The year is 2019. People have finally realised that a living standard measurement was fun to learn about in marketing school but isn’t sufficient to build a campaign on. Today, we know that well-rounded insight is the key to reaching people in meaningful ways. And, when you get that right, the hard work is done for you. Building lasting relationships with your consumers becomes a more human affair. But how do we use that to affect the bottom line?

You need to know your consumers better than you know yourself

The truth is – gaining a competitive edge (especially in the attention economy) means connecting with your consumers. And, in a rampant display of irony, warm connection is easier to do with cold, hard insight. What do we love about cold, hard insight?

  • It’s easy to obtain. Social media analytics and other media monitoring tools make it easier than ever for us to gain detailed insight into who engages with us online. With the internet at our fingertips, we can easily learn more about demographics and behaviour – drawing useful insight is the more challenging part. 
  • It’s a cost-effective way to improve your marketing communications and subsequently, your bottom line. The return on understanding your consumer can be monumental and basic analytics tools are free. You can also opt to get more in-depth figures and insights, depending on your budget. 
  • Collecting data helps you be more accurate, at least to the extent of validating or discounting assumptions. And as you begin to refine your understanding of your consumers’ desires and buying behaviour, you open a world of opportunity in terms of meeting their needs on more factual information. 
  • It’s challenging. The nature of data is that it changes. Garnering useful insight from it is a job in itself and a challenging endevour – but well worth it. If everyone was good at it, and could easily do it, there would be no victory. This is your chance to gain a competitive edge. 

The Devil is in the details, and the details are in the data

The key ingrediant in a recipe for marketing success is putting in the effort and taking the time to interpret information correctly. An overview and assumptions hold value in their own right but the Devil really is in the details. This is an adage that Head of Data at Social Chain, McVal Osborne knows all too well.

In a recent interview with Marcomm News, he said: “Gaining social-first insights has become integral to the decisions that we make and the actions that we take. The data captured through social media is forever changing how brands operate, both online and offline. Brands want to understand buying behaviour, customer motivations and consumer perception in their target demographic, which means they need access to the right data, quickly.”

Let’s get practical about it

So, if we take his words as a basis for approaching persona building, how could your brand change its daily operations, based on insight? 

  1. Determine your objectives. What is the why behind understanding your consumers and their behaviour intimately? What’s not working? Start there. Today you can get detailed information on everything from where a user looks at an image for the longest to where they are situated, how they feel about your content and who it resonates with most often. Choosing your metrics will be determined by your problems and subsequent objectives – so refine them. Also, be sure to get various stakeholders involved. Yes, you want to avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen but you will need varying perspectives in order to set the right objectives. 
  2. Collect the data. The best data can be viewed over time. So whichever analytics or monitoring tool you go with will become more useful after a waiting period. Give the data time to accumulate (minimum 2 weeks +) and then pull it in as raw a format as possible. The key here is to collect detailed information across various metrics. You can distill it later. There’s an abundance of software that will present it to you in a detailed yet consumable way. From there, your challenge will be to distill that information into the right visuals and formats to get buy-in from other key members of the team.
  3. Decide how many personas are necessary. It’s not possible to understand every consumer as an individual with the resources on hand. Distill your personas into the most important ones. 3 to 5 is usually sufficient depending on how varied your product offering is. It’s better to know 4 of your customers intimately than it is to have a vague idea that offers your marketing team no real value. 
  4. Create a template for consistency. Once you’ve done this, you can start to fill in the blanks of your personas based on the data and your initial objectives. Try to view the persona as one person, incorporating desire, behaviour and pain points. Where are they situated? How comfortable are they with your technology and messaging? What sparks delight in them? Remember, buying motivations go beyond meeting an apparent need. Often, there are related or unidentified needs that really drive the desire to finish a purchase.
  5. Put your personas to the test. Use focus groups to determine whether or not your customers identify with a persona or can add insight to what you already have, from a human perspective. Ask them which of the personas they identify with, if any. Ask them to imagine that these personas were their friends, who do thy like the most, what would the desires of each be? Validate or discount your assumptions and even contrast against research findings.

These basic steps should have you well on your way to using data in a more insightful and effective way. Putting careful thought and planning into who you are speaking to and how you will speak to them is the best start to making better connections with your consumers and affecting your bottom line. If you’d like to learn more, leave us a comment below and or contact us for more information on how to understand your buyers better.