Does your team have a genuine and acute understanding of your customers’ needs, wants and behaviors? If you’re uncertain, optimizing personas will help ensure the success of your entire marketing program. Without personas, your messaging may not resonate with your target audience, or you might miss your audience entirely, resulting in inefficient marketing efforts.
Keep Personas Simple and Fluid
Creating personas is quick and easy, and we always prefer to keep the process simple. Marketers often become paralyzed when creating personas by overthinking them, trying to make too many or add too many details.
The number of customer personas your company needs depends on your target audience and the markets you are trying to reach. We typically recommend beginning by defining three or fewer distinct customer personas. Depending on the size and complexity of your customer base, you may find that 2 or 3 personas is sufficient for your needs. Additional personas may be defined and created as new customer segments are defined.
Remember that personas are working documents that will be updated and optimized over time. Personas may become too complex or cumbersome to use when they include too much information, or when a large quantity of customer segments are defined from the onset.
Include the Right Details
Customer personas provide a fictional representation of your ideal customer and should inspire genuine empathy for those you are trying to serve. You can gather and analyze customer data to identify patterns, interests and behaviors. This process will provide you with customer feelings, likes and dislikes, and help you imagine what it’s like to be in their shoes. Since customers make decisions emotionally, it’s important to understand how they feel and why they feel that way throughout the purchasing process.
When defining the personas for your target market, it is important to keep them focused rather than broad. Understanding specific details about your customer will help you trigger an emotional response and help you connect on a deeper level. Focusing on making stronger connections with fewer people will make your message more authentic, less generic and less boring.
Good personas should include the following details:
- Demographic details (age, gender, income, occupation)
- Geographic details (location)
- Psychographic details (beliefs, politics, religion, etc.)
Determining psychographic details is especially important. Understanding your audience’s likes and motivations will allow you to target customers accurately on social media or other channels. Defining what motivates and frustrates customers is the key to eliciting an emotional response to your creative and content. Psychographic attributes also include buying habits (such as frequency of purchase and average spend), and personal information (such as hobbies, interests and values).
Wherever possible, gather data from multiple sources and use direct customer feedback to inform your personas. This may include surveys, focus groups, sales team and customer interviews, online analytics and customer databases. Surveys or questionnaires may ask customers direct questions about their emotions; however, this may lead respondents to answer in a specific way due to the inherent bias of the format. Other sources, such as social media channels, ratings and reviews, and online community forums, are rich sources for emotional data that are often overlooked.
Customer personas should be updated regularly, as customer needs and preferences can change over time. Companies should review and refine their customer personas at least once every 6-12 months to ensure they are up-to-date and relevant.
Persona documents may be created and maintained in standard Office applications, like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Specialized web applications – like UXPressia – may support collaboration and simplify creating customer personas.
If your company has a complex customer base and you would like some support – or a fresh, external perspective – Signal can help gather the necessary market research data and support you when creating accurate and detailed customer personas. For reference, here are some examples of a few personas Signal has created.
After you create accurate personas and share them with your team, you’ll find these foundational documents are critical to ensuring the success of your entire marketing program.