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Why you should use surveys to segment customers into personas

When was the last time you took a close look at what drives and motivates your current and potential customers? 
 
Gallup researchers recently noted companies that successfully engage their B2B customers realized 63% lower customer attrition and 50% higher productivity. In 2014 Gallup also showed that the top successful B2C businesses have: 22% lower customer attrition, 27% higher profitability and that business outcomes are strongly linked to B2C customer engagement levels. 
 
While all of this is great, the unfortunate reality is that many companies don't take the time (or don't know how) to figure out what impacts their customers' decisions and satisfaction. It can be difficult sometimes to determine what really drives your client base – but it doesn't have to be. 
 
Buyer personas – a fancy marketing term for fictional representations of your ideal customers – are actually a great way to get in touch with the psychological journey your customer goes on when they interact with your company. 
 
As HubSpot points out, while you may know what your target buyers do, do you know what their specific needs and interests are? Here's the thing about personas – while they may be fictional, they are based on actual data gathered on your ideal customer. They shouldn't be half-baked descriptions based merely off of casual observations or what you think your key customer base should look like.
 
Here's an example of a cinema-centric buyer persona based off of collated SurveyMe data:
 
buyer p..png
 
Personas are a combination of data and educated assumptions and their purpose is to help businesses better understand a portion of their key customer demographic. While we can often have an idea of who we want to target, we will be a lot more focused in our efforts if we take the time to analyze data and discover (1) who we attract, (2) who we want to attract and (3) how we meet their needs. 
 
You need to understand the thought process of the people you want to invest in you, otherwise you'll miss the mark in your marketing and sales process. Infact, 71% of companies that exceed their revenue and lead goals use personas.
 -- 71% of companies that exceed their revenue and lead goals use personas. --
Buyer personas will not answer all of the possible questions that might come up as you engage with your customers, but they will help you understand where your guests are coming from and why they make the decisions that they do. 
 
So, what are some of their benefits?  
  • Personas help you deliver consistent content that is relevant and useful to customers.
  • They help you identify with your audience and better solve their problems.
  • They help you discover who you are attracting and how you can continue to do so.
 
But, I hear you saying, while those seem useful, they also sound time-consuming. 
 
Well, the great news is – if you're currently using surveys to gather feedback, you already have a pretty good database of, well... data. This means all you need to do is learn how to look at it and combine it with some qualitative research to create your persona. 
 
For example, this past summer SurveyMe conducted a nationwide concession stand survey to discover trends in concession buying at movie theaters. Through asking a series of pointed questions, we uncovered three key groups of movie-goers who influence what is bought at concession stands and how much is spent. 
rebels reliables and rockstars-1.png
 
Based off of this data, and comment questions that we asked, we came up with a set of common characteristics that people in these three demographics displayed. 
 
We were then able to present these personas at various cinema conventions and they were able to take this information and combine it with conversations they had with their clientele. Not only did our buyer personas confirm many behavioral trends that movie-theaters recognized, but they provided insight on what drove those personas to make the decisions that they did. 
 
The key then to creating an affective persona is to talk to your current and prospective clientele, survey them, and then analyze and collate this data.  You can also combine this with findings found from your Google Analytics and A/B testing to produce even more robust personas. Not sure what to ask?
 
Here are some questions to consider as you get started: 
  1. What's is the typical demographic of your ideal buyer? 
  2. What incentivizes your ideal buyer to interact with you? 
  3. What do they value? 
 
These questions are a great jumping off point as you begin creating your survey questions and organizing what is important to your buyer persona. 
 
As you are gathering information to create these personas, this is an ideal time to take advantage of NPS questions (you can take a look at our in-depth NPS guide for more information). Try starting off a survey or interview with: "On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends or family?" This will help you figure out who is promoting your company versus who is detracting from it. Also include a few demographic questions and finish it off with some comment questions that ask "what is ONE thing we can do to make your experience better" and "what is ONE thing we do well?" 
 
The data in the NPS question combined with the answers from the demographic questions will help you discover who your promoters are -- i.e. the customer personas you want to target. Once you have this sorted out, you can then look at the comments they have given you to discover what your key promoting demographics care about and include their quotes in your buyer persona. 
 
The key in all of this is to make your personas as real as possible as they need to fairly represent the person you are trying to attract. 
 
Whether you are in sales, marketing, customer service or account management, understanding who you are engaging with is crucial to the success of your business – and creating buyer personas through the data you've gathered is a simple step that significantly helps the potential growth of your business. 
 
Want to start creating personas, but need some help getting started with survey questions? Download our Survey Question Cheat Sheet Below.
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