We’re constantly talking about how important it is to KNOW your customer. It’s the foundation for any good marketing strategy. It’s behind every effective online ad, interesting blog post, enticing product description, successful keyword strategy, etc.
Beyond your marketing strategy, the customer can also be a huge influence on product development. If you know your customer well enough, you can cater your product features and the user interface to reflect their preferences, making them more likely to purchase your product over the competitor.
The best way to get to know your customers—like REALLY know your customers—is to create customer profiles. Customer profiling is “a description of a customer, or a set of customers, that includes demographics, and psychographic characteristics, as well as buying patterns, creditworthiness, and purchase history.”
Essentially, customer profiling is creating a complete portrait of your customer. Now, here are the steps to creating customer profiles to take your business to the next level.
1. Talk to your customers
According to Sarah Gurbach—Senior Account Manager, Search and Audience Insights, Seer Interactive—talking to your customers is one of the most important things you can do when creating your online strategy. “So, in 2020, I recommend you go and sit down with your customers,” Gurbach said. “Talk to them, ask them to tell you about their journey to purchase, how they used search, what they thought of your site. Use that data in every decision you make.”
- While you can’t have a conversation with every one of your customers, here are some ways to can “talk” to your customers and gather insights:
- One-on-one interviews (in-person or over the phone)
- General market research
- Focus groups
When conducting personal interviews, you can ask questions specific to your products and company, or the questions listed above by Gurbach, or branch out and ask personal questions about their hobbies, work, family, etc. This will give you an overall picture of their lives and help you understand them better.
When it comes to conducting online surveys, don’t be afraid to dangle $10 off their next purchase or even an Amazon gift card. This will increase your responses, providing you with better data.
2. Segment your audience
Not all of your customers are exactly the same. So, categorize your customer base into different groups to facilitate more specific targeting in future marketing efforts. Here are the different categories you can use to start creating customer personas (small groups of customer profiles):
- Demographics – Age, gender, marital status, geographic location (urban, suburban, rural), life stage (single, married, divorced, empty nester, retired, etc.), language
- Psychographics – attitudes, aspirations, personality, values, opinions, interests, lifestyles
- Engagement/Behavioral – social trends, frequency patterns, web activity, preferred media channels, online shopping habits
Once you start to see trends within demographics, psychographics, and online behaviors, you can organize your customers together into different customer personas. This will help you create specific marketing strategies for each group.
3. Identify benefits
You’ve gathered data about your audience, you’ve created different groups within your audience, and now you can identify the key benefits for each group.
As you collected information about your audience, you probably learned about the different product features they value the most and how they like to use your products. With this information, you can determine what benefits are most important to them.
For example, if you find that one of your segments really likes your product’s automated features, you might say their key benefit is convenience.
You also want to think about the external factors surrounding their purchase decision. How did they find out about your brand? Was it a last-minute decision? How much is your customer willing to spend? These questions will give you additional insights into what your customers value.
4. Make it personal
Don’t just name your segments “Segment 1,” “Segment 2,” etc. Get personal. Here are some simple ways to make your customer segments feel like real people:
- Give them a name – Rob, Jenn, Chris, Holly … easy-to-remember names that fit the personality of your segment
- Assign a photo – It’s much easier to sell to someone when you can put a face with the name
- Create a description – Make it simple and easy to remember so you don’t have to go back into the data to remember if “Karen” is an early adopter
Once you have your customer personas nailed down, print them up and display them in your office. This ensures that you’re constantly thinking about your customers and their needs and wants.
5. Keep it current
Customer profiling isn’t something you do once and then forget about it. Things are constantly changing, so you should periodically update your customer personas to reflect industry changes and customer preferences.
To simplify the process of updating customer profiles, be sure to document your findings in an easy-to-read format. Divide your customer profiles into the sections mentioned earlier—demographics, psychographics, Engagement/behavioral—so you can easily update your customer profiles as you get more information.
Truly understanding your customers isn’t something you can do in one day. It takes a lot of work and a lot of analysis to understand who they are what’s important to them. But once you figure it out, your marketing strategy and bottom line will thank you.