Customer segmentation is one of the most timeless concepts in marketing. The idea is simple: if you want to effectively market to someone, you need to understand that individual’s personality traits and values. It’s this idea that has also given rise to the development of customer personas.
But scratch the surface of customer segmentation and you’ll see a startling trend: marketers are struggling to effectively target their audiences.
Why? Technology is changing the rules of acquisition and creating a number of untapped opportunities, so it can be challenging to double-down on a select few.
That’s why customer profiles are more important than ever. It’s kind of a catch-22: you need to understand your best customers in order to attract more of your best customers.
What’s even more challenging is that there isn’t an “out of the box” solution or methodology that you can put into place—it’s up to you to define your own approach.
Here are some characteristics that you can take and adapt to create a complete customer picture:
1. Demographic Characteristics
When you’re looking at demographics, you’re often looking at circumstantial variables rather than personality traits. These characteristics include age range, geography, gender, and education levels. They’re important factors in defining a person’s identity, but they present a partial view at best. You can make a lot of assumptions about a person based on his or her education level, for instance, but you can’t tell if that person is a true intellectual.
When creating demographic profiles, treat these characteristics with a grain of salt. Demographics have a dark side in that they’ve introduced a lot of stereotypes. As a marketer, you’re going to need to walk a fine line.
2. Psychographic Characteristics
These characteristics are based on interests. They map back to content consumption patterns, search terms, and research processes. They’re customer profile elements that can tell you what a person is likely going to enjoy reading and what products they might like to see.
These characteristics are typically the ones that you love about your best friend. Consider psychographic characteristics to be the “empathy engine” of your marketing campaigns.
When working with psychographic characteristics, be careful: it’s very easy to jump from “insight” to “false assumption.” Always make sure to check your data with qualitative research to ensure that there aren’t any confounders or missing information from the trends that you’re observing.
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3. Behavioral Characteristics
When crafting this part of your customer profiles, imagine that you’re creating the “story behind the story.”
Focus on actions that this audience segment is likely to take without telling you. These might be related to competitor research patterns and reasons for budget adjustments. No matter what, never take what your audiences are telling you at face value, and always read between the lines.
Focus on actions that your audience segment is likely to take without telling you
When adding behavioral characteristics to your customer profiles, be careful not to make snap judgments or faulty assumptions. Always keep your mind open to alternative explanations.
Remember: customer profiles are in the eye of the beholder. Involve multiple people in your customer profiles, and keep your eyes peeled for potential stereotypes. Verify your assumptions with actual people in your target audience, and ensure that your targeting strategy is truly aligned with the needs of your market.