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Profile Your Best Customers

How well do you really know who your ideal customers are? How do you get to know them inside and out?

Without knowing the answers to questions like these, it's difficult to create an effective strategy to attract, retain and sell to your best customers. Before you can create campaigns and content that speaks directly to your ideal customers, you need to figure out who they are. This is where building buyer personas come in.

Customer personas are detailed representations of segments within your target audience. Fueled by data-driven research, they map the “who” behind the buying decisions of your products or services. According to the Buyer Persona Institute, "a buyer persona reveals what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company solves."

At their core, buyer personas represent the dividing lines between different types of customers.

They give you cues on which segments are likely to be your best customers and which ones are less desirable. Your personas will reveal what’s most important to certain customer segments – and how that differs from others. Used properly, customer personas can take your knowledge of buyers from vague to valuable. One way to get started is to look at the data you may already have in your database. Are you capturing product purchase history, pages clicked on your website, or similar information? If so, you have evidence about a buyer that helps to build their persona.

Whenever possible, add attributes such as demographics, age, education, marital status, home ownership, number of children, affluence and more. The more detailed you are, the better.

Use that information to segment buyers, rather than lumping everyone into the same box. With customer segmentation, you can target marketing efforts and personalize campaigns that speak directly to your most important customer personas. For example, rather than sending the same demand generation email to everyone in your database, focus on your best customer segments and tailor messaging according to what you know about those personas.

With in-depth customer segmentation, you have a transparent view of your customers’ motivations, attitudes, behaviors, and desired outcomes. Using buyer personas can help shape not only your marketing initiatives – and the overall business – to align with your customer’s needs and best interests in mind. Creating very specific buyer personas can dramatically improve your business results because you understand the motivating factors that influence buying decisions.

Insight into decision criteria, success factors, and perceived barriers enables you to pinpoint what has the most impact on the buyer's choice. Segmentation finds the customer profiles who are most –and least—likely to buy.

What is AI and why does it matter?

As the volumes of customer data continue to grow, the future of buyer personas will be closely tied to machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). However, for many, the concepts are vague and obscure. What it is and why does it matter? It is important to understand because they represent the future of customer analytics. Machine learning and AI extract insights, pattern, and relationships that can be used to make decisions. Basically, they learn from your data. With machine learning and AI, your customers’ future actions can be predicted with a high degree of confidence.

Amazon is a great example. When you purchase – or even browse, Amazon is using machine learning to look at your browsing and purchasing data and serve up related content such as product recommendations and promotions.

Machine learning and AI take customer segmentation to a new level.