When on the topic of marketing, we often talk about your ‘target audience’ and how it’s important to reach out to them in the right way. However, this is no small feat; we understand the difficulties that come with highlighting an audience and targeting them properly. This guide will explain everything you need to know about generating a customer persona and using this information to target them effectively.
Customer personas are like the top trump cards we used to play with when we were younger. Essentially, we’re building a model of our ideal customer— the one who is most interested in what we have to offer. Today, we’re going to discover how to build these personas, which takes into account much more than just thinking about who could use our products.
The more we understand about our customers, the better we can target them with marketing materials. With a customer persona, we can tailor our approach on every level; this includes tone, article ideas, social media strategies, product development, and more.
With a buyer/customer persona, we’re looking at more than just general behaviors and interests. Instead, we want to review job, education level, goals, personal values, location, size of family, etc. Soon enough, we know just how our most valued customers tick and can better appeal to them.
Negative Personas - While researching this topic, you’re also likely to come across the term ‘negative persona’. As you might have guessed, a negative customer persona is the antithesis of your perfect customer. They share no traits with your ideal customer, they have no interest in what you’re offering, and you probably want to avoid them at all costs.
Often, the quickest and easiest way of building a customer persona is by looking into the analytics of your website. Behind your website lies a secret world of endless statistics; according to some analysts, we have generated more data in the last 24 months than has ever existed (no wonder so many people are scared of the copious amounts of data we have these days!).
With the right analytics tool attached to your website, you’ll get valuable insights into the people visiting regularly. These tools will tell you where they came from, how long they stayed and the keywords they used. This sort of information is important for building a buyer persona, but it won’t tell you everything. For example, we’re also looking for personal details, which comes from the second method.
That’s right, more and more marketers are starting to conduct interviews in which they learn more about their target audience. In addition to obvious customers, you might find potential interviewees in referrals, prospects and third-party networks such as UserTesting and Craigslist.
Setting Up the Interview - Something that seems to put marketers off with this technique is the idea of potentially upsetting or frustrating customers. Don’t worry, this isn’t a sales call and you can reassure your customers of this. Believe it or not, most of them will be willing to help you. If they enjoy your products and services, they won’t mind answering a few questions.
You should inform your participants that they are engaging in research that will help you, and also offer an incentive to those who take part. If you’re not having much luck, offer an Amazon gift card or another small prize. From here, another tip is to make it easy for them to agree to participate. Whether this comes from being open with timings or allowing them to choose a time, it’s up to you.
Segmenting Interviews - What is the appropriate number of participants for each persona? Ultimately, that depends on the knowledge you have already and the group to which you have access. If you can only get four or five people for each persona, that’s a fine starting point. Some marketers like to do three interviews per group (customers, prospects, referrals, etc.).
Often, it’s a case of seeing how it goes; we know some people don’t like to hear this, but there isn’t always a strict rule. It’s probably time to stop if you know exactly what the response will be to a specific question. At this stage, you’ve highlighted a pattern and cemented this area of learning about your customer persona.
Choosing Questions - When deciding on questions for the interview, we recommend breaking it down into different sections. While one will cover career and current job, others will look towards company, goals, challenges, personal details and background, and even shopping preferences.
Ask Why - Finally, interviewing people can be challenging when they aren’t willing to open up about their behaviors and interests. Therefore, one of the best words to have in your arsenal is actually one of the simplest: why. With this short word, you encourage the interviewee to go deeper with their answers, and this is where you normally lift the lid on the most valuable information.
You’ve looked at website analytics and have answers to your interviews, now it’s time to build your customer persona. After writing up a ‘top trump’ style card for each interviewee, you can then discover patterns and categorize.
You might break the information down into the following:
Once you have this persona for your audience, or a specific area of your audience, you can start to think about how you might communicate with them, appeal to their needs, and create content with which they resonate.
You have your customer personas, so all that’s left is to reach out to them. We recommend considering the following:
You could nail the buying persona process only to then waste all this time and money by choosing the wrong channel with your marketing attempts. When starting, the first way you use the data is by determining the right social media platforms and other channels. If your buyer persona suggests somebody in their early 20s who uses Instagram more than any other platform, that’s where you should target them.
After choosing the right platform, it’s time to perfect messaging. Firstly, we want to point out the value of personalization. According to some sources, around 50% of people switch brands just because an alternative personalizes their communications; so there’s no excuse not to personalize. Let’s face it, we just found out more about these people than ever before — why let this information go to waste?
One way to gain interest is to speak to their pain points: what is their biggest problem? How are you going to help them resolve this problem? Then, think about their interests and how you can include these in the content.
Every piece of copy should be written with the customer persona in mind. For example, it might be that you’re speaking to a frugal bunch. If so, it’s even more important to concentrate on the pain points and how you’re going to help them overcome a problem. Hopefully, the price tag on your product or service then won’t seem so large (or it will look like an investment rather than a wasteful purchase).
Don’t forget, your audience and customer base are a living organism, which means you need to continually review your personas to see if they’re still accurate. This is especially important when you are experiencing growth, in which case you’ll need regular updates to see if your audience is evolving. Again, use analytics from your website and other platforms coupled with interviews.
If you want to push ahead of the competition, building customer personas will create real value. After identifying your main audience, you may discover that they aren’t quite who you expected; this is an important insight. We understand that discovering your customer personas requires investment, but it’s something that will pay back. The more you know about the people who purchase from your company, the easier it will be to attract others like them.
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