A guide to creating models of typical customers as an aid to delivering them the content and offers that will appeal to them.

Philip Masiello, Hound Dog Digital

Philip Masiello, CEO, Hound Dog Digital

On average, an overwhelming 3,000-5,000 marketing messages bombard our senses on a given day. The sheer number of advertisements one gets exposed to makes the cognition autonomously dull, pushing 90% of that material in the background, meaning that it doesn’t even get noticed.

It’s like walking down an aisle full of wonderful new products without even bothering to look at them unless there is a product that speaks to the customer.

That is only possible through a highly relevant and targeted marketing message.

The chance of Jessica clicking on an ad for a stiletto or a slingshot is much higher than an ad for flip-flops.

Knowing your customer is the key to creating highly targeted ads.  The creation of a buyer or customer persona is a highly effective strategy in this regard. It enables the marketers to create focused and specific content by selecting the overlapping consumer characteristics within the selected market segments.

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What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is the distillation of a market segment for the personification of your ideal prospects with the help of multiple semi-fictional characters.

Imagine a prospect named Jessica. Now, her profile would have all her information including her age, income, location, education, and family. Jessica is a highly educated woman in her late 20s and has a high-paying corporate job in a multinational enterprise. Through the information that is available on Jessica’s social media profile, it is possible to articulate Jessica’s goals and challenges, and even accurately guess her values, interests, pet peeves and fears.

Now, instead of creating content for 20-to-30-year-old women, you are now writing content focused on Jessica. Let’s suppose you have a shoe retail business, do you see any point in marketing Crocs to Jessica?

Jessica’s profile, completed with an avatar, serves as a buyer’s persona. While it’s a fictional character, it is based on traits that your actual customers might possess. It deepens the understanding a business has of its customer, ensuring that the content created will generate higher engagement and leads.

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As a marketer, it is absolutely worth the time spent in creating a buyer persona.  This effort will lower your ad spending while increasing your ad impact. The chance of Jessica clicking on an ad for a stiletto or a slingshot is much higher than an ad for flip-flops.

What are the Building Blocks of a Buyer Persona?

A persona is defined just the way you would define a personality, from personal details to professional profile, and from hobbies and likes to weaknesses and dislikes.  A persona should specify everything there is to a person. The simplest rule is to spell out as many details as you can so the marketers can create compelling material for your company’s target buyers.

Combining all the details, you should be able to extract the goals, challenges, needs, and desires of your semi-fictional customers. You will develop and understand what interests, excites and entices them the most so that you can position your product/service accordingly.

Personas are unique for various businesses and industries owing to the different market segments. For example, an online news agency needs very different information in comparison to the customer data required by a medical supplier.  Hence, the customer persona built for a news agency would be entirely different from the persona created by a medical supplier for a buying funnel. However, the more specific you get, the more powerful the persona will be in supporting your campaign.

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How to Source Data for Buyer Personification?

By now we should understand what a buyer persona is.  Next, let’s discuss how to develop one for your business.

Google Analytics

Using analytics, you can view keywords your prospective customers used to find you, where they came from, and the time they spent on your web page. This data shows the intent and interest underlying the user’s visit.

Google Analytics will also give you some very useful demographic information on the site visitors. You can also see the device they used to get to your site, time of day and many other pieces of data.

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This is the first source of information that every marketer should use.  If you can understand what got the visitors to your site, you can give them more of what they want.

Social Media Research & Monitoring

Let’s face it.  Most people today are using social media in one form or another.  So there is a good chance your site visitors are using Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.  There are several social media monitoring services and methods that you can use to track social media posts and mentions.

Social listening is a strategy that marketers are increasingly investing in. It allows them to understand the dynamics behind customers’ actions and how they are engaging with brands. There are many tools such as Hootsuite, Klout, and How Sociable that can be used for the purpose.

Social media is one of the largest generators of big data and has the biggest collection of real customer profiles.

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Primary Research

Many forms of primary research can be used by a business to build a customer persona.  Some of these include surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Just because we exist in a digital world, doesn’t mean we can’t speak to the customer directly.  Call them up and have a conversation.

Once you have gotten the most amount of data on your customers, it is time to begin building their persona.  It is time to name him/her. It doesn’t matter what name you choose.

Once you have your persona in place, remember that the purpose was to create focused content and increase customer satisfaction. Stay up to date with your customers changing needs and desires through a continuous analysis of key behavior metrics.

Philip Masiello is the founder of digital marketing agency Hound Dog Digital and former founder and CEO of 800Razors.com.

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