Using Customer Personas Effectively

Using Customer Personas Effectively

By Dave Malhotra

How to get the best results from your ideal, fictional customer

Marketers frequently tout the many benefits of creating personas, as they enable companies to divide a customer base into targeted segments. But what exactly are they, when should they be used, and how can some common pitfalls be avoided?

A customer persona is a fictional character that represents your perfect customer, or someone who can obtain the most value from your product or service. Brands and companies want a clear picture of who exactly has the desire and decision-making power to be the right customer.

Personas connect the brand’s propositions to customers’ pain points in a way customers can relate to, helping the company to develop strategies for digital campaigns, product design, and support. The ability to customize your products and services to each customer requires effort, but it allows you to adapt everything from user-flows to campaigns.

The risk

Just like most marketing strategies, it is possible to do too much segmentation. It’s more about coming up with the right personas, not making the most detailed. It seems counterintuitive, but having too many customer personas can dilute your messaging. You run the risk of losing focus of your main sales strategy, making it difficult for your sales team to create a consistent pitch.

The rewards

With fewer but carefully researched personas, one can focus on the aspects of personalization that matter to end-users. Potential customers appreciate messaging that speaks directly to their unique needs. 

Personas don’t just enable better alignment with customers from the beginning of their journey. They also help to unify a brand or company on precisely who they are selling to, how those end-users think before making a purchase decision, and how the brand adds value to their life.

How to get started

In most cases, the first step should be internal interviews with the people who spend the most time with your customers. After that, the brand should interview the customers themselves.

Using the data gathered from internal and customer interviews (qualitative data) and the data from web tools and published research (quantitative data), a brand can begin to create personas.

Here are a few things that should be included in every good customer persona: 

  • Descriptive names like ‘Tech-savvy Tom’ and ‘Practical Peter,’ so you can easily reference your persona when you develop the product or campaign
  • Demographic data and details about their lives, the problems they encounter, purchasing behavior, and any other information that shapes customer narratives
  • An image to visualize the persona
  • Easily identifiable traits to help the brand craft and use the most appropriate messages when they encounter a potential customer

Ultimately, useful customer personas are based on different sets of information, mined from what a brand already knows, and what it can find out through interviewing real-life customers and stakeholders. They should also be fleshed out with demographic, psychographic, technographic, transactional, and behavioral data.

Test, confirm, adapt

Successful brands should conduct A/B tests for their marketing efforts. This process involves sending different messages to similar audience groups to evaluate the effectiveness of each message. This ‘test, confirm, adapt’ strategy can identify potential flaws in content and help optimize conversion rates.

As long as a brand is testing their messaging, confirming their hypotheses, and adapting their solutions, getting successful personas working for any brand or company is just a matter of time. How much time–as is the case often in life–is totally up to them.

About the Author

Dave is the CEO of SoldOutt, a sales-focused, white-labeled ticketing platform that has achieved over 90% lead-to-conversion rates for events in Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Germany. He has been working in the digital field for more than 18 years, and has many past roles in tech, events, marketing, and startup domains. He has founded multiple startups, including SoldOutt, ShakeSphere, and Dinoza.  

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