Are you regularly crafting social media posts, writing email newsletters or running paid digital ad campaigns but getting underwhelming results?
If your marketing efforts are not resulting in sales even when you’re consistently and clearly articulating the value of your offering, your content strategy might not be aligned to your ideal customer.
Knowing exactly who you’re marketing to can help you identify who your most enthusiastic buyers might be and get you on track to creating content that they can relate to. This in turn will convert them into buyers and, soon, evangelists for your brand.
Keep reading for my guide to creating and using customer personas; a marketing essential to take the guesswork out of your content plan by identifying the factors that influence your customers’ decisions making.
What are Ideal Customer Avatars (ICA) and why does your business need them?
A customer persona or Ideal Customer Avatar is a fictional representation of your target market that’s designed to help you deep dive into understanding your ideal customers better. Before we get to the how, let’s take a look at why having an actual person in mind when planning and creating content is the piece of the puzzle your marketing outreach may have been missing.
Let me tell you a story about my fictional marketing client Jen. Jen sells natural cosmetics for clean beauty enthusiasts. Jen’s marketing was based on sharing her personal discovery of clean beauty shared on social media. Jen is facing difficulties in converting her followers into shoppers even though she is spending a significant amount of time creating social media content.
Creating customer personas will help Jen truly understand her customers, their challenges and pain points and how she can entice them to sign up by giving them exactly what they need. Here’s why…
- You will understand your target market
Creating an Ideal Customer Avatar will help you understand your target market better. Why? Because when you know who you’re selling to on top of what you’re selling, you can understand what buyers really want, and fill any gaps that your offering is not currently addressing to solve their pain points.
Rather than shooting in the dark, understanding more specifics about who needs what you offer will help you in two main ways. First, you can craft content that connects authentically with your audience and speak directly to their needs. Then you can create a marketing strategy that addresses those needs. You may even end up evolving your business with targeted niche offerings.
- You can tailor your content to connect with your audience
Ogilvy has reported that average internet users scroll through more than 300 feet of digital content each day. Think about your own Instagram feed. Which accounts do you keep coming back to? Do they make you feel heard and understood, do they talk about topics that you want to learn more about? The creators and businesses that are our favourites may not be our friends in real life but we often feel like we know them personally because we share their interests. This connection keeps us following and makes us more likely to buy their product or service.
Tailoring your content to your Customer Persona will help you build relationships and community, increase your engagement as more followers connect with your message and turn your followers into “warm” leads that are more likely to trust you and purchase from you.
- Develop your brand voice
Think about what you would say when you talk to a client versus talking to your best friend from high school. These are both valued relationships but the conversation with your co-worker may not revolve around the antics of your teen years. A brand voice is about remaining cognizant of your tone so you say the appropriate thing to the right person. Writing content with Customer Persona in mind will help you speak naturally and authentically to your potential buyers.
Over time, your content forms your brand voice and knowing exactly who you’re talking to will help you connect better with your buyers.
For example, even though she’s talking about beauty, Jen might speak differently to post-partum mums learning about ingredients in cosmetics and if they are safe for nursing mothers than to Gen Z Tik Tok make-up haul enthusiasts. Once Jen knows who she’s speaking to, she can write specifically for their concerns for their changing needs. But how can she find out?
Jen will need to first understand her target audience.
There are 4 easy steps to creating a customer persona. Keep reading as I take you through creating your ICA!
Step 1: Use audience insights from your website and social media accounts
If you’re just starting your business you can base your decisions on your market and competitor research. Talking to potential customers, people who have not purchased from you or are not aware of your brand can be just as useful to understand who might buy. However, if you have some followers on your social media accounts, customer inquiries, or have set up a basic website and made some sales, that data can help you make informed decisions for creating your Ideal Customer Avatar.
Your audience overview and demographics will answer the question of who is currently visiting your website and social media accounts and give you detailed information on their behaviour, tell you more about their lives and where else they spend time online.
To start, you’ll want to know the following information:
● Stage of life
You can access this data from your social media accounts and website.
Facebook and Instagram
On Facebook and Instagram, you’ll find this data in your Facebook Business Manager under the insights section. Don’t worry if you haven’t set up your Business Manager yet, it’s never too late to get started. You’ll soon collect insights from your regular posts and audience engagement.
If LinkedIn is your outreach channel, you can access insights for your business or personal page just as easily.
The next powerful tool to use is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a completely free web traffic analysis tool that you connect to your website to gain a wealth of information about your audience. Google Analytics automatically collects the data on your site visitors and you can set it up to send you regular monthly reports by email or log in to access the data at any time.
Google gives you data that has already been processed into easy-to-read metrics. To create your customer persona, you’ll want to look at the following metrics:
○ Audience overview
A top-level view of user metrics gives you a snapshot of what you need to know about your audience.
The age and gender of your website audience.
If you guessed that this is information on other things your site visitors have shown interest in you’re right!
The Interests metrics are segmented into several types so pay attention to the following two main types. The first is Affinity Categories which let you view a range of lifestyle categories like “Music Lovers,” “Shoppers,” or “Travel Buffs.” The other is called In-Market Segments which tells you the specific categories where users are likely to be more ready to purchase, for example Consumer Electronics, Home & Garden, or Education.
This one tells you how many new vs. returning visitors you have in a time period, how often visitors return and how much time they spend on your site. If you have mostly new visitors you will want to think about tactics to encourage them to return since users rarely purchase on the first visit.
Gives you information on which browsers, operating systems, and internet service providers are popular with your audience.
Google allows you to choose from many Google report templates or build your own customised report to make it as simple or as detailed as you like. You can even choose the dimensions you want your metrics to be displayed in!
Don’t be put off by the data console, it’s your friend and with just a little practice you’ll start to enjoy the detailed information Google provides (for free!) about the visitors to your website.
From her analytics Jen now knows that her audience is mostly women above the age of 35. They’re shoppers who are also interested in yoga and fitness, they’re most likely to purchase in Apparel and Home & Garden markets.
Step 2: Map out your customer journey
Once you have your audience insights, you’ll want to sit down and take a close look at your customers’ path to purchasing from you. This is simply the series of events that usually takes place from the time when someone first hears about your business to when they purchase.
To formulate a customer journey for these key stages you’ll want to ask four key questions:
- Where do your customers connect with you?
- Where do your leads come from?
- Where do they engage and ask questions?
- On which platforms do they buy?
Where to get the data from
Write down which channels are most commonly used at each stage to create a map of how your buyers interact with your brand at each stage.
For the first stage in your customer journey take a look at your leads. Ask people where they first heard about you? Was it word of mouth, social media, a referral, or website search?
Here you want to be visible where your customers engage with you. Is it email, messaging, social media DMs, or face-to-face events?
This is the crucial conversion segment. Note down where they buy. Is it on your website, via email, social media, an ad or a third-party site?
A customer who has already purchased from you is likely to make a repeat purchase. You’ll want to nurture the relationship you have with them and make it easy for them to come back again and again.
You want to provide such excellent service that your customers will spread the word about your brand with positive reviews and refer you to others. Make sure that it’s easy for them to do this with a streamlined and open line of after-sales communication.
Jen finds out that her social media followers growing steadily means that her brand awareness stage is strong. Many people are watching and interacting with her beauty tips and informational content. However, not many of these are clicking over to the website where she sells her line of cosmetics. To further understand their goals and pain points would help her identify what she needs to know in order to create customer personas that will help move her audience further along in their journey to purchase.
Step 3: Identify your ICA’s goals and pain points
By now, you’ve collected what you need to know about your ideal customer and how they interact with you. Next, step into their shoes to turn this information into actionable insights that you can use to deliver a targeted message and offer that will convert.
Reflect on what state of mind your customer is in. If you have access to customers to interview even better! Here are a few questions to get you started:
● What is your customer trying to achieve?
● What is important to them?
(Think wider than just your product sector and dig into those parallel interests)
● What challenges are they facing?
● What problems or challenges are they trying to solve?
In Jen’s case she would need to know the best way to offer value to her audience to convert them into sales. She finds that her customers’ main pain point is finding the time to fit in skincare in a busy schedule. But even there there is room for differentiation. If her ideal customer is a stay-at-home mum, it would be a different pitch to connect with a professional woman who is occupied with her nine to five with different concerns to navigate.
There are some tools to help you get more specific answers if you need them.
Social media monitoring and social media listening
Social media monitoring is actively keeping tabs and reviewing what has and hasn’t worked in the past for your brand. You can set up notifications to receive alerts for your brand mentions, relevant hashtags and trending news in your industry.
A social media listening tool goes further and requires third-party software that will help you analyse the conversations and trends around your brand and industry and use those insights to inform your marketing plan. Using these tools will help you get a holistic understanding of the types of conversations that are happening where conversations are taking place and what people think about your brand, industry and competitors.
Intrigued? Here’s a list of top tools for 2022 to help you get started:
● Brand 24
● Brand Mentions
Here’s how these advanced tools help Jen. From social media monitoring and social media listening, Jen finds out that what’s important about natural beauty to women above 35 is avoiding toxic ingredients, and that they struggle with a lack of information on how natural cosmetics might suit their specific stage in life and its accompanying skincare challenges.
Step 4: Identify how you can help
To craft a winning marketing strategy, you will need to know how you best solve your customers’ problems and formulate a unique value proposition that sets you apart from your competitors.
Now Jen knows that women in the age group of 35-50 are potential buyers of her products but they also look for the service that goes along with it. They respond to personalised advice with quick and effective solutions that address their skin problems quickly.
Jen finds that if competitors offer brand recognition or the accessibility of off-the-shelf offerings at major retailers, they may not be as responsive to questions about their ingredients as a smaller business. Jen knows can provide more information about how her products are formulated for women who are concerned about the ingredients in their skincare.
Her unique value proposition may look something like:
Provides effective clean beauty products with full transparency on the ingredients used and responsive service that provides personalised product suggestions to customers with specific needs.
Step 4: Creating an Ideal Customer Avatar
Armed with the extensive information from your four steps, you’re now ready to create an ICA.
Let’s take a look at how Jen might start creating her ICAs. While she knows that her target market is women above 35, Jen has found that some of them are professionals and others are stay-at-home mums. This means she needs two ICAs. I can provide you with my template or you can use this great free resource from HubSpot: Make my persona.
Hubspot has a free personal builder tool that takes you through a 7-step process to creating your ICA. Don’t be put off by the thought of the multiple stages, the journey is well worth it! You can even add in data categories to maximise all the research that you’ve done on your customer journey and buyer metrics. Once you’re done, HubSpot lets you save your persona as a PDF to share with your team.
While you may never truly know everything about your target market, I hope I’ve shown you how you can actually come very close to it! Creating and using a customer persona is a crucial step in your marketing strategy. It will help you understand your business from the perspective of your customer and even improve the value you offer with niche products or services.
Here is a sample of one of my ICAs for your reference:
Need more support?
I cam help you create your ICAs and also figure out the best way to engage and communicate with them.
Book a 15 minute call with me if you’d like to discuss how I can help you grow your business through coaching, mentoring or training.