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How to Use a Customer Persona

How to Use a Customer Persona

There's no denying that we live in increasingly competitive times. With so many options available to customers, businesses must evolve and stay relevant constantly. However, creating and maintaining products and services that will be successful in the market doesn't just happen on its own. Here's when customer personas come into play. These personas help to gain insight into the minds of your customers, allowing you to better cater to their needs and avoid their pain points.

In our previous article, we discussed how to create customer personas. This time, we'll be looking at how to use them and how not to confuse them with other types of personas.

User personas vector image
Customer personas are key for creating ultra-targeted marketing campaigns

The Differences Between Personas

As we mentioned above, there are different types of personas. Personas are fictional characters that represent your ideal customers and users. They help you to understand your existing and potential customers better. They can aid you in identifying the different types of users that could interact with your brand, site, or products. Using personas has its benefits, so it's the right choice to get well-informed on how to use them. In fact, according to Linkedin, 71% of companies exceeding their revenue targets are using personas.

Persona benefits infographic
Creating personas will help you to understand your users’ needs, experiences, behaviors, and goals.

However, understanding which persona you need is crucial for applying correct strategies. Let's take a look at some types of personas that exist.

Customer persona

Customer personas are all about strengthening your relationship with your current customers. Most of the time, the term customer persona is used interchangeably with buyer persona. However, it's recommended that this isn't done. In fact, Linkedin recommends handling customer personas as successfully converted buyer personas. This is because user personas represent your customers that already exist.

"When writing content for a customer persona or thinking about what would benefit current clients, their interest would probably differ from other buyer personas that aren't customers yet...This implies completely different content strategies and communication for your customer personas than for buyer personas who until now maybe never have heard of your company and your offerings. " - Linkedin
What makes a customer persona infographic
Customer personas should focus on building upon your relationship with existing customers.

Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. It's based on market research and data about your existing customers. It's a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. A buyer persona contributes structure and insight to your company.

"A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business." -  HubSpot
Buyer personas vector image
Buyer personas should be created using real data from your existing customers. Image credit: HubSpot

Customer service persona

Customer service is a key differentiator and influences who customers choose to go with. Providing good quality customer service can give you an edge over competitors. A customer service persona represents the types of customers who use customer support.

"It gives you a better and quicker understanding of a customer's needs, wants, traits, and behavior patterns and ensures your team meets them effectively in a personalized way. It also helps you to determine which customer segment is the most support intensive and to better adapt to it." - LinkedIn
Customer service persona image
Customer service can make or break a business.

How do personas work?

Perhaps you're not convinced about the effectiveness of personas. You might even feel you don't need them for your business. Before you decide that this is the case, take a look at the different innate human abilities that Matt Ellis from Smashing Magazine says personas are so effective at stimulating:

  • Narrative practice- This is the ability to create, share and hear stories.
  • Long-term memory- This is the ability to acquire and maintain memories of the past from our own life experiences.
  • Concrete thinking- This is the tendency for people to relate better to and remember tangible examples, rather than abstractions.
  • Theory of mind- This is the ability to predict another person’s behavior by understanding their mental state.
  • Empathy. This is the ability to understand, relate to and share the feelings of other people.
  • Experience-taking- This is the ability to have the “emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses” of a fictional character when reading or watching a story.

Ultimately, you decide what's best for your company. What works for some may not work for you and vice-versa.

"With all their limitations, you may be wondering if personas are worth developing at all. The answer is it depends on the particular needs of your company, and only you can decide if they are likely to be a helpful marketing tool." - Lisa Ross

How can I use a customer persona?

Now, if you decide that using customer personas is the way to go, then here are some tips from Invesp to help you use them more effectively:

1. Reflect patterns observed in research

It's essential that your personas are based on accurate data, and should reflect patterns in the data. Any statement you make about your persona needs to have data to support it. Never make something up to fill in research gaps.

2. Identify opportunities and product gaps to drive strategy

Before developing your persona, you need to examine your products for any gaps or opportunities for improvement.

After you identify areas that need improvement, you will have a better sense of what questions you want to ask. It will also give you a better understanding of how to develop your persona research strategy.

3. Provide a quick and cheap way to test, validate and prioritize ideas throughout development

This will take some thought and effort on your company’s part. However, developing an efficient, cost-effective way to test and validate your ideas is key to developing an effective persona. It is best to do this at different stages throughout the development process to guarantee you are on the right track and understand your customers and their needs.

4. Give focus to projects by building a common understanding of customers across teams

Use personas to help teams and departments in your company to understand your customers. If multiple teams collaborate on product development, they must be all on the same page and have a shared understanding of their customers. Personas can be a valuable reference tool in these cases. They can be used from the strategy phase to the implementation phase.

5. Help development teams empathize with users, including their behaviors, goals, and expectations

Personas are only useful if they give valuable, data-based insights into customers and help development teams to empathize with their customers. It's important to elaborate on the data and add some fictional personal details to make the persona a realistic character that your team can connect to.

Additionally, Leadfuze offers insight into how to use customer personas for cold email campaigns. According to Hubspot, the average person takes just 5 minutes each day to delete 48% of the emails they’ve received. The average open rate for emails sent in North America is 34.1%, and the click-through rate is much lower at 3.1%. Using customer personas can help to improve your chances of getting the result you would like from the lead.

Take a look at  the following tips from Leadfuze:

How to use a customer persona image
Customer personas help you to speak to your specific audience.

The Takeaway About Customer Personas

With everything we've seen, the most important thing to do is to try your best to get into the minds of your customers. Anything that can help to give you an edge, and to make you stand out from your competition is always a plus. Understanding why someone is interested in using your products or services, and the things that might frustrate them while doing so, is extremely helpful. Remember to always go with real data while creating a persona. Because while a fictional character might sound enticing, customer personas should always be based on fact and not fiction

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Laura Amarillas
December 6, 2022
min read

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