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How To Create Customer Personas

Amit Ashwini
September 9, 2017

Apps have strong appeal as evidenced by the millions of apps downloaded and installed across the globe. Websites have been around a lot longer than apps, but the two share a similarity. People are attracted to specific websites for the same reasons they may be attracted to a particular app. Something connects with the person who is perusing an app, website, or software program. In commercial settings, the attraction has to be strong enough to motivate a purchase.

The concept of "customer personas" comes into play here. Understanding how to create and effectively use customer personas increase the chances of a commercial software program, app, or website to become successful.

Customer Personas for Business Marketing

A customer persona is, in essence, a marketing profile of existing or would-be patrons. More accurately, the persona is a profile of the customers most likely to be consistent buyers. Personas involve more than just identifying a patron. Customer personas also entail the integration of attraction marketing-oriented components into a product/service and all advertising materials. More than just replicate the traits of a customer, the persona has to draw such persons in.

Developing a persona comes from conducting effective and realistic market research. The research has to be examined from a variety of perspectives such as age, purchasing power, frequency of purchasing, and more. With the right customer persona in mind, apps and software can be better developed and marketed towards those with the greatest potential of making the commercial exercise a success.

The Goal-Driven Persona

A series of questions must be asked at the outset. Why is the persona being crafted in the first place? What does a business hope to attain with the service or product being provided? Understanding these goals and how to attain them is necessary for creating a desirable and effective persona. The answers to such questions help create the all-important profile of the buyer. This profile can then be used to great effect in marketing strategies.

Understand the Skills Association between Product and User

Highly complicated and advanced software programs and apps could prove to be very popular with a particular niche. If the software is intended to be used for common, everyday tasks then the software is going to be used by the "average" person who has average skills with operating the software program. Overly complicated software probably would lead to the creation of a solid customer persona when the goal is to reach a large base of sellers. Similarly, those wishing to reach a particular niche do have to take additional steps to get such information across so the niche understands the value of the project. Ambiguity would not be a help in any way.

Determine the Financial Impact of the Software, App or Website

Software (apps or websites) that serves a purpose outside purely leisurely pursuits, by its nature, is intended to serve a business-oriented purpose. The software should either be designed to help people earn money directly or, more commonly, aid them in the process of saving money. Being extremely detailed about exactly how the program intends to do this is critical to make an impression with customers.

Financial impact goes hand-in-hand with value.

The product should deliver a benefit to the customer. Without clearly defining the benefit, the seller cannot define the customer. For example, someone who is interested in home improvements could be someone who wants to see the safety and value of a home improve. Getting across the cost-effectiveness and investment potential of a product is going to help make connections. Additionally, understanding these benefits aids in knowing where to direct the search.

Such things should be taken into consideration during the design process as well. And yes, design and development work is critical for success.

Enhance the Visual Look

Looks do count for a lot in software, app, and website development. The visual design of the software itself has to have a visual flair to it or else the software is not going to appeal to a large enough volume of people. Has the right color scheme been utilized with the software? Is it easy on the easy? Does it put people in a proper frame of mind? All of these things have to be taken into consideration when hoping to reach a decent number of interested customers. Solid visuals do have the potential to draw them in.

All of these traits apply to websites and apps as well. Visual aesthetics count for a lot. Don't dismiss them.

Seemingly "little things" are never too minute to worry about. The selection of a font has to be done with great care. Some may choose to be overly creative with font selections. Perhaps too many fonts are chosen. Such strategies can - and do - lead to confusion which undermines the ability to generate all important positive feedback. Choose fonts and other components such as images, icons, borders, and more with great care.

Organization is also very helpful when designing the visuals for a particular product. People have to be able to effectively navigate a program or website. Clutter undermines this goal which, in turn, undermines the ability to actually use the software/app/website for the intended purpose.

Yes, function is more important than form. The platform does have to work or else customers are not exactly going to be attracted to it. That said, the person operating the platform has to be able to operate the platform in order to get the desired use out of it. A cluttered program makes doing so next to impossible.

Within all this discussion is an underlying theme that should not be dismissed. Proper design reflects professionalism. Many people are able to write programs for apps and software and "dump" them into the market. Doing so may be a form of commerce, but this does not reflect the professionalism customers do demand from software developers. Professionalism might be the most important of all components to creating the best possible customer persona.

Crawling Concerns

Any software/app/website development project is going to be better positioned to reach customers. Customers need to find the website selling itself or an app or software. Website development plays a major role in helping to capture customers, and the website is incredibly important to the overall sales process.

If the website itself is intended to promote a product or service or is the product or service in the form of a subscription based site, it positively must contain the necessary code to be crawled easily. The design of the site should be agreeable to the crawlers as well. This is in addition to the design contributing to the ability to appeal to the senses of customers and visitors.

Start Out Simple and Stay True to the Basics

Effective customer persona marketing mix well with a product or service that is easy to understand.

No matter what type of business enterprise is being considered, keeping things very simple at the early stages is incredibly important for eventual success. When developing software, for example, there may be a desire to do things in an incredibly ambitious manner. The proverbial "drawing board" for a software program might be loaded with complexities and enhanced development strategies.

Don't allow this to happen. Keep the early prototypes of software development easy and simple. Tweaks and changes can be added to the mix in later stages. Keeping things very simple also prevents the integration of customer persona components from being buried in a miasma of confusion. Once the development process becomes too complicated and weighed down, the marketing message ends up being lost.

Listen to Feedback

Once an app or software program is released to the market, feedback should follow. The feedback is sure to appear in many different venues. Direct emails to the developer heaping praise and criticism are first line sources of feedback. Commentary of social media might require a little bit of research to track down, but the effort is worth it.

Aspects of the software that need to be changed are going to help the process of crafting the desirable customer persona. This is why Beta testing software is so important. The entire idea behind Beta testing is to work out bugs (and accompanying complaints) prior to the full rollout of a product.

Weigh all feedback carefully. In addition to being willfully blind to honest criticism, do not fall for the excessive or unnecessary criticism some vent. Weigh all feedback carefully and adhere to reliably helpful criticism when designing the software. This, in turn, aids in crafting an effective marketing persona.

Engage Analytics for Websites

Feedback for websites can be acquired through close examinations of web analytics. Those analytics tools are there for a specific reason. They are designed to provide website publishers with the necessary feedback to understand who is visiting their site and from where. Information about the countries traffic is coming from and whether or not the traffic is coming from mobile or desktop operating systems will play a major role in devising better consumer targeting.

Pricing Counts

Not to be forgotten is cost. One of the critically important basics to adhere to is to price the product within the budget range of those customers being targeted. Overpricing a product is the obvious way customers are lost. Underpricing, however, comes with risks. A budget-item sometimes ruins the risk of being levied with the stigma of lacking in quality. Research does have to go into the process of arriving at a price. The right price has to be picked in order to impact the desired targeted demographic in the most reliable manner.

More steps can go into creating customer personas. The ones listed here definitely do cover a lot of territory.

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Amit Ashwini