“Could you share with me your customer persona?”
“What’s your ideal customer profile?”
This will always be one of the first questions we’ll ask ourselves and our clients before launching any campaigns.
And the answers we get are quite underwhelming.
Many Marketers have a vague idea of who they’re trying to target.
But they’re unclear about the customer journey, the channels prospects hang out in, and what triggered them to look for their solutions.
Without a proper customer persona, it’s impossible to market efficiently.
To make matters worse, certain strategies like LinkedIn Marketing are expensive.
Not knowing the customer persona will burn through your campaign cash without many results.
In this guide, we’ll go through step-by-step how you can build a customer persona and increase the ROI of your marketing campaigns
Table of Contents
- What is a customer persona?
- Why is a customer persona important?
- Types of Customer Personas
- How to create a detailed customer persona
- Customer persona interview questions
- Customer Persona Example & Templates
- B2C Customer Persona Template
- B2B Customer Persona Template & Example
- How to design a customer journey map (With Template)
What is a customer persona?
A customer persona is a fictional character that tells you what prospective consumers are thinking and doing while they consider their options for solving an issue that your company addresses. Some marketers call it audience persona, customer persona, customer profile, or marketing persona. They all mean the same thing.
Actionable customer personas reveal insights into your buyers’ decisions — the specific attitudes, concerns, and criteria that drive prospective customers to choose you, your competitor, or the status quo. They’re much more than a one-dimensional profile of the people you need to influence, or a map of their journey.
A Customer persona is made up of a buyer profile and buyer insights.
Customer profile refers to the demographic of the audience, while customer insights tell you the when, how, and why aspects of your prospect’s decision to buy.
Why is a customer persona important?
When you have insight into what your buyers think about doing business with you, including verbatim quotes from people who have recently made the decision to solve a similar problem, you have the information you need to align your marketing decisions – from positioning and messaging to content marketing and sales enablement – with your buyers’ expectations.
The return on investment is simple: when you know how to assist purchasers to evaluate your strategy on their own terms, you establish a bond of trust that your competitors can’t match.
A customer persona will help you to know:
- Which buyers are receptive, and which will ignore you no matter what you say
- Which aspects of your solution are relevant to them, and which are irrelevant
- What attitudes prevent your buyers from considering your solutions
- What resources do your buyers trust as they evaluate their options
- Which buyers are involved in the decision and how much influence do they wield
- What ad targeting to select on ad platforms
- What lead magnet and offers to use for lead generation
Other benefits include:
- Improve team understanding of audience: Aids in increasing focus on customer needs rather than products.
- Personas can be used to make websites more customer-focused in terms of both navigation and content. The goal of UX-led personas is to improve task completion and satisfaction.
- Increase conversion on-site and improve ROI of marketing campaigns. Overall drives higher revenue and growth for the company.
- Objective, not subjective: Improvements based on explicit data-driven and research-driven assumptions about priority users.
Types of Customer Personas
A customer persona can be broken down into 2 types.
- High-consideration decisions
- Low-consideration decisions
It has nothing to do with whether you’re in B2B or B2C.
When people make a high-consideration purchase—think of a consumer buying a home or an executive making a million-dollar purchase —they devote a significant amount of time and effort to weighing their options. Some decisions are made in a matter of days, while others take weeks, months, or even years.
Whether it’s a huge corporation’s information executive reviewing a new technological architecture or parents contemplating a college for their son or daughter, these decisions demand a significant financial investment, and the outcome will have a long-term impact on the lives of others.
Before making a decision, the buyers conduct a thorough examination of the numerous possibilities.
When you compare how that same person would approach a low-consideration choice—such as choosing one brand of soap from a shelf full of options—It’s easy to see why Buying Insights are more readily available to marketers of medium to high-consideration solutions.
Complex algorithms that evaluate the buyer’s online behavior, or pricey choice modeling and ethnographic research that attempt to examine mind-sets that people cannot explain, even to themselves, are the best ways to understand low-consideration buying decisions
|High-Consideration Decisions or Purchases||Low-Consideration Decisions or Purchases|
|Type of persona research||Interviews, Active listening mainly. The buyer’s deliberate engagement in this decision allows you to fully grasp both the logical and emotional components just by asking them||Big data with algorithm, Online behavior, ethnographic, behavioral observations, choice modeling and experiments|
How to create a detailed customer persona
Plan the customer persona insights you need
You’ll need to first find out what triggers your buyers to prioritize investing in a solution like your company offers. As your buyers transition from the status quo to purchasing a solution like yours, you’ll know what caused it to happen, when does it happen, and who’s engaged in the decisions.
These are the 5 buying insights you’ll need to build a detailed persona.
- You need to find the most compelling reason why purchasers choose to invest in a solution comparable to the one your company provides, and why others are satisfied with the status quo. This insight will reveal the personal or organizational circumstances that motivate consumers to commit their time, resources, or political capital to purchase a solution like yours.
- Describe the operational or personal outcomes that your customer persona anticipates from your solution. Success Factors are similar to benefits, but they eliminate the need to guess or reverse-engineer your messaging based on the capabilities of your product. Through this insight, you’d know which problems are the most concerning and how your customers define the benefits of gaining control.
- Perceived barrier insights reveals what stops customers from choosing your solution—and why some believe your competitors have a better approach. The roadblock could be due to internal opposition from another decision maker or a bad past experience with similar solutions. It could be an inaccurate negative perception of your product or company.
- You’ll need to understand the buyer’s journey. This insight provides the behind-the-scenes story of how your buyers analyze options, eliminate competitors, and make their final decision. You’ll be able to see which of multiple influencers are involved at each stage of the choice, what they did to get at their findings, and how much impact each of them has.
- You’ll need to list their Decision Criterias. This insight will inform you about the precise characteristics of your product, service, or solution that purchasers consider when comparing different methods. Consumers are dissatisfied with benefits-oriented marketing materials, according to Decision Criteria findings, and organizations that communicate facts are more likely to acquire their buyers’ trust. You might even discover that your most recent or unique qualities have the least influence on their judgment.
Select research methods, questions and techniques
Customer persona research doesn’t have to be expensive. With so much data and accessibility today, there are more agile cost-effective ways to approach research.
Start your customer persona research with data your business collects. Use the following online tools if you already have them
- Facebook analytics
- Google analytics
- Google search console
- LinkedIn analytics
- LinkedIn Company Page analytics
- Youtube analytics
- Instagram analytics
- Twitter page insights
- CRM Database (Cluster or profile analysis to identify buying groups)
- On-site customer surveys (If you’re using tools like Hotjar)
- Built-with Technology look up (To see what technology stack they’re using)
You may also explore other qualitative research methods:
- Focus groups
You may also purchase third-party data to identify your customer persona. However this is the least recommended as these data points are just averages and not specific to your company.
- Other Online Panel Data Tracking Browsers etc
Prepare and conduct customer interviews
Preparing for a customer interview:
- Scan the buyer’s Linkedin profile to understand their current position and background
- You don’t need to be an expert on the product, but you do need to understand the industry jargon and terminology they might use.
At the start of the interview:
- As for permission to record just before the call. Here’s a sample interview question for this: “I appreciate you taking the time to do this today. I’d like to write down everything you say, but I’m worried I’ll miss anything if I try to take notes. So, before we begin, I’d ask your permission to record this conversation. The recording will not be shared with anybody other than the small team working on this project with me. Is that all right?”
During the interview:
- Go direct and straight into the interview. Here’s a sample statement: “I understand you’re quite busy, Tim.” Because I value your time, I’d like to jump right into our first question. Tell me about the first time you decided to examine a new automated email marketing solution [or whichever category your product falls into] and what happened.”
- Always dive as deep as you can. Interviewees might get vague. Here’s a sample statement you can make “I’d like to return to what you stated regarding the need of tracking marketing ROI and improving the success of your efforts. I’m sure you had that aim in mind long before you started seeking for a solution. What changed or happened to make it necessary to begin looking?”
- Try not to interrupt the interviewee while they’re speaking. If you have a question that comes up while they’re speaking, jot it down and ask after they’re done. Focus and listen to what they’re saying in the moment.
- Probe with questions like: “Tell me more about…” or “What was important about…,”
- Keep probing. For example: “So, once you realized you required a new email marketing system, what was your first step in determining which solutions might fit these requirements?”
- When buyers use jargon, probe further by what they mean. For example, if they say “cutting-edge” ask them specifically what makes the product cutting edge. Alternatively, you can ask them why is your product more “cutting-edge” compared to another product.
- If a buyer mention that they rely on a certain marketing resource or information to decide, probe further by asking: “How did the information you found there impact your choice of vendors”. Do not probe for the competitor’s name. Instead find out more about what they found useful in the your competitor’s demo.
- During key transition points, you may ask: “You started with three solutions and options, How did you decide to eliminate the other 2?”
- Find out who are the decision-makers, you “So you mentioned that ‘we’ were evaluating the input from the consultants. Who else was involved? I don’t need names, just the roles of the other people”.
- You may also probe to ensure understanding the perceived value of your product. For example: “We are hearing from buyers that they are willing to pay more for our solution because it [the aspect of your product or service that is perceived to be a competitive advantage]. What are your thoughts on that?”
- Understand whether there are features that affected the buyer’s journey. You may ask questions like: “We have heard from buyers that [the workaround solution] is important to them because they can do [the intended outcome when using the missing feature]. What are your thoughts about that?”
Customer persona interview questions
Here are customer research and buyer persona interview questions you can use
- Why did you buy this? What does it allow you to do?
- Don’t focus on features. Focus on the day-to-day problem it solves.
- What’s the goal? What are they trying to get to?
- If they state a feature, ask them deeper what does it truly help them do?
- What is going on? Why are trying to achieve their goal? What’s the innate desire behind the goal?
- Why is this benefit important to you? Listen for emotional outcomes!
- How long had you been thinking about this purchase?
- Walk me through some of your most common day-to-day workflows.
- Can you describe the process do doing X before? How are you currently doing X?
- How long has this pain been around for you?
- What’s so hard? what are the tradeoffs.
- Can you describe the process do doing X before? How are you currently doing X?
- Walk me through some of your most common day-to-day workflows. Where within them would you use our product?
- When you found our solution, how did that make you feel? And why?
- What made you switch to us? What were you feeling then?
- What outcome you would like to achieve? Why?
- What are the most important success metrics you’re measured on?
- What are the challenges that might prevent you from reaching those goals?
- What do you expect the product will do for you?
- How much time and money do you think you’ll save? Or expect to save.
- What are you able to do with our product that you weren’t before?
- Could you help me complete this sentence: When [situation/struggle] i want to [top motivator] so i can [Desired outcome]
- What nearly stopped you from buying from us?
Customer Persona Example & Templates
Building a standardized buyer persona template is important to scale and keep your persona-building methods consistent.
Here’s a template and example that we use from Smart Insights:
The key elements in a customer persona:
- General information (Name, Type, Decision Role)
- Demographics (Age, Gender, Other influencers)
- Decision-Making style
- Goal and Motivations
- Barriers and Challenges
- Key Marketing Message positioning
- Description of their personal/home and work situation
- Buying Scenario (Buying triggers points – What caused them to look for a solution like yours)
- Preferred media and channels they hang out in
- Social Media usage
- What Devices are they on.
Fill this template out and you will get the characteristics and buying context of your buyer persona. This should enable you to make your communications and experiences more relevant to your persona.
B2C Customer Persona Template
The example and template above for B2C. Most B2C buyer persona template are too superficial. They don’t cover the buying scenarios or study which channels are used by the audience to discover their brand.
B2B Customer Persona Template & Example
B2B Buyer personas are slightly different. Here’s an example and template.
We can take this further by using the 5 buying insights that we listed at the start of the article. These questions are usually better suited for B2B or high-consideration items.
- Size of Company
- Estimated Revenue of Company
- Job title
- Department (Job function)
- Reports to
- Importance of Persona to the company
- Identifying Buying Committee
- Key responsibilities
- Goals and KPIs
- Priority Initiatives (What business conditions trigger evaluation of our offering)
- Success factors (What results or outcomes does this persona expect from Smart Insights?)
- Perceived Barriers (What attitudes or concerns prevent this buyer from investing in Smart Insights or choosing a competitor?)
- Decision Criteria (Which features of a learning platform does this buyer evaluate as they compare alternatives?)
- Buyer’s Journey (What is the buyers’ role in the decision and who else will impact the decision?)
- Media Touchpoints and key content to support Awareness Phase
- Media Touchpoints and key content to support Evaluation/Consideration Phase
- Media Touchpoints and key content to support Decision-making Phase
How to design a customer journey map (With Template)
Here are 2 examples of a customer journey map. Understanding how the customer discovers, considers and purchases your brand is important. You’ll be able to create relevant content and be in the right channels.
A great customer journey map includes the following details:
- Media touchpoints
- Key questions
- Key content
- Interactive tools
Each of these touchpoints has to built for the “awareness, consideration/evaluation, and purchase/decision” stages.
These templates are a great starting point. But I’d strongly encourage you to customize it accordingly to your company’s Marketing strategy.
After you’ve built your persona, you can check out our post on marketing strategies. It outlines 11 different ways you can market to your personas.
If you have further questions, feel free to get in touch with us here