A customer avatar is a simple, hypothetical representation of your ideal customer. It serves as a useful tool for marketers because it helps them understand and market to their target consumers. By creating one, you can better understand what motivates your customers to buy from you—and what keeps them coming back for more.
What is a customer avatar?
An avatar is like a bio. It’s a composite portrait based on specific characteristics that describe your ideal buyer – the type that ‘gets’ your product or service, loves it and wants to buy more of it.
Although it’s a singular portrait, clearly it isn’t simply a description of one single customer. As Emel Rizwani, founder of Red Gem says,
“A customer avatar is an amalgam built from quantitative data and qualitative customer feedback. It creates a clear and challenging portrait of the customer that you want to attract.”
Why bother with one?
Targeting, choosing which segment of your total market you’re going after, is crucial to marketing success, for several good reasons. Among them:
- Resource constraints – few businesses have the people or the money to effectively reach and target every customer in the marketplace.
- Value asymmetries – this is a fancy way of saying that some segments are worth an awful lot more money than others
- Positioning to customers – when we try to position to everyone, we struggle to connect with anyone – especially if competitors have segmented and gone after a particular group.
Once you’ve identified which segment of your market you want to target, your avatar is the tool that enables your business to communicate effectively with that specific customer type.
By understanding how your product solves that consumer’s problems and facilitates their ambitions, you can tailor your marketing to connect with them in a meaningful way.
Customer avatars can help you better understand and market to your target audience
Creating an effective avatar is a collaborative process that brings together different stakeholders in your organisation to ensure you’re delivering what’s important for each target persona.
After creating an accurate picture of your target’s values, behaviours, aspirations and motivations—and where they differ from each other—you’ll be able to market directly to them through various channels like email campaigns or social media ads.
Moreover, a well-defined avatar can help bring departments and team members together around one clear, shared goal: ultimately enabling your business to deliver valuable and consistent experiences to this person.
Where do I start?
Use the quantitative data that you have available, as well as qualitative insights that you may need to collect directly from customers to:
- Understand your customer’s Jobs To Be Done
- Recognise the deeper pain or problem that your product fixes for them – not the literal item on their desk or to-do list, but the emotional significance of getting that job done
- Recognise the different segments within your market and understand how their pain points, their motivations, and their responses to your product will differ
Create a short, data-driven bio for a fictional character that represents each of your target segments. Your portrait should include the following information:
- Who is this customer? Who is she? What’s her salary? Where does she live? Create a short summary of the relevant demographic info.
- What does the customer currently think? What are their attitudes, beliefs? What did we pick up from our various qualitative and quantitative research? Define her: what’s important to her and how is she different from other customers?
- What does she currently do in the category? Does she buy, does she not buy? What brands does she favour, is she a loyalist? Describe her consumer behaviour specifically.
- Key drivers. Fundamentally, what are the most important attributes or drivers that motivate her to do the things that we want her to do?
- What turns her off or acts as a barrier? What stops her from doing what we hope she’s going to do?
Important: don’t make it too positive. This is a key point. Describing a customer as ‘excited about innovation’, ‘loves new products’, ‘can’t wait to see new advertising’… is all nonsense. A good portrait can be quite miserable – but the key is that it’s realistic: it smacks of actual customers. Make this a real amalgam of the customer that you want to connect with, not a fantasy that doesn’t even exist.
Putting your customer avatar to work
Once you’ve created a customer avatar for each of the segments that you want to target, use it to guide your marketing strategy and your communications strategy, as well as your sales strategy and your approach to customer success and retention.
Customer avatars are a crucial tool for marketers because they help you better understand your audience and communicate with them through language that speaks directly to their needs.
Customer avatars can be even more powerful when used in conjunction with marketing automation software, which allows you to automate the process of creating new segments, sending emails or other messages that match those segments’ interests and needs, nurturing them through a sales funnel and – crucially – measuring results.
Now that we’ve looked at how customer avatars can help you better understand and market to your target audience, it’s time to make a start on your own! It’s important that you take the time to develop an effective avatar for each of the market segments that you want to go after. Ensure it’s based on real numbers and actual feedback, so that you can create content that speaks directly to your customers.
Use our FREE template to get started on your own customer avatar. Click HERE to view and save a copy to your drive.