A site created for everyone is a site that converts no one. One of the best ways to align your site with your audience is to develop personas.
Is your website consumer experience focused on customer personas? Just like an effective brand will target a specific set of customers to reach their overall revenue targets, an effective website must target customer personas to increase conversions.
Today, when you target your site at a broad audience, you’re missing the opportunity to reach your real customers. This is because a site designed for everyone is a site that converts no one.A site designed for everyone is a site that converts no one. Click To Tweet
One of the best ways to align your site with your specific audience, and increase conversions, is to develop customer personas.
What are customer personas?
Customer personas are composite descriptions of your general customer types, based on research. They help you summarize key elements of your customer in a more tangible way. This in turn helps inform your content strategy, brand presentation, and optimize for conversions online. In addition they can create greater clarity for your internal teams.
How to Build Customer Personas
How do you build customer personas? Start by clearly defining your customer types according to these three categories:
These are your client’s day-to-day responsibilities and reporting structure. Is the target role an entry level employee or a VP? You should know the business challenges they face, their responsibilities, and their purchasing authority. For example, a business software provider should know the difference between a developer and a CIO.
These are your client’s business characteristics. This category explores new and existing client opportunities. Start by looking at key elements of their business such as:
- The state of their business
- Current challenges
- Cross-sell/up-sell opportunities
- Market trends
- Past purchasing history/customer retention (if existing client)
- Competitors they are working with (if potential new client)
This classification represents buyer groups with similar behaviors. For example, McDonald’s has many different cohort groups – one of these groups can be referred to as “people that do not buy their food”. Some may love cheeseburgers but don’t choose to go to McDonald’s while others don’t eat cheeseburgers because they don’t like them. Either way, they fit into the same cohort; those that don’t buy food at McDonald’s.
Once you understand who your customers are and which cohorts they belong to, tune your site’s copy, navigation, and content to each. This will help you shape your digital strategy and allow you to tailor content to each customer type.
Working Through An Example
Let’s use the business software provider mentioned earlier as an example. Ideally, this company has defined 3-5 of their highest priority client roles, client types and cohort groups. Imagine that one of the highest priority client types is an IT Director for a mid-sized financial services company named Joe. A Customer Persona for Joe looks something like this:
- Joe is not currently a customer but has purchase authority for software investments
- Joe is influenced by his executives, direct reports, peers, competitors and third party consultants
- Joe’s pain points are: budget, dealing with security breaches, limited staff, and too much software to maintain
- Joe is interested in case studies, product trials, videos, webinars, and white papers
All this must inform the online lead generation experience you create. Does the content on your site connect with Joe’s needs and interests? If yes, it’s much more likely that your site will be a recurring destination for Joe.
Working With The Purchase Cycle
If your goal is to convert Joe and others in his cohort into customers, here’s how you might align your web experience with Joe, based on his buying cycle:
Buy Cycle Stage: Awareness
One of Joe’s pain points is security breaches. Create a section of your site completely dedicated to the latest trends and best practices for dealing with a breach. Joe watches webinars and reads white papers. Make sure there are good calls-to-action within the content and the information architecture leads Joe further down the sales funnel.
Buy Cycle Stage: Consideration
Joe has to deal with people bringing in their own mobile devices and apps, which can lead to security breaches. This is a great opportunity to craft your site in a way that demonstrates how your company can help him deal with these problems.
Buy Cycle Stage: Preference
Joe is influenced by many factors, including your competition. Make sure your portfolio includes case studies and client results to boost your company over the competition.
Are there cross-sell promotions that you want to highlight? Special deals? This content will help move Joe toward making a purchase.
Buy Cycle Stage: Purchase
It may be the case that most of your sales occur based on an offline lead nurturing program. Consider whether your site leads Joe to interact with your sales staff. Can he register for an asset or engage over chat? Is there a phone number he can call with a real person on the other end?
These examples should provide the strategy and basic framework for persona development.
How to start your customer persona
In our experience, the best ways to start include:
- Conduct interviews with existing customers. Identify business challenges, client roles, pain points, and popular web assets.
- Talk to your sales team to get a better sense of your customers and what is happening in the market. What types of client roles, types and cohort groups does your sales team have the most success with and why?
- Review relevant CRM data including transactional information, customer service requests, and all communications.
- Analyze competitor web sites and offerings so you understand what your customer could get somewhere else.
- Review your analytics to understand how visitors use your site, and make adjustments.
You should also note that customer personas will constantly change according to what is happening in the market. It is wise to refresh your personas every few months (based on market trends) to continue improving engagement.
Remember – customer personas are an essential ingredient in an effective data-driven digital strategy.
They not only help you draw better visitors to your site, but they will also help those visitors convert.