Carry out effective persona research

1. Create a spreadsheet and add data about all past and current customers who have made at least one purchase. Use information from email lists, invoice records, shipping records, and lists from your sales or phone team.

Include and combine as much data as possible for each customer, including: Demographic information like customer’s gender, age, salary, and job role. Geographic information. Revenue information like average spend per transaction, and total customer lifetime value. Engagement information like number of visits to your website and average email open rate.

2. Analyze the quantitative data for a clearer picture of similarities and differences across your existing customers.

Look for trends that identify your most profitable or most engaged customer segments. Is there: An age group that is the most profitable for you? A geographic region that’s most engaged? A certain job seniority level that’s common across your audience? If you’re dealing with a mass amount of data, make your spreadsheet of information easier to scan by: Sorting columns of demographic data to quickly see how many of each specific subset you have. Inserting a pivot table to quickly summarize, sort, count and generate averages for data in your table. This can quickly highlight triggers and pain points. For example, track the number of times a specific word or phrase is used in customer comments using the Excel function COUNTIF. =COUNTIF(A2:A12,"delivery") would tell you how many times the word delivery was used in cells A2 through A12.

3. Collect qualitative data via customer interviews and surveys to discover needs, desires, likes, and dislikes.

Reach out to your most engaged customers to learn what they like about your brand, product, or service, using: Online surveys like post-purchase exit surveys and email surveys. Online interviews. Phone interviews. In-person interviews. Ask open-ended questions, such as: When did you realize you needed a product/solution/service like ours? What problems were you trying to solve? What brands, products, or services did you consider before choosing us? What worries or doubts did you have before purchasing?

4. Conduct phone interviews with your ideal customers or target audience to understand their motivations, pain points, and what information they say they need in order to make a decision.

This creates a more organic context that allows people to share their thoughts and ideas outside the constraints of a form survey. Listening to these customer calls can help you better understand their personal customer journey. For the best results: Reach out to current customers who represent the type of customer you want to target. Explain that you want to chat with them about their reasons for buying from you. Make it clear that this will not be a sales or marketing call. Gain their consent to be interviewed and recorded, for example, offering a gift card or free product can help incentivize their consent. Keep the phone call short, and take both written notes and audio recordings. After collecting basic demographic data, such as their role in the company, their age and gender, and their experience in the industry, start digging into the why. Ask, What is your biggest challenge in your role? Let them share openly about their pain points and obstacles, and continue asking probing questions that get into the why behind their decision to buy your product or service.

5. Combine key points from the quantitative data and qualitative data into a few core high-opportunity personas.

Every industry and individual business is unique, but you’ll likely see a few trends: A certain type of enthusiastic prospect. A certain type of reluctant prospect. An individual who initially didn’t know they needed help. An individual who was using a competing product/service and switched to you. Fill out each persona with as much information and examples from your data as possible.

6. Align your marketing to appeal to the pain points and preferences of your customer personas.

Every single piece of collateral in your conversion funnels, website, emails, and other marketing pieces should speak to your personas and address their possible paint points. Common example pain points include: Financial pain points, like sales numbers or budgets on the customer’s end. Convenience pain points.  Website navigation pain points. Product cost pain points. Checkout pain points. Confidence pain points. If a pain point comes up a lot for your target personas, address it by: Fixing UX, navigation, documentation, and other creative assets that might be unclear or confusing. Using testimonials, screenshots, and other tools to address how easy your tool is to use, or how effective it is. Addressing financial or cost pain points by showing the value of your product and why its price is competitive.

7. Continue to collect customer information, conduct interviews, and update your personas and marketing accordingly.