As marketers, we have dedicated a lot of man hours trying to decide who our customers are. Before the internet, we chose what industry our products and services would live in, and research was performed to figure out who our target audience would be. From there, we’d break them out into segments and create messaging strategies aimed at those segments, but then digital took off, and the game changed. Segmenting audiences based on traditional methods such as demographics, ethnographics and psychographics was no longer enough. Customers were expecting to be defined by more than where they lived and their marital status. Now, brands need to find a way to appeal to customers on an emotional level in order to achieve customer loyalty and can do so by creating a map of the buyer journey that analyzes his/her attitudes, concerns and expectations or a buyer persona.
As we enter The Age of the Consumer, it’s becoming increasingly important to create and build out buyer personas because it helps “identify what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem your company can help them resolve.”1 In other words, you’re identifying the destinations along the customer journey that buyers reach before they decide to close the deal. These personas help you map out what types of content and messaging your customers want as they trek the paths to their final destination. Furthermore, brands who are dedicated to developing these personas experience a 73 percent higher conversion rate.2
So where do you begin? Simple – With your current customer base.
Take the time to explore and evaluate the buyer journey of your current customer in order to identify what impacts each person and influences his/her decisions and opinions. By performing market research and collecting real-time data, you can begin to understand a customer’s mindset as he/she navigates through the buying experience. These patterns in behavior will help your marketing team establish a decision criterion based on motivating factors that impact purchase.
Once all market research is complete and real data is analyzed, buyer personas can be created. Consider assigning your persona a name and giving it a headshot. Use the insights you’ve gathered along the way to give your persona a lifestyle with real wants, needs and desires. This humanistic approach will force those around you to form connections with this persona leading to stronger messages that are tailor-made for him/her.
The journey doesn’t stop once the buyer persona is created. We know that behavior is constantly changing as new technologies and trends emerge. It’s important to constantly evaluate your buyer personas and adjust them as necessary to ensure your brand stays relevant and strong. If you continue to make this a priority, “the ROI is simple – when you know how to help buyers evaluate your brand, you build a bond of trust that competitors cannot match.”3