I hate the term “customer persona.” I think it’s because the definition of persona is “The aspect of someone's character that is presented to or perceived by others.” I’m willing to bet that most people want to be thought of not as a persona, but as a whole person with a whole life.
That’s why I don’t think simply creating shallow personae is a smart way for companies to do and use customer research. Creating the customer persona is just one slice of the data you should be collecting, analyzing, and applying to your content and social media marketing activities.
Don’t get me wrong, you should definitely use your data from Google Analytics and from your CRM to understand your customers, but don’t stop there.
What’s the best way to get to know your customers? Ask them! And by the way, don’t just ask once. Ask them regularly, as often as your budget and goals will allow.
Send out email surveys in which you ask your current customer base for their opinion.
Try an ideas survey on the social media platform where you’re most engaged with your customers.
Host focus groups. I don’t know when or why companies ever got away from this practice.
Don’t forget to reward your customers that participate in your survey or focus group. And I mean a real reward, not a lame discount on their next purchase. How about a “Thank You!” campaign where you offer free shipping or host a great party for your customers? Who doesn’t like free shipping or a party?
Continue to dive as deeply as possible with your customer research:
How do they consume their content?
How are they searching?
What platform do they prefer?
What factors do they value most when deciding to make a purchase?
The point is, your customers are people. People with beautiful, complicated lives--more complicated than just the one problem your product or service helps them solve. So look at the whole person, with all the tools you have, and get to know your people.