I’m pretty sure this is not what Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote down one of his most famous quotes back in 1597, and I’m completely sure personas were not as important in his day and age as they are today, but if you want to be able to make your personalization work you should first get your personas defined well. Because it is them who you will be talking to, in lots of different ways, every day, week, month, again and again, until they are gone, but that is a situation you really want to avoid in any possible way you can.
‘What is a persona?’ I hear you ask. A good question, and please don’t be afraid to ask it, since you are not the only one who will be asking this, but probably one of the few who dares to do so.
In these days of crossing and interconnecting on- and offline experiences, personalization is not an option anymore, it is a given that it must be done throughout every customer journey, be it on- or offline, but it is also a given that not every company is already doing it the way they should. Over 80% of customers expect you to do it, less than 50% of the companies are really doing it, but there is hope, it is not too late, you still have time to get to know your customers in the best possible way and treat them the way you should.
“What is a persona?”
But first you must know who your customers are. In the same manner that Jake, the owner of the hardware store around the corner knows his every customer, their families, their specific situation, their interest, their preferences and their needs, you can do the same. Jake may not know it consciously, but he also uses personas, he knows what type of customers he has, and he knows when someone comes in, what department of his store they most likely will be visiting. And it is not because you are one persona today that you may not be a different persona tomorrow, but when you come in to buy something for your garden, that will most likely be the same garden as it was yesterday and your personal taste will not have changed dramatically over a short period of time.
So, it is possible to define different types of customers, with their own characteristics, with their specific interests, with their socio demographic classification, etc…
Let’s take an example to make it a bit more clear. Let us assume that you have an online shop in consumer electronics, then you might want to divide your customers into groups with specific interests.
You will have youngsters that want to play games, are interested in high end computers and are a bit of a gadget freak, sometimes referred to as nerds, but we will not call them that :-). They want quality and are price sensitive at the same time, but can take care of their own configuration and do not need a lot of support. This might be your first persona.
Another one may be the ‘Pater Familias’, the family man in his forties, looking for a good television, some small electronics and does not want any hassle. He wants quality and it must work at all times, he will not have the TV break down just before a football match.
A third group may be a group of people, both man and woman, a bit older, who do not know anything about electronics, but just need household appliances that work and that get replaced fast when something is wrong. Let’s call them ‘Service seekers.’
You get the drift? You can create several of these personas, of course linked to your type of business, and see if they match the customers you have. You attribute a lot of characteristics to them, for the sake of easiness you may give them names and faces, and if you finish this exercise, all of your customers will fit into one of these groups.
Normally you don’t need dozens, somewhere between five and ten should do it, otherwise it will be very hard to build your customer journeys based on these personas.
Once you have done this, you have a good basis to start mapping your customer journeys, you can build your personalization roadmap making use of the specific characteristics of every group and you can start building offers tailor made to every persona, this way avoiding wasting energy (and marketing money) on offers targeted at a group of which you may know upfront they won’t be interested in your offer. There is little sense in offering a high end gaming computer to a retired woman who only wants to watch TV-shows. This might seem logical, but if you do not make it personal, you will invest in marketing actions that do just that, and you can know upfront this money is wasted.
This way you will be able to spend your marketing money far more efficiently and you will be able to spend more per group than you did before, increasing conversion, sales, customer loyalty and revenue and reducing churn. And that is what it is all about, not?
‘Do I have this data?’ might be a next question, and the answer is simple: yes you do, but that is a subject I will go into the next time.
So in conclusion, Shakespeare was right, all those years ago :-).