The Importance of Customer Personas


Let’s get personal: Customer personas and why you need them.

When it comes to marketing, you can go one of two routes: highly targeted with precise customer data or ‘spray and pray.’ Not shockingly, the former is quite a bit more effective than the later. Back in the day (not terribly long ago), the best advertisers could do was target customers by general media preference like TV, radio and magazines. Direct mail was as personal as it got. Now, with the proliferation of big-data sources, marketers have readily-available tools to precisely define their best customers and discover unique ways to target them. Enter customer personas. The semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. They’re a powerful marketing tool, and one that every brand should consider.

Focus, people.

Unless your target market is “everyone in the world,” (and let’s hope it’s not), you can do your business a great service by developing detailed customer personas. Not only will they provide awareness into buying patterns but they will give your company invaluable insight—structured information that will help you determine how to focus your efforts so you can attract the highest caliber visitors, leads, and customers.

The key here is detail. There’s a big difference between knowing your target is “a twenty-something male” and knowing he has a girlfriend, two dogs, plays fantasy football on his phone, listens to podcasts during his commute and streams ‘Game of Thrones.’ Armed with that knowledge you are in a much better position to craft a visual and verbal message that will resonate. So, get to work and do your research. (Hint: An experienced ad agency or other savvy marketing partner can be a tremendous help here.)

Find your magic number.

How many personas do you need? Great question. And the answer depends on the type of business you have. For instance, healthcare companies often have as many as eight. But as a general rule, start with two to three and slowly build more as needed. But there’s rarely a reason to have more than five or six. Any more than that and you can run into problems with overlapping that can muddy the waters.

Now take it a step further.

Chances are, a lot of people will fall into one or two main personas, leaving others with a much smaller base. This is the underserved group you want to target even more vigorously because it’s where the true opportunity for growth lies. Once you figure out their interests and motivations you can target them in highly strategic ways, resulting in greater gains.

But don’t stop there. Segmentation is next.

So once you have your super informative and highly accurate customer personas, it’s time to take it to the next level: segmented/targeted marketing. One of the best things about customer personas is that they enable you to segment your marketing campaigns so you can send personalized, targeted content to each persona. Personalization has huge benefits:

  • Build long-lasting relationships
  • Communicate to individuals in their language
  • Distribute using their preferred channels
  • Customize content for each persona

The bottom line: It’s time to begin viewing your ideal customers as real people rather than faceless statistics. When you do, great things can happen.