It’s a well-known piece of marketing advice that the best way to run any kind of successful campaign is to have a very clear understanding of who the intended audience is. Customer personas are a tool that allows you to visualise and understand this target audience very easily, as well as providing a simple way to better connect with your customer base and deliver more strategic communication.
If you’re new to the world of creating customer personas then getting started can feel daunting, as there’s potentially a lot of data to sift through and analyse. However, the benefits of customer persona marketing can impact a range of different areas of your travel business, so they’re definitely worth investing the time in.
In this article, our partner SEO Travel explains what a customer persona is, why they’re important, and how you can create them for your travel brand.
What is a Customer Persona?
A customer persona is a tool that is used in marketing across a range of industries to help visualise and represent a brand’s target audience. It is sometimes also referred to as a ‘customer profile’ or ‘ideal customer persona’.
Customer personas are used in marketing to give an idea of the kind of people that a brand’s marketing material and content should be targeting and/or appealing to. They usually contain data about different types of people in a brand’s target audience that outlines key traits, opinions, preferences and pain points, which can all help to inform more targeted marketing campaigns.
The majority of brands have multiple customer personas that they use to represent different areas of their customer base, although some companies with a very niche offering may only have one type of customer that they target. These personas can serve a wide range of different purposes, and in the travel industry they’re incredibly useful for developing more effective marketing content and ensuring that your offering is useful for your target audience.
Why Are Customer Personas Important?
Customer personas are a very important marketing tool that can bring a number of different benefits to your travel business. Not only that, but 71% of companies that use customer personas have been found to exceed revenue goals, demonstrating the impact that this can have on your business.
The main point of importance of customer personas is that they’re the best way for brands to understand their customers. When you build personas of the key demographics within your customer base and target audience, you have a much better idea of who is engaging with your travel offering and why they choose your business. These personas give you a simple way of looking at your customers and understanding their preferences and motivations.
Having customer personas also makes it much easier for travel brands to develop targeted marketing campaigns. Instead of creating content that tries to appeal to an unclear potential customer, you can develop specific campaigns tapping directly into what each of your personas is looking for.
Speaking of specific campaigns, customer personas are really useful when it comes to email marketing because they give you an easy way of developing segmented email content that will appeal to different demographics within your mailing list. Email is one of the best channels for personalised content, and when you start with customer personas you already have a guide for who you should be writing each of your emails for.
On a more technical note, customer personas are increasingly useful for travel businesses that use advertising software like Facebook and Instagram Ads or Google Ads. New data privacy laws mean that these tools can now no longer access the same kind of specific data about different users to send them your ads, so whilst this approach is still relevantly targeted, you will still benefit from having your own data and guidance about who potential customers are.
Another reason why having a customer persona is important for your travel brand is that it can make customer communication feel more personalised. We’ve already talked about this for email marketing, but knowing who your customers are and the kind of language they prefer and respond to can help you craft more impactful content that reaches and engages them more because the tone and approach resonate with the reader.
Finally, customer persona marketing is an important strategy because it can help to facilitate better customer relationships. When you create profiles and gather data on the kind of people that make up your customer base and target audience, you get a better understanding of what motivates them, the challenges they face, and how your travel brand has or could resolve their problems. When you demonstrate that you understand this, your audience will feel recognised and understood, which will help develop more trust and loyalty.
Creating Customer Personas for Your Travel Brand
Customer persona development is a marketing technique that can provide a lot of really useful insight into what’s going to really engage and persuade your target audience to convert into customers. Creating a customer persona is something that you can do independently, or that you can use specialist software to assist you with.
Here’s a guide on how to create a customer persona, or several customer personas, for your travel business.
Analyse Customer Data
Unless you’re launching a new service offering and are trying to branch out to target a new kind of customer, the beginning of customer persona development will be analysing all of the data you have about existing customers. This information will give you an overview of all the different types of people who have purchased your travel brand, and from this data, you should be able to identify different key groups with similar traits.
You can do this analysis using software which automates the process of identifying common traits between customers and grouping them by demographic. You can also use your existing knowledge about the kinds of travellers you’ve created your offering for, as these groups should hopefully be prominent within your customer base!
From this data, you should be able to start identifying the main groups of people that make up your customer base. Pull out information like age range, income, gender, family status, and the types of trips or experiences they usually opt for.
Highlight and Characterise Key Groups
Now that you’ve highlighted the main groups that you want to continue targeting as customers, the next step is to characterise them. You can get as creative as you want at this stage, but the main aim is to identify a trait that defines this group.
Some people just name a key feature of the demographic, such as ‘solo adventure travellers’ or ‘parents of young children’ or you could get really specific and design a character that represents the group with a memorable name. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to imagine a specific person when you think of this persona, as this makes it much easier to develop marketing approaches that specifically target them.
Outline Preferences and Pain Points
From your existing customer data, you should already have information about the key traits of your customer personas when it comes to who they are as people. The next stage of developing customer personas is to highlight the specific preferences and opinions of these groups in relation to travel and what your company offers.
You might already have some of this information, but you might also have to send our surveys and polls or even organise focus groups to get a proper idea. What you’re trying to do at this stage is understand why your customers choose your company when they want a holiday, what makes you different from your competitors, and what they like about your offering.
You also need to establish what the pain points are for your customer personas when they’re typically booking holidays. This is an essential piece of information for successful customer persona marketing, as it helps you tap directly into what your target audience struggles with, which allows you to highlight why your brand can help them solve this.
Identify Popular Channels and Content
Another really important piece of data you need for your target customer persona is the kind of channels that they spend the most amount of time consuming content on and the forms of content that they engage with most. This ensures that you’re putting your resources in the right places when you’re marketing to these groups and not wasting any time and effort on campaigns that aren’t reaching the right potential customers.
Figure out which social media channels each person spends the most time on, either by asking your existing customers or looking at the demographic data for different platforms. You should also determine whether they use email regularly as a form of communication, or something else.
You should already have an idea of the most popular kinds of content within your target audience because of the pieces that get the most engagement when you share them. But you can also ask your customers which kind of marketing content they prefer and are likely to react best to, so that you know the best ways to reach them.
Develop Targeted Marketing Strategies
The previous stages should have covered everything essential you need to cover in customer persona development. At this point, you should have a profile that summarises the key traits of a customer and gives you insight into what they want from a travel business like yours and how best to engage with them with your brand’s content.
From here, you can use this customer persona framework to come up with marketing campaigns and content that target these specific demographics within your audience. Having a clear recipient in mind for marketing material is one of the best ways to ensure that it has the best impact possible, as well as making it easier to generate content ideas that have a specific purpose and goal.
How Many Customer Personas Should You Have?
If you’re just getting started with customer persona analysis, it’s understandable to be wondering how many customer personas you should have for your business. There’s not a straightforward answer to this however, as it really depends on the size of your target audience and the kind of travel services or products that you offer.
Suppose you’re a brand with a particular offering that appeals to a specific group of people. In that case, you may only have a couple of relevant customer personas that represent the demographics within your customer base and target audience.
However, travel brands that offer trips to multiple destinations for example, or who offer tours for different age groups, will require developing customer personas for a higher number of ideal customers.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for the number of target customer personas you should create; the best way to determine this is to look at your customer data and highlight the different similar groups these people fall into. However, you want to avoid going too granular and ending up with more than 10 – 15 personas, as then you’ll still have the issue of trying to appeal to too many people with your marketing efforts.
Using a customer persona framework in your marketing strategy is a very effective way of ensuring that your content and campaigns impact the people they’re supposed to, properly engage them and deliver the result that you’re aiming for. These personas are a brilliant way of understanding who your target audience is and how best to reach them, as well as shining a light on your current customer base and giving you an insight into what they like about your brand and how you can continue to retain them.
If you’re looking for help with a marketing strategy for your travel brand and want to get a better idea of what your target audience is searching for, SEO Travel is a specialist marketing agency that can help you get found by your ideal customers and increase your conversion rate. Take a look at our marketing services or get in touch to speak to our team about how we can help.
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