You may already know that a persona is a fictitious representative of a segment of your target demographic. But do you know why it’s important to develop and maintain well curated personas of your customers? Developing personas is a great way to begin to put real faces to names. It helps your marketing team really understand your customers better, and allows you to refine the audience you want to target.
Personas and Why You Need Them
The premise behind developing a marketing persona is that you allow your marketing team to be more strategic in catering to each audience. You are putting a face, which is much more relatable than a pile of statistics, on your customer.
Many companies name their personas, some even create cardboard cutouts to keep their marketing department focused on the right people. Organizations take these steps because they realize how important it is to internalize the customer that they are trying to attract and to relate to them as human beings. The truth is that everything connected to customer acquisition and retention should hinge off of these personas, whether it be product development, content creation, or sales followup, in order to stay focused on the right customers.
Additionally, these characters should be more than just Christine, the 30 year old Hispanic mother of two kids who stays at home while her husband works. It’s important to know sources of influence for Jane, the motivators for her purchases and behavior patterns. Does she pinch pennies to buy soccer cleats for her six year old boy or are shopping trips an everyday occurrence? Understanding purchasing behavior can help you decrease time to conversion, increase conversion rates, or sell add ons.
How to Develop Your Personas
Developing customer profiles can be expensive and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to start that way. You can begin by analyzing the data you gather from site analytics. Where do your visitors come from and how do they get there? Looking at the keywords report can provide insight as to why people come to your site. Are they mostly returning visitors or potential customers looking to solve a problem?
A survey is a great next step to take in delving deeper into your personas. If you have an email list, send out a survey or ask website visitors to answer some questions. Response rates can be low, so provide incentive to win a trip or cash in order to get statistically significant numbers.
Interviews are also an essential part of understanding what drives your target audience. These sessions should include those brand loyal customers that rave about your product as well as “bad” customers. Unhappy customers will show patterns that can help you form more solid conclusions about your personas. For example, you might find out that your product is too technical and bulky or that the user interface needs an API to eliminate unnecessary work. Either way, this gives insight about your product and the challenges that your customers face.
While surveys are easy to implement, they won’t give the same amount of depth as interviews do. It’s been recommended that you perform anywhere between 5-10 interviews to get enough information to develop 3-5 customer personas.
How to Get the Right Information
There are numerous resources that list questions to ask during persona development, so we’ll cover this lightly. Ultimately, you want these answers as a result of the questions you ask:
- How do you best reach them?
- How do you attract and retain their interest?
- How do you help them?
- How do they make purchasing decisions?
Keep in mind that the main objective of these interviews is to understand motivators and behaviors. Following up answers with a simple “Why?” can help people to reflect on their answers and help you to learn more about their core drivers.
By understanding the questions above, you should be able to:
- Communicate effectively with your audience
- Engage interest and drive them to your content
- Provide value
- Influence purchasing decisions
You’ve looked at your website, finished the surveys and completed the interviews. You have all the statistics and data you could ever ask for. How do you take this information and make it easy for the rest of your company to consume? Start by looking for patterns among the different interviewees.
Once patterns and common trends are found, input them into a template for your personas. This template should paint a complete picture of the customer. Make sure you realistically name the persona and find a photo for them.
The persona should list out the following:
- Basic details about persona
- Challenges to persona’s success
- How you achieve the persona’s goals
- Quotes during the interview
- Objections the persona might raise during the sales process
- Marketing message to your persona
While this might seem overkill, this persona template will help to keep all of your company departments on the same page. It prepares your sales team for their conversations and standardizes communication. You should have one main persona and up to five others that represent your company’s target audiences.