If you want to sell a product, you need to understand your customer through customer research.
Of course, that process is easier said than done. Getting to know your customer is a complex process that requires you not only understand who your customer is, but also what problems they face and factors motivate their decisions. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Familiarizing yourself with their attributes is the best way to engage, inspire, and connect with them in a way that is both meaningful and valuable.
In this blog, we will go over a few of the ways you can build qualitative and quantitative profiles of your customers.
Build Customer Personas
When you think of your ideal customer, who do you picture?
No two people are alike, but creating customer personas — also known as buyer personas — can help you tailor your offering and target your messaging toward general types of customers.
To build a customer persona, you need to create a list of essential traits using research and data. Our full guide has a list of questions to ask yourself, but you generally want to gather information in three areas:
- Basic details such as where they live, their income level, and job title
- Consumer behavior like where they spend, how they make transactions, and what keywords or phrases they use
- Where they spend time online and offline to get their information
Use this information to create between three and five distinct personas. Each persona should not only represent current customers and potential leads but also offer a vision of how your product or service can solve their problem. You can use your customer personas as a tool for planning content strategy, product roadmaps, and sales or marketing campaigns.
The Limitations of Personas
It’s important to understand that personas are just guidelines. You’ll want to consistently reevaluate your personas and not be afraid to deviate from the guardrails they provide. Bryan Eisenberg, New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker, explains it best: “Creating personas is really just the beginning. A persona is not a document: it is a clear understanding of a target customer that exists in the minds of your team. Personas evolve as your data around them evolves as well.”
It’s also important to remember that customer personas are semi-fictional representations. In order to get an accurate, fact-based picture of your customers, you’ll need to dive into the data.
How to Do Customer Research
Unless your small business is new, you likely have a bunch of customer data that you can use to grow your business. That data comes in many forms.
If you have a website, a good place to start is with your Google Analytics. Diving into this dashboard will give you numbers on who is visiting your website, what they’re interested in, and if they converted from leads to customers.
Your social media presence offers similar insights. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all offer basic information on who is interacting with your posts.
Sometimes you’ll want to proactively gather data. Sending out a customer survey to a mailing list provides a direct line to your customers. Through a survey, customers can tell you how you meet their needs and what still needs work.
Update Your Customer Research Frequently
Remember to cultivate your relationship with customers over time. It’s important to revisit each step of this process to see how the needs and profile of your customers change. Especially after the pandemic, our behaviors have changed. You’ll want to check in with your customers to see if their needs, desires, and satisfaction have shifted.
This is not only a great way to validate your business strategy, but a great way to stay in touch with your audience.