Why You Need Customer Personas

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By Theresa Baiocco

Imagine putting your most intimate, passionate feelings into a love letter…and addressing it To Whom It May Concern. Your true love would probably not respond the way you wanted.

Yet businesses do this all the time with their marketing messages: they pour resources into the content that goes on their ads, landing pages, website, and printed materials, but they don’t know WHO they’re writing to.

It’s a red flag when I ask someone to identify their target market, and they tell me that it’s anyone who is looking for XYZ. This tells me they have no idea who they’re marketing to. Even Best Buy – as mainstream as it is – knows exactly who their target market is.

Do you?

You can’t be everything to everyone, and you shouldn’t try to be. Instead, you should have these two goals in mind when writing any content:

  1. Repel the wrong people: Don’t waste your (or your salespeople’s) time on tire-kickers and people who will never buy from you.
  2. Convince the right people to do business with you: By knowing your audience’s likes, dislikes, habits, attitude, and motivation, you can speak directly to them and hit their hot spots.

How do you do this? By creating customer personas.

What Makes a Good Customer Persona?

Here’s an example of one of our customer personas at Conversion Max:

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Here are the elements that make a good customer persona:

  • Include a name and photograph so the persona feels like a real person.
  • Outline the persona’s story, with enough detail to get a sense of personality, values, and attitude. Include a quote that summarizes this.
  • Show where this user is in the buying cycle.
  • State what the persona is trying to accomplish.
  • Define the information your best customers would want to see in your content.
  • Decide what you want your site’s visitors to do as a result of the content you create.
  • Know how you’re going to measure your success with every opportunity for interaction.

You’ll want 3 – 5 distinct customer personas. If you create too many, you won’t be able to remember them; create too few and you’ll be missing important segments of your target market.

And never forget your customer personas are dynamic. As time passes and your industry, market, and business change, you’ll need to revisit your personas and update them.

RESOURCE TIP: An excellent step-by-step guide to creating customer personas is The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web, by Steve Mulder.

What To Do With Your Customer Personas

It’s not enough to merely create these personas; you have to share them with your team and constantly utilize them. Here’s how to bring them to life — and keep them alive:

  • Hang your customer personas on the wall so your team looks at them when they’re writing ads, landing pages, and email marketing campaigns.
  • Incorporate your customer personas into your marketing and sales meetings when talking about prospects and leads in your pipeline.
  • Before going to a conference or networking event, remind your sales team of who they’re looking for and how to identify your best customers.

Increase your conversions by putting your heart and soul into your business and every piece of content you create: Just remember to put your best customers’ names on that love letter.

Find out more about how to create your customer personas. Call 888-659-2680 for your no cost, no obligation initial consultation with the Conversion Max team.

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Theresa Baiocco

Conversion Strategist at Conversion Max
Theresa Baiocco specializes in helping mid-sized businesses increase their online revenues with conversion optimization. She speaks at conferences on conversion optimization, and you can read her guest blog posts on popular conversion and PPC blogs, such as Unbounce, UserTesting, and 3Q Digital, among others. Her writing has also been included in the Wall Street Journal and is often in Marketing Day. She has been interviewed on the Webmaster Radio and Marketing Optimization podcasts. Theresa has a Master’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado and a Master Certification in Conversion Optimization from Market Motive. She’s a dog-lover, the mother of a toddler, and a former travel-junkie.

2 Responses to Why You Need Customer Personas

  1. Loved the article.
    I have some questions though.

    Is there any moment when you validate your buyer personas with real people?
    Becouse they seem to be based on guessed characteristics of individuals that may or may not be accurate.
    Is there a system for improving and evolving the data in buyer personas to match the constant changes in the marketpace?

    Help me out here becouse i’m pretty ignorante about the subject.

    • Thank you for your question, Mario. You’re thinking is spot on. Having customer personas is not a “set it and forget it” activity; I recommend running through a mini version of this process every 6 months to 1 year to see if the personas need to be revised. There are usually changes that need to be made based on new customer data and/or changes to the business. Great question – the fact that this occurred to you means you get it!

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