Chapter 2

Understanding Your Customer

  • When implementing a digital campaign, the first things you have to understand are your current and prospective customers’ needs, behaviors, demographics, challenges, and motives. In other words, what is going to make these customers want to click on your ads. As we will elaborate, the best way to go about this is to map out your ideal customer personas and adapt the ads in your campaign based on your target customers’ preferences and elements of the buying process.

Customer segmenting building customer personas

  • The first thing you have to do is narrow down your target audience based on their demographics and psychographics. Always remember that your customers, whether current or prospective, are your most valuable asset and will be the reason behind your success or failure. Research every single factor related to them whether it is their age ranges, education, housing/location, occupations, means of transport, family status, and leisure activities. It is important that you understand their attitude, personality, opinions, value systems, and interests.
  • By understanding this info, you can extract who your ideal customer personas are and customize ads tailored for them.
  • So what are the sources through which we can identify customer’s needs?
  • The best way to go about this is to start off by researching your current customers. Analyze your website’s Google Analytics and check the demographics of your current traffic. Crosscheck what you already know about your customers.
  • Speak to your current customers. Send them surveys asking about their hobbies, occupation and family status. Find out why they chose your company, what the benefits that appealed to them are.
  • Speak with your sales team, find out who they think the best customers are and what they already know about them and their habits.
  • Search social media and visit Q&A websites such as Quora and search for question that you believe your target customers would be interested in discussing. This will help you brainstorm, as well as to understand the slang of your prospects.
  • Search google to find out average annual incomes, hobbies and interests. Read Industry research reports, papers and presentations, news articles and industry expert interviews.
  • Sometimes, you will have to make educated judgements based on partial information available from research. Don’t hesitate to do that. You should end up with a table such as this:
Persona Fictional Name Age Family Status Annual Income Challenges What experience they seek Where do they go online for information
  • Understanding your different target personas and segments, helps in creating high quality content and messages which appeal exactly to a specific segment. When you think about it, what is the point of spending money on marketing and content if your target audience isn’t interested in it? We can use a divide and rule policy – whereby we are splitting our target customers into different personas and attacking each of the personas with a tailor made advertising campaign targeting their specific needs. Using personas and dedicated campaigns for each of the personas helps keep the campaign performance high.
  • Let’s take for example, an imaginary high-end air conditioning company that provides air conditioners that heat and cool silently within minutes.
  • Let’s call it AirKings.
  • AirKings provide costly air conditioners mainly to luxury apartments and houses.
  • Here is AirKings’ target persona table:
Persona Fictional Name Age Family Status Annual Income Challenges What experience they seek Where do they go online for information
George, Luxury Apartment Owner 35 Recently married with no kids. US$ 200,000 Making life as comfortable as possible
Impressing peers

keeping upto- date with the best home improvement technologies
A reliable company who will be clean professional and provide premium service at nonconventional hours Home Improvement blogs and forums. Google, Facebook.
Hillary, Luxury home Owner 47 Married with grownup kids. US$ 500,000 Hillary conducts dinners and benefits at her house, she spends time trying to improve the place and keep it presantable.

Cooling and heating a large house quietly
Hillary does not let random people into her house. She would want Home Improvement magazines and architects and interior designer's forums.
Joe, Architect Interior Designer 40 Married with young kids. US$ 150,000 Finding reliable vendors to work with long term and provide service for their wealthy customers long term, mutual and beneficial cooperation Architect and Interior Designer consumer magazines, blogs, forums, and industry publications and professional forums.
  • Based on these personas, AirKings will be able to tailor their advertising and marketing campaigns based on these customer types. For Search campaigns they will be able to smartly choose suitable keywords focusing on the personas challenges, and for display campaigns they will be able to tailor messages to their target personas on relevant websites.

The Customer Buying Process


Need / Problem Recognition

  • At this stage, the prospects will use phrases related to their problem/ need with respect to their level of awareness to their need. These search phrases are called Keywords. Smart advertising will tailor different keywords in accordance with the prospects awareness level.
  • Continuing with AirKings, the main need/problem recognition of customers at a low awareness level would focus on:
  • Making life as comfortable as possible
  • Impressing peers
  • High end home improvement
  • A high awareness level would focus on: Quick and quiet air conditioners Note that the further we drift from keywords that describe the problem precisely, our costs will raise. As a rule of thumb, long tail keywords are cheaper than short tail ones. Long tail keywords are keywords that are more than 2-3 words which describe the product or service being searched in more detail. These long tail keywords usually have lower traffic - lower competition and thus lower CPC. Short tail keywords or head keywords are keywords that are one or two words or phrases. Short tail keywords are more commonly searched – they have high traffic with high competition and higher CPCs.
  • If AirKings are marketing smartly, their target personas will encounter them by:
  • Regularly browsing websites, they normally visit, and seeing a relevant ad that AirKings published via the GDN on home improvement and lifestyle sites. Such an ad will be aimed at making their target personas realize that they have a need/ problem and trigger their curiosity moving them up to the...
  • Information gathering stage where they will directly search for a solution by typing a term such as “quick and quiet air conditioners” on Google and encountering a relevant ad that AirKings published via the GSN
  • Be sure to understand your target customer personas and how you can help solve their needs and challenges.

Information Gathering

  • This stage involves the process of information gathering done by your prospective customer.
  • On the example of AirKings, their channels for information gathering can range from seeking advice on their personal network to searching the web for recommended solutions.
  • The search for information on the web may involve visiting websites they would go to for information and searching on Google.
  • Understanding this research / information gathering process gives you an idea on where to reach your prospects. It lets you know what your personas are looking for, their sources of information, how they acquire it, what are the trust factors, what information they consider important to make their decision. This stage provides you insights into where to reach the customer and what feature-benefits to include in your ads.
  • The main purpose for developing your search advertising campaign from this stage is the list of short term keywords prospects use for searching for a solution.
  • Example: Continuing with AirKings, George, Luxury Apartment Owner will search Google for terms regarding heating and cooling air conditioners for apartments. Various websites will provide him with information on prices, heating and cooling air conditioning products, rank air conditioning companies, who provide relevant products and services. In other words, it will provide him information he is seeking before making a purchasing decision.
  • A smart GSN campaign will ensure the AirKings show up in search results when George searches the above.
  • A complementary GDN campaign will ensure AirKings will show up when George browses relevant websites.

Alternatives evaluation

  • This is the comparison phase of the buying process where the prospective customer arrives at alternatives based on the information gathered in the previous phase and compares them on various parameters to see what the best fit is for them.
  • Example: George is looking for quiet and fast heating and cooling air conditioners. At this stage AirKings would best follow him around the web with Google Display Remarketing ads, making sure he is frequently reminded of their existence and highlighting their expertise and how dedicated they are to each project they take on.

Purchase decision

  • This stage of the buying process involves the act of acquiring the product or service itself. Once the decision is made on what to buy - how is it executed? What are the elements that are involved in the buying process? Where do they buy the product / service from – online or brick and mortar stores? What support do they require when buying?
  • Continuing with the AirKings example, George saw AirKing’s ads on GSN as well as GDN, and has decided to buy their air conditioners online which come with a 10-year warranty period and an economical annual maintenance with the first year free.
  • These insights can be used to structure the ad extensions. We will explain about extensions in later chapters.