Is it possible to write a line for an ad that’s so good, whoever hears it will be compelled to pull out their wallet and instantly buy the product?
We’re talking the Hey Jude of advertising copy. The Macbeth of direct response marketing.
They’ve tried. We’ve all tried! And even if some spectacular copy has been written, no one is ever going to find one universal phrase.
Because there is an unbreakable rule of advertising – people are different and make choices based on their wants, needs, and means.
No single message can fit all those things for every person, no matter how powerful or appealing it is. And what’s even more important is this: you don’t want a message that speaks to everyone because not everyone is going to buy from you.
Your message and offer need to be focused on those people who are most likely to buy, that’s how you get the best return on your ad spend and grow the fastest. If you try to write an ad for everyone, no matter how good it is, then, to quote Macbeth;
“It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.”
Advertisers should stop trying to find a way to outsmart the entire world and focus, instead, on what can actually yield a profit. They need to understand who is interested in buying from them with very little persuasion and how to find them. Only then will a strong message give you high conversion rates.
In this article, we’ll look at how to create customer avatars for high-performing YouTube Ads, as this is how you convert user data into profit.
What Is a Customer Avatar?
Put simply, a customer avatar is your perfect client. Not only do they embody everything your brand represents but they also have the money and motivation to get their hands on your product or service.
This exact person doesn’t need to actually exist, but they represent a group that absolutely does exist. You are creating a character who represents all these types of customers so an ad that speaks to the avatar, speaks to everyone like them.
For example, when you look at advertisements for fancy watches for businessmen, you’ll see a character like this:
A man in his early forties, he’s no longer as young as he used to be. But this age, rather than slow him down, has given him wisdom. He likely has a slight trim beard which denotes this experience. A certain understated confidence exudes from him, and he knows just what his place is and wherever he goes, he controls the room. He always knows what the solution to life’s problems is. He’s well off, but still has new worlds to conquer. He knows where he’s going, and more importantly, he knows when to do things [Close-up of the watch].
This type of character may or may not exist. But a lot of people would like to think they are like that or would like to give that impression. And this is the key for high conversion rates for ads – you find people for whom it makes sense to have a certain product in their lives to enhance it, or solve an underlying issue.
Going back to the watch example, does the customer avatar actually need a fancy watch? No, a $50 Casio watch will do just fine, or even their phone already tells the time. But it’s very rare that we are dealing with life or death needs, almost everything we buy is a choice. So, what drives most of these choices? Why do we care?
And most of the time, the answer is status.
Status is how we want to be seen by the world and how we want to see ourselves. You see it reflected in everything we do. Whenever we buy anything, sometimes even the most basic of products, we are trying to establish our status.
So, with a watch, you would think that it would be a basic straight line correlation of richer people buying more expensive watches but it’s so much more nuanced than that.
If you want proof; do you know what watch Bill Gates wears? A Casio that costs under $50. And this is a conscious choice. You’ve seen Bill Gates, he does a lot to create his status as a regular guy, completely at odds with his actual bank account.
Thanks to his billions, most people will give him the status of rich and successful – a status that many of us might want – but that’s not the status he wants. It’s likely he worries about being seen as elitist and out of touch, that’s why purchases like this watch tell us a lot.
And this leads us to an important difference, maybe the most important one to think about for creating customer avatars…
Demographic or Psychographic
Bill Gates would absolutely fall into the demographic of people who would buy expensive watches; he’s rich, over 40, works in business, etc.
And okay, if you were dealing with traditional advertising, using billboards and TV ads and magazine pages, who cares? You’ll get some outliers like Bill Gates who don’t fit your fancy watch brand but that doesn’t matter because you expect your ad to be seen by a very wide audience.
But with YouTube, demographics don’t help you very much.
Does everyone in the same age bracket and income bracket search the same things, watch the same videos? Are all rich, 55-year-old businessmen subscribed to the Rolex channel? No, absolutely not… well, they do have 321,000 subscribers, and a lot of videos about yachts, so maybe the jury is out on that one.
Anyway, these demographic details are basic filters, just like gender, but that’s a very rough starting point. If that’s all you do, you’re going to spend a lot of money trying to find your perfect customers in all these people. You need to be much more accurate or you are just paying to show your ads to people who do not care about the things you need them to care about.
So, when it comes to your customer avatar, you need to stop thinking “Who are they?” and you need to start thinking “Who do they want to be?”
That’s where psychographics are extremely powerful.
What Are Psychographics?
Dividing people up by their desires and motivations is known as psychographic or attitudinal segmentation. We’ll stick to calling it “psychographic” because it sounds like the most brutal horror film ever made.
The idea has been around for a long time, but before the digital era, it was extremely difficult to get any data to work with. Sure, you could send questionnaires to your existing customers to try and learn more about why they became customers and what they cared about, but this would be very limited.
Digital changed all that forever. Now, everything we do online reflects the status we want to project. This can be very obvious things like a Facebook status or an Instagram post, where we try to frame ourselves exactly how we want people to see us in terms of our happiness, our success, our family unity, or anything else.
But it’s also reflected in what we do when only the algorithm’s are watching us. We search, we subscribe, we like, we click. None of this is random, it’s always motivated by something inside us. And this where YouTube is amazing because more than any other platform, it’s where we come to learn. And what you want to learn is a huge reflection of the status you are trying to reach.
Here are some of the main elements of a psychographic
In the past, we use to think that you could predict many of these things based on demographic data. But the more we learn, the less true this is.
Without getting into politics, just look at how unpredictable American elections have become. Many polls have been wrong, many states have flipped allegiance, both in 2020 and in 2016 before that. You can no longer say “Oh, this person is this age, lives here, is this race and so they are going to vote like this”. It just doesn’t work like that anymore.
But if you knew nothing about that person in terms of their demographic and you just saw the videos they had watched in the last week, you could probably predict with 99% accuracy what way they voted, don’t you agree?
If you can understand what your perfect customer is thinking, then you can work out how they will behave online and that’s how you get in front of them.
But hold on; aren’t we making a big assumption here…
Do I Only Need One Customer Avatar?
It would be ridiculous to assume that all your customers are basically the same. They aren’t. And it can easily be true that your product is the perfect solution for people with completely different motivations.
Let’s pick a niche like trading.
If you’re selling an info product that teaches people how to trade, then you might think that people’s motivation is to make more money. Okay, yes, but why do they want to make more money? Here’s where we come back to status.
If I want to make more money so I can retire comfortably and take care of my family, that is a completely different status to people who want more money to travel the world, be their own boss, buy a nice car.
An ad with Lamborghinis and pool parties might appeal to the status of the people trying to quit their jobs and make money easily, but it’s sending totally the wrong message to the people who want to retire and have security. That ad doesn’t reflect their status, even if the offer “make more money” is the same and technically gives them what they need.
In fact, the flashy cars might go directly against their core beliefs and concerns, such as too much risk taking or wasting money.
So, you need to consider both avatars. Maybe when you have created both you will see that one group is a better option for you – there’s more scale there or your brand is better aligned with that psychographic.
But you can also go after both and find out.
You’ll need different creative that speaks to the motivation of each group, and you’ll need different targeting too, but there’s no reason not to try. You’ll either find one outperforms the other by a lot so you give up on the other audience, or you end up with two high performing funnels.
If you only have one customer avatar, that’s fine too. Ads that reach a very large scale obviously need to be quite broad so it’s not a bad thing to have a fairly simple avatar. But you have to think about their values and status first to make sure your messaging is always going to speak to those people.
How Do I Learn the Psychographics for My Customer Avatar?
You could run a questionnaire or poll on Google Forms, Facebook, or Twitter but it’s only going to give you the surface-level responses. Partly because people don’t put a lot of thought into their answers but also because they may not be being honest with themselves.
Status can be deeply personal so you might never admit how you want to be seen. In other words, asking your existing customers can certainly give you a good indication of the direction to take your research, but that’s only the beginning.
One of the best sources of information can be Facebook groups. This could be your own group or a competitor group. Facebook users see Facebook as an extension of their personal lives so they are much more likely to speak and act in a way that reflects their true beliefs. YouTube comments are much more anonymous and so they are never a good reflection of what people really think.
In these Facebook groups, you will see a lot of questions and complaints, and these are invaluable. They show you what people really care about, much more than any review or feedback every will. That’s not to say that everything said here is true, far from it, but it’s easy to spot the main factor behind why they are saying what they are saying.
Imagine you’re selling a software product and you see some people complaining about the menus and others complaining about the changes after an update. Well, it’s likely your customer avatar is someone who wants a simple solution. If they were complaining about technical restrictions or integrations, then they care about performance, not about simplicity.
If we take this one step further, then we can probably make more assumptions about these two customer avatars. What status do the people want if they are after simple software? Well, they are probably acquiring a new skill and want to show people that they can do more than they expected.
But the people who want better performance, they are looking to be seen as an expert. The messaging for an ad to these two groups will have to be completely different.
As for YouTube, you are going to learn about the psychographics of your customers but probably not until you start running ads and testing. However, you will find audiences that work extremely well and maybe specific channels that seem to bring you a lot better results which you can feed back into your customer avatars.
This is a process, not a one and done job. You need a place to start and you can make a good guess, especially if you already have some customer data. But you should always listen to the results and the performance and try to build a better customer avatar with every new round of data.
How to Create Your Customer Avatar
You can start with the basic demographic stuff like age, gender, and income as that helps to give us a starting point.
Now, you need to think about status;
- How do they see themselves now?
- How do they want to be seen?
- What values do they have that relate to your product?
- What are they interested in?
- What are their goals?
- What are their fears?
So, who can we come up with? Who is our first customer avatar?
- Demographics: Male, age 29, an annual income of $90,000
- Background: Financial analyst, master’s degree in economics, long-term girlfriend
- How he sees himself: Avoids risk, well informed, smart but not arrogant
- How he’d like to be seen: Family man, less boring, respected
- Hobbies & interests: Going to the gym 4 times a week, craft beer, board games, going to an all-inclusive resort once a year
- Goals: Get promoted, get married and start a family, buy a house near his parents
- Fears: Not getting promoted or achieving something of significance, getting stuck in his position and pay bracket
With this information, you’re ready to create an ad that speaks to Jim as he is now but also to who he wants to become. Maybe Jude is not your perfect avatar but you’ll need to learn that as you see results. This is an ongoing process and you may be surprised by what you find out about your audience and their motivation.
This may also be one of many avatars you come up with, whether you end up with just one message or many different messages, products, and funnels to fit all of these different groups. But the main thing we want you to remember is to start with an avatar you understand as a fully rounded person, fears and dreams, and write an ad that speaks to that.
Then, you can start to make it better… better, better, better, better, better.