Is your customer persona accurate?

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So many businesses have switched to remote working in the past few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These businesses now have a sudden need for software applications and tools that they did not have earlier.

For instance, video conferencing software is something all these newly working from home businesses need. Despite the availability of tons of tools in this space (some as popular as Skype and Google Hangouts), a huge chunk of them have signed up for Zoom. This is in spite of the prevalent security issues with the app. 

What did Zoom do right that its competitors did not? 

The Customer Persona

Marketing processes go through a standard cycle - you identify the demographic profile of your customer. Then, you create marketing assets that will appeal to the customer. And finally, you distribute these assets, track conversions and after you track performance, you tweak your campaign and repeat.

The results from these processes are not always uniform. Some businesses see terrific conversion rates from their marketing campaigns while others are not so successful. While it is common to go back to the drawing board to study the campaigns and understand what went wrong with the messaging, marketers very rarely revisit the fundamentals - are you targeting the right customer?

A big chunk of new referrals to Zoom came from word-of-mouth referrals. In the age of social media and social distancing, that’s mostly references that come from social media and private messaging platforms.

So while all the various business conferencing software applications target the millennial working population, the customer persona that they target and the messaging is slightly different.

How to get customer persona right

Age and other demographic factors of a prospective buyer are a big part of a customer persona. But they are not the only thing. Here is a short guide on how a marketing strategy consultant may go about it. 

Method 1  - If you do not have a customer base yet

When you do not have a customer base yet, or want to go beyond your traditional customer base, the first thing you do is advertise. Keep targeting to a minimum (perhaps limit to the country you operate in; no other targeting necessary). 

The objective of this ad campaign is to not make sales, but to collect data about your buyers. Once you have enough purchases, look into their demographics and referral channels to build a persona of this customer base. 

With this data in hand, run a second ad campaign targeted solely at this user group and measure performance of your ad. Are you seeing a significant uptick in purchases? Then chances are that you have been able to successfully build a persona.

In addition to this, make use of tools like BrandMentions to thoroughly analyze the sources and profiles of people talking about your business on social media channels. Are these positive or negative sentiments? A study of these demographics and personas might give you an idea of the kind of messaging you could use on these specific target groups.

Method 2 - If you already have a thriving customer base

If you have an existing customer base, then you need to start with them. Understand who they are, what they do, how did they find you, and finally why do they use your product over competitors.

It starts with the basic demographic questions, obviously. But it’s important to find the differentiating factor between your customers and people targeted by competitors. In the case of Hangouts vs. Zoom, Hangouts is quite popular for people to chat with friends and family.

Did Google make a mistake with the brand name “Hangouts”? Perhaps people do not associate business calls with Google because of the term? Surveying your customers as well as people who purchase from your competitor can throw some really valuable lessons.

Follow it up with a thorough understanding of their online behavior, their buying patterns, their product research process and so on. A customer persona is built after getting a hang of all these different factors.

As a marketer, it is safe to assume that you will never be able to build a foolproof persona of your customer. However, by making the right assumptions and eliminations, it is possible to build a persona that is close to what you set out for initially.