To effectively market your brand and find buyers for your products or services, you must first understand your typical, ideal customer and know how to find them more easily. Furthermore, knowing precisely who you are marketing to allows you to tailor your messaging so that it resonates with those who will benefit the most from your offerings.
This is where a customer avatar comes in, also known as a customer profile, buyer persona or marketing persona. An avatar is unique to your brand and is a fictional representation of your ideal customer—the type of person perfectly suited to be on the lookout and ready and able to buy your products or services.
If you follow business development blogs, you've probably seen this phrase thrown around a bit, especially in the context of digital marketing.
While it may seem like a modern sales and marketing 'buzz' term, the concept of identifying the 'ideal customer' has long been a hallmark of successful marketing strategies.
To get your customer avatar correct, you can't simply mix-n-match vague traits based on educated guesses about the type of person who may purchase from you. Neither can you pick one or two existing customers, examine their buying habits, and assume others will be similar.
An avatar is a detailed profile of a single made-up character representing your target audience based on thorough research and data. It provides an outline of their desires, needs, and pain points and sets out the best-case scenario for this fictional customer who spends a lot of money, makes recurring purchases, and will promote your brand.
When used correctly, an avatar may provide invaluable information about your ideal consumer, what they desire, where they spend their time, and how what you offer can help them solve their problem.
Creating (and using) your customer avatar can help you make the most of your marketing dollars and is key to achieving marketing and sales success. It acts as a guide to keep you from wasting resources on the wrong people, advertising in the wrong place, and projecting the wrong messaging.
Whether a start-up, small to medium-sized business or a large established corporation, B2B or B2C, every company should have a customer/client avatar no matter its size, turnover, or industry.
epending on your target market's level of segmentation, you may have a single or multiple avatars.
The smaller the business, generally the smaller the marketing budget, so an avatar enables you to make the most effective use of a limited budget by concentrating your digital marketing efforts for better results.
Even large corporations that have been in operation for many years should have avatars they can refer to and keep frequently updated. Periodically revisiting ideal client/customer profiles ensures they stay relevant because the elements covered (e.g. problems, desires, online spaces frequented) can change over time.
While avatars are especially advantageous to for-profit organisations, this is a valuable tool for non-profits who can benefit greatly from taking some time to create donor avatars.
The primary benefit of a customer avatar is that it helps you understand who you're trying to sell to—the ideal customer who will spend big, make repeat purchases, and passionately spread the word about your company. This type of customer has a high customer lifetime value (CLV), and having more of them is essential to expanding your business.
Here's the brutal truth: You don't know who that is, even if you think you do. No entrepreneur does.
And, until you conduct your research, you'll continue to target anyone and everyone in the hope that someone will bite, which is both expensive and ineffective. Therein lies the second major benefit of having an accurate, fully fleshed-out avatar; it reduces your advertising spending by becoming more specific with your marketing messages and improving how you communicate with your target audience.
Email Marketing: Knowing who you're communicating with makes writing emails that get more opens, clicks, and conversions easier. Referring to an avatar provides you with the insight you need for choosing language and tone of voice specific to them in subject lines, body copy, and CTA buttons. Avatars can also help you segment your email list to create unique marketing campaigns for each avatar.
Product Development: Understanding what your ideal customer wants can help your company develop products or services that are more likely to be purchased. It enables you to determine what problems they are experiencing and what solutions you can provide.
Content Marketing: By using a customer avatar, you can create content that appeals to the needs, wants and interests of your ideal customer, increasing their attraction to and engagement with your company. Rather than guessing what they want to consume, you can use data and insights to provide real value through various types of meaningful content.
Paid Advertising: Because an avatar provides intelligence into where your customers hang out, they reveal which platforms you should run Pay-Per-Click ads on. An avatar can tell you which demographics to target and what wording to use, resulting in a higher ROI on every Facebook ad, Google ad, or other paid ad you run.
Customer Engagement: Avatars can also help you shape a better customer experience by making every interaction as easy, pleasant, and convenient as possible. Avatars are useful in training consumer-facing staff to put themselves in the shoes of your customers to help them figure out how they likely want to be interacted with, buy from you, and so on.
Closing Sales: Finally, your customer avatars will improve the likelihood of closing a successful sale because you better understand the means, motives and decision-making process that lead to a commitment to purchase.
Creating your first customer avatar takes a significant amount of time and effort. As previously stated, you must base your avatar on data rather than guesswork and needs to be thorough to ensure that you have covered all of your bases. But don't worry, it'll all be worth it in the end.
We have broken down creating a customer avatar procedure into three steps to make it less intimidating.
First and foremost, you must conduct extensive market research to gain a firm understanding of your ideal customer. A great place to start is analysing existing high CLV customers who have previously purchased your products or services more than once. You can use the information you know about them as a starting point and send them a survey with additional questions to gain more insight. Other ways to collect data can be by conducting a post-purchase interview, creating a poll, or requesting input on a questionnaire.
If, when deep diving into your database, you discover you don't have many repeat or high worth customers, the ideal customer may not have found their way to your company yet, that's fine. It simply means that you must conduct secondary research, such as gathering data from third-party reports, reviewing Q&A sites, and reviewing social media conversations. This type of third-party data is especially valuable for brands that are just getting started and don't have a lot of first-party data.
The trick to researching your customer avatars is to set aside all assumptions and prejudices and try to enter the mind of your ideal customer. Be as open-ended as possible in your questions to allow them to reveal as much about themselves as possible.
After completing your research, it's time to begin creating the actual customer avatar. You'll be relieved to learn that this step is quite simple; you simply need to enter the information you've gathered into an avatar worksheet.
Depending on whether you discovered distinct customer segments in your research, you may need to create several avatars to represent each.
Begin by naming your avatar; this helps to personify this fictitious character. You may even like to take it a step further by uploading a stock photo, as it can be beneficial to try to visualise your ideal customer at times.
For each of your customer avatars, input the known data you have gathered to provide qualified answers to the following questions:
Values & Goals
Issues & Difficulties
Objections and their Place in the Purchasing Process
As your business expands, there is a good chance you will develop more than one ideal customer or may even move to serve a new or different target market.
To ensure that you are tailoring digital marketing efforts to the specific segment you're attempting to reach; you'll need to make a customer avatar for each of them.
That said, it's best to limit yourself to three or fewer at first; if you create dozens of avatars, you'll end up casting your net too wide instead of zeroing in on your audience.
It is also vital that you periodically review and update existing avatars because people, places and problems change over time. A classic example of this is when a new social media platform comes on the scene and becomes the hot new hangout for your target demographic. If your avatar doesn't reflect this social media migration, then you'll likely still be trying to reach them on an old channel and find your social media advertising is like a tumbleweed rolling through a ghost town.
Your customer avatar is the key to integrated marketing and sales success, and it enables you to truly understand your ideal customer and attract more people who fit this profile. As a result, it should be regarded as an essential component of traditional and digital marketing strategies.
A customer avatar answers the fundamental questions of:
When it comes to focusing your digital marketing efforts and budget towards growing your business, knowing these key answers makes all the difference in the world.
While at first creating avatars takes time and effort, fortunately, the more you develop and hone your avatar development skills, they will soon become second nature to design and use effectively in your everyday operations.
If you need professional assistance with uncovering your ideal customer avatars and applying them to improve your digital marketing efforts, call Zeemo today.