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Helping Your Clients Create Customer Personas

Published January 18, 2018
Who is your perfect customer? Where do they live? How much do they make? How do they spend their time and most of all, what problems do they have that you can help solve? All of these questions need to be answered, and one of the main ways a business can do that is through the creation of customer personas.
 
B2B and B2C businesses alike are constantly looking for new ways to understand their customers. The average client has a fundamental understanding of their own customer base but there are gaps in a clients’ perception of a client and what the actual data tells us.
 
In discussions with clients, most marketers will inquire about customer characteristics, demographics, and interpreted buying signals. But great marketing plans go further, they include the development of specific personas of individuals who fit into the client’s desired demographic, allowing them to shape their message, guide their channels and choose their best tactics.
 
Today’s post will walk you through the process of starting the personas discussion with your client, explaining why they matter, and how to guide clients through the process of defining them.

Discussing Personas With Your Client

Based on past purchases, services performed or ongoing transactions, your client is likely to have a general understanding of who their customers are, but they don’t have the hyper-personalized data it takes to target a customer at an individual level. It can be difficult sometimes to persuade them otherwise. With that being said, explaining the value and importance of personas to your client may take some work. It’s a strange concept to wrap your head around at first but makes complete sense once grasped.

In a nutshell, below is a definition of a persona you can use to explain the term to your client:

A persona is a fictional representation of an ideal or existing customer that can be used for targeting and marketing message creation. Usually, a persona will have a name, age, gender and other relevant demographics and insights which can help to create a visual image of the target customer.

Why Do We Use Personas?

Overall personas help to identify opportunities in marketing personalization; they reduce waste and limit marketing budget spend by narrowing the audience down to a single demographic target. Of course, to be effective, businesses should have more than just one persona. For most businesses, a customer base will be comprised of various demographic types. The key is to identify the most valuable customers and develop profiles to deliver marketing that caters to their specific needs, lifestyles, and their purchasing patterns. Once you have a set of profiles, you can begin to see a much higher return on investment from your overall marketing spend.

Personas can also serve as an impetus for developing new business ventures that cater to the needs of an ideal demographic. The more detail that goes into fleshing out personas, the more business intelligence you have, allowing you to inform all of your strategic initiatives.

Compiling Persona Data

There’s not one go-to place to collect data for customer personas, in fact, customers often hit various touchpoints before completing a purchase and several occur even after the purchase. That’s why it’s important to take inventory of the various checkpoints in your sales funnel to understand where and how to acquire data relevant to defining personas.

  • Website Analytics - There is so much untapped potential that marketers commonly overlook when reviewing website analytics. A clients’ website represents its brand on the web and it is where customers go to learn more about that company. The best customers are taking the time to get to know the company, the products or services it offers and they leave a trail of breadcrumbs to be discovered after they’re gone.

User pathways and engagement throughout your site can provide insights into customer interests and thought processes. But also be sure to look at demographics such as ages, genders, locations, affinity categories of customers who have made a purchase or inquired on their site.

 

Google Analytics Demographics

 

These all help to paint a picture of who the customers are behind the scenes. Of course, we should take this with a grain of salt as most of this information is fairly general and doesn’t drill down to the individual level. That’s why it’s important to capitalize on the human resources within your client’s organization.

  • Sales teams - Clients with sales representatives can often gain insights from those representatives themselves. Sales reps have a clear picture of who the average customer is, what their needs are along with their communication preferences. Putting together a process for regularly collecting new lead and customer insights can add to the overall persona profiles.
  • Account team - Account teams are a client's’ lifeline to the customer and can provide a lot of the substance of customer personas if given the opportunity. An interview, whether a self-completed questionnaire or a one-on-one traditional interview on existing customers can provide useful and actionable data to fuel prospect persona development.
  • Support team - A support representative knows the troubles the average customer has, the concerns they have about the product/service provided and can offer a viewpoint into the questions, behaviors, and issues with existing clients. This data can assist with building personas and can also provide some actionable items for tackling customer service issues.
  • Customer Interviews - This could entail interviewing a sample of a clients’ best customers, obtaining feedback through surveys, phone and email interviews, asking questions about their path to conversion, their experience thus far, digging deeper into their demographic information using anonymous survey questions. Once completed, compiling and comparing the data obtained regarding the customers interviewed, this will provide the best source for persona data, hearing straight from the horse’s mouth.
  • Other Sources - If a client’s customers are heavily active on social media platforms, this could be another excellent resource for extracting customer insights. Some other methods include direct mailers, focus groups, and profiling past customers.

All of these methods are important opportunities for gathering customer intelligence. They may each reveal individual nuances but the overlap between them will be vital to shaping your customer personas.

Conclusion

It's a rather large task for any client to create their own personas, so marketers should be prepared to assist with all of the above methods of acquiring insight. This participation will ensure proper data collection processes occur including drafting up questionnaires, making suggestions for areas where data could be obtained and being ready to use a persona to target individuals through appropriate advertising channels.

This is the easy part, once completed a persona gives you a window into the specific wants, needs, and behaviors of an intended customer. Use the profiles you’ve helped develop and use these in your audience targeting digitally through PPC, social media, and even through traditionally by targeting like-minded customer prospects in areas with similar affinity populations.

ALSO IN THIS BLOG

When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:

 

 

It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.