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Why your business can not ignore evolving customer personas

In order for businesses to stay ahead of the game and continue their success, they have to keep up with customer habits, behaviours and trends. This is especially relevant online, where businesses do have the luxury to track what is working and what is not for their customers and crucially, make positive changes quickly! That’s where customer personas come in.

Customer personas are created by businesses as a result of the key buying behaviours of their customers. So, what happens when businesses don’t evolve with their personas? Matt Berry, Head of Client Services at Hallam Internet, discusses the customer persona, it’s evolution and how businesses can keep up with customers…

How the persona is evolving

Creating customer personas is critical to understanding who to target for your marketing efforts. Brands usually create preconceived ideas of their customer, but in today’s market, there’s no room for jamming customers into predicted boxes.

User intent has transformed the way we look at the buyer, the way we interact with them and changing their buying motives. Here’s the benefits of adapting your strategy with this shift in customer journey.

Customer personas then and now

A customer persona is a fictional representation of your buyer, based on research and real data about your current consumers. Traditional customer personas include such things as fictional names, demographics (age, sex, location) and customer frustrations and goals.

The above example refers to what is considered to be a traditional customer persona. But are customer personas the right way to profile your customers? Traditional customer personas have their limitations. Ultimately you are making a lot of assumptions and tightly packaging a person (persona) into a box with no flexibility. Also, businesses are complex and so are their customers. There could be instances where creating traditional personas would mean building a bank of 20 or more.

This automatically creates a question – how can you possibly communicate to these varying personas on an individual basis? You simply cannot talk to a multitude of personas, but what you can do is group them by their commonality, their user intent.

Isn’t user intent the same as a persona?

You have to remember that a customer always has a goal in mind – and that’s at the heart of their intention. For instance, someone coming to the website and looking to read up on the best places to visit in Europe – it doesn’t matter their demographic, age or current location because they have a reason for being on your site – you provide them with the information they need.

By grouping traditional personas based on intent allows you to serve a multitude of diverse customers and satisfy their needs on your website.

Using an example of a travel and accommodation website, the user intent could be as follows:

  1. Book travel and accommodation together with ease
  2. Discover new places to visit
  3. Book low cost travel and accommodation on one website

Once you have mapped out the varying user intents that exists across your customer personas, you have the tools to explore the users journey and how you can serve the motivation at each stage.

Keeping track of the journey

Once the user intent has been mapped out, it’s then time to map the intent to the journey that the customer goes on. Answering the customer journey questions at each stage will help reduce the decision making process for the buyer therefore resulting in more conversions.

Final thoughts

From reading this blog, hopefully there is an understanding as to why it’s beneficial to focus efforts on mapping the user intent as the next stage to your traditional customer personas. Understanding the user intent will allow you to better understand what the customer really wants from your website.