Brands often use segmentation to help understand and target an audience. This means taking into consideration general details about the average customer, such as their demographic, gender, socio-economic status and so on.
However, as highlighted in Econsultancy’s Content Strategy Best Practice Guide, personas can be one of the most effective ways of bringing this customer segmentation to life.
So, what exactly are customer personas, and why are they so important? Let’s get back to basics on the subject, using insight from the report.
Let’s start with the difference between customer segments and personas. First, segmentation allows a brand to understand different sets or groups of customers. This might tell us where a particular group lives, their age range, and maybe even some of their typical buying behavior. A customer persona, on the other hand, allows brands to better understand these homogenous groups, and to recognize key traits within them.
In order to create a representative sample of an audience, personas are based on the analysis and research of real customers. This helps to build a much more detailed picture of the (hypothetical) customer, including far more emotive information such as personal motivations, what they value in a brand, what kind of communication they prefer, etc.
Brands are then able to take this insight and use it to deliver a much more relevant and less one-dimensional experience.
How to create a customer persona?
The below image is an example of how to lay out key elements of the customer persona, integrating information such as similar brands of interest, frustrations and motivations.
But where exactly does this information come from?
Keyword research is one effective tool for generating data, allowing brands to discover exactly what customers are searching for in relation to their product or website. For example, if a retailer discovers that a popular search term is its brand-name alongside the word ‘discount’ or ‘offer’, it could be the case that customers value price over other factors like entertaining content or fast delivery – informing the ‘motivations’ part of a persona.
Social media is another important tool for establishing personas, with most platforms already having in-built analytics that can offer key data sets.
Facebook Insights, for example, allows brands to tap into how users are responding to ads, as well as what kind of content is generating the most engagement. By comparing this to specific user data, such as gender, relationship status and so on, brands are able to flesh out personas even more.
Finally, alongside data-driven tools, customer personas can also be largely influenced by surveys, feedback, and one-to-one interviews.