Chapter 5

So, we’ve talked a lot so far about segmentation, but once you’ve done all that, you still need to create your personas so you can personalize your marketing to appeal directly to them. You’ll want to build a persona that epitomizes each of the primary segments you aim to market to. To do this, you’ll start by doing various kinds of research to find out more about the individuals within each segment.

Do Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is used to understand people’s beliefs, experiences, attitudes, and behavior. It’s usually based on feedback from customer interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic research, which is observing and interacting with people in their real-life environments. This method generates non-numerical data that provides detailed insights and information to researchers, including suggestions you might be unaware of.

Do Quantitative Research

This kind of research gathers numerical data from sources such as web and social media analytics, market segmentation tools, online, mobile and in-person surveys, face-to-face and telephone interviews, polls, observations, and other internal data.

Gather Demographic Information

You may already have collected demographic information for your market segmentation or cluster analysis, which will mean you can probably skip this step. If not, you’ll need to determine what demographic groups your ideal customer fits into, for the purpose of building the customer persona.

Define Persona Characteristics

The characteristics of personas are what make them into “real” people. Combine all the information you have to decide what your persona looks like. For example, some of the common characteristics used in building personas are:

Are they male or female?

What age group are they in?

What kind of education do they hold?

What type of work do they do?

How much do they earn and where do they live (city/town)?

What type of home do they live in?

What model car do they drive?

Who do they bank with?

Do they have investments, and if so what type (high risk, low risk, etc)?

What type of clothing do they wear?

What would be a good (or typical) name to give them?

What are their likes, dislikes, hobbies, lifestyle, pain points, and motivations?

Do they have a spouse, children, or pets? What kind?

Which social media networks do they access, and how often?

What brands/influencers do they follow?

Who do they support politically?

What kind of appetite do they have for technology/travel/education etc?

Choose the characteristics that matter for the audience you’re targeting within your segments, and any secondary ones that you feel might be relevant.

Draft a Persona

Once you have answered all the relevant questions in the list, you can begin drafting your personas. Start with a primary persona for each of your market segments. Summarize their role as it relates to your product or service. Give them a name, like “Accountant Anne.” Write out their user story, which is a couple of sentences that describe who they are, what they do, what they need, and why they want this need to be realized. It may also include a quote. The user story and their quote put things into perspective for your stakeholders and marketing team.

Your persona sheet should also include key characteristics, such as: age, location, personality, industry (if applicable), personality traits, likes and dislikes, as well as frustrations they may be facing. List their responsibilities, motivations, everyday activities, and even technology usage. Write a typical use case or summary of how they are most likely to use your product and what they are trying to achieve with it.

Identify the pain points they experience in their current situation. Are they using a competitor’s product? If so, how is that working for them? What is your unique value proposition? What would be the primary buying trigger that could make them look for a new supplier?

You can also identify the things they are looking for in a product, and the typical process they go through to buy a product that offers what yours does. To get more insight into how to draft comprehensive personas, schedule a persona-driven SEO consultation with iPullRank, or check out our “persona quick-start” option at the end of this eBook.

Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is a set of diagrams in an easy-to-view format that shows the stages your customers go through when they interact with your company. Whether they buy products online, call your customer service team, or list their complaints on social media, these experiences are all part of the customer journey. Customer journey mapping highlights the gaps between what your customers want, and the experience they actually get. A 2019 survey by Econsultancy and Salesforce showed 42% of respondents believe journey mapping helped to find and address these gaps.

A journey map sets out your company’s current processes from the customer’s first touchpoint to the end of the relationship. It tells the story of how clients experience your brand and enables you to determine whether your customers are achieving their purchase goals and find out how they feel about the process. If not, you can figure out the reason and the point in the journey where the process goes wrong.

Why You Need Journey Mapping

The marketing and sales environments are crowded and challenging now. There’s a wide range of channels and devices customers can use to research products and services, and they can even buy without leaving their homes. To stand out among your competitors, it’s important to be able to offer a consistent and upbeat customer experience from start to finish. Mapping the customer journey is a way to uncover any problems that exist with the current process, so you can implement ways to make the experience more pleasant and fulfilling. Some things you can achieve with journey mapping are as follows:

Improve Personalization

With the information you gather for journey mapping, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to develop personalized marketing campaigns for customers at various stages of their buying journey. When a customer is ready to make the move from the Awareness stage to the Research stage, you can facilitate this by sending communications specially created for that stage of the process. Better personalization has been shown to result in stronger customer retention, more brand loyalty, and longer customer lifetime value.
For example, you may move from talking about the features of a product to fitting your customer in with the product’s benefits and how it’ll fill a need of theirs.

Address Pain Points

Mapping your customer’s journey helps you to uncover any inconsistencies or points in the journey that customers find annoying or that appear to be a waste of time. Examples of this include filling in long online forms or too many steps in the checkout process. By removing these barriers and streamlining the process, you can make the path to buying smoother and faster and require less effort from your customers. The more your clients are satisfied with the process, the more likely they are to recommend you to others.
The purpose of journey mapping is not only to improve the customer’s experience but also to help achieve your company’s overall goals. The mapping process helps to eliminate simple issues that can damage your brand reputation. For example, you might discover clients who complain via social media channels wait a long time for an answer. By resolving this issue, you can improve the customer’s experience and the reviews you get.

How To Build a Journey Map

A comprehensive customer journey map is a tool your entire company can use to improve customer service across marketing, sales, service, distribution, and finance. Follow these steps for crafting your journey map.

Step 1: Develop your objectives for the journey map

Brainstorm your main reason for creating a journey map. Do you want to improve your customer satisfaction and retention? Does your company typically lose customers at a certain point during the delivery of services? Is there a particular issue that’s damaging your reputation? Whatever your goal is, identify it clearly before you start. This will make it easier to craft your map into a format that helps you meet the goal.

Step 2: Profile your personas and define their goals

This is the point at which you use your customer personas. If you haven’t already created personas, you’ll need to do so now to direct your journey map toward the right type of client. Make sure the personas include information on what your ideal customers want and expect from you in terms of customer service, buying processes, response times, invoicing, payment options, and after-sales services.

Step 3: Highlight your target customer personas

Once you have a list of your company’s customer personas, narrow your focus to target one or two of the most important ones. A customer journey map tracks the very specific experience of a single customer type. If you try to target too many personas, your map will be more general and won’t be representative of any real customer’s experience. Choose your most common persona and consider the route that person would take when dealing with your company for the first time. Don’t worry about the others — you can always create maps specific to them later.

Step 4:
Make a list of all touchpoints

List all the “touchpoints” or ways your customers interact with your company, including via your website, social media page, telephone, paid advertising, direct marketing, email marketing, third-party review sites, and even in-store purchases if those apply. Compare your sales data with the list to see what percentage of business comes through each touchpoint and the number of complaints you receive. Look at the touchpoints used to give feedback, both negative and positive. Identify those touchpoints that appear to be working well and those that don’t, and map out the process used for each one.

Step 5: Choose the type of customer journey map

Customer journey maps come in four different types, and the format you choose will depend on the specific purpose you have for the map you’re making:

Current state journey map. This is the most common type. It lists the actions, thoughts, and feelings customers have while interacting with the company at the present time. This map is good for the continuous improvement of the current state.

Day in the life. This sets out the actions, thoughts, and feelings customers have while dealing with your company on a typical day. It gives you a broader insight into customers’ lives and pain points. This type of map is best suited to identifying and meeting customers’ needs before they know they need them.

Future state. This map is based on where your company is currently compared to where you want it to be. It visualizes what you believe will be the actions, thoughts, and feelings customers have during future dealings with you.

Service blueprint. This kind of map starts with one of the three methods listed above, then layers on the factors involved in providing the experience. These could include the people, policies, procedures, and technology currently in use; how (and where) these are working or not working; and what steps you need to take to improve the situation.

Step 6: Identify your resource requirements

Making changes to your customer journey is going to take resources. Identify the ones you’ll need to implement the steps you want to follow, and make a list of those resources that you’re currently lacking. How much will it cost you to get them, and how long will it take? What’s the potential return on investment in the process?

Step 7: Test your map’s accuracy

For each customer persona, follow the journey they take from the first touchpoint to the last. This will tell you whether your map is accurate for each one — and what to change if it’s not. It will help you discover any areas you’ve overlooked in the process, so you can make changes to rectify the oversight.

Using Personas in Different Ways

The internet is teeming with generic content that screams out for attention, but in many cases it only gets seen by spiders and bots. Delivering content that’s relevant and informative and that your audience will find useful is only possible if you create it for specific personas and the problems they experience. As part of your market segmentation and persona research, you’ll have identified the interests and needs of your target audience. During your customer journey research, you’ll likely have uncovered touchpoints where customers aren’t getting the information that they need. Use your customer personas to develop content for your website, blog, on- and off-site SEO (search engine optimization), social media, email marketing, marketing automation, and paid media.

Topic Choice

Use your personas to generate content ideas. Analyze the topics your various personas are interested in and consider what they might want to know. Compare this with questions your sales team gets often and the typical objections raised during sales. Put yourself in your persona’s shoes and think of the questions they might be asking. What are the pain points or problems they have, and what types of solutions are they looking for? Make a list of each issue that comes to mind, then list four points to cover under each issue.

Formats

Your segmentation research should have given you a good idea of the type of content your personas are most likely to consume. There’s little point in producing newspaper ads if your target customers are all online. Similarly, don’t bother with long, complex blog posts if your audience is younger and likes bite-sized snippets of content. An older demographic might prefer written content, for example, while the younger generations will probably consume video more often. Choose the format most likely to be accessed by the persona you’re trying to reach.

Channels

Different personas are likely to have very different preferences when it comes to the media they follow. From radio talk shows during drive time to on-demand video streaming, there’s a very wide range of channels to choose from for distributing your content. Some people might still prefer traditional channels like newspapers and magazines, billboards, or cable TV. Others have made the shift to a more digital focus, consuming channels like social media, email, podcasts, webinars, mobile ads, and pay-per-click ads. It’s important to select the channels most likely to reach the persona you’re targeting, and develop content in the most suitable format for that channel.

Keyword Research

Persona-driven keyword research is much more effective than simply running a list of key terms and search volumes, as shown in this slide presentation by Michael King. This works by classifying keywords according to the personas most likely to search for them and their “need state,” or the stage of the user journey they are are in. The way to do this is to pull a list of keywords using your regular sources (SEMrush, UberSuggest, Wordstream, Spyfu, or Google Keyword Planner, to name a few). Next, you choose respondents from each of your market segments who match the customer personas you want to target, and send them a survey asking about their search behavior.

Targeting Paid Ads

Paid advertising such as pay-per-click (PPC) models are based on the premise that you pay only for the click-throughs you get. That’s one of the features that makes paid advertising excellent value for money because you aren’t paying for random ads that don’t reach their target. It only works, however, if your audience targeting is very carefully set, so you don’t get — and pay for — clicks that don’t bring business. Create your PPC audiences based on analytics for each persona, and use these to develop “look-alike” audiences for later ads.

A/B Testing

A/B testing of your digital content and advertising gives you verifiable data on what resonates with your customers, based on their actual behavior. While having comprehensive personas helps you to plan out your testing activities, it also works the other way around. The test results can be very useful in fine-tuning your personas by narrowing down their attributes to make them as close as possible to real users. Whatever assumptions you have about your customers, A/B testing will help you find out how accurate they are.
There are many ways you can use both buyer personas and audience personas in your marketing strategy.

Chapter 5

So, we’ve talked a lot so far about segmentation, but once you’ve done all that, you still need to create your personas so you can personalize your marketing to appeal directly to them. You’ll want to build a persona that epitomizes each of the primary segments you aim to market to. To do this, you’ll start by doing various kinds of research to find out more about the individuals within each segment.

Do Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is used to understand people’s beliefs, experiences, attitudes, and behavior. It’s usually based on feedback from customer interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic research, which is observing and interacting with people in their real-life environments. This method generates non-numerical data that provides detailed insights and information to researchers, including suggestions you might be unaware of.

Do Quantitative Research

This kind of research gathers numerical data from sources such as web and social media analytics, market segmentation tools, online, mobile and in-person surveys, face-to-face and telephone interviews, polls, observations, and other internal data.

Gather Demographic Information

You may already have collected demographic information for your market segmentation or cluster analysis, which will mean you can probably skip this step. If not, you’ll need to determine what demographic groups your ideal customer fits into, for the purpose of building the customer persona.

Define Persona Characteristics

The characteristics of personas are what make them into “real” people. Combine all the information you have to decide what your persona looks like. For example, some of the common characteristics used in building personas are:

Are they male or female?

What age group are they in?

What kind of education do they hold?

What type of work do they do?

How much do they earn and where do they live (city/town)?

What type of home do they live in?

What model car do they drive?

Who do they bank with?

Do they have investments, and if so what type (high risk, low risk, etc)?

What type of clothing do they wear?

What would be a good (or typical) name to give them?

What are their likes, dislikes, hobbies, lifestyle, pain points, and motivations?

Do they have a spouse, children, or pets? What kind?

Which social media networks do they access, and how often?

What brands/influencers do they follow?

Who do they support politically?

What kind of appetite do they have for technology/travel/education etc?

Choose the characteristics that matter for the audience you’re targeting within your segments, and any secondary ones that you feel might be relevant.

Draft a Persona

Once you have answered all the relevant questions in the list, you can begin drafting your personas. Start with a primary persona for each of your market segments. Summarize their role as it relates to your product or service. Give them a name, like “Accountant Anne.” Write out their user story, which is a couple of sentences that describe who they are, what they do, what they need, and why they want this need to be realized. It may also include a quote. The user story and their quote put things into perspective for your stakeholders and marketing team.

Your persona sheet should also include key characteristics, such as: age, location, personality, industry (if applicable), personality traits, likes and dislikes, as well as frustrations they may be facing. List their responsibilities, motivations, everyday activities, and even technology usage. Write a typical use case or summary of how they are most likely to use your product and what they are trying to achieve with it.

Identify the pain points they experience in their current situation. Are they using a competitor’s product? If so, how is that working for them? What is your unique value proposition? What would be the primary buying trigger that could make them look for a new supplier?

You can also identify the things they are looking for in a product, and the typical process they go through to buy a product that offers what yours does. To get more insight into how to draft comprehensive personas, schedule a persona-driven SEO consultation with iPullRank, or check out our “persona quick-start” option at the end of this eBook.

Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is a set of diagrams in an easy-to-view format that shows the stages your customers go through when they interact with your company. Whether they buy products online, call your customer service team, or list their complaints on social media, these experiences are all part of the customer journey. Customer journey mapping highlights the gaps between what your customers want, and the experience they actually get. A 2019 survey by Econsultancy and Salesforce showed 42% of respondents believe journey mapping helped to find and address these gaps.

A journey map sets out your company’s current processes from the customer’s first touchpoint to the end of the relationship. It tells the story of how clients experience your brand and enables you to determine whether your customers are achieving their purchase goals and find out how they feel about the process. If not, you can figure out the reason and the point in the journey where the process goes wrong.

Why You Need Journey Mapping

The marketing and sales environments are crowded and challenging now. There’s a wide range of channels and devices customers can use to research products and services, and they can even buy without leaving their homes. To stand out among your competitors, it’s important to be able to offer a consistent and upbeat customer experience from start to finish. Mapping the customer journey is a way to uncover any problems that exist with the current process, so you can implement ways to make the experience more pleasant and fulfilling. Some things you can achieve with journey mapping are as follows:

Improve Personalization

With the information you gather for journey mapping, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to develop personalized marketing campaigns for customers at various stages of their buying journey. When a customer is ready to make the move from the Awareness stage to the Research stage, you can facilitate this by sending communications specially created for that stage of the process. Better personalization has been shown to result in stronger customer retention, more brand loyalty, and longer customer lifetime value.
For example, you may move from talking about the features of a product to fitting your customer in with the product’s benefits and how it’ll fill a need of theirs.

Address Pain Points

Mapping your customer’s journey helps you to uncover any inconsistencies or points in the journey that customers find annoying or that appear to be a waste of time. Examples of this include filling in long online forms or too many steps in the checkout process. By removing these barriers and streamlining the process, you can make the path to buying smoother and faster and require less effort from your customers. The more your clients are satisfied with the process, the more likely they are to recommend you to others.
The purpose of journey mapping is not only to improve the customer’s experience but also to help achieve your company’s overall goals. The mapping process helps to eliminate simple issues that can damage your brand reputation. For example, you might discover clients who complain via social media channels wait a long time for an answer. By resolving this issue, you can improve the customer’s experience and the reviews you get.

How To Build a Journey Map

A comprehensive customer journey map is a tool your entire company can use to improve customer service across marketing, sales, service, distribution, and finance. Follow these steps for crafting your journey map.

Step 1: Develop your objectives for the journey map

Brainstorm your main reason for creating a journey map. Do you want to improve your customer satisfaction and retention? Does your company typically lose customers at a certain point during the delivery of services? Is there a particular issue that’s damaging your reputation? Whatever your goal is, identify it clearly before you start. This will make it easier to craft your map into a format that helps you meet the goal.

Step 2: Profile your personas and define their goals

This is the point at which you use your customer personas. If you haven’t already created personas, you’ll need to do so now to direct your journey map toward the right type of client. Make sure the personas include information on what your ideal customers want and expect from you in terms of customer service, buying processes, response times, invoicing, payment options, and after-sales services.

Step 3: Highlight your target customer personas

Once you have a list of your company’s customer personas, narrow your focus to target one or two of the most important ones. A customer journey map tracks the very specific experience of a single customer type. If you try to target too many personas, your map will be more general and won’t be representative of any real customer’s experience. Choose your most common persona and consider the route that person would take when dealing with your company for the first time. Don’t worry about the others — you can always create maps specific to them later.

Step 4:
Make a list of all touchpoints

List all the “touchpoints” or ways your customers interact with your company, including via your website, social media page, telephone, paid advertising, direct marketing, email marketing, third-party review sites, and even in-store purchases if those apply. Compare your sales data with the list to see what percentage of business comes through each touchpoint and the number of complaints you receive. Look at the touchpoints used to give feedback, both negative and positive. Identify those touchpoints that appear to be working well and those that don’t, and map out the process used for each one.

Step 5: Choose the type of customer journey map

Customer journey maps come in four different types, and the format you choose will depend on the specific purpose you have for the map you’re making:

Current state journey map. This is the most common type. It lists the actions, thoughts, and feelings customers have while interacting with the company at the present time. This map is good for the continuous improvement of the current state.

Day in the life. This sets out the actions, thoughts, and feelings customers have while dealing with your company on a typical day. It gives you a broader insight into customers’ lives and pain points. This type of map is best suited to identifying and meeting customers’ needs before they know they need them.

Future state. This map is based on where your company is currently compared to where you want it to be. It visualizes what you believe will be the actions, thoughts, and feelings customers have during future dealings with you.

Service blueprint. This kind of map starts with one of the three methods listed above, then layers on the factors involved in providing the experience. These could include the people, policies, procedures, and technology currently in use; how (and where) these are working or not working; and what steps you need to take to improve the situation.

Step 6: Identify your resource requirements

Making changes to your customer journey is going to take resources. Identify the ones you’ll need to implement the steps you want to follow, and make a list of those resources that you’re currently lacking. How much will it cost you to get them, and how long will it take? What’s the potential return on investment in the process?

Step 7: Test your map’s accuracy

For each customer persona, follow the journey they take from the first touchpoint to the last. This will tell you whether your map is accurate for each one — and what to change if it’s not. It will help you discover any areas you’ve overlooked in the process, so you can make changes to rectify the oversight.

Using Personas in Different Ways

The internet is teeming with generic content that screams out for attention, but in many cases it only gets seen by spiders and bots. Delivering content that’s relevant and informative and that your audience will find useful is only possible if you create it for specific personas and the problems they experience. As part of your market segmentation and persona research, you’ll have identified the interests and needs of your target audience. During your customer journey research, you’ll likely have uncovered touchpoints where customers aren’t getting the information that they need. Use your customer personas to develop content for your website, blog, on- and off-site SEO (search engine optimization), social media, email marketing, marketing automation, and paid media.

Topic Choice

Use your personas to generate content ideas. Analyze the topics your various personas are interested in and consider what they might want to know. Compare this with questions your sales team gets often and the typical objections raised during sales. Put yourself in your persona’s shoes and think of the questions they might be asking. What are the pain points or problems they have, and what types of solutions are they looking for? Make a list of each issue that comes to mind, then list four points to cover under each issue.

Formats

Your segmentation research should have given you a good idea of the type of content your personas are most likely to consume. There’s little point in producing newspaper ads if your target customers are all online. Similarly, don’t bother with long, complex blog posts if your audience is younger and likes bite-sized snippets of content. An older demographic might prefer written content, for example, while the younger generations will probably consume video more often. Choose the format most likely to be accessed by the persona you’re trying to reach.

Channels

Different personas are likely to have very different preferences when it comes to the media they follow. From radio talk shows during drive time to on-demand video streaming, there’s a very wide range of channels to choose from for distributing your content. Some people might still prefer traditional channels like newspapers and magazines, billboards, or cable TV. Others have made the shift to a more digital focus, consuming channels like social media, email, podcasts, webinars, mobile ads, and pay-per-click ads. It’s important to select the channels most likely to reach the persona you’re targeting, and develop content in the most suitable format for that channel.

Keyword Research

Persona-driven keyword research is much more effective than simply running a list of key terms and search volumes, as shown in this slide presentation by Michael King. This works by classifying keywords according to the personas most likely to search for them and their “need state,” or the stage of the user journey they are are in. The way to do this is to pull a list of keywords using your regular sources (SEMrush, UberSuggest, Wordstream, Spyfu, or Google Keyword Planner, to name a few). Next, you choose respondents from each of your market segments who match the customer personas you want to target, and send them a survey asking about their search behavior.

Targeting Paid Ads

Paid advertising such as pay-per-click (PPC) models are based on the premise that you pay only for the click-throughs you get. That’s one of the features that makes paid advertising excellent value for money because you aren’t paying for random ads that don’t reach their target. It only works, however, if your audience targeting is very carefully set, so you don’t get — and pay for — clicks that don’t bring business. Create your PPC audiences based on analytics for each persona, and use these to develop “look-alike” audiences for later ads.

A/B Testing

A/B testing of your digital content and advertising gives you verifiable data on what resonates with your customers, based on their actual behavior. While having comprehensive personas helps you to plan out your testing activities, it also works the other way around. The test results can be very useful in fine-tuning your personas by narrowing down their attributes to make them as close as possible to real users. Whatever assumptions you have about your customers, A/B testing will help you find out how accurate they are.
There are many ways you can use both buyer personas and audience personas in your marketing strategy.

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