The need for customer personas
In today's frenetic marketing landscape, understanding a brand’s target audience is more critical than ever. With customers' attention divided by thousands of messages each day, creating communications that successfully connect is essential.
Enter the Customer Persona—a meticulously crafted understanding of the target consumer’s unique needs, wants, pain points, and motivations. With a set of well-researched customer personas, resulting strategies and creative solutions will better resonate and captivate any brand’s target audience, leading to higher engagement and conversion.
While personas are directional, they are based on real data and research that yield insights into a brand’s audience. Customer personas are a key component of any strategic framework we develop. The choices we make in our marketing efforts will never be effective if they fail to resolve the real pain points, problems, and frustrations of our target.
But is the juice worth the squeeze? Here are four ways where we have leveraged customer personas to improve marketing campaigns, creative direction, and brand experiences.
1. UNDERSTANDING MOTIVATION:
Emotions and perceptions drive consumer behaviour. While we may think we are rational creatures, it is emotion that truly motivates. Human connection is at the heart of the most successful brands and campaigns.
With an effective persona in hand, we better understand the emotions, triggers, and barriers that drive audience decisions. And with those insights, we create more meaningful connections and bridges between a brand and its consumer.
2. DECODING CUSTOMER JOURNEYS:
Any meaningful engagement with a customer happens on their terms. While there are ideal internal processes a brand wants to follow, if those don’t practically align with the purchase and experience journey of the target customer, achieving success, however it is defined, will be an ongoing uphill challenge.
With a persona, we more fully understand and empathize with the customer’s journey. Always designing with them in mind ensures that the consumer feels seen and heard and that we are catering to their needs.
3. STIMULATING CHANGE:
We use customer personas to improve the customer experience—from making it easier to do business with a brand, providing more personalized service, or quickly resolving customer issues. There are subtle yet impactful ways that a brand can reimagine its offerings or processes that are derived from insights gained through a persona development process.
4. IMPROVING FOCUS:
Customer personas are most often used to improve audience targeting and segmentation—improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a marketing campaign. The goal is to have the right message in front of the right people at the most opportune time with precisely tailored tactics. All aspects are enhanced by determining the needs of the customer and mapping messaging, targeting, and channel selection to those learnings.
Customer Personas: Now and in the Future
Critical aspects are involved in developing customer personas that won’t be changing anytime soon: asking the right questions, observing nuances that often get overlooked, and listening well.
Yet technology is advancing, and along with it, so will consumer behaviours and expectations. So, what will change in the process?
Looking to the future, we see increased opportunities to get even more focused, timely, and relevant during persona research and creation. The chasm between when we gain new insights from customers and how quickly we apply them will become ever smaller.
The greatest source of change for what we see ahead: Artificial Intelligence. Here are ways we see AI impacting the process of crafting customer personas:
• AI AND DATA ANALYTICS: AI can be leveraged to analyze larger datasets at faster speeds and unearth insights from connections that others may have overlooked.
• AI AND PERSONA DEVELOPMENT: For personas that are missing details or depth, AI can be leveraged to fill the gaps and colour in what is lacking. AI shouldn’t be used to create the persona from scratch, but if given a great starting point, it can certainly fill in the blanks.
• AI AND BRAINSTORMING: AI can be your dream collaborator when coming up with interview questions, searching for audience samples, and brainstorming new opportunities to engage with the target audience.
Great ideas or products, even great marketing, will only get you so far. If you don’t take the time to truly understand your target audience and make them feel like they truly matter, much effort will be wasted.
The beauty of the persona creation process is that it is both the journey and the destination. The creation process will take you on a path where you will uncover many important and insightful details about your target audience, and upon arrival, you will have acquired in-depth knowledge that will help you focus on the customers who matter most. Do this important work and your customers will thank you.