Posted on 6/1/2015 in Business and Strategy

By Jeannine Szymczak

This is the question you must ask yourself before embarking on your next website redesign, email campaign or product launch. How are you going to reach your target audience if you don’t understand them? In order to communicate your message effectively, you need to determine who you are talking to and what are they all about. Through this discovery process, you can identify the different personas that make up your current and potential customer base.

What is a Persona?

A persona is a generalized representation of your ideal customer. They can have different roles in the sales cycle. For example, not all personas necessarily represent someone who purchases your actual product. They may have a heavy influence on the person who does, so they are just as important. The purpose for creating these personas is to help you get into the mind of your target audience so that you can better understand their goals, needs, hopes and fears so that your message will resonate.

Who Is My Ideal Persona-

How Do I Learn Who My Persona Is?

Start With an Interview

If you aren’t sure where to begin, the best way to start learning about your customers is to ask them. Put together a simple survey with a few short interview questions that cover demographics, their role within their company, goals, challenges, values and wish list items. This can either be done via an optional survey that is placed on your website, or with personal interviews conducted with consenting existing customers. Be clear about your intentions for gathering this information.

You may need to use incentives to persuade them. In many cases, customers appreciate being asked for their opinions because it feels like the company cares about what they think and makes them feel valued. Aim for at least 30-50 survey results to provide enough relevant data to use as a starting point for developing your personas. Trends should start to emerge and 2-5 unique personas will be identified.

Talk to Your Sales Team

Don’t forget about your internal resources. Your sales team will have valuable insight into the customer base. They’ll be able to let you know things like what industries and roles they encounter and what objections they face most often.

Use Data to Verify Findings

Google Analytics will provide information on how people are currently interacting with your website. Look at things like the most common search terms that are landing people on your site. Does that align with your expectations? Review the visitor flow through the site to see what pages people are spending the most time on and where they are frequently exiting. This is a good way to see if you are missing out on conversion opportunities because either your customers can’t find the information they are looking for, or you aren’t attracting the right traffic. Either way, these are areas that need to be addressed.

What Do I Do With All My Research?

Once you’ve gathered all this information, you can organize it into a series of fictional marketing personas. Hubspot has excellent information on this topic, as well as a very helpful Buyer Persona Template. These personas represent the actual people you are selling to so you feel like you’re communicating with “Marketing Manager Maggie” instead of a nameless, faceless sea of potential customers. By understanding all that you can about “Maggie,” you will grasp a better understanding of a major chunk of your current and potential customers that share her values and concerns.

Now that you have gained deeper insight into who your customers are, every new project that you undertake will benefit. If you need advice in refining these personas or understanding how customers interact with your website, reach out to us.

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