You know your market and target audience, they were the first things you addressed in your marketing strategy. It would be foolish not to spend time on defining your customers from this. Are you achieving – or at least headed for – world class UX? If this isn’t the case, we suggest you read on.
We’ve all heard by now that creating user personas is essential to understanding your target market.
In a climate where your users are heavily saturated in competing brands’ digital marketing offers, personas not only allow you to address your audience appropriately, they enable you to structure your digital marketing strategy to fit specifically with your users’s needs. This will align your business strategy and allow you to better understand exactly who it is you should be talking to.
There’s a good chance you’ve used your customer personas to better understand your customers. But it’s easy for businesses to become complacent; settling with a strategy that achieves just an approximate representation of their customers.
Personas must be well-defined, up-to-date with the current market and regularly revisited.
Here’s how you can create an effective user persona profile
We created 3 personas, Lizzy, a business woman, Michael, a computer technician & Brian, a fashion designer.
One: What are personas?
Personas are fictional characters that represent groups of your customers who interact with your product or brand in a similar way.
Customising your digital marketing to meet the needs of thousands or millions of customers is impossible. The role of personas is to make this job easier by representing your customers in a set of these fictional characters. Several personas are required in order represent your different users types, their behaviours and lifestyle choices, which naturally vary across your audience. Personas are fundamental in assessing the needs, motivations and frustrations of your brand’s users and can be used as a reference to guide digital strategies and decisions. They are designed to tell a story in a way which brings your audience to life, helping your business target and engage with your customers. The personas – or stories – should be believable and accurate to ensure decisions will credibly reflect the user’s needs.
A typical user persona consists of:
- Full name
- Photo: An image really helps bring your persona to life
- Job title
- Buying motivation: why does this customer buy your product or service?
- Frustrations: which problem is your business trying to solve? What are the user’s related frustrations?
Including more in-depth biographical information can create more ‘realistic’ personas and anticipate how your users might respond to your decisions. Be careful, though, not to stereotype users; oversimplifying your customers can do a great deal of damage to your brand.
Two: Why use personas?
- Stand out from the crowd: Differentiating yourself in environments where users are so digitally immersed and brands are competing for attention all at once depends a great deal on knowing how best to interact with your audience. Engaging with potential customers on social media; creating meaningful content; achieving great UX; they’re all hugely important, and they all depend on accurately defining your customers. Add value to your brand by targeting the right users in the right way.
- Budget efficiency: User personas can also be an extremely short and concise exercise which can mean the difference between an advertising budget well spent and thousands of pounds wasted in mediocre campaigns (or great campaigns poorly executed!)
“User personas can mean the difference between an advertising budget well spent and thousands of pounds wasted in mediocre campaigns”
- Focus: User personas help throughout the designing and decision making process and can keep your team focussed on designing to speak to the needs of your users.
- Challenge objections: define the different reasons or actions which Creating a user persona allows you to address your customers’ frustrations. Value propositions are unlikely to convince your customers that your business will solve their problem unless you’ve defined that problem first. Implement personas to define your customers, and in turn define their problems. You can then address those problems and any associated doubts or frustrations.
Three: How to create and use personas
User personas are explored in-depth during UX workshops at Equals Creative. The typical process we use involves 4 stages:
Define buying motivations: A good place to start with your personas is to outline the different buying decisions of your customers. What motivations drive people to buy your product or use your brand? Customers of ‘Spotlite’ – a lighting solutions company – for example, have a customer base ranging from small business owners to homeowners. The small business owner uses Spotlite to improve the lighting of the products in his shop. The homeowner on the other hand, uses Spotlite to improve the energy efficiency of their home and reduce their household bills.
Explore buying scenarios: We begin to see how the different buying decisions of Spotlite’s customers form scenarios. These scenarios can be used as the foundations of user personas and explored in more detail. Who is the small business owner? What are his interests and goals? What are his frustrations and how can we overcome these? The same questions can be asked of the homeowner, and the other customer purchase scenarios that Spotlite have identified.
Create detailed personas: Once buying decisions have been explored it’s time to create personas. We’ve shared a great no-nonsense template to use here to ensure this process is as quick and efficient as possible. Once you’ve created your personas, we recommend promoting the use of them throughout your team. Rather than assessing whether your campaign meets the needs of your different personas, why not assign individual members of your team responsibility for one persona, contributing their focussed considerations for their persona’s needs. This is consolidated into a persona strategy and provides a strategic approach for targeting each persona.
Reviewing your user personas: Once you’ve created your personas, analyse them. The following checklist runs through the criteria of a successful persona:
- They help your business understand customers’ interests, needs, goals and frustrations
- They are based on well-considered buying motivations
- They are current, relevant and realistic
- They are contributed to by as many of your team as possible
- Use of personas is communicated throughout your team and regularly revised
Once you’ve created your persona it’s worth running through the above points to consider what works and what could be improved. User personas can save a great deal of money and time, but only if they’re well executed. Evaluating the construction process of your personas once you’ve created them and regularly revising the process is well worth the time invested.
Creating user personas is a straightforward and effective way to better reach your customers, add value to your brand and empathise with your customers.
Well-constructed, user personas function as a memorable prompt which informs your entire digital strategy. User personas improve the efficiency of each stage of the design process; from brainstorming through to evaluating, personas provide relatable stories which bring to the life the characteristics of your customers.
Internalising the perspective of your users in this way ensures your brand’s message is heard and your advertising budget is well spent. In today’s digital climate, neglecting to accurately define and revise your user personas is too big a risk to take.