Your brand is a window to the world, it projects a complete vision of your business, to customers and prospects. Your customers expect to be delighted with the combination of utility, convenience and value at every interaction they have with your brand based on their individual needs.

In order to achieve this it's necessary to design CX ( customers experience) based on key moments and decision points during the buying journey, utilizing personas, buyer's journey, target groups and segments. Once you know who you want to reach its essay to design the experience accordingly.

Let's begin by understanding what is a Persona and how to create one.

Customers increasingly expect a personalized, or at least relevant, experience and what better way to get it right than to start with personas with rich details about the motivations and goals of your customers?

Personas have been around for a long time, but they’re growing in popularity because customers expect more and demographic, market segments and role descriptors do little to help marketing teams understand what people want and how to interact with them such as their daily behaviors and preferences. Creating a vivid, intuitive picture of your audience targets requires an understanding of how to create and manage personas over the long haul.

What is a persona?

A persona is a fictional character created as a proxy for a target audience. These audience archetypes commonly include illustrative pictures and fictional names that make them tangible to digital designers and marketers. Personas identify similar patterns of behavior that result in commonly held goals. Digital marketers craft personas by analyzing primary and secondary sources, including ethnographic insight arising from direct observation of people and from data on their behavioral patterns.

“Personas identify similar patterns of behavior that result in commonly held goals.”

Here’s an example of the value of personas. According to CyberCollege, only about 22% of people without a high school education use the Internet, while almost 90% of people with a college education are regularly online. This demographic insight doesn’t help define a specific interaction design or engagement plan. Similarly, comScore has found that women account for 71% of the money spent in online shopping for apparel and accessories. This knowledge wouldn’t help you craft the right experience for your specific target audience.

Now take the persona of Carey, a college-educated professional woman whose time constraints require frequent multitasking. She uses her mobile device to buy name-brand clothes for her two-year-old son (usually at home but sometimes when catching up over coffee with friends who have children of the same age) at competitive prices (because her peers see frugality as a virtue). Carey shops this way so she can spend more quality time with her family rather than waste it on stress-filled shopping trips. The persona provides much richer insight for digital designers and marketers, guiding the design of campaigns, engagement plans and digital experiences.

How to create a persona

Personas are derived from a combination of five research modalities:

  • Demographic — Defines the basic structure of a population-based on geography, income, level of education, and other standard descriptive attributes.
  • Psychographic — Focuses on values, opinions, interests, aspirations, attitudes, and lifestyles.
  • Ethnographic — Involves participatory observation where insights are gleaned by watching subjects in their daily routines and capturing what isn’t explicitly reported.
  • Transactional — Reveals insights through a historical customer relationship, including first- and third-party purchase histories and post-sale service records.
  • Behavioral — Captures data passively through engagement with websites, mobile devices, and other media, content, and channels that reveal how audiences engage over the course of a relationship.

Blend the persona’s behaviors and goal descriptions with a context (such as the availability of a mobile device) to create scenarios. These scenarios form the backbone of an initial campaign, storytelling, or UX design. Personas and scenarios also help to make complex situations comprehensible to management.

Manage personas over time

Consider applying an estimated lifetime economic value to each persona based on the idea that customers aren’t valued equally. This will help you prioritize customer experience investments based on what delivers the highest yield to the business. It’s typical to develop four to eight different personas as a series of abstracted profiles that help illuminate your target audiences.

“Personas are not a “set and forget” activity.”

Personas are not a “set and forget” activity. They do not lend themselves well to an initial flurry of activity to create a poster that’s pinned to cubicle walls. Your audience’s behavior links tightly to its context or environment. When the environment changes, audience behavior will likely change, too. Thus, personas should be dynamic — at times you’ll even need to retire them. Here, persona research informs your top-down view while continuous measurement with analytics informs your bottom-up optimization of these personas over time.

What is a segment?

A segment is a group of people or other entities, like companies or stores, which share quantifiable attributes that matter to your business. According to Gartner, most B2B marketers do not use a single approach to segmentation for all their efforts, but rather apply a number of different approaches for different business reasons.

For example, a major pharmacy retailer uses five different schemas:

  • Psychographic — Lifestyles and attitudes toward managing family health, for brand and other awareness campaigns
  • Behavioral — Frequency of shopping by category and engagement with marketing tactics, for couponing and promotions
  • Benefits — Functional or emotional benefits (e.g., whiter teeth) for product advertising
  • Geography — Region and density for product mix and pricing
  • Occasion — Special occasions (e.g., birthdays) or purchase intervals for reminders and recognition.
Define your goal

While you can create as many segments as are statistically different and useful, good segmentation includes only those that are large enough to have an impact and that are stable, addressable and unique enough to reward different treatment. Begin by defining your goal across a framework for positioning internal/external (customer or noncustomers) and strategic/tactical goals.

Internal — Focuses on customers or others who have some engagement with your products — for example, visitors to your website. Primary uses include improving customer experience and retention, upselling and cross-selling, and gaining a greater share of wallet from competitors. Data sources include CRM, web analytics, point-of-sale systems, etc.

External — Treats people who are not existing customers, generally targeted for prospecting or growth. The outcome is often to find new prospects and leads for growth, or for new products and launches. Lacking internal (e.g., first-party) data, external segmentations rely on syndicated and other third-party data, media vendors, market research, government and other outside sources of information.

Tactical — Tactical segmentations have a goal of determining which types and groups of people are more or less likely to buy product X or service Y. For example, Kraft segmented its customer base by whether people searched for recipes and were interested in Easter for a promotion around its Easter Bunny Cake recipe.

Strategic — Strategic segmentations are more interested in exploration and discovery among groups of customers or prospects and often used by marketers who want to discover new insights for targeting, messaging or product development. This was the goal for tax preparation company H&R Block when it performed clustering analysis that identified three broad groups of customers: “Do-it-yourselfer,” “do-it-for-me,” and a previously unknown hybrid group it called “do-it-with-me,” who preferred some help but not full service.

Develop attributes for data collection

At the heart of any segmentation exercise, think of attributes as quantifiable characteristics that can be aligned to a customer, prospect or market.

Attributes come in three basic types. They describe what people:

  • Are — Persistent personal attributes such as age, gender, household income, language group and marital status. Less persistent attributes include transition states such as moving, pregnancy, wedding and bankruptcy.
  • Do — Behaviors that can be observed, such as products bought, media or devices used, websites visited, content consumed. This includes where they are.
  • Think — Attitudes and values that are sometimes explicit, such as when a person calls or tweets a complaint, but often must be inferred (e.g., political party based on zip code).

After defining data collection sources and integration, build segments with a needs/value or clustering exercise. If you want to determine, for example, the key factors, or needs that make a person a profitable customer, a decision tree can help spot which combinations of attributes have the greatest impact on value. Clustering methods are used to find groups of people who share similar attributes and are reasonably distinct from other groups. Both types of results give you powerful insights for product development, pricing, targeting, messaging and measurement.

Next, use personas to give depth and expression to segments that can seem cold, inhuman and incomplete. Here, a collection of attributes such as women over thirty who visit cooking sites becomes the persona, “Tammy,” a proud mother of two young children who entertains with flair.

Next Map segments and personas to customer buying journeys

Combine them with the when, what, and how in order to define pathways that draw audiences from engagement to conversion, to transaction and to advocacy

When: Map personas to key moments on the buying journey

By understanding the behaviors, preferences, media consumption habits, technology adoption patterns and detailed day-in-the-life routines of these audiences, you can begin designing a journey map that becomes the backbone of your customer experience architecture. Wherever you’re interviewing customers, seek to capture an as-is view of their relationship with your brand, across all touchpoints. What’s working? What’s not? This will be an important input into your overall prioritization of customer experience investment candidates.

Begin by mapping personas to specific moments on the buying journey. Do this by modeling the specific paths each persona traverses, pre- and post-sale, over the course of their relationship with your brand. It’s often useful to illustrate this freehand on a whiteboard or on large sheets of butcher paper hung on the walls of a conference room. Be as detailed as possible. You can always simplify and consolidate steps later.

Think of persona, Magen, a 28-year old single professional who wants a new fitness routine and begins a journey to purchase a bike. A cycling brand would identify her steps from the first Internet search, to questioning her “hard core” cycling friends, to when she begins to formulate purchase criteria, among many others. More importantly, the brand seeks to understand Magen’s true motivations and goals, turning this “need-state” into the blueprint for a high value customer experience.

What: Define Stories, Experiences and Services That Engage and Delight

Next, create a table by mapping personas to moments. At the intersections there are opportunities to create an inventory of stories, services and experiences, where:

  • Stories are the use of content to engage audiences in contextually relevant ways.
  • Services are discrete features and apps designed to engage and/or serve audiences.
  • Experiences are how key moments are tightly orchestrated over the arc of engagement.

How: Identify Systems, People, Process and Data to Enable Experiences

Once you’ve defined the what, you need to address the how. Begin by mapping the stories, experiences and services you’ve conceived in the previous step to the systems they implicate, the people they rely on, the processes they impact and the data they require.

Keep in mind that creating discrete experiences isn’t enough. These experiences should be connected by logical linkages that drive engagement, progression and conversion across a decision journey and over the course of a customer relationship. For example, one audience-centric content asset should set up the next, which becomes progressively brand- and/or offer-centric over the course of engagement. But be sure calls to action are appropriate to the moment. Going for the “close” in the earliest moments can turn brand engagement toxic.

Ultimately, it’s necessary to define pathways that draw audiences from engagement to conversion to transaction and to advocacy. Design these pathways with two specific journeys in mind:

  1. The path to purchase for a specific offering
  2. The lifetime relationship with a known customer.

Use segments, personas, and buying journeys to create exceptional customer experiences. Your investments in the second pathway will yield a lifetime of loyalty and advocacy.

Topics: Start-up, Digital Branding, SMART GOALS, #Marketing Strategies

Team MapleSage

Written by Team MapleSage

A new kind of agency — that integrates marketing, technology, analytics, and design to achieve business goals. We provide strategy and execution for companies that need their investment in marketing to drive business growth. Fill in the talent gaps and become the strategy and execution engine to help companies grow, compete, and succeed.