Creating personas is the foundation to driving real results for business, brand, and marketing. While personas are a key component of business growth, brand experience, and customer experience, designing them is often challenging and not always successful.
With that is mind, here is our complete guide to getting started and successfully designing focused relevant personas.
What is a persona?
A Persona is a fictional, but realistic representation of a segment or group of your customers that display similar behavioural and/or attitudinal trends towards your product, brand, or industry. Generally, a company will create a handful of personas (we recommend an average of 4) symbolising various customer segments in their target market. Importantly, there must be enough of a difference between these personas to warrant them being separate personas.
Why are personas important?
The bottom line is that accurately representative personas mean better ROI.
Well, when you have a clear understanding of who your customer is (rather than targeting who you assume or want your customer to be) your communication will be more personalized and effective. Your product offering and design will better match your customers’ needs. In turn, your customers will enjoy an enhanced customer experience (CX).
That is to say, customer personas lead to better targeting, clearer positioning, focused messaging, and improved value propositions. And these all lead to a supreme customer experience that drives higher lead conversions and better customer retention, which unavoidably result in a greater ROI.
Furthermore If you get your personas right, and understand how they work with archetypes, you can have a powerful tool to target your product and message clearly to the right audience or consumer.
The exercise of designing your personas gives a general direction and a common understanding about who your customer is and how to reach them. This ensures that your whole team is aligned.
How do you get started with your personas?
First off, remember, that it’s an iterative process. As you continue your discovery and design process, you will find that your initial personas change as they become more representative of your findings. Moreover, consumer behaviour is dynamic. Be sure to be agile in your personas too!
The first part of designing your personas is all about information gathering.
Gather a list of your customers
You can do this using your database or your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
For B2B companies, first analyse them according to their industries/companies. This will give you an idea as to which types of industries and companies are interested in your service or product. In addition, understand the size of their organisations, their revenue, and the level of engagement they have with your company. This will tell you who your biggest customers are.
After that, analyse your customers on an individual level with regards to their job title, family status, gender, age and other relevant demographics. Remember, demographical information should only be included if it has a relevance to your brand, product, or design.
Learn who your customers are by analysing data from your website. Understand who visits your site, what pages they visit, what they read, and how long they spend on these pages..
Understand your direct and indirect competitors and where they are targeting. Look at your competitor’s customers. Understand their industries and services used.
Social media insights
All social media platforms offer you insights and analytics to better understand your traffic in terms of who they are and their behaviours. Social media also serves a qualitative data-gathering function but I’ll get to that in a bit!
Surveys, interviews and discussions
Send out open-ended surveys and questionnaires to your customers. Questions should include:
- Why they use your product or service;
- What they intend to solve by using your services;
- Why they would seek solutions using a competitors product;
- Benefits they have using your company;
- Things they are looking for in your product.
Get your team and C-level executives involved in discussions around who they believe your customers are. This will indicate whether everyone in the organisation is aligned in terms of their ideas of your company’s ideal customers vs who the actual customers are, based on your quantitative findings.
Read reviews and listen through social media
The internet and social media are great sources of reviews about your own company as well as your competitors. These will give you insights into what your customers have to say (both positive and negative!) about their experiences with your company and your competitors.
This will give you an idea of their attitudes, goals, and pain points relevant to your products or services. It will help you understand what your customers need from you and how you can help them achieve their business objectives.
Collate your info onto Persona templates or cards
There are many templates available to download or you can design your own.
Naming your personas
Include a name for your persona. It’s a good idea for your name to express a key characteristic of your persona. For example, Innovation Ian; Researcher Ryan; Customer Experience Connie.
Then include some demographics but remember that while you want to know your persona, knowing that he has a dog, 3 kids and loves Pizza is not necessarily relevant to your organisation – unless you are a vet, offer pooch parlour services, are trying to break into the restaurant industry, or have something unique and cool for kids!
Demographics should only be included if they are meaningful to your product or company. And be wary of racial and gender bias (if you’re not sure, check your ideas with a diverse team offering multiple perspectives). These should only be included if they are important for segmenting your market. For instance, Feminine hygiene companies may have a male persona to represent dads or husbands who purchase feminine products on behalf of their wives or daughters.
This leads us to question who the actual persona should represent: the buyer, or the user? Do you need the male persona? Would you market to him differently? It’s all about who the decision-maker is.
A picture says a thousand words
It’s a good idea to include a photograph or other picture to represent your persona. This helps make your persona that much more “real” so that it’s easier to empathise with your customer, put yourself in their shoes and understand life from their perspective in terms of your offering.
Most importantly, include pain points, goals, attitudes, fears, and values. This information can be drawn from the conclusions made during your qualitative information-gathering process. This will highlight what your customer needs and how you can help solve their problems and offer a better CX.
Socialise your persona
The final stage of creating your personas is to share them with the team and the rest of the company to ensure everyone gets to know who you are targeting, and your efforts can be aligned.
Do you want to design great CX that indicates a deep understanding of your customers and their journeys with your organisation? Do you want to see better returns from these efforts and have loyal happy customers? Give the team at Interact RDT a call today.