Meet Geoff. Geoff is 42, self-employed and has a wife, child, and a cockapoo called Winnie. He drives a Range Rover, wears a Barbour jacket and enjoys long country walks bookended by trips to the pub. You could say Geoff is wealthy and enjoys the finer things in life. Little does Geoff know, he’s not real.
Instead, Geoff is one of thousands of customer personas created by brands to steer their marketing and sales efforts. He’s the ideal customer, an embodiment of a brand’s target audience, and someone that every person across a business should be aware of when creating content, fleshing out brand messaging and developing new products.
Used well, personas can be a great way to engage more effectively with both new and returning customers – but how exactly do you create one? Here, we present a beginner’s guide to customer personas, covering the basics of how they work and what they can do for your business.
Why Are Customer Personas Important?
It’s one thing to recognise your target audience, but what motivates and influences their buying decisions? And how can you tailor your offering to maximise the odds of conversion?
While many brands use segmentation to define their average customer – taking into account factors such as age, gender and financial stability – creating personas is much less common, but perhaps more powerful. Building personas relies on your ability to drill into customer data to research real behaviour and use these insights to create a strong character that’s the ideal fit for your brand. Just like Geoff.
By using data, insights and market research to build buyer personas, you’ll get a much clearer understanding of what your customer needs, what they’re interested in and how you can help them. Collecting data from real customers offers granular insights into their motivations and behaviours, as well as definable traits such as the forms of communication they prefer, what brands they follow and what they like (and don’t like) about your business.
Of course, the most important thing about customer personas is how you use them to strategize your future marketing and customer retention efforts. Perhaps the biggest advantage of building personas is that it allows you to deliver a more relevant experience throughout the customer journey. You know what your customers want, and so can deliver an experience that’s less one-dimensional and more tailored to their specific needs – improving engagement while increasing the likelihood of conversion.
How Do I Create a Customer Persona for My Brand?
Creating a customer persona isn’t a matter of dreaming up someone who you think is your ideal customer. It’s about using data and garnering insights to create a profile of someone who could quite easily be one of your actual customers.
But where does this data come from, you ask? Below, we cover the different methods companies use to gain insights into the behaviour of their customers and begin to flesh out feasible personas for their brand.
The simplest, at-your-fingertips way to start collecting data for a persona profile is keyword research. By analysing what customers search for when looking for your website, products or services, it’s possible to garner a lot of information about their intent and motivations, as well as how they view your brand overall.
For instance, if a customer searches for your brand along with ‘promo code’, this tells us that price and value may be one of their key motivators. Or, perhaps they’re looking for reviews or more detailed information about one or more of your products; this kind of data could be classified under frustrations and influences on a buyer persona.
Keyword research can be a powerful tool in developing effective personas, so consider your data sets and assess recent searches carefully to start building a picture of common buyer intent.
Many brands fail to capitalise on the depth of customer data and insights available through social platforms, but this is one of the first places to start when building out customer personas. Most social platforms offer analytics capabilities for business users, and picking through the data for each can give you a clear picture of not only who your customers are, but what they’re looking for and engaging with.
Begin with Facebook and use Insights to see what kind of content generates engagement and how they respond to ads. Twitter Analytics is also a useful tool in collecting data-driven information on your customers, with the Audience Insights dashboard providing all kinds of titbits about your followers. When combined with valuable user data – such as age, gender, relationship status and interests – this is a powerful way to build a picture of your customers and influence your buyer personas.
Businesses rely on customer feedback to improve their services and products, as well as the customer journey and experience. But capturing data through feedback forms is also a great way to learn more about your customers, particularly their frustrations, behaviour and motivations regarding your site and, more importantly, your brand.
Engaging more effectively with your customers should be one of your primary objectives in building buyer personas. By generating information through feedback, you can demonstrate greater empathy and understanding when engaging with customers, spot opportunities for increased communication, and remedy obstacles within the customer journey which could cause frustration.
Form-based feedback can be difficult to gather until a customer has converted. However, there are a few things you can do to encourage engagement and get people typing. For example, a competition or prize draw via email is a good way to capture people’s attention and get the insights you need to further flesh out your personas.
Surveys, Interviews and Focus Groups
If you’re serious about creating detailed and successful buyer personas, you need to talk with your customers and get to know the real ‘them’. Your existing customer base is an invaluable asset in building a better understanding of who you should be engaging with, so make time to reach out and ask questions which will help you to see what drives and motivates your target audience.
One of the simplest ways to gather feedback and insights from those who engage with your brand is through a 1-to-1 interview, usually over the phone. When choosing a sample of people to reach out to, don’t just go for your most loyal and happiest customers. While they play a large part in your brand, you should target others too, including those who may have been dissatisfied or prospects which have not yet converted.
When reaching out, reiterate that it’s not a sales call and that their feedback would be greatly appreciated. Often, it’s a good idea to incentivise people for taking the time to talk with you, with a discount code being the most credible option. Remember, too, that the whole purpose of building a persona is to find out about them, so try to focus on what makes them tick rather than focusing purely on how they view your brand.
Here are a few sample questions which may be useful in garnering insights about your customers:
- What does a typical day look like for you?
- What kind of industry do you work in?
- What’s your educational background? What did you study?
- How do you prefer to interact with brands online?
- Describe a recent purchase.
These are but a few of the questions you should be asking to get a better understanding of your customer base. Through such insights, you can really begin to add depth, preference and character to your buyer personas, and look at integrating them across your business as a way to make customer journey more targeted.
Keen to get to know your customers a little better? At Banc, our conversion rate optimisation specialists can help you discover your audience with data-driven insights and analysis. Find out more how we can help your business or call us now on 0345 459 0558.