Segmentation is a critical part of the marketing plan. But how much science are marketing departments applying to the creation of buyer personas? Is it data or intuition that drives the creation of personas such as “Fashion-Forward Fiona” or “Value-Hunting Valerie”? Is second-guessing customer personas really good enough, especially with the wealth of deep data now available? This third instalment of a four-part blog series offers advice on how to use data, patterns and behaviours to define personas that drive the most effective marketing campaigns.
Who are you?
Defining the customer should not be based on intuition alone. Of course, each business has a clear idea of just who the customer or the target is. But, in reality, they are so much more than just a “Fashion-Forward Fiona”.
In order to make this approach more sophisticated, it is vital that all accessible data, whether collected today or not, is utilised to map behaviours and patterns that can provide amazing insight into the true definition of each persona. Creating behavioural segments is a good way of doing this. By analysing patterns of activity and defining segments based on this insight, organisations can profile customer behaviours, understand their stage in the purchase journey, predict future behaviour and estimate potential lifetime value.
Organisations will certainly find that some of the traits taken from the original buyer personas will coincide with what the data has thrown up. However, far more insight is gained from the data-driven approach. For example, the “Fashion-Forward Fiona” persona may exhibit far more complex behaviour - coming onto the website, browsing, putting items in the basket, revisiting several times over days or even weeks, and waiting for a sale or a discount before the purchase is actually made. “Fashion-Forward Fiona” is, in fact, a value hunter browsing until products are marked down.
Using patterns of activity to define segments also allows easy identification of more accurate trigger points that marketing teams can leverage. It refines the way companies can appeal to the customer in a way which will lead to a conversion - such as offering a discount to Fiona. But at what stage of the customer journey does a message or a marketing campaign get triggered?
Bringing in real-time
Marketing actions are increasingly based on events that are happening in real-time. As organisations begin to look at customer behaviour, they can then begin to schedule when an activity happens. Knowing the customer has browsed several products, placed items in the basket or added them to their wish-list provides a baseline to generate intelligent offer messages that combine their style into outfit suggestions that inspire the customer to buy.
Armed with the right, detailed data, a company can move away from creating a stereotypical buyer persona and understand what its real customers are doing. With this level of customer understanding, companies can evolve towards a one-to-one relationship, rather than appealing to a broader cluster of customers, and dynamically update the webpage for each customer based on their actions. This could include offering website assistance, dynamically changing the layout of pages and the pre-filling of forms, among other actions, in order to make the experience user-friendly.
Starting off with traditional demographic-based segments made sense - but making assumptions about customers is always a risk. With today’s in-depth data and analytics, companies really can become far more sophisticated and use historical and real-time customer behaviour to attain truly meaningful customer personas and drive actions that transform the customer experience.
The final part of this four-part blog series will look at how customer journeys round out the progression of digital marketing analytics in a “crawl, walk, run” transformation.