The customer is the centerpiece of brand positioning and marketing strategy.
Imagine that you sell shoes. Your job is to sell stiletto shoes.
Who would you sell these shoes to?
A young girl?
A man in his 40s?
There are quite a few options, but it’s clearly not every person on the planet. Your audience is not everyone.
And the better you understand which people are yours, the less money you’ll spend on ineffective advertising campaigns.
Representatives of your target audience need to be personalized. It encourages them to make positive buying decisions. To do this, you need to identify the main characteristics of individual segments of the target audience and prepare offers for each group.
Let’s find out how to create a persona of the target audience, with what tools, and where to collect information.
Table of Contents
What Is a Customer Persona
There are two basic approaches to building a portrait of the customer.
1. A customer persona is a group of people with similar characteristics. As if you were forming a segment to which you would show ads.
2. A customer persona is a portrait of a specific person. When you think of a specific customer, the questions become more focused:
- How is he or she spending the day?
- What does he/she do on his/her weekends?
- How old is he/she?
- What is she/he worried about?
- What is he/she striving for?
- How does he/she dress?
- Where does he/she work?
- Where does he/she live: in a house or an apartment?
- What are her/his interests?
- What are his or her hobbies?
- Does she like cats or dogs? Animals in general?
- What is his or her marital status?
- What values does he or she hold?
The more accurate the persona is, the better the chances of creating a useful product and making money from it. If you can create a questionnaire and send it out to potential clients, you should definitely do it.
Statistically, open rates of segmented email campaigns were 14.31% higher than mass mailings. As for clicks, this metric was 100.95% higher. Impressive results, right?
With a clear picture of who your customers are, and knowing the needs of your audience, you can run an effective marketing campaign.
You’ll be able to identify customer pain points and emotional triggers that will lead to purchase decisions.
How to Create a Customer Persona
The B2C and B2B industries collect different characteristics to create a customer persona. Let’s have a look at each option.
The customer profile in retail includes characteristics that can be roughly divided into five groups:
- Geography. You should study the climatic conditions and cultural characteristics of the audience. By identifying time zones, you’ll know when your target audience is online. This is important for scheduling content during the hours of user activity to increase the reach of your posts.
- Demographics. Contains customer gender and age, marital status, nationality and ethnicity, and religious beliefs. Determine how old the customers your product is targeting, who makes the purchase decision, and what social role they play. For example, it could be a young father.
- Information about the interests, actions, and opinions of your target audience. It’s also called AIO (Actions, Interests, Opinions) analysis:
- opinions: views held by the person;
- values: patriotism, respect for elders, care for animals;
- behavior: the person’s actions in certain situations, reactions;
- attitudes: perceptions of certain things;
- lifestyle: social role and established life values;
- habits: things or actions that are difficult to part with;
- activities: hobbies, sports, and lifestyle activities;
- interests: areas that the person is interested in;
- cognitive biases: prejudices based on personal experience and knowledge.
- Behavioral factors. With audience behavior analysis, you’ll learn how people behave and why they behave the way they do. Consider factors that may influence product demand, such as seasonality of sales, national days, and holidays.
- Socio-economic data. Information about education and occupation, place of work and income level, and living conditions will help calculate customer purchasing power. You will be able to analyze and compare people’s monthly income and expenses. Find out how they feel about shopping in your price range, and whether they have financial problems.
In the B2B sphere, a portrait of a customer is made up of the image of a decision maker and data about the company and its activities.
Let’s list the main characteristics:
- What type of business is partnering with you: a startup, a local business, or a an enterprise company?
- What markets does the company work with within the city, country, or world?
- What needs does the organization meet with your help: internal or external? For example, if it is a question of qualified personnel, do you train your own employees or hire specialists from outside?
- The number of employees.
- The company’s line of business: field and industry.
- Economic data, e.g. annual turnover, sales.
- Who are your advertising campaigns aimed at: the business owner, CTO, or sales manager?
How Is the Customer Persona Different From the Target Audience?
The concept of the target audience is wider. Remember, in the beginning, we said that the audience for the purchase of stilettoes is definitely not everyone. That said, they can be different groups of people, with different incomes, ages, and priorities.
Women may wear stiletto heels for a prom, a wedding, or an important business meeting. And in all cases, the audience segments will be different. So for each segment, we need a persona of the customer.
Where to Get Information About a Customer
Check out social networks, forums, blogs of your potential clients. Their interests show what bothers them.
If you already have clients, ask them questions through a questionnaire or over the phone and offer some bonuses for it.
If there are no clients yet, you can study the potential audience on the Internet using websites, forums, and social networks.
ou can collect data for analysis in several ways and through different channels. I recommend updating the data regularly and, if possible, using all available online and offline methods.
Conduct surveys among your target audience and collect feedback on their perception of your brand. This can also be a questionnaire or focus group activity. Encourage users to take surveys to the end.
For example, you can offer a discount on the next purchase as an incentive at the end of the interview. You can use Google Forms to create surveys.
Tips on survey organization and content:
- In the description or header of the survey, write about the number of questions and the time it will take. You can also add a few words about a bonus to get more responses. For example, “Answer three questions and get a 5% discount”.
- Keep your questions short and clear.
- Ask open-ended questions and try to get as many answers as possible.
- You can do the survey on your own, involve students of sociology departments, or ask for help from research centers.
- Analyze Social Networks.
Study the users who interact with your content the most (leave comments, share publications). These should be people who are loyal to the brand.
In their profiles, you’ll find information about the following:
- web pages they like,
- leisure activities,
- marital status,
- places visited,
- place of work.
You can automate data collection by using special services, such as Buffer.
Web Analytics Data Analysis
Web analytics tools are designed to obtain information about the performance of the site. Programs are also used to find and refine the portrait of a target audience.
Popular services include Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Facebook Ads.
In the audience overview reports, in addition to user actions, you will find additional information:
- traffic sources: information on devices used, operating systems, browsers;
- demographics: gender, age, and marital status.
With web analytics tools, you can attract new customers: develop targeted ads or set up retargeting and select the most suitable platforms for launching marketing campaigns.
In-depth Interviews With Customers
Detailed information about your customers will help you to create a psychological portrait of your client. This will tell you about his/her state of mind, values, motivations, and problems.
What qualities are worth paying attention to:
- emotional state,
- ability to work in a team,
- level of intelligence.
This is a difficult way to gather information, so few people agree to participate in a long interview, filling out many tests and answering hundreds of questions.
Try to gather a focus group of members of your target audience. Offer them something of value in exchange for their time.
How to Analyze Data
Systematizing the data collected will result in several segments. Focus on the three to five ones — these are the key customer groups that need to be studied more thoroughly. Understanding the relationship between customers and the product will help you set up effective advertising and generate consistent sales revenue.
It’s a long process, but it’s essential for evaluating consumer actions:
- why they choose your product;
- what problems are solved with it;
- what disadvantages they identified and what advantages they liked.
After dividing your target audience into segments, start creating a customer avatar for each of them.
Typical Mistakes When Creating a Customer Persona
To get a real customer persona, try to avoid basic mistakes:
- Incorrect questions when designing questionnaires and surveys: overly personal, incomprehensive, aggressive questions. Formulate questions as simply and clearly as possible.
- Creating too many portraits of customers: one or three portraits is more than enough.
- Subjectivity: Don’t attribute your own ideas to customers. They may have completely different motives. It’s better to simply ask why they would or wouldn’t buy your product.
- Use all available channels and sources when gathering information about your target audience;
- Divide your audience into segments and sub-segments;
- Remember: one segment/sub-segment — one avatar;
- Update the client’s avatar regularly;
- Make a profile as personalized as possible;
- While creating a portrait, take into account the smallest nuances that might influence the purchasing decision.
The key to understanding your customer is to start with the person and their needs, not your product. Take into account the wishes of the client, then you will be able to create a really useful product that solves their problems.
How to Design a Customer Persona
You can create a portrait of the customer manually in the form of a table, document, or presentation. The main thing is to stick to a clear data structure.
Another option is to use special tools, like Xtensio, Miro, or Uxpressia (paid and free), websites with ready-made templates that you need to fill out and download the document.
Customer personas are created based on real data, not guesses or assumptions.
There are many ways to get information about your target audience: conduct a survey or in-depth interview, analyze web analytics data, explore social media.
Customer personas need to be updated regularly.
If manual methods of compiling customer personas are time-consuming, use websites with templates or specialized online services.