How and why you should develop persona profiles
Persona profiles, also known audience personas, user personas and buyer personas, are created to represent the different types of consumer that a brand may have. They help businesses to align all output, from marketing to sales, across their organisation towards a set of target audiences.
Depending on their stage of the purchasing journey and a whole heap of other factors, consumers will always be looking for different things, from looking for ways to be educated to simply wanting to purchase a product or service – they want to feel like your website has been created especially for them.
Therefore, websites need to be tailored for each segment of the user’s journey. Otherwise, they’ll go somewhere else. That’s why it’s important to understand an audiences’ pain points, needs, and goals.
It’s never too late to create persona profiles either. You don’t need to wait until you are redeveloping or redesigning your website to implement this task.
A lot of companies may choose to skip this step, insisting that they already know their audience. And whilst most businesses have a basic idea of their audience, mistakes can still be made, and opportunities missed.
So, whether you have been working for or with a business for five minutes or five years, creating audience personas at any stage within your marketing efforts will always be beneficial. Not to mention, having a deeper understanding of your audience is the key ingredient to driving successful content creation, product development, sales follow-up, and anything else relating to customer acquisition and retention.
Do you know who your audience is? And if so, how much do you know about them? These are the million-dollar questions we’re going to help you figure out.
What is a Persona Profile?
A persona profile is essentially a ‘semi-fictional’ interpretation of your target audience.
They’re semi-fictional because whilst they’re not actually real people, they’re still based on market research and data that’s available on existing customers.
You shouldn’t rely on internal stakeholders’ opinions of what needs to be communicated to customers; you can now find out if it will actually resonate with them.
A well-designed audience persona will reveal insight into how your customers make purchase decisions and how you can reach this type of customer with relevant, timely information.
The Importance of Persona Profiles
Developing user personas will allow you to better understand the needs and wants of your customers. Not only that, but it’ll help you to pinpoint how your customers think and make decisions, who they’re influenced by, and so on.
Once you’ve got this part nailed down, it then allows you to do a more efficient job at appealing to those specific needs. That’s a win-win situation for all!
As well as helping to understand the needs and wants of consumers, a persona profile helps to visualise customers.
Many brands make the mistake of focusing “too inward,” meaning that they then fail to remember who their products are actually serving. Creating a persona profile can essentially act as a reminder that they’re selling to real people.
The Benefits of Persona Profiles
Personas grant you the key to understand the expectations of your customers, so that you can effectively create and market what they’re looking for.
In short, an audience persona is incredibly useful when it comes to your marketing efforts, and can help you do the following:
- Attract and retain the right type of customers
- Market more effectively to your target audience
- Focus on what users need
As well as the above, when personas are combined with user journey maps, they will allow you to map out and create highly targeted content.
How to Develop a Persona Profile
When you finally begin developing personas, you’re going to need to start by getting some information about your users. Creating them isn’t a simple case of downloading a template and filling it in. It’s about understanding real people and their perspectives.
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to create 2 to 4 persona profiles.
So, without further ado, let’s go through how you would create one:
1. Identify your target audience
Take a look at your existing customer base. Who seems to need your offering the most? Who does your sales team interact with the most?
Keep an eye out for trends as well, not just who you make the sale to, but who gets the most value out of your product or service. Once you’ve got an idea of that ideal customer, it’s time to dig into some research.
2. Decide where you’re going to get data from
To paint a clearer picture of your target audience, you’ll need to know as much data and information as possible. This includes looking into demographics, interests, needs, pain points and behaviours.
Make sure to search for patterns. You can gain insight into many of these categories by asking your team for what they have spotted during their sales process.
Another targeted strategy could be to do a deep dive on a handful of your ideal customers on social media e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on.
However, qualitative information and observations as such need to be backed by quantitative data, so you can market to your customer personas more efficiently.
Google Analytics (GA) is the perfect tool to help you create personas due to all the information it can provide you about your audience.
Instead of guessing who you should be focusing your marketing efforts on, you can use real-time data to determine who your target audience is. For example, ‘demographic overview reports’ in GA will provide you with a rundown of your visitors’ age and gender, whilst the ‘advertising reporting features’ will allow you to learn more about their interests.
As well as using GA, sales data and ad data can also help you to further strengthen your qualitative findings.
Remember – the more you research your actual customer base, the less your team will have to lean on guesswork or stereotypes.
3. Research demographics
Once you’ve figured out where you’re going to get your findings from, it’s time to do a deep dive. How old are they? Where do they live? What industry do they work in?
Look for the following:
- Age range
- Stage of life
- Geographic location
- Cultural influences
4. Study your target audiences’ psychographics
Looking at the psychographics of your target audiences is where you’ll be able to capture the emotional and human side of them.
It’s important to be as specific as possible, since you can use these findings to inform your audience personas. You should look at the following:
- Roles – you need to create essentially a written picture of who your target audience are, what they do, and what they want. Have a look at that narrative and pull out the information that’s related to their “roles.” This is going to be content that’s relevant to their job title, but it can also represent their role at home or outside of work. For example, are they regular volunteers? A parent? Do they manage people at work? When you know what someone does and what roles they have in their life, you can create content that speaks to those specific roles.
- Fears – these are the things that keep your customers up at night. It could be anything from finances to their performance at work, or anything in between.
- Pain points – these are things that cause problems for your customers. Your offering needs to solve these pain points or there’s no reason for them to use the product or service.
- Goals – these are the things your audience want to achieve. As you consider their goals, you should also identify what barriers may hold them back from achieving them. Those barriers, like the pain points, must be solved with your solution.
5. Identify behavioural trends
You can learn a lot about someone from how they spend their time. As you learn more about your target audience, look to observe patterns in their behaviour.
- What social media channels do they use?
- What kind of content are they most interested in?
It may feel a little like stalking (don’t worry, it’s not), but including behavioural patterns in your persona profiles can provide valuable insights.
It can tell you what type of content you should be creating as well as allowing you to create more targeted content.
6. Bring your persona to life
The best audience personas are the ones that feel human. They represent real people, not just stereotypes and blind assumptions.
So, after you’ve collected all the important details of your persona, give them a name. Don’t forget to also give them a face. Pick a stock photo that accurately represents the information you’ve gathered from your research.
Remember that as your business evolves, so will your customers. To keep your marketing effective, you should review and update personas on a yearly basis (or sooner if your brand positioning changes).
Think about your persona profiles every time you make a decision about anything related to content and overall marketing strategy.
If you use these personas in the right way, you will build a bond with your genuine target audience – positively impacting reach, conversions, and brand loyalty.
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