How to Create Better Real Estate Websites Using Customer Personas
By Seth Price
About Inbound Marketing
Let’s say you’re researching homes in a little corner of a neighborhood that you’ve had your eye on for years. You discover a website that seems to understand your particular needs. They know, for instance, that this isn’t you’re first homebuying rodeo; that you’re partial to modern design; that you hate loud colors; that you’re conscious of font size because you just started wearing glasses. How would this experience effect your willingness to do business with this company?
We now have the ability to create website experiences that speak directly to individual customers, and many companies are starting to take advantage of this insight. The days of creating a one-size-fits-all website are fast becoming history. Real estate marketers now have the technology to quickly launch and iterate individual websites that target specific customer personas and niche geographic areas with unique content, offers, and designs.
What Are Customer Personas?
The concept of customer personas was originally outlined in the mid-90s by Angus Jenkinson, and gained widespread use in fortune 500 marketing campaigns by OgilvyOne advertising. What was only available to multi-million dollar companies a few decades ago is now more relevant than ever for businesses large and small.
Ninety-five percent of advertising is pollution, it’s seen as an interruption.
— David Droga of Droga5 Advertising
Persona-centric websites use modern design technology that is tailored to individuals in conjunction with changes in your content and messaging. This allows you to speak to people who are interested in what you’re selling in a way they are more likely to be receptive to.
The approach to persona-driven online marketing will vary by industry, marketing budget, products, and online marketing strategies. As you plan your online marketing calendar, you should consider ways you can speak directly to the the various personas that make up your customer base and then target them with greater accuracy through your websites, advertising, and online marketing.
Without customer personas in mind, you’re marketing to the internet in general, which is extremely costly and not very effective. According to UX Magazine:
- “A persona represents a cluster of users who exhibit similar behavioral patterns in their purchasing decisions, use of technology or products, customer service preferences, lifestyle choices, and the like. Behaviors, attitudes, and motivations are common to a ‘type’ regardless of age, gender, education, and other typical demographics.”
Some basic information to include in your customer personas (beyond a name and a photo to help you identify and visualize them) are as follows:
- Who – age, gender, education, location, job title, financial demographics
- Environment – what device they’re using to view your site, and where
- Lifestyle – how they imagine themselves living in the world–empty nester, happily single, growing family, etc.
- Tasks – what they’re trying to accomplish on your site
- Motivation – the larger goals they’re pursuing
Successful Customer Persona Campaigns
Here are some real-world examples of companies that have embraced the use of customer personas and have tailored their design, language, content, and marketing efforts to speak directly to their unique demographic.
If you haven’t heard of Tim Ferris, he might not be speaking to you. He has grown his business and fortune by speaking directly to men aged 18-45 who aspire to be better than they are, make a lot of money, and stop working for “the man.” His writes his books in language not often suitable for conversation with your mother; he’s irreverent, opinionated, and a hero to millions. Visit the landing page for his latest book, “4 Hour Chef,” to get a feel for who he is speaking to. Notice he’s not trying to look or speak like a chef.
If you’ve ever visited a pet store, you no doubt have fit into a persona: cat or dog, one pet or three, pitbull or poodle, etc. Take a walk down the petfood aisle and you will start to understand what I’m talking about. My wife recently walked into Petco to get our black lab his normal food, then spent twenty minutes agonizing over a special dog food for adult Labrador Retrievers that cost 30% more. Who doesn’t want the food specially made for for their 2-3 year old, flat-coated adult Labrador Retriever?
A popular brand among active women, lululemon athletica also has a sub-brand called ivivva athletica focused on young athletic girls– daughters of all of those stretchpant-wearing mommies, my wife included. Aside from making a great product that expands their customer base and builds brand loyalty from an earlier age, ivivva talks the talk of young girls.
While I can count on one hand the times I have said “bff,” you’ll notice that their site is peppered with lingo that my daughter really connects with. (I should mention that you shouldn’t let your daughter view the site unless to want to shell out some serious ducats for sweatpants. I had no idea how much this coveted stuff costs!)
Ever heard of Margot Elena Companies & Collections? Neither had I, until I saw one of their smartly designed skin care products. After some research, I found that Margot Elena has five sites that target slightly different personas who consume the same types of products for different reasons. Every site carries perfumes, skin care products, cosmetics, candles, and other products. But each one has a different look, from product packaging, colors, and fonts to language and personality. Very well done, and worth observing.
Lee Oddin, author of Optimize and CEO of successful online marketing firm TopRankMarketing, describes the value of customer centric marketing:
- Most SEO efforts are focused on creating and optimizing content against a list of keywords. But keywords don’t buy products and services-customers do. To really make a difference with more effective online marketing, businesses should become more sophisticated in their understanding of customer needs, behaviors, and preferences. That means optimizing for customers and outcomes by researching and segmenting customer data to develop customer personas.
If you want to see an example of a customer persona, check out this sample profile from a great article on the KISSmetrics Blog.
Then when you start thinking about your customers and how they group by behavior, attitude and motivation, you can align your marketing efforts and speak directly to customers that want what you have to sell.
Let us know how are you developing your customer personas, Share your stories and tell us what’s working in your market!
Published on December 27, 2012
Written by Seth Price
Seth is a brand and marketing strategist with 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s a founding team member and VP @Placester, author of the bestselling small business marketing book, The Road to Recognition and host of The Craft of Marketing and Marketing Genius podcasts. As a speaker, writer, and marketing workshop leader, Seth brings levity, mentorship, and a dose of reality to the businesses and entrepreneurs he coaches.