them into insights and the insights to marketing strategies. Let’s look at some marketing opportunities that flow from personal insights.
Identify Pain Points
The insights from the user persona enable you to identify common pain points of your customers. These are the areas that your product or service should address.
Your brand communication should be built around providing solutions that address and resolve the customer’s pain points. User personas should be the starting point for all product design and product development activities.
Identify Relevant Social Platforms
User personas when combined with analytic tools like Google Analytics give you an idea of the social platforms that your customers use. The analytic tools on these platforms will also tell you how your competition connects with the same customer. Check out this useful article on how to conduct competitive analysis.
For instance, Let’s say an accurate customer persona shows that your ideal customer is an avid photographer. Hence, you would want to be active on visually-rich social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to locate your target audience.
It Boosts Your Marketing Results
Insights from the personas enable your marketing team to identify the leads who are most likely to convert to actual customers. This is called qualifying your leads. Only high-quality leads are passed into the sales funnel. Hence, conversion rates tend to be higher. Targeting only qualified leads also keeps the funnel from getting clogged by leads that won’t convert.
Let’s say your sales team has generated 100 leads. Are you going to pass all 100 through your sales funnel? Obviously not. Customer personas enable your sales team to evaluate each lead against your ideal persona to check which leads are most likely to convert. The 20-25 qualified leads are then passed into your sales funnel.
Ideally, you should build buyer personas at the product development stage, so that you’re customer-centric from the start.
It Helps With Account-Based Marketing
Successful companies have close bonds with their customers. Hence, personalized communication with the customer is important. According to a study conducted by Econsultancy, over 50% of potential customers are willing to share their personal details in exchange for personalized offers and discounts.
Account-based marketing requires you to personalize your communication with each lead. This is where you can use your customer personas to identify common pain areas for the leads and then build your communication around how your product alleviates these pain areas.
You can agitate the pain area with examples and then show proof of how your product or service can resolve these issues.
Makes Brand Communication Customer-Centric
Insights from customer personas enable brands to tailor their content to the needs of the customer. High-value and relevant content will help you engage with the customer in a more meaningful way.
The buyer persona will tell you topics that your audience
Builds Customer Loyalty
Loyal customers are the backbone of any successful company. Regardless of company size, business owners know that customer retention is way cheaper than customer acquisition. By how much? Well, about 5X cheaper.
Your job doesn’t end once you acquire a new customer. You’re just getting started. You want to engage the customer and focus on retaining them.
The most successful businesses focus on customer retention to persuade them to buy from you time and again. These brands focus on converting a customer to a loyal brand advocate.
Retention is cheaper than acquisition. A 2% increase in retention is at par with a 10% cut in costs, hence, higher profitability.
Partner With Influencers Your Personas Like
The personas will give you insight into the influencers that your customers follow. Your target audience will follow a certain type of people. Partnering with these influencers will build the credibility of your brand. Customers treat the news of these influencers as if it were coming from close friends or family.
Harmonize the Customer Experience
Your customers expect a uniform brand experience across all brand touchpoints. Personas allow you to bring all customer-centric stakeholders on one page for a uniform experience and communication.
B2B vs B2C Customer personas
Online business is conducted either with B2B (business to business) customers or B2C (business to customers). In B2B the business is selling to another company. In B2C you’re selling directly to the customer.
The customer personas for each segment will be different. Let’s start by looking at customer persona examples in the B2C segment.
B2C Customer personas
B2C sales are to the direct customer who is using their own money and unique decision-making process to buy your product. With B2C customer personas, you’re looking for insights into their purchase behavior.
Yes, you also want the demographic data, but customer behavior is vital. You need to understand who the customer is in their day-to-day life and what motivates them to take action. Let’s look at some examples of consumer personas.
Amazon is perhaps the leader when it comes to customer personas. The Amazon connect customer personas are used to segment and target customers into homogenous groups, who are then approached as target customers.
Our first B2C example highlights how a customer persona doesn’t need to be lengthy to communicate a powerful message.
A glance at the customer persona shows that Rachael is busy, budget-conscious, and active on social media. She needs a quick and easy solution to her problem. The sum of her persona is distilled down to blurbs of actionable insights that will drive the marketing efforts.
Let’s look at another example of a B2C customer persona. This time, let’s look at a customer persona created by Munro.
Brandi’s problem is finding shoes that fit her narrow feet, and it is a painful journey to find a pair. The persona helps you identify with her problem. A nice touch is the direct customer quotes, as it tells you exactly what the customer was thinking.
B2B Customer personas
As a B2B company, your typical customer will be a C-suite or a senior management decision-maker. Business to business orders is driven by client needs, a careful cost-benefit analysis, and a chain of influencers.
While B2C personas are customer-centric, B2B personas are work-place centric. Your B2B customer persona should capture the workplace dynamics, job role, personality, and key influencers whose inputs will be sought before purchasing.
Let’s take a look at a few B2B customer personas and analyze them. The first one comes from Referral SaaSquatch, and it highlights the sort of data you need to collect to build insights and conversion strategies down the line. In this case, the customer is the decision-maker and also influences the corporate purchase decisions.
A B2B persona will always have more information than a B2C persona, simply because more variables are at play in B2B selling.
This data now needs to be converted into insights, and the insights would feed into the marketing and sales strategies. A frugal and wary of vendor claims attitude could be a purchase obstacle, and a counter would need to be built into your actionables.
Let’s look at another example. This time we look at the persona of Diane, the Director of Critical Care at Terre Haute hospital.
It’s a data-rich persona that gives a granular view of Diane’s work life and her personality. Notice how the details are arranged in a circular pattern around the picture. This makes it easy to absorb the information.
A quick glance at this customer persona tells you everything you need to know about Diane. From her demographic information to her goals and values and the challenges she faces in her day-to-day work life.
Detailed information in a B2B persona will help you develop accurate insights and hence effective conversion strategies.
Customer personas are representations of your ideal customer. A B2C persona will focus on the customers’ demographics and lifestyle traits of your ideal customer. This information will help you gather valuable insight into customer behavior and develop unique content and marketing strategies relevant to your customers.
Buyer personas are the foundation on which you can build your marketing strategies. They enable you to engage your customer with content that addresses their pain areas and moves them down the sales funnel towards conversion.
B2B personas are more detailed than B2C personas and include the customer’s work-life snapshot, in addition to the demographics and psychographic data. The time invested in creating these personas will pay rich dividends for all brands. Good luck with creating your buyer personas.