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Finding Your Audience: 3 Methods to Create Very Human Personas

Personas.

Those specifically fictitious customer representations that all of us make.

By creating personas, we’re better able to craft our marketing to focus on those we calculate will desire our products.

We examine those who bought comparable products, collecting as many similarities as we can.

From these similarities—combined with our own informed intuition—we create an on-paper construct of our ideal customer.

We use these constructs, these personas, to help craft our wide range of marketing elements.

And data shows this practice to be good. 90% of companies who use buyer personas report being able to form a clearer understanding on who their buyers really are, and 71% of companies who exceed both their revenue and lead goals have used documented buyer personas.

The more specific your personas, the more useful they will be. To help you create the best personas you can, we’re sharing three techniques to breathe even more humanity into your buyer personas. But first, a little on why personas work.

Personas work because…

As already stated, buyer personas help you create focus points for your marketing messages. By creating fake people (persona is Latin for “person,” you know), we bake in a level of personalization to our marketing. Because you can’t spell “personalization” without “persona.” Cheesy as cheddar, but true, nonetheless.

Personalization is why personas work. Personalization is extremely important in marketing because it connects your message and your audience in a more emotional way. Basically, personalization helps put your customer at the center of your story, and personas add a generalized wash of personalization to your marketing messages. It’s less “Hello, Steve!” and more “we know you like large kitchens.”

And research supports using personalization in your marketing. A report by Gartner (signup req.) shows that when things gets more personal, conversion rates can increase up to 88% and recommendations (such as upgrades, upsells, or next steps) are accepted 66% more often. Now, though this report is about personalization in digital commerce, the same benefits can be witnessed in our marketing efforts.

But that’s not all. Another study (signup req.) found that ROI gets a big boost from personalization. How much? Well, businesses that have worked personalization throughout the customer journey have reported an ROI of 400% or more!

So, let’s work some of that sweet personalization into our personas. Here are three techniques for adding more humanity into your representational customer constructs.

3 Tips for Creating Better, More Human Personas

1. Psychographics

As you build your buyer personas, you always examine the who, what, and where. Who are your customers? What do they want? Where are they found? These, of course, are your customer’s demographics. All the bits of data that help define who that customer is. But you must never forget the why.

Psychographics explore the why behind your buyer’s actions. You’re spelunking into their minds to find out some very important pieces of information beyond simple demographic facts like age, income level, and location.

You want to know things like their interests, opinions & beliefs, and values. Knowledge of your customer’s psychographics will help you better create a more human persona that goes beyond who they are into what they want. You’ll turn the wooden Pinocchio into a real boy, so to speak. And then, while not misrepresenting your product, you can craft more engaging marketing that better applies to their actual lives.

2. Review Mining

Sometimes in order to know what to say to your customers, you need to know what your customers are saying. In an old Copyhackers post, Joanna Weibe explores the concept of review mining. Though that article speaks of using review mining to help with product copy, it’s just as fantastic a tool when building buyer personas.

With review mining, you first identify where your customers are also shopping based on the personas you have created. Sometimes it’s for your product, sometimes it’s for a related—but they are still being reviewed by your persona-based customers. Once you have identified your customers, it’s time to start digging.

You are mining for their thoughts and feelings about the products and services they are reviewing. That’s right: You are excavating for psychographics! By mining reviews, you’ll learn things like what features are most appreciated and which are not, sure—but you’ll also gain insight into a customer’s overall experience using a product. This lets you know, in their own words, what your buyers are looking for.

3. Social Listening

You’re on social media. Your customers are on social media. You talk on social media. Your customers talk on social media. The one thing you need to make sure you do on social media is listen!

Now, we don’t mean monitoring your customers in a creepy way—this isn’t stalking. It’s just being cognizant about what people are discussing on social media, specifically how it relates to your product and industry. Most of us (86%) are already monitoring social media as a customer service tool, but paying attention in social channels can also yield valuable customer information.

In a way, social listening is a close cousin to review mining. You are listening for the same things: opinions, preferences, experiences. All the whys that make your customers decide to purchase. Social listening will also help you gauge trends in your industry and keep an eye on your competition (and what your customers really think about them).

Using these techniques, you can include more personal touches to your personas—the things that affect emotions and decision making. By adding these factors to your personas, not only will you be able to craft more meaningful messages, but those messages will find and connect with your customers on a deeper level.