Developing an awesome Customer Persona is a critical first step in today’s on-line world.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram were the top seven platforms used by marketers in 2015. That’s the word from Social Media Examiner.
And 66 per cent of marketers plan to increase their use of Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn in the future.
If this is you and you are planning to use these platforms or increase your use of a particular social media channel, part of any successful marketing strategy, including that of social media marketing, is the development of a detailed customer persona. Have you got one?
What is a customer persona?
A customer persona is a research-based, quintessential representation of individual, identifiable groups of consumers who purchase from your brand. It incorporates:
- Who buyers are
- How they think
- What goals drive their behaviour
- How they purchase
- Why they make the buying decisions they do
Getting to know in depth just who your customers are is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating effective and valuable content for your website and social media page. It is this insight into the persona of the target audience that offers a backdrop for the creation of the storytelling that is so much a part of marketing to consumers. By aligning the marketing efforts and focus of the brand with the target consumer, it is easier for business owners to develop products, create marketing strategies, and to know where to place their brand’s focus.
Customer profiling includes answering questions of not just how old the consumers who buy your products are, where they live, and their relative socioeconomic status, but instead offers a much deeper level of understanding of who they are and what their motivations to buy may be.
The endgame of customer profiling is that a great marketing and social media strategy will target the consumer with a profound understanding of what they want and why they want it, as well as what motivates them to go out and get it. It also considers why and how they use social media, and what they seek from the overall social media experience.
Defining a customer persona is the crucial first step in strategic planning. Some initial questions that must be asked by business owners when beginning the process of creating a customer persona include:
- How do our customers wish to be approached?
- Will our content position us well in the consumer’s mind?
- How do our target consumers process information?
- Do my products or services appeal and offer value to the consumer?
- What prompts the consumer to make a proactive decision to buy?
The benefits of customer profiling
- Increased return on investment on strategic marketing and social media activities, as results are research-based.
- Development of more cost-effective marketing activities.
- Context for content development and marketing messaging.
- Stronger brand messaging that is targeted to the consumer.
- Understanding of sales triggers.
- Minimised redundant advertising.
- Generation of understanding of consumer objections to buying.
- Maximised social media content planning for:
- Topic development
- Optimal social media platforms to use
- Linguistics and tone of posts
- Timing of post publication
- Frequency of post publication
- Digital strategic planning (mobile optimisation, etc)
Having the information collected via customer profiling allows the brand to look at the target consumer as an individual as opposed to a large, invisible and generic group. By effectively creating a customer profile, marketing can be affected to ensure the consumer will be more inclined to flow through the sales cycle from brand awareness to interest and through to desire and, ultimately, action.
How to profile customers:
Regardless of how large or small your business is, you need to know your customers. This is a specialist field and there are professionals that you can hire to collect qualitative information on consumers. This is great if you are a company with a suitable budget for this, but there are ways to succeed at customer profiling on your own.
You need to identify your ideal customer.
How do you achieve this?
Put simply, you need to talk to your customers. They have all the answers you seek, and if asked in a suitable way, will more often than not be more than amenable to answering your questions. (Let’s face it, most people like to talk about themselves!). Do this via questionnaires (online or verbal), insights and market research where it is available.
The answers to the questions you ask will ultimately address the following:
- How to optimally communicate with and connect with the customer.
- How to attract and retain consumer interest.
- How to provide value for the consumer.
- How to influence purchasing decisions for an actionable result.
- How to encourage and perpetuate customer loyalty.
Information to collect includes:
- Marital status
- Family or children
- Education level
- Income range
- Financial situation
- Preferred brands
- Shopping habits
- Motivation for buying your product
- Factors impacting decision to purchase (features, price, resell value, branding, customer service, etc)
After undertaking this process, most companies will find they have more than one customer persona – representing the main subgroups of people who purchase from their brand. There may be as few as one or two, or as many as a dozen or more, depending on your brand and what you offer.
You can also use customer profiling to identify “negative” personas – these represent who you do not want as a customer. These include prospects who are unlikely to ever purchase, including anyone too advanced for your service or product, those who engage for content research as opposed to conversion, and those who are socioeconomically disparate from your ideal demographic.
How do you now use the customer persona you have created?
Use the resultant customer personas you have collected in your marketing and business social media activities in the following ways:
- Address specific consumers – target messages to the buyer directly.
- Address specific issues consumers have – as opposed to general issues.
- Address specific consumer beliefs – rather than simply stating that your product is what they need.
- Placement of targeted marketing accurately.
- Adapting marketing messages about products that fit into the price range of your target customer.
Your customer profile can be used with what you know about the buying cycle to create your social media content strategy.
The buyer cycle is simply awareness, consideration and purchase: Awareness of a need; consideration of solutions; and finally purchase of the solution.
You can use your social media platform to integrate your marketing with the buyer journey through these steps:
- Describe the problem (convince them they have this problem or missing aspect in their lives).
- Introduce your solution.
- Provide detailed information on the solution.
- Back up your claims with reviews and testimonials.
- Provide a link for the consumer to act and purchase.
Social media can be used to create brand awareness, increase the potential customer base and convert leads, establish conversation about a product or the brand at large, demonstrate professionalism and industry standing, become an authority and point of reference, and grow profits. The first step to all of this is always development of a customer persona!
The right social media strategy that is based on in depth customer profiling will guarantee a high return on investment for business owners and social media marketers. A customer persona has the power to penetrate a company’s mindset to align the brand with the consumer via personalised marketing. Knowledge of your perfect buyer’s mindset can be used to enable optimised product development, targeted advertising, premium branding and to motivate the consumer to act in a positive way – ultimately, purchasing and growing your business.
If want to step up your social media efforts this year, now is the perfect time to get your social media strategy together. Intimate knowledge of social media advertising trends results in a successful social media marketing strategy. This translates to a broader advertising reach, exponential growth in your customer base, higher consumer interest, interaction and satisfaction, and, ultimately, greater profits for your business.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG: Top social media trends for 2016
Meanwhile, if you are one of many thousands of people looking to step up your usage of LinkedIn, did you know we offer a free LinkedIn eCourse? To help you get the most out of the platform for your business, if LinkedIn is your preferred social media channel, we’d love to offer you this course.
Here’s the low down a few other social media platforms? Read these blogs: