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Customer Experience and Design

How to Use Research & Personas for Personalized Marketing

Personalization, by definition, should not be a “one-size-fits-all” effort.
It’s a customer-driven approach that can dramatically improve marketing results by leveraging user data, customer insights and strategic knowledge of a customer journey. Most importantly, it can build trust between customers and brands, as well as increase B2B sales by reaching current or prospective customers through individualized messaging.
But to reach the people you want, you need to start with a solid research strategy for learning about your customers. Getting to know your audience isn’t easy. And just relying on analytics can give you a limited view, especially if you make a lot of assumptions. 

Being empathetic is almost impossible without actually talking to customers and learning from their experiences. So how can you get the full view?

Step 1: Conduct Multi-Method Research.

Becoming customer-driven needs to start with a strong understanding of your customers. First, ask yourself:

  • Who are our customers?
  • What are their behaviors, interests and motivations?
  • What are their preferred technologies and brands?
  • How well they react to specific marketing methods?
  • What are their pain points that our products/services can solve?

This can be through interviews, surveys, analytics, user data or baseline testing. Digital collection of data can also be done through landing pages, email sign-ups and analytics sites. Pairing qualitative and quantitative methods is key, and it’s the best bet for fully understanding current and prospective customers. But if you’re in a time crunch, a survey or round of interviews can give you a wider perspective than you ever expected.

Step 2: Translate Your Research into a Story.

While research is being conducted, you’ll notice customers saying similar things and common themes starting to arise. The next phase is to turn all of the analyzed research findings into actionable documentation that can tell a story about the customers and their journeys, not to mention, how their motivations, needs and pain-points influence their interactions with a service, brand or experience. Different types of documentation can be created, but two very effective storytelling materials are personas and customer journey maps.

What You Need to Know About Personas

Personas represent a set of customers who have similar behaviors when it comes to how they purchase products and interact with a service or brand. 
Personas often include:

  • A short biography 
  • Demographic information 
  • Similar technology and media habits 
  • Motivations for buying 
  • Brand and purchasing preferences
  • Painpoints or concerns 

A quick and easy starting point is conducting an empathy mapping exercise to find out who your customer segments really are and identify their different wants and needs.
Of course, personas have long been used in marketing, development and branding. But fleshing them out through a customer journey is the next step for creating a personalized marketing experience.

What You Need to Know About Customer Journeys

The customer journey maps the stages that a customer would go through when interacting with a brand or company – all from the customer’s perspective. This can include touchpoints throughout a service (e.g., online shopping, contacting customer service or attending a conference), and it demonstrates the current highs and lows of that experience. The important backing point of a journey is multi-method research, and it must demonstrate a variety of experiences, such as milestones, sentiment, goals, and high and low points.

And What It All Means for You

Doing this will help you better understand the landscape of your customer-base and how you can create a personalized marketing strategy for your brand – based on demographic information, motivations, media use, pain points and more.
And when choosing a specific social media channel, technology or experience for your personalization strategy, you’ll be fully confident in the decision, since you’ll know exactly who your customers are – and how to best reach them.
Need a hand or have any questions? We’re always here to help.

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