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Using customer personas to build successful products and campaigns

Customer personas, in addition to buyer personas and user personas, are a critical component of your company’s marketing strategy.

Your customers are the driving force behind your business, and customer personas put you into their shoes. Take a few minutes with us to learn about customer personas, their importance, how to use them, and how to create them.

A customer persona is a fictional character that represents your target customer. You’ll flesh out this persona completely—as if it was a real person—using research and customer data. You’ll likely need more than one persona because different customers use your products and services to serve different needs. Once created, customer personas should be updated regularly when you gain more insights or data on your customers. You’ll use these personas to personalize your marketing, advertising, customer service, and more.

Typically, a customer persona includes age, demographic details, profession, goals, pain points, and buying behaviors, though you can customize the information to work best for your business. These personas are on the opposite end, a negative persona represents the person you don’t want as a customer. This could be students who engage with your brand, but can’t afford your products, or customers who shop for more exclusive products—so your less expensive options may not fit their needs.

You may have also encountered the terms user persona and buyer persona. User personas are used by product designers to empathize with real users. Buyer personas are representative of the person who is shopping for the product. The main difference between the types of personas is intent. Buyer and customer personas are used by the marketing team to direct messaging throughout the customer journey. User personas are used by the design team to understand users and their goals for product use.

There is no standard set of customer personas that apply generally to any business. Your business, regardless of how many competitors you have, is completely unique—so your customer personas must also be unique. 

Similar companies may create similar categories of personas based on careers, such as a teacher, a human resources coordinator, or a mechanical engineer. Other companies may base their personas on personality traits. But your company’s personas will be based on who your target audience includes and what you have to offer them.

If you aren’t sure where to start, here are seven core personas you can use to classify your target market and create your customer personas. Please note that these are not fully-realized personas. These are a jumping-off point for creating your own:

  1. The Value Hunter is looking for the best deal. They respond to marketing that promotes a compelling value proposition with the benefits of your products. Coupons, flash sales, and exclusive offers appeal and create a sense of urgency to buy.
  2. Researchers take their time learning about your products. They respond to reviews and case studies that build trust in your brand with social proof.
  3. The Brand Devotee is a loyal brand customer. They know your products, are repeat customers, and often are brand ambassadors. Appeal to them with an engaging customer experience and a loyalty program.
  4. Social Butterflies are the customers who like to share their finds with friends and family. Place links for social sharing prominently on your website for ease of use.
  5. The Replenisher is an avid repeat customer. To keep them on board, you need to offer convenient, personalized reordering experiences. This can include a subscription service or free shipping.
  6. The Mobile Shopper is on the go and makes purchases on their mobile device. They need a convenient, streamlined buying process. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
  7. The Gifter buys for friends and family. If you sell products that appeal to this type of buyer, focus on the value and benefits of gifting. Offer gift guides, gifting services, and promotions.

An effective marketing strategy requires a team that is of one mind about its goals. Creating customer personas ensures that the entire team has a clear understanding of the target segment, including their desires and behavior patterns. As a result, the team will make strategic decisions based on a solid picture of your target consumer, rather than rely on intuition.

Creating a customer persona ensures that your marketing is grounded in your research on your customer segments. A customer-centric culture puts your customer knowledge at the center of your marketing focus.

Customer personas help you serve content that is meeting the needs of the customer segment you are targeting. This helps guide your messaging and positioning to personalize your approach for each segment, making it specific to them.

When you can picture the person you’re targeting, you can more effectively plan what to say and do to meet their needs. Personalized messaging will resonate with them and not with those who are not a perfect fit for your product. Your leads will be qualified and of higher quality.

Give your customer service team an edge with customer personas. Train them about the types of customers they will encounter so they’ll be able to provide them with more effective, personalized services to address the customers’ challenges.

If you’re looking for help improving CX at your company, Momentive, the maker of SurveyMonkey, offers a full menu of AI-powered solutions that will help you deliver memorable experiences for your customers. You can improve customer satisfaction, website experience, and more with Momentive solutions. 

When creating your buyer persona, you’ll include demographic information, psychographic information, identifying information, and barriers to purchase. Based on your industry, type of customer, and need that you’re addressing, you may include different details within each element. 

  • Demographic information
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Income
    • Location
    • Education level
    • Professional information—industry, job title, company size, etc.
  • Psychographic information 
    • Personal background such as hobbies and interests
    • Values and goals like beliefs, desire for achievements, aspirations
    • Challenges, pain points, or problems that the customer needs help fixing
  • Identifying information which includes social media use, influencer role, communication preferences, etc.
  • Objects or barriers to purchase 
    • Current financial situation
    • Fear that the product won’t work for them
    • Procrastination
    • No urgency

Now that you know what a customer persona is and why it’s important to your business, let’s start creating them. The following tips will take you through the process.

While you’re creating a persona, it’s a good idea to keep the following questions in mind. The answers will help you create a well-rounded persona.

  • What are your audience’s basic demographics?
    • Age, gender identity, race, income, marital status, etc.
  • What is your audience’s educational background?
    • High school diploma, some college, college graduate
  • Where do they work?
    • Industry, job title, level (entry, intermediate, management)
  • Describe a typical day in their life
    • Daily tasks, influences on their decisions
  • What are their goals, values, aspirations?
    • What do they want? What is stopping them from achieving their goals?
  • Where do they research or shop online?  
    • Google, Amazon, etc.
  • What are their questions/concerns about your product/service? 
    • Price, quality, value, warranty, etc.
  • How do they prefer interaction? 
    • Phone, email, live chat
  • Which times would be best for them to engage with and respond to your content?
    • When are they available to spend the time to speak with you?

Pro tip: Don’t base your customer persona on one real customer. It might be tempting to choose one customer and write them up as your persona, but don’t do it! Your persona is a composite of your core customers and should include elements from multiple people.

Divide up your customers based on common characteristics, such as behaviors or demographics. These segmentation groups will be the basis for your customer personas. 

Some of the ways you can segment your customers:

  • Demographics: age, gender, education, income, marital status
  • Geographic: country, city, state, town
  • Psychographic: personality, attitudes, values, interests
  • Technographic: mobile device use, desktop computing, apps, software
  • Behavioral: frequent actions, product use, habits
  • Needs-based: product or service must-haves for the specific customer group
  • Value-based: economic value of customer group on business

If you need assistance with segmenting, Momentive, SurveyMonkey’s parent company, offers a Consumer Segmentation solution to help you easily perform segmentation. If you’re basing your segments on demographics, SurveyMonkey Audience makes the process simple by pairing you with a global audience of survey respondents.

Now it’s time to research further into your customer segments. Talk with your sales team about their interactions with leads. Interview customers and prospects about your product or service. Conduct surveys to gather qualitative and quantitative data on your segmented customers. With all of your research on hand, it’s time to start building your customer personas.

At this point, you’ve gathered your demographic information through surveys, research, or interviews. Start with a stock image and give your customer persona a name to humanize it and keep it top-of-mind for those who will be using it. This image makes it easier to picture the persona as a real customer.

What is your persona looking for? What are their pain points in the process of obtaining it? How can you help them? The answers to these questions reveal the motivation for seeking out your product or service.

Since you know your persona well, what kind of messaging do you plan to use with them? This helps ensure that everyone from sales to marketing to customer service is using the same language to communicate.

This example is for a buyer persona for a coffee shop that is located near a college campus. Your business may require different or more extensive details, depending on the industry and the target customer segment, but this gives you an idea of what your finished persona might look like.

Customer persona profile

Background/demographicsGoals/pain pointsIdentifiersReal quotes
• 20 years old
• Single
• Lives in Buffalo, NY
• Full-time graphic design student
• Works in bookstore part-time
• Income below  $30K/yr
• Limited income
• Need for a place that isn’t her apartment or school library to study or relax or re-energize
• Worries she won’t be able to afford school expenses
• Primary social channel is Instagram
• Also uses Facebook and Twitter
Prefers texting to phone calls or emails
“I need a quiet place to relax and recharge after my classes. It can’t be expensive, because I don’t have much disposable income. It has to have WiFi in case I need to work on something for school.”
What can we do?Marketing messaging
• Deals and coupons
• Specials for students
• Comfortable seating with charging stations
• Social media engagement discounts
• We welcome students
• Student specials
• Post your coffee on the gram
• Sign up for student discounts
• Post your coffee for a coupon
• Espresso yourself
• Free WiFi
• Relax and Revive

Looking to go beyond customer personas and create buyer personas? Try this additional resource

Does your product have users, such as those for mobile apps, SAAS, etc? Try this additional resource for creating user personas.

Customer personas may be used in a variety of ways in both product development and marketing campaigns. Once you have your personas developed, share them with your team so that each department can use the persona to guide their processes.

With your customer personas in hand, your product and sales teams can keep the very specific characteristics of your target customers in mind.

Give your product team a clear picture of the customers they are designing for. A well-crafted persona empowers your team to create successful products based on a solid understanding of your customer needs. It’s easier to visualize the customer with a persona than it is with raw data. 

The customer persona you’ve created should guide the creation of any sales collateral materials for your products. Sales scripts, landing pages, product demos, and more should use the persona to create a personalized experience for customers. Your ROI for ad spend will improve when your message is focused on your persona. It also humanizes the customer in the eyes of the sales team. If they have a persona in mind, they can communicate more effectively and empathetically with customers.

Your meaningful archetypes will give your product team-specific people references as they design your product. Personas aid in creating inclusive designs that make your products accessible.

Create your marketing campaigns based on your customer personas. Your content should contain more relevant references, include your personas’ language (slang, emojis, hashtags, industry terms, etc.), and be centered on solving your customers’ problems.

Focus on your customer objectives rather than company objectives. Use your persona to create messaging that focuses on the needs, goals, and behaviors of your ideal customers.

Keep your customer persona in mind when creating content for social channels, blogs, marketing campaigns, landing pages, and advertising. Speaking directly to their needs is likely to compel them to purchase.

When you know your customers’ pain points, goals, and motivations, you can personalize your brand as the solution to their problems. Build a bond with customers to establish trust and loyalty.

Create customer personas to intimately understand your customers. This understanding will direct your marketing and sales efforts with content that will resonate with your customer segments. Your customer personas will also ensure that all members of your team are communicating with customers in the same way, improving customer service and satisfaction. Improve your reach, boost conversions, and increase customer loyalty with buyer personas.

Start segmenting your customer base with SurveyMonkey today. And when you’re ready to begin your market research, we have solutions for that, too.

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