The Key to the 360-Degree Customer View: Buyer Personas

Greg Petro, President and CEO, First Insight
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Greg Petro, President and CEO, First Insight

Feeling the quality of fabrics, navigating through new collections, comparing pricing at-a-glance and speaking with representatives that are most attuned to the brand are all advantages brick-and-mortar retailers have with their customers. The connection between the customer and the retailer is more important than ever as consumers look to spend their money on brands aligned with their interests and values. However, as we see more customers develop the on-demand mindset and leverage both physical and virtual shopping carts, we’re seeing a new opportunity develop for retailers and brands alike: tailoring your offering through a 360-degree view of the customer. 

Who are these customers? What are their preferences and buying triggers? How, why and where do they shop? Gaining this intimate understanding and insight into your consumers’ mindset is what the 360-degree view of the customer is all about. It’s no surprise that retailers are striving to achieve this level of connection with their customers - for example, look at the Instagram conversations that Nike is having with its customers. However, the majority of retailer communications to customers are lackluster email marketing campaigns, resulting in consumers feeling that 95 percent of the emails they receive are not at all relevant to them. The tried and true path of customer communication is clearly not working.

  Today, our problem isn’t the lack of information, it’s a disconnect within organizations on what data can provide the most impactful consumer insights, and how to best analyze it. 

Today, 82 percent of consumers feel misunderstood by retailers, but it doesn’t have to be this way. A customer’s digital footprint combined with direct feedback on products is creating a wealth of information retailers can leverage to identify what their target customers really want – from products to pricing. 

Revealing Consumer Personas

With every click of the mouse and every transaction at the register, retailers gain more information about their customers than they've ever had before. Today, our problem isn’t the lack of information, it’s a disconnect within organizations on what data can provide the most impactful consumer insights, and how to best analyze it. Additionally, even with the data in hand, many retailers and brands are struggling to understand how to best use those insights to drive revenue and new business opportunities. 

One effective way to put this information to use is to create consumer personas. By leveraging consumer insights and behavioral data from CRM and social media platforms, retailers can identify and thoroughly profile customer segments, or consumer personas. These personas enable you to provide your sales and marketing teams with a robust picture of their target audience and its needs, to ensure the company is offering the right products to the right people. 

Additionally, combining these details with predictive analytics will help retailers discover patterns, revealing insights that help them address customer needs more quickly and better predict future preferences. In turn, marketers can use these details to tailor personalized messages that are more likely to resonate with those buyers. 

These are the essential categories you’ll need to create buyer personas:

• Demographics: What are the typical age and gender for each of your consumer personas? Are they married with kids or single with pets? What are their typical income and education levels? What are their interests? Where do they live? 

• Purchase History: What is the typical consumer journey for this persona? What content did they consume on your website? What products did this group purchase at a higher rate than other personas? How often did they purchase after receiving a marketing message? Do they typically shop with a discount code? How frequently do they make a purchase? What is the channel through which they make most of their purchases? How often do they return items? 

• Information Sources: Where do they look for information when considering a purchase? What magazines and websites do they regularly read? Who are key social media influencers whose opinions they trust? What needs are they trying to fulfill by purchasing your product? What are common barriers to purchase? 

It’s important to realize the 360-degree view of the customer doesn't just benefit the retailer but that it benefits customers, too. Retailers must commit to building relationships with their customers in the same way they strive to deliver great products. Consumers don’t just want retailers to understand them, they expect it. In fact, Microsoft research found that consumers are even willing to share more data with marketers if it results in a customized “know-me” shopping experience. They have a certain loyalty to the retailers they’re supporting and want to ensure these brands’ standards align with their own preferences and even values.

Whether it’s data from an in-store transaction or from a stagnant virtual shopping cart, we’re in a new exciting era of information. Leveraging this data is easier said than done, but creating consumer personas will move you closer to both your customer and your revenue goals. 

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