Whether the business is a startup or has been around for decades, an owner or marketing manager’s most important consideration is recognizing and targeting who and where their most likely customers will be. Once that customer profile or avatar achieves focus, the marketer’s objective is to create marketing strategies to be in the right place at the right time to provide timely solutions.
Creating a clear and accurate customer avatar or buyer persona is vital for any business. Once that demographic is defined, the marketer should be able to develop a plan that addresses buyers’ needs, locations, pain points, principal challenges, and more.
In this article:
- Identifying the Customer Avatar
- Why is Defining a Customer Avatar so Critical?
- Is it Possible to Have More than One Avatar?
- Creating a Customer Avatar
- The Advent of Digital Marketing
- Be There When Your Avatar Starts Searching the Web
- Engaging in Social Media
- Image Building Media
Identifying the Customer Avatar
A customer avatar represents a target consumer group most likely to want or need the product. When clearly defined, the marketer can anticipate buying behavior and specific needs and hopefully be able to offer a timely solution.
Customer avatars are also referred to as:
- Target customer.
- Buyer persona.
- Marketing persona.
- Customer profile.
Each term refers to the type of person most likely to want or need a specific product. These prospective customer segments should benefit most from your products or services.
Accurately defining the customer avatar is a fundamental requirement for marketing success. To achieve the highest level of connection and possible future growth, the marketer needs to know:
- Who are the most likely buyers?
- What products satisfy a specific situation, solve problems, or soothe pain points?
- Where are these consumers spending their time? Are they most likely to surf the web, attend conferences, watch TV, socialize online, attend classes, or shop at stores?
- How does the product or service address the needs of the customer?
Why is Defining a Customer Avatar So Critical?
In past decades and even centuries, merchants adopted a general approach to defining their potential client base. Location is everything for brick-and-mortar businesses. Business owners hoped to lure their principal customer base by situating physical stores where those prospective customers would most likely travel. For impulse purchases like gasoline or fast food, for example, situated in high traffic, easy-to-access sites became paramount. Conversely, setting up shop on a back street hidden from regular traffic flow would be a recipe for failure for most businesses.
Similarly, nearly all media advertising was broadly based on print media and, eventually radio and television advertising to target the broadest audience, hoping their customers happened to be paying attention.
Of course, marketing in media with a narrower focus takes a more targeted approach when advertising where more prospects will likely visit. For example, advertising mufflers in Car and Driver or fishing rods in Field and Stream was better targeted than trying to reach that customer base by advertising in Newsweek.
Attacking the market without a clear idea of who the most likely clients will be is wasteful and will likely fail. Given the essential nature of eCommerce today, most marketers reach consumers most likely to buy by identifying who they are, where and how they use the Internet, and what strategies tend to grab their attention.
According to an October 2021 report by Statista.com, online sales during 2020 reached $4.28 trillion worldwide, generated by over 2 billion shoppers. In addition, several sources estimated that 2021 online sales will represent over 20% of all retail sales.
The key to success is to be in the right place with an engaging and easy-to-navigate website plus effective, timely social media interaction that targets a clearly defined customer avatar.
Thus, defining your customer avatar should be a core element of any company’s marketing strategy. The profile must:
- Be based on in-depth and reliable research sources.
- Address consumers’ wants, needs, and pain points most likely to need the product or service.
- Define a most likely profile.
- Establish where the avatar is most likely to spend time and money.
- Be a never-ending project.
Marketers should not rely on limited or vague information and assumptions when creating a customer avatar before committing to a significant advertising expense. The research process demands considerable time and effort to sift through the details to discover the true nature of the customer profile.
Is It Possible to Have More than One Avatar?
In most instances, marketers will likely define more than one customer avatar for their products or services. Multiple avatars are particularly likely when the business has numerous offerings that can appeal to a broader range of clients.
In these situations, defining the customer avatar for each product line is the best course, possibly starting with the most profitable, highest-margin product.
Many retail-oriented corporations continually evaluate their product line and customer base in detail to eventually spin off or discontinue certain items favored by a minimal scope and the slightest chance to succeed. Usually, they determine that resources are better spent on their more successful products with the broader and most active customer avatars.
Creating a Customer Avatar
To create a customer avatar, determine the customer type that wants or needs your products and services by asking questions like these:
- Where do they spend their time?
- What are their habits and expectations?
- What are their current and future needs?
Here are three suggestions on how to do the research needed to create a detailed customer avatar.
#1 Do In-Depth Research to Discover the Customer Avatar
The research journey begins with data collected from the company’s past and current sales. This information should offer a starting point for accumulating the necessary data and insight into past marketing campaigns and their results.
Also, a proven market research firm can gather data from around the industry through surveys, questionnaires, interviews, intake forms, and other information-gathering methods.
Search engines like Google gather a tremendous amount of data related to consumer behavior, how long users linger on specific sites, and the importance of search engine optimization and rankings. They can also provide data about advertising adjacent to search and social media pages.
Furthermore, industry organizations accumulate data profiles that can help marketers define a customer avatar. While findings may differ depending on location and other factors, the information can be helpful.
#2 Create a Worksheet to Track Your Customer Avatar Research
The following is a list of data points that can begin to indicate your customer avatar’s profile. These include:
- What age group is most likely to buy?
- What gender is more likely to be interested in your product line?
- What is the level of education that most buyers have reached?
- Where do most of the frequent customers live? Urban, rural, which region of the country?
- Are the most frequent clients married?
- Did more customers have children, and what age are they? Or did the majority have no children?
- Where do they most like to travel?
- What is their Occupation? Job title?
- Estimate of average income?
Be sure to look for common attributes beyond these listed here.
#3 Visualizing the Customer Avatar
Once a theoretical customer avatar comes into focus based on all the essential demographic and psychographic data, humanizing that persona will add clarity to the vision.
And while it may seem frivolous, consider naming the male and/or female and finding an appropriate photograph that more or less matches the prospect’s appearance, and even design a dossier that fits all the characteristics and describes those individuals completely.
Imagine what the customer avatar may have been seeking when they first viewed your product.
- What was their need?
- Were there other choices?
- Why would they choose not to buy your product?
- How did they find you?
To know how and where to approach your target consumers means understanding their:
- Goals: What motivates them to begin a search, and what do they wish to achieve?
- Values: What is essential, and what excites them?
- Information Sources: Where do they go to learn? Internet, periodicals, conferences?
- Challenges: What problems do they wish to solve now? Can the product be a solution?
- Purchasing Barriers: Are there aspects of the product that may not appeal to that buyer? Is the product changeable, or can it be repositioned?
Finally, can the product solve their needs? Will purchasing it resolve their problem?
#4 Never Stop Defining Your Customer Avatars
Defining your most likely customer is a dynamic process, not a single point-in-time research project. Consumers’ behavior shifts can occur rapidly with innovation, new trends, and growing competition. If this happens, the marketing approach must change, the product needs an upgrade, or both.
Marketers can identify changes and new directions by summarizing and recording as much data as possible while continuing the research process. For example, is change a result of market shifts due to competitive innovation, pricing shifts, marketing strategy deviations, or other reasons?
Maintaining an ongoing assessment of the customer avatar’s decision-making processes will identify sudden shifts and help marketers understand why.
The Advent of Digital Marketing
Internet commerce allows marketers to address their prospective customers even more directly. The location has changed as targeted messages are focused more accurately within a virtual environment.
Today, over 20% of all purchases are transacted online, and the numbers are growing. The marketer’s quest is to appear where and when their customer avatar is searching for what you offer.
Be There When Your Avatar Starts Searching the Web
Once a vision of the customer avatar group crystalizes, the marketer or business manager can delve deeper into the actions and motivations to determine where and how to approach them.
Creating an online presence that appeals to your customers avatar whenever they search is a primary opportunity. Since Google is the top search engine and information resource for what to do, where to go, and how much something costs, advertising in the appropriate spots on this medium has proven highly effective, often resulting in a higher ROI than other media.
Also, a strong internet presence and high search engine ranking that targets the customer avatar can:
- Drive more website visits where you can increase conversions, suggestively sell other products, and become the go-to solution for future needs.
- You can create a visible social media presence and become a category thought leader.
- Increase call traffic by instituting calls-to-action (CTA) in your website or blog content.
- Inspire more store visits, if practical, to view the offerings first-hand.
Engaging in Social Media
One of the best opportunities for being in the right place at the right time is to know where your customer avatar frequents. Social media locations like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, email, and others provide a unique opportunity to present your products and services where your most likely audience spends time.
In the social media arena, marketers can target their message and build their brand more effectively when focusing on the demographic most likely to need their products.
Online marketing opportunities to improve:
- Email Marketing: customize email interaction that focuses on specific characteristics that appeal to particular customer avatars.
- Content Marketing: producing online content that resonates with specific potential customers and establishes the business as a thought leader.
- Paid Advertisements: by placing effective ads where the defined customer avatar frequents, the marketer strengthens top-of-mind recognition and reinforces the brand.
- User Experience: Involvement with customer avatars helps improve the user experience by observing how buyers react to the transaction and what needs improvement.
Image Building Media
Image Building Media is an internet marketing company based in Tampa, Florida, and serves clients throughout the U.S. in various industries. We specialize in internet marketing, including SEO, local SEO, social media marketing, website design, content marketing, video marketing, email marketing, SMS marketing, mobile web marketing, online reputation management, CRM integration, and more. We also provide consulting services, including conversion analytics.