Create Persona Driven Buying Journeys

August 6, 2015

Contributor: Heather Pemberton Levy

Understand how to map segments and personas to customer buying journeys.

What do customers expect from their relationship with your brand? Some combination of utility, convenience, value and delight at each interaction based on their individual needs at a specific moment. To achieve this, it’s necessary to create segments, targeted groups with similar attributes; and personas, fictional characters that embody the motivations, goals and behaviors of your target audience. According to Jake Sorofman, research vice president, Gartner for Marketing Leaders, once you know who you want to reach, it’s time to identify the key moments and decision points on the buying journey and then design the experience accordingly.

The first two articles in this series described how to create segments and personas to illuminate and inform customer experience. This article describes how to combine these segments and personas with the when, what, and how to define pathways that draw audiences from engagement to conversion, to transaction and to advocacy.

Read related article: How to Build Digital Marketing Segments


When: Map personas to key moments on the buying journey

By understanding the behaviors, preferences, media consumption habits, technology adoption patterns and detailed day-in-the-life routines of these audiences, you can begin designing a journey map that becomes the backbone of your customer experience architecture. Wherever you’re interviewing customers, seek to capture an as-is view of their relationship with your brand, across all touchpoints. What’s working? What’s not? This will be an important input into your overall prioritization of customer experience investment candidates.

Begin by mapping personas to specific moments on the buying journey. Do this by modeling the specific paths each persona traverses, pre- and post-sale, over the course of their relationship with your brand. It’s often useful to illustrate this freehand on a whiteboard or on large sheets of butcher paper hung on the walls of a conference room. Be as detailed as possible. You can always simplify and consolidate steps later.

Think of persona, Marcy, a 28-year old single professional who wants a new fitness routine and begins a journey to purchase a bike. A cycling brand would identify her steps from the first Internet search, to questioning her “hard core” cycling friends, to when she begins to formulate purchase criteria, among many others. More importantly, the brand seeks to understand Marcy’s true motivations and goals, turning this “need-state” into the blueprint for a high value customer experience.

Read related article: What’s in a Name? Creating Personas for Digital Marketing


What: Define Stories, Experiences and Services That Engage and Delight

Next, create a table by mapping personas to moments. At the intersections there are opportunities to create an inventory of stories, services and experiences, where:

  • Stories are the use of content to engage audiences in contextually relevant ways.
  • Services are discrete features and apps designed to engage and/or serve audiences.
  • Experiences are how key moments are tightly orchestrated over the arc of engagement.
Mapping personas to moments
How: Identify Systems, People, Process and Data to Enable Experiences

Once you’ve defined the what, you need to address the how. Begin by mapping the stories, experiences and services you’ve conceived in the previous step to the systems they implicate, the people they rely on, the processes they impact and the data they require.

Keep in mind that creating discrete experiences isn’t enough. These experiences should be connected by logical linkages that drive engagement, progression and conversion across a decision journey and over the course of a customer relationship. For example, one audience-centric content asset should set up the next, which becomes progressively brand- and/or offer-centric over the course of engagement. But be sure calls to action are appropriate to the moment. Going for the “close” in the earliest moments can turn brand engagement toxic.

Ultimately, it’s necessary to define pathways that draw audiences from engagement to conversion to transaction and to advocacy. Design these pathways with two specific journeys in mind:

  1. The path to purchase for a specific offering
  2. The lifetime relationship with a known customer.

It’s your investments in the second pathway that will yield a lifetime of loyalty and advocacy.

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