How to Create Customer Personas to Better Your Internet Marketing

Updated: May 3, 2020

How to build a customer persona
It's easier than you think. Just have to answer the proper questions

Before you dive into any of the hundreds of marketing campaigns that are available – one quick question. Do you know who your customers are? Do you understand their shopping and buying patterns?

Okay, that's two questions, but the point is before you dive into content marketing and paid advertising, you should know who your customers are.

By seeing your customer and developing a person on them it can help you to streamline your marketing initiatives. That means knowing who your potential buyer is can help you max out your advertising in the right direction. For example, if you fish for a 20-lb. catch, you have to use the right reel and it helps to have a very strong line.

Not that marketing is a fishing expedition, but in some ways it is…

Marketing efforts need to be strategically planned out. You want to look at the type of buyer that your business wants and then define this target audience so you can enhance your ads around this particular demographic.

That's where it helps to dig a little bit deeper in understanding your customer, their likes, dislikes, job status, age group, etc. Your buyer persona is a character that you create for your particular market. Maybe you see your target audience as "anyone that makes a purchase." Well, it's a start, but to earn a gold star, you need to look at it as something like "He's in his 30s, hates shaving, loves tech, and fast cars and wants his dress shirts custom fit." See the difference?

Lars Lofgren with KISSmetrics suggests working with your marketer to strategize your campaigns. When you do that, you can increase your sales by 10-times, and then 10-times more...

You get the idea

Building a customer persona will include demographics such as income, age, location, shopping interests, etc. It's important to build this vision of your ideal shopper ahead of any marketing plans so you know who to market to, right?

So let's take a look at how to build your customer personas so you can streamline and literally laser target all those ad campaigns in the right direction as you seek to engage the ideal customer for your business. In this article we'll:

  1. Define why a Customer Persona is Important

  2. Show you How to Develop a Customer Persona

  3. Explore Steps to Help Your Business with Customer Personas

Get ready, we're going in…

Why a Customer Persona is Important

It used to be that only large businesses developed customer personas. As more businesses are online, it increases competition and that's where those ultra-targeted ads can help your business. Additionally, there are so many tools now to help target customers and create campaigns that you have to stay ahead of your competitors as they are likely looking at psychographics and demographics.

That brings us to your customer. By creating a fictional biography of your customer, you can gear your ads around them. This is where the who, what, where, when, why and how come in.

Think about if you go to a hotel.

They know ahead of your visit that you're likely either there on business or vacation.

That's why they send all those surveys asking about your experience so they can offer you a free entry in their sweepstakes, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Let's stick with the customer for now and we'll look at target marketing techniques a bit later.

The more in-depth your customer persona is, the more it will help you to define your marketing approach. If you only have a handful of products, you may only need a few personas, but if your business is a large conglomerate like Amazon, you may have thousands because you're reaching out to college students who want snacks, weekend TV streamers who want Prime episodes, businesses that want bulk office supplies, thrifty consumers who penny-pinch. You get the idea.

Broadly speaking, your customer persona may be made up of two different types of data:

Demographic Data: These are the factual details about your customers and gives real data on who they are. Your demographics may include gender, age, geographical location, salary, educational background, and technology, i.e., if they have a smartphone, use tech gadgets, etc.

Psychographic Data: These aren't physical traits, but are more descriptive habits about why your buyer makes their purchases, what their shopping habits are, how they spend money, etc. This can even include what motivates your buyer, how they communicate, shop, etc.

Note: Your customer persona will include details about the type of buyer you are marketing to. For example, if you sell high-top sneakers, you might think about the buyer that plays basketball on weekends, wants stylish shoes to collect, and loves new styles modeled after their favorite sports celebrities.

Because customer personas can vary depending on the products that are being sold, don't be afraid to have more than one customer persona. A sneaker company reaching out to that basketball player will also create a persona for the female running athlete that wants to try a half marathon, or the seniors who may want supportive walking shoes.

Why use customer personas?

Based on HubSpot data, evidence has shown that customer personas can increase the effectiveness of websites by up to 5-times.

The main reasons to create customer personas include:

Increased Conversions: By understanding your customers you can target what resonates with them through offers and appropriate marketing strategies.

A company called Skytap was able to increase their sales by 124% with a rise in online sales of 97%, proving that the more you know, the more personalized your lead quality approach!

Better Product Positioning: Your customer persona can help with how you develop your products. When you're able to identify problems through scenario analysis, you can refine your products and make them better for potential shoppers. This leads to increased brand awareness and customer loyalty.

A good example of this would be the Tide laundry detergent Pods that now have safety seals on the packaging so kids can't get into them.

Get a Better Understanding of Your Customers: Think about anytime you've made a purchase and a company anticipated your needs. Like when you ordered flowers online and they included a card you could fill out, or when you left items in your shopping cart online and the company sent you a 10% off coupon to complete your purchase. These are just a few ways to anticipate what a customer might want and give that special touch to wow them with exactly what they need.

With customer personas, you're curating content that your audience will find value in because you know just want they want.

Understand How Your Customers Spend Time and Money: When you delve into your customers' psyches, it can help you channel their hobbies, spending habits, and other crucial traits.

If the bulk of your demographic is on Instagram, for example, shouldn't your ad campaigns follow suit?

Next up, let's take a look at ways you can develop your own customer personas.

Lets do this...

How to Develop a Customer Persona?

By now you're probably ready to create your own customer persona, right? That's good because that's our next step. To begin with a customer persona, it's important to consider the qualitative and quantitative research data that can streamline your efforts.

These include:

Behavior Driven Objectives: The goal of your customer when they arrive on your landing page. Are they browsing or shopping for specific items? How did they find you online – through social media or a Google search?

Obstacles with Purchases: How long did they stay on a particular page? How long before they made a purchase? If they abandoned a cart – why? Was there a site error? A price point?

The Customer Mindset: When your customer shops with you are they taking a while to make their buying decision? Are they looking at your coupons and responding to discounts? Do they only shop with you when you alert them to a specific deal?

Not to worry, this is all relatively easy to explore…

Step One: Conduct Surveys

This is a great first step because customers love to tell you what they like and how you can help them shop. This is by far one of the most important factors in creating customer personas.

Your goal is to get your customers to open up so you know what they think. Look at your customers as falling into 3 different categories:

  1. Existing Customers: This can include your regular customers and customers with a minimum of one purchase.

  2. Visitors Who Have Been to Your Site with No Purchases: This can include customers that have put items in shopping carts but abandoned them.

  3. Potential Customers: These are customers who have never shopped with you and haven't visited your site. They do however fall into your specific target market

All of these steps to help define your customers can lead you to better-detailed and more personalized customer personas.

How to Reach Your Various Customer Segments

There are multiple ways that you can reach out to your various customer segments, i.e., the potential customers, existing customers and visitors that have been to your site but haven't made a purchase.

For your existing customers: A great way to reach this group is through email marketing. As you likely have an email address for them, send a survey.

For visitors that have been to your site but haven't made a purchase: There are different types of marketing tools you can utilize:

Qualaroo is a pop-up survey with a single question that helps reach customers with abandoned carts.

Hello Bar is is a simple survey that you can add to your home page.

For potential customers: A great way to reach them is through Facebook for marketing. Just select "Create Ads" and then "Audiences" and "Create Audience", followed by "Lookalike Audience".

You can then click on your page and the country for your business. Adjust the audience size and range. This is a way to find a new audience based on existing Facebook users. You can send your survey to this group to get a better idea of what they're shopping for. Just send a link to them for the survey.

How to Create Surveys

There are several helpful ways to create your surveys. These might include:

What Questions You Should Ask

You can have anywhere from about seven up to twenty different questions in your survey. Keep in mind your goal is to focus on your behavior drivers, the mindset of the customer and purchasing obstacles.

While the questions may vary from one business to the next, the end goal is the same – getting the information to build your customer persona.

Next up are a few examples of questions you might want to ask…

Demographics Questions

These are basic questions that you can ask:

  • Marital status?

  • Age?

  • Where the person lives?

  • Number of children? How many? Ages?

  • What city did they grow up in?

Education Questions

Education can help determine shopping preferences, income, and hobbies.

  • What is the highest grade completed in school?

  • What school did they go to? Was it public? Private?

  • What topics did they study in school?

  • Were they popular in school?

  • Which sports or extra-curricular activities were they involved in?

Career Questions

These questions can help explain shopping preferences, hobbies and interests.

  • What industry does the person work in?

  • What is their current job title?

  • When did they have their first job that was full-time?

  • How did they get to their current job?

  • Have they changed industries over the years?

Financial Questions

A customer's finances can help determine how they shop and make purchasing decisions.

  • How often do they buy expensive items?

  • What is their net worth?

  • Are they the primary person responsible for the spending decisions in their household?

Note: People sometimes inflate the salary in surveys. Keep that in mind as they may overstate their earnings or job status.

Step Two: Interview Through Psychographic Questions

Sometimes interviews can prove more revealing than surveys alone especially if you want more color as it relates to shopping preferences and motivational factors.

Using your current customers is a great place to start as you have a history with them. Define your customers into two distinct categories:

Good Customers: These are customers who have made multiple purchases.

Bad Customers: These are customers who've made a purchase and left negative or poor feedback.

Keep in mind that customers that have left negative feedback can offer a lot of insight. You can additionally turn to referrals, prospects and third-party networks for more interview candidates.

How to Email Interview Candidates

As you reach out to possible interview candidates, here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

Offer an Incentive: Offer a big one-time discount so they can't say no.

Be Clear It's Not Sales Related: People usually say no to sales-related inquiries, so be clear.

Make it Convincing: Let the person choose the time for the interview and the location if it will be in person

How to Conduct a Good Interview

Try to keep it fresh and conversational, maybe over a quick cup of coffee. This makes it more natural and less tense. Let the person know it's to help you run your business better. The more candid you are, the more they'll open up.

Tips to help you:

Before the Interview: Send an email with the questions.

Use Effective Listening Techniques: You should spend the time listening. You're not there for a sales call, so stay on point. You want to listen to any problems the person might have had with your business or with the industry as a whole.

Take Notes: If you can't record the interview, write notes down as you go.

Focus on the Past: Keep questions geared around a particular experience and how it could have been better.

Ask for Ranges: If price point is an issue, ask for a range that the buyer feels more comfortable with.

Keep it Brief: Remember, this is an interview, so wrap up politely and thank the person for their time.

Follow-Up: You can mail or email a polite thank you. You can ask if they have a friend or family member who may be interested in interviewing with your business, as well.

This can give you all kinds of helpful information about your customers, their needs, and their preferences.

Data learning from Customer Persona building
Ask the right questions and place the data in excel

The remaining step is actually relatively easy. Just use your analytical data to support your findings from the first two steps.

You can achieve this through:

Google Analytics

With Google Analytics, you can utilize the data that will include demographics like age, salary, location, technology, etc. To help you find this type of data, in Google Analytics, click on "Audiences". You can also check under "Demographics".


Quantacast is a great way to check out demographic and audience data that a competitor might have available. To find this, click "Explore" and then type in a competitor's URL in the available search box. If you don't see your primary competitor's quantified data there, check another competitor.

Use the available data to help confirm your findings. For example, if you found that 95% of all your customers are married, the demographics data should not reflect a younger demographic, but an older one.

Step Four: Create a Customer Persona

This last step is the best part. You're going to come up with a few ideal customers based on the data you've gathered. To keep it simple, just open a new Word document. Create 3 or 4 customer personas and give each of them a name like Frugal Fred, Ritzy Rita.

To help you, you can use a customer persona example tool like Xtensio that can help you get a visual for each character. Sign up and click "User Persona" to begin. You can then edit your personas with your data.

Congratulations! You've created customer personas that can help you with your business!

The Next Steps

Customer personas are very helpful in identifying your target audience so you can help with any problems they have when shopping with you. Just don't stop with the few that you've created as you may have other products that will require additional personas as your business evolves!

Here are 4 things you can do to wrap-up:

  1. Create a survey that you email to your current customers.

  2. Pick 5 of your best customers and the 5 worst customers (that have left complaints) and then invite them for an interview.

  3. Create your customer persona based on your findings.

In closing, remember that marketing begins with your customers. When you complete your due diligence, it can help you to better understand what your customers need from you.

Aside from wants and needs, consider the path