How to use customer feedback for persona research

use customer feedback to convert your target audience
The duo Simon & Garfunkel’s song “The Sound of Silence” became a number one hit 1966, and—because it means as much to people today as it did back then—the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” in 2012.

As the song alludes in its timeless lyrics, you can’t listen if you’re always talking.

Though the world today may still be full of chaos and noise, you can find important stories in the silence—if you know where to look for them. Your target customers’ stories are embedded in the fabric of all of your interactions with them.

Keep reading to get tips for using customer feedback—that already exists—to learn more about what your potential new customers really need (and how you can use that information to reach them where they are).

What are personas?

When you launch a campaign that tries to do everything for everyone, you end up catching too many unqualified leads. No one likes this kind of mass marketing. It’s inefficient and annoying.

To take advantage of new opportunities, you have to start by finding the right people (and their pain points in the customer journey). Personas provide a better way to get personal. They can help you create more nuanced marketing—based on reliable and realistic insights about your target audience—that you can use for a specific task or campaign.

At the end of a persona research project, you should be able to answer basic questions about your targeted audience, such as:
  • What makes them tick?
  • What are their goals and values?
  • What stories do they tell themselves?
  • What are their habits?
  • What kind of messaging (and in what format) will most resonate with people who fall into this persona group?
Are you unsure when to send a campaign email? Torn between two photos for a design? Debating which keywords to focus on for a new paid ads campaign?

You can find the answers to questions like these (and many others) using insights about your target audience’s needs, motivations, and expectations. That’s why persona research is so invaluable. It makes every marketing decision easier—from helping writers create more persuasive copy to supporting designers when they make decisions about the look and feel of layouts.

Customer feedback is everywhere

There are some obvious places in your ecosystem where you can go to find basic information about your target audiences, like Google Analytics or online review archives.

Even if you’re doing phone or in-person interviews, they might not be giving you completely unfiltered feedback.

You’ll really start to find “gold” once you begin to dig deeper and get into the mindset of your target audience and listen to what they’re saying elsewhere online. People censor what they say a lot less online, so it’s helpful to try and find people talking about your product and service (or those like what you have to offer)

For example, if—as part of their vetting process—people in your target audience might read a few blogs, check out some posts on related topics and read the comments for insights.

Use social media as a resource if people in your target audience are avid Twitter or LinkedIn users. Check out what sorts of keywords are popular for these users, and look at what they are saying when they use them. When recently working on a persona research project for a software company, we found additional valuable feedback on tech-focused threads on Reddit.

Don’t forget the competition

If you aren’t already planning to analyze your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, at least check out what their customers are saying. Learning more about what their customers love (or hate) can help you do a better job on your marketing strategy and be more relevant to your customers.

The best way to stand out from the competition (and make sure your next project or campaign is a success) is by using persona research to focus on your target audience's needs and wants.
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Joy

About the author | Joy Miller

Joy is the creative director at TBH Creative and uses her expertise to help clients use their online communications to build, design, and manage their brands. She likes to blog about content marketing in all its forms, the latest trends in digital marketing, and share tools with readers.

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