Customer Avatars : What are they and why are they important?

How well do you know your ideal customer?, I mean, really know your ideal customer?

If you’re anything like the majority of small businesses owners, you may have a vague idea who your target customer is.  You might have even written it down once or twice, and then filed it away and forgotten about it.  You might even think that everyone and anyone is a potential customer.

A good small business owner or marketing manager will have identified their target audience so they have a reasonable idea who they want to attract and target their online marketing efforts. 

A better small business owner or marketing manager may have segmented their target market into smaller segments (or niches). Which helps them to massively improve the quality of their marketing decisions.

However, the small business owner or marketing manager who wants to take their marketing communications to the next level will go the extra distance and create Customer Avatars or Personas. 

As small business owners or marketers, we must take the time to understand what our audience wants, or what issues/problems/roadblocks they are trying to solve, not what YOU want to say.  An crucial first step to this is creating an ‘Avatar’ of our ideal customer.

You can’t do effective marketing without truly knowing who it is you are marketing too.  Avatars go a long way to help alleviate this.  

Read on to find out exactly what Avatars are, how to create your own plus how to put them to work.

What are Customer Avatars (or Customer Personas)?

Customer Avatars are an incredible tool that makes it easier for you to clearly visualise your target customer.

Avatars are essentially fictional characters created to represent the different needs, goals, motivations, and behaviours of your prospects or customers, that might use your site, brand, product or service.

Customer Personas help us to understand the emotional and behavioural triggers behind individual customers within that market.

In our Customer Avatar Workshops, we help small business owners create their own Avatars so that they are crystal clear on who their ideal customer is.  This allows them to produce highly relevant messaging that cuts through the noise and connect with their prospects.

It is important to note that avatars are not a single person, but are a representation of the different segments of your target audience.  They are depicted as a person but they are not a real person.

Types of Avatars/Personas

As you’ll read below, there are different types of Avatars or Personas, I will focus on the Customer and UX Persona.

The Avatar that you use will depend on what you are doing.  For example, a UX or web designer would use a UX/Web Avatar.  A UX/Web Avatar helps designers understand what the different users of their website are going to be doing at various stages of the user journey.  This helps them design a website that is user-friendly, intuitive and that will convert more visitors to customers (or whatever the ultimate goal of the site/application is).

Small Business Owners and Marketers use Customer Avatars so that they can better communicate and nurture their prospects and customers through their sales funnels or Customer Value Journey.

Type Purpose
Customer Personas Helps with developing Marketing Strategies and Messaging
Web/UX Personas Web designers use avatars to get a better understanding of who they are designing for.  Including the wants, needs, and motivations of various types of site visitors. The creation of avatars is necessary in order to build user flows that improves the user experience and website results.

What information do you need for your Avatar?

Avatars generally include the following information:

  1. A name
  2. A short bio
  3. Demographics
  4. Psychographics
  5. Wants & Aspirations
  6. Frustrations & Fears
  7. Goals & Desires
  8. Brands that they use
  9. Books they read
  10. Websites, Blogs they visit
  11. Value Statement

For UX/Web Avatars, you would also include

  1. Web experience, usage location, device (desktop, tablet, mobile), usage frequency, social media sites, favourite sites in and out of the category
  2. The goals and tasks they are attempting to complete using the site
  3. A quote that sums up what matters most to the avatar as it relates to your site

In many cases, an Avatar will be a one to two page document including a photo that includes the above and a few fictional details to make the avatar a realistic character (not too much fiction though, you want to use as much real data as possible when creating your avatars)

How many Avatars should you have?

It is likely that you will develop multiple Avatars for your business.  3 – 5 avatars are usually enough to represent your audience. These will reflect either the different stages of product, application or web development or the various stages of your sales funnel.  For example, a prospect that is in the ‘research’ phase is going to have different goals and seek different information to a prospect that is further down the funnel and in the ‘buying’ phase.

Are Avatars really useful?

I hope you’re starting to see the power that Avatars can provide a small business owner.  By being able to communicate effectively to your prospects or customers and deliver relevant information at the most opportune time is going to have a significant impact on your conversions and bottom line.

Avatars were once the secret of large organisations, but as the online marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, savvy business owners are starting to adopt them.

Largely because when done right, they work.

For anyone who is doing or has done Facebook advertising you will be familiar with the level of targeting that is now available to all business owners.  Even on a small budget, you can target your customers down to location, age, gender, language, relationship, language, education and much more.  You can see how useful avatars are going to be for you here. No more guessing.  You can create highly targeted campaigns to different avatars with different messages, relevant to that avatar.

Benefits of using Customer Avatars

Avatars enable small business owners to consider the goals, motivations and limitations of your prospects and customers.  They help guide decisions about your products/services, marketing communications all the way through to the user journeys on your website. They help make your decisions objective instead of subjective by being able to make decisions on data instead of assumptions.

For Small Business Owners

As I’ve already said, Customer Avatars help Small Business Owners visualise their idea customers,  this –

  • helps when writing blogs and social media posts
  • helps when crafting targeted advertising campaigns 
  • help when developing marketing strategies
  • help you achieve consistency with your marketing communications
  • gives everyone in your business a better understanding of your customer’s needs, wants and desires
  • help to craft Content Marketing strategies from having a clearer understanding of where your customers are spending their time
  • Helps you create Customer Value Journeys that subtle move your prospects from strangers to raving brand advocates

Avatar will help retain visitors longer once they are interested, and ultimately encourage them to convert into customers

How to create your own Avatars

If you’re still here, that’s great! You obviously can see how useful Avatars are going to be to your business.

So let’s get stuck into creating your Avatar.

I have created an Avatar Template for you that you can download and fill in.

If this is the first time you will be creating your avatar, and you’re a relatively new business, you might not have all the data that you would like available to you. If that’s the case, don’t worry too much your avatars will evolve with time.  So while you will have to be more fictional than is ideal, you will be able to update them as you collect more data.  For avatars to be truly effective there needs to be some relevant and real data used. The main thing is they can be as basic or complicated as you like but at the end of the day they need to be effective at illustrating what drives the different types of buyers of your products or services.

Questions to ask yourself when creating your Customer Avatars –

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What is their name?

Give your avatar a name, this can be anything you like, for Example – Small Business Sam

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A Short Bio

Write a short overview of your avatar, this can be high level but touches on where they are now and where they want to be. 

Sam is a small business owner who dreams of becoming successful so that they can support their family and take them on the occasional holiday, in fact truth be told, Sam would be happy just being able to have a sleep in now and then.

Currently, Sam’s focus is really understanding who their perfect customer is and, building a predictable system for driving sales and growing the business.

Ultimately, Sam really wants to build a successful small business that provides financial security and to leave the laptop at home when they go on a family holiday.

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Demographics

This is who your avatar is.  Write down their age, gender, where they live, occupation, their (estimated) income, are they married, what is their education level etc

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What are their interests?

This is who your avatar is.  Write down their age, gender, where they live, occupation, their (estimated) income, are they married etc

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What are their interests?

This is who your avatar is.  Write down their age, gender, where they live, occupation, their (estimated) income, are they married etc

Finding information to help to build your Avatars –

CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)

If you are already using a CRM, there is a good chance that it has some segmentation built in that will enable you to break your contacts down into different categories.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics https://analytics.google.com/ is a great information resource for learning about people who frequent your website.  Within your Google Analytics console, you will find information on demographics, interests, language and locations.  Just login to your Google Analytics account and select Audience on the left-hand side, in the dropdown you will see options for Demographics, Interest, Behaviour, Technology and more.

Google Analytics will also inform you of what keywords are used to find you, time spent on the site and what devices they used.  This information can reveal the motivation behind what led them there.

avatar information -analytics

Social Media (Facebook/Twitter etc.)

If you have a Facebook page, you can select ‘Insights’ located at the top of the page.  The first tab will display a summary of activity on your page. Down the left-hand side you will see a menu with options that provide more information.  Such as the People tab which will give you an overview of age, gender and location of your page fans.

You can also utilise your social media accounts to listen to what your customers are saying. It is also the perfect platform to ask your fans/followers some questions. 

If you want to take Facebook a little further, you can use Facebook Search to delve further into your fans interests.  Try the following 6 Facebook search queries (just swap out the words in capitals) –

  1. Favourite interests of people who like PAGE NAME
  2. Pages liked by people who like PAGE NAME and PAGE NAME
  3. People who work at PLACE and like SOMETHING
  4. TYPE OF BUSINESS in LOCATION visited by people who like PAGE NAME
  5. Brand pages liked by people who like PAGE NAME
  6. Pages liked by GENDER who like PAGE NAME 

Surveys 

Services like SurveyMonkey https://www.surveymonkey.com or Google Surveys https://www.google.com/insights/consumersurveys allow you to create surveys which can be readily sent out to your mailing list.  When creating your survey be sure to use open-ended questions. The goal is to understand what your customers are thinking.  Giving them yes/no questions limits the feedback you’ll receive.  I would recommend asking 5-10 questions, too little and you won’t have enough feedback, too many and you might not get any feedback.  Such as –

  1. When did you realise you needed a product/service like ours?
  2. What challenge does our product/service solve in your life?
  3. What concerns did you have before buying our product/service?

And of course, ask your customers, pick up the phone and have some conversations.  Again use open question and let your customers speak.

How to use your new avatar into action

So now that you have your new marketing avatars, here are five ways you can put them into action –

  1. Check your marketing communications and ensure you are using the same language that your avatars use
  2. Segment your contact list into avatars so you can send out more targeted messages
  3. Review your online advertising and ensure they are targeting your avatars most effectively
  4. Optimise your landing pages to suit your avatars, again look at language and imagery
  5. Develop your Content Marketing Strategy around your avatars so you are delivering relevant and timely information to them

Conclusion

Hopefully, I have been able to illustrate the power of using avatars and how they can help improve your marketing efforts.  They can provide insights into how to create better user experiences, persuasive copy, or pricing models. 

By improving the way in which you understand and communicate with your customers you will improve your conversion rates.

The key is to create them out of actual, relevant data as soon as you can.

What is most important, is to remember your avatars should reflect real people with real motivations, desires, and concerns. 

Now it’s over to you, download the below Persona Template and have a shot at creating some avatars for your business.  I am positive that they are going to change the way you communicate with your audience.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this post, so please leave any feedback or questions in the comments below and please feel free to share!

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