Creating a new website for your business is a process that requires planning and a healthy dose of caution. You certainly want to remain true to your firm’s identity, but it’s also desirable to connect with users.
That’s where the importance of creating accurate and rich customer profiles plays a central role.
The Logic Behind Customer Profiles
You may have studied customer profile templates in business school. Perhaps they came across like a useless, time-consuming assignment that had little value outside the classroom.
But the truth is that customer profiles are incredibly insightful tools. Not only do they give you something tangible to hold onto in uncertain times, but they give you an accurate understanding of which people you’re targeting, what their preferences are, and — just as important — what turns them off.
In the Harvard Business Review, Richard Ting calls robust customer profiles a company’s secret weapon. He specifically believes they empower brands to: (1) “more intelligently push content and experiences to their consumers,” (2) “improve their real-time marketing efforts,” and (3) “improve a customer’s lifetime value by better engaging them over the long term and with purpose.”
Ting is directing his message toward advertisers, but you can easily translate his points to apply them to website development. “To surgically cut through the noise, advertisers need to develop richer customer profiles,” he stresses.
“It’s not the sexiest of topics in advertising, but it’s one that will ultimately allow brands to target and personalize the experiences and messages that consumers deserve.”
Three Tips for Building Useful Customer Profiles
Most business owners, advertisers, and web developers understand the value of customer profiles; that’s not the issue. The specifics of building customer profiles are where most people get off track.
To get you started right, take a look at some helpful pointers:
1. Gather Demographic Information
You can learn a lot about users simply by reviewing the readily available demographic information and relevant data points. Unless you spend time doing this kind of research, you may not realize how diverse the different segments of your market can be.
Take, for example, the city of Atlanta. The first words that may come to mind for a person who doesn’t live there may be “southern” and “conservative,” but did you know that recent demographics reveal that Atlanta has one of the largest LGBT populations in the nation?
Unexpected details like this can substantially change your trajectory.
2. Use Surveys
First-hand surveys are a great way to gauge who your users are with accuracy. Always allow people to protect themselves under anonymity and don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions.
This is the only way to understand who the people are that you’re targeting. Sometimes touchy subjects like political and religious affiliations, socioeconomic status, and medical histories can be invaluable in telling you how to handle your users.
3. Look at Buying Patterns
Buying patterns can reveal a lot about customers and Internet users. They tell you how much customers spend, where they spend their money, and how they spend it.
Work with your team to develop ways to track and organize purchase data. If you can master this aspect of consumer behavior, you’re light years ahead of your competition and can develop highly targeted websites that maximize conversions and eliminate high abandonment rates.
Ignore Customer Profiles at Your Own Risk
Ultimately, ignoring customer profiles may entail a huge price tag. If you’re willing to accept the risks that come with tackling things on your own, then skip this step of the website-building process.
However, if you’re interested in developing a strong foundation for your website, customer profiles are the place to start. They not only show you how to proceed, but they give you something to fall back on when challenges emerge. Customer profiles are a web developer’s best friend.