You’re probably well aware of a customer persona. Otherwise known as buyer personas, or marketing personas, these fictional representations of your ideal customer help you capture, document and sell to the right target audiences for your business.
You might have these in your overall marketing strategy document. You might have them in posters hanging on your wall. Wherever they are, it’s important that everyone on your team is on the same page when it comes to your personas.
Through the right research, using the right tools and data, you can ultimately land on some really thorough and accurate buyer personas that you are targeting with your content or marketing messaging.
But what if they aren’t working so well?
As consumers have evolved and our always-on lifestyle has transformed the way we communicate, you may find it increasingly challenging to reach the right people. You may even find that, after running a few campaigns, maybe you were looking at the wrong people.
What you may be experiencing is having some small, but significant, lapses within your target personas.
Here are 5 things that may be missing from your customer personas:
1. Other brands your customers like
Not to burst your bubble, but your audiences like other brands, entities and personalities other than you-- even if your online brand is entirely made up of puppies and ice cream content.
It’s possible that you’re leaving out what other brands resonate with your target audiences.
For example, in our latest report covering advertising agencies and their brand clients, we discovered that for the IKEA brand some of the most discussed brands were Apple, Pinterest and Target.
IKEA consumers are most likely fans of the Apple brand, could be iPhone or Mac users. and people who are interested in planning their interior design and other hobbies and activities using Pinterest for inspiration.
It’s important that you incorporate what other brands your customer might be interested in and what other brands and products they may interact with in their daily lives. These elements are reflections of who your customers are, and documenting them will help you make more accurate assumptions and predict their behaviors better.
2. Audience Interests (based on data)
In addition to other brands, you’ll also need to document what things, activities, hobbies and entertainment also interest your buyers. Knowing what your audiences might be up to, what they are passionate about, and what they like to talk about is an important aspect of getting to know these customers and building a relationship with them.
Perhaps you have hobbies or interests listed on your current buyer personas. But the mistake marketers often make here is that these interests aren’t rooted in data, but are simply assumption based.
A good example of this might be a financial brand including stocks, investing and the economy as a high interest or hobby in their persona because that seems to make sense. But the data on these audiences show that they have other interests that exceed that of financial related ones:
The audiences for the reputable financial brands Capital One, Fidelity and H&R Block all have a high cross index for topics like “television”, “email”, and “World Soccer”. It may make sense to focus on people’s interests in entertainment, politics, business and sports.
Make sure you’re well-versed in what interests your ideal customers so that you can find ways to relate to them.
3. Psychographics and Motivators
You may have a whole bunch of demographics data within your persona profiles. Age-range, gender, occupation, income-- the whole nine yards. Unfortunately, the old way of analyzing demographics is dead.
You need psychographics: your ideal customers’ thoughts, feelings, emotions, and motivators.
That means including information such as sentiment, emotions like joy or anger, and themes like whether they are showing an intent to purchase or if they trust you.
A company that makes skateboards, for example, might find a overlap with high interest in music within their audience base.
Conducting further research, they may be able to zero in on a geographic trend that shows their audiences are also discussing a concert event or around a specific artist. Maybe you find that the results in your research platform say that that people are expressing joy about this concert, and their is a high expectation and purchase intent.
What does this tell us? That people in the skateboard brand’s target are passionate about music, they could be attending a concert to see a certain artist, and they are excited about it. This could tell us that it would benefit that skateboard company to do some kind of campaign around music and similar lifestyles or even do a partnership with the artist to create a themed skateboard product.
If they bought the concert ticket, they could be motivated to buy this skateboard product as well.
By aligning our earlier insights about what your customer is interested in and other brands or groups they discuss along with these emotions and motivators, you can start to paint the picture of how your target buyer spends his or her money.
That’s really what you need to know in order to get them to spend money with you.
4. Influential factors
There are tons of different factors that could indeed influence your target customers. We have to absolve ourselves of the thinking that brands have control over their customers simply with messaging and advertising.
The most influential entity? Our peers. 90% of people say they are influenced to buy products by friends, online influencers and people who they are connected to on social media.
Knowing this, you’ll need to include details about what kinds of things potentially influence your target buyer.
If you’re a sunglasses brand and your target buyer is a millennial-aged woman who loves California vibes, the beach and bright colors, perhaps you include this section in your buyer persona under the title “influenced by”:
- People and pictures where the subject matter includes swimming pools, palm trees and fun pool floats
- Their friends who post a ton of summer vacation travel pictures on social media
- A style and fashion micro-influencer on Instagram and Pinterest
- The personal need to take a picture every time they see/consume a fun or colorful snack like a popsicle or a donut
This may sound completely foreign or even silly to you, but you need to include details about your ideal customer that explains what influences how they act and who they see themselves as.
In this case, your target could become a buyer if, say, your social media content includes similar characteristics and imagery that falls under each of those influential factors.
5. Real examples
Intelligence driven tools like social listening platforms provide you with data on real people, which can help you base your target personas on accurate representations of your customers.
That’s one step closer to having a better audience personas. But take it a step further. Instead of only including details about ideal customers, or fictional representations of them, actually include information about people who are already buyers.
This is easier for B2B businesses whose teams likely have direct lines of communications open to their clients. But this is still possible within the B2C world. If you’re able to build and nurture strong relationships with your customers through social media marketing, email and surprise and delight campaigns, you can get to know some of your customers at scale, enabling you to use their details in your personas.
Social listening tools like Infegy Atlas can help you drill down further to find precise examples of who is interacting with your brand and their lifestyles and interests too. This will allow you to have even more accurate persona profiles on your target customers.
If your customer personas are missing any of the above attributes, this is the time to get together with your team and utilize the right resources to uncover these insights.
Another thing to keep in mind: remember that your target personas need to be dynamic and flexible. The way we used to develop our buyer personas included a method of boxing people into various demographic groups, which doesn’t work in today’s always moving, short attention span society.