Customer Personas: 3 Methods for Increasing Conversions

Post written by Jesse Aaron
On Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

What makes your customer base convert? What drives them to action? If you’re unsure, or have been trying to figure this out for some time now, customer personas may be beneficial for seeing real results. Follow the methods included in this piece to increase your conversion rate today.

What is a Customer Persona?

Before diving into the details of how to create accurate and effective customer personas, understanding what they are in the first place is critical.

Tony Zambito, a leading expert in buyer insights research, defines customer – or buyer – personas as:

Research-based archetypal representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy and why they make buying decisions.

Put simply, customer personas are fictional or fabricated representations of specific target customers based on data collected that reflects their predicted behaviors. They bring data to life, nothing more and nothing less.

Parts that Comprise Customer Personas

Customer personas cannot go beyond data, they can’t anticipate customer intricacies; instead, they provide an overview. A solid customer persona should consist of:

Drivers

Certain behaviors drive certain groups of people. These drivers could include the goals of your customers, what they want to accomplish and how they came to know or interact with your company in the first place. For example, if a visitor lands on Inbound.org their drive may be to install the popular call to actions plugin on their website. A dedicated page is available for visitors with this drive:

inbound download page

Mindsets & Values

What expectations are your customers bringing with them to your company’s website? What do they hope to accomplish through their visits? Are they responding to a sale of a particular item? Are they open to browsing and searching through your offerings until they find something that meets their needs? Are they driven by emotions or facts?

A subtle example of values is diligence. Many people feel closer to and will be more willing to trust brands that can demonstrate their diligence and commitment to their trade. Take a look at this process page and how it reflects commitment and pride in their work. These values were conveyed in just two short, simple sentences:

pride values

Many sites write entire novels listing all of their values when in reality their visitors are better aligned with someone who can get their point across in just a couple sentences.

Obstacles

Every potential conversion is accompanied by at least one obstacle. What part of the buying process could become an obstacle? What could cause a hesitation or concern? In what way does your product meet a specific need, and, is there another product that you could be competing against in order to meet this need?

Now I’m a big fan of HubSpot so this example is not so much a criticism as it is highlighting an inbound tactic that also qualifies leads. They offer a plethora of “free” resources, but they are only free if you value ten pieces of personal informational as free.

hubspot obstacles

This is a smart obstacle because it ensures HubSpot receives enough information about those who download to determine whether or not they qualify as a good lead.

By understanding the drivers, mindsets and obstacles that your target customers will face, you’ll be better prepared to create an online experience that is tailored to these specific needs. Your customer persona can play a direct role in influencing your conversion rates.

Create Customer Personas

Ready to create customer personas to improve the experience your website offers? Great. It all starts with research and getting to know your target market.

1. Ask Targeted Questions

survey quote

Customer surveys allow you to interact with your past and potential customers in a way that is non-threatening and simple for all parties involved.

Your surveys can be conducted online or offline and can be filled with both multiple choice and open-ended questions that allow you to get to know the interests and backgrounds of your target market. An ideal survey length is 7-10 questions, so selecting questions that are relevant and helpful to your cause is essential.

Survey questions that could allow your brand to learn more about the habits and backgrounds of your target customers include:

  • What problem or dilemma do our products solve in your life?
  • If you’ve made a purchase before, what hesitations did you experience before buying?
  • What made you check out our site in the first place?

Additionally, learning about the actual demographics of your customer base – gender, location, age and so on – will help in creating targeted personas. Think about what you want to learn and incorporate that information into your survey. Make every question count.

2. Conduct Targeted Interviews

dart quote

Sometimes conversations are still the best way to glean information from a select group of people. This is especially true when creating customer personas.

To start your interview process, just like when creating a survey, take the time to think through what information you’re looking for. Remember, your goal is to create a persona that gives you an accurate view of your customers, their motivations and their hesitations. Your interview questions should reflect this.

Once you know what you want to ask, set up an email campaign. Use your existing email list to ask customers to participate. Consider offering a reward – a discount, a gift card or something else – for participation. Be flexible – willing to work within the availability of those willing to take part in the process – and clear about how long the survey will last and whether it will be done over the phone or in person. The choice is yours.

During the interview process, be sure to make your interviewee feel comfortable. Open with easy questions. Throughout the interview, leave time for the interviewee to expand on answers. If something seems unclear, ask for clarification. The more specific the responses you receive may be, the more on-point your personas will be.

3. Create Your Personas

persona quote

Once you’ve finished gathering information from those who have completed surveys and interviews, the real work begins. Compiling data is an effort that takes time, but is well-worth it in the long-run.

As you put together your survey and interview responses, look for trends. When you find similarities that span multiple responses, look at the demographic information. What do these responders have in common? Is it a trend that carries over among multiple demographic categories?

It’s now time to actually create personas. Some companies go as far as actually creating customer types that have names and faces, but that step is not necessary.

Instead, think of a way to break down your target market into specific phrases.

For example: “Our target customer is a 30-year-old female with children who has little time to browse online. When she has a need, she searches for it, selects the top choice and makes the purchase. Turnaround time influences her purchasing more than anything else.”

Or, “A target customer for XYZ Company is a careful shopper. He pays the bills at home and is influenced heavily by pricing. If he finds a good deal, he will look for reviews and compare prices across multiple retailers. He is a careful shopper with time to go above and beyond.”

Once you’ve created your target customer’s persona, or multiple personas depending upon your business and brand, you will be better able to modify your process and online offerings. Creating customer personas is a straightforward method for optimizing your site and brand experience for online conversions in a way that meets the needs and expectations of your target market.

About the Author:
Jesse is a professional blogger with a passion for homebrewing. He writes about social media marketing strategies with actionable tips on his blog.

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