Knowledge is power. Whether a business is looking to sell to other businesses or to consumers, knowing one’s customers is fundamental to bringing them through the sales funnel. It is incumbent upon marketers to identify these prospects, understand their behaviors, and draw on their motivations. In other words, create a buyer persona.
How does one go about building customer personas? Analyzing data is a difficult and time consuming task, and if not done correctly, could lead an entire organization down an unprofitable path. Making the right decisions the first time is essential to success.
First, look at the internal data that already exists
Companies that have been operating for some time very likely possess information about their customers. Start by segmenting customer data into categories such as age, gender, income, location, and prior purchases. This information, when viewed holistically, is the first major clue to those customers most likely to find value in a company’s products and services.
If a company is starting out and does not have much data on customer trends and behaviors, it is imperative to not skip this step. Utilize data that is available and work personal networks to find friendly competitors or colleagues in similar businesses that are willing to share this information.
Seek out other research
Unlike information in prior generations, today there is a torrent of data available and even more is published every day. Draw from this present-day advantage. Seek out information published openly to supplement the data derived internally.
Talk to customers
It is important to understand not just the quantitative aspects of customer personas, it is equally important to understand the qualitative aspects as well. Corey Eridon in his article titled 9 Questions You Need to Ask When Developing Buyer Personas states that understanding what potential customers do not want is equally important as to what they value in a company’s products and services.
The qualitative aspects to a customer’s persona will give very valuable clues as to why customers did not complete the sales process or bounced from a webpage. Ascertain this information and become more efficient in finding customers with a more likely propensity to buy.
Use this data to solve customer problems
Customers buy products to solve a problem. This problem could be a feeling of emotion in which a purchase of something of novelty will make them feel better for a time. Alternatively, the problem could be that of an item of necessity which must be replaced with particular functionality. Still other problems may be answered with improved efficiency or a savings of time and money. Knowing what problems drive certain customers to purchase is important to converting them from prospects or website visitors to revenue opportunities.
Associate the aforementioned groups of people to their behavior when they visit online
Once customers are grouped into certain categories, use website analysis such as Google Analytics to map their behavior when visiting a website. This is essential to converting website visitors to sales.
Every page of a website is potentially a landing page and a first impression to a customer. Different types of customers, or different customer personas, will often use different search terms that will drive them to a business online. These search terms should drive customers do different pages. A business must take advantage of this opportunity by optimizing those pages based upon the quantitative and qualitative research completed.
Different customer personas will respond differently to messaging on a webpage. Understanding where each customer type generally originates their entry onto a company’s website will then empower the business to tailor that page to best convert the prospect to a customer.
Not all personas respond the same to the different benefits of a product or service.
Avoid these mistakes:
- Focusing on a single persona. Personas should relate directly to the product mix.
- Being too close to the product. In other words, try to view a product not based upon its technical specifications and features or use jargon only industry insiders will understand. Instead, view a product or service on how customers understand the product and how they benefit from its functionality.
- Focusing on too small of a customer sample. This could very well lead to a skewed understanding of an entire, and likely more diverse, population.
Analyzing customer personas is the key to growing business. Today there are so many options for people to choose how to spend their money. Those businesses that know the demographics of the people who typically buy their products can create the personalization necessary to separate them from the myriad of competitors that exist with a click of a mouse.