home Marketing Avoiding the most common customer persona pitfalls

Avoiding the most common customer persona pitfalls

Buyer or customer personas are a great tool to develop a profound understanding of your customers and the factors that influence their buying decisions. Personas are essential in creating engaging content and customer experiences. There are, however, a number of pitfalls the unwary marketer or CX professional can easily fall into.

Hubspot defines a buyer persona as a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. It’s based on market research and real data about your customers. Julia Loughlin, PR and brand consultant from Echomakers, says, “When done well, buyer personas give us a clear view into our ideal customers and help us deliver clear and compelling marketing and communications that resonate with them”.

“Using a mix of demographics and psychographics, a good buyer persona will identify the problem with their current situation and the opportunity for your brand to solve it”, adds Loughlin.

1. Building too many personas

One of the most common mistakes is creating too many personas. Building too many personas can make the exercise unmanageable and confusing, making it difficult to create the necessary content to engage your customers.  Katija Vlatkovich, digital strategist from Misfit Digital, advises, “Start with one key persona. Which one you create first depends on your business strategy. If you have segmented your customer base then start building your first persona around the customer segment that offers the greatest value and opportunities for your business.”

“You should be able to clearly delineate between your different personas. You want to create content and customer experiences that resonate with each persona. Having too many personas can blur the messages you wish to communicate and confuse the people you were hoping to delight”.

2. Personas based on stereotypes and assumptions

Loughlin highlights that one of the major mistakes marketers make is relying on stereotypes and assumptions. Bias can creep into your personas reflecting the wishes and desires of the business rather than providing a realistic image of an ideal customer based on real data.

3. Buyer Personas aren’t kept updated and are left on the shelf

We live in a dynamic and every changing world. What our customers want today can be very different to what they want in a year’s time. For buyer personas to add value they need to be used and they need to be kept up to date, other wise they cease to add value. Vlatkovich recommends, “Keep your personas fresh and relevant. Look at them every 6 to 12 months to see if they are still relevant and resonate with your customers. What your customers think and expect is constantly changing. Think of your buyer personas as a working project that can document the changing expectations and journeys of your prospects and customers.”

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.