How customer’s experience a company’s products, services, and brand, positive and negative, in-store and online define ‘customer experience’. While a strong customer experience has been shown to produce significant results with more customers, more sales, and more loyalty; many companies still struggle to define and execute a plan of action.
A consumer’s impression of a brand is like a kaleidoscope. It’s made up of many individual touch points. When a consumer is faced with a big decision, say switching from a brand to its competitor, the overall impression is often what convinces them to stay. When companies provide inconsistent digital experiences like tech support that provides one Customer ID on its website, then requires a different identifier at their check out counter; the consumer ends up with a confusing impression of the company (brand experience). Over time these inconsistencies can adversely impact any brand relationship and loyalty efforts.
So how do you ensure a great customer experience?
One of the best ways to create content and plan promotional campaigns that truly engage your target audience is by creating a buyer persona. Did you know that even government organizations create personas?
Buyer personas are fictional, but realistic representations of key audience segments that are grounded in research and data. A buyer persona is a profile that represents a specific target customer segment. By creating your own buyer personas, you'll gain the ability to tailor your marketing efforts and connect with your target audience to meet their needs, solve their problems and build relationships.
Here are 3 tips to consider when building a buyer persona:
1. Do your research
When creating a buyer persona, you're essentially creating a fictional person that represents a key segment of your audience - and the first step to accomplishing this is to do your due diligence by conducting research.
There are several ways to conduct research, including customer surveys, interview customers, create polls and surveys on social media, conduct social listening, look at your competitors to see how their customers interact online and evaluate your internal data such as customer service and sales transcripts.
While fictional, these personas represent our major user groups and help us keep their needs and expectations at the forefront of our decision making. Each persona consists of two pages: the first page provides a snapshot of the user’s demographics and a quote to help bring the persona to life, while the second page provides user stories that help us to better understand how this audience interacts with NARA and why.
2. Look at your website analytics
Evaluating website and social media analytics identifies where website visitors came from, the keywords used, and how long they stayed on the web or social media site. This data is key to creating data-driven buyer personas which reflect the search terms that led your audience to your digital channels, as well as the devices and platforms they used to get there. Taking an analytical approach using data from web and social media analytics, customer surveys, and customer communications helps create data-driven insights. Having market research results helps to provide a greater understanding of who you are speaking to on your various marketing channels.
3. Create a Buyer Persona Document
Once you have captured your research and analyzed your data, you can create a document which can be used across the company to best convey your customer needs and wants. The persona should be more visual than text, including images, icons, logos and graphics to represent and visually convey the overall “story” of the persona (target segment). Items to consider including in your document include:
Name: The buyer persona should begin with a name. This helps bring the audience to life, creating empathy to humanize marketing efforts.
Job title: If you are in B2B, your persona should include a job title, essential information about their company (size, industry, department, location, etc) and details about their job role, to include challenges, goals and frustrations
Demographics: Demographics should reflect the image chosen for the buyer and convey the average age, gender, household income level, geographic location, education level, household side and any other economic data available which represents this target audience segment
Goals and challenges: Everyone has goals and challenges, whether personal or professionally driven. Include a few goals and challenges (2 - 3 bullets for each) your audience segment may have, how your company and help them reach their goals and help them to overcome their challenges.
Personal Values and Fears: Just like goals, people have specific values and frustrations in your target audience segment. Include a few bullets (based on research) of personal values/beliefs and fears, as well as, common objections heard during the customer journey
Marketing message: along with your persona, include a second page on how you would describe or communicate your product or services to this individual and a consistent message based on how you would sell yourself to this customer.
Personalized Information: Evaluate the technologies used by this segment, social media and other digital channels where they spend their time, preferred news sources and blogs. Include icons or logos to reflect the personalized information
Behavioral Information: Per data obtained about this segment, include a few behavioral items such as music, brands, clothing, restaurants etc. which reflect their lifestyle. A great website to capture and utilize customer behavioral information is Claritas Zip Code Locator.
Personalizing the “persona” will help to target efforts more specifically, and breathe extra life into your personas. By creating a data-driven buyer persona, companies have reaped benefits in terms of sales, word-of-mouth, increased customer retention and engagement.