How to create meaningful User Personas?
"Don't try to please everyone. There are countless people who don't want one, haven't heard of one or actively hate it. So what?"- Seth Godin
There are numerous publications on the web about how to create Buyer and User Personas, but most of them lack the insight on creating ones that actually matter, are meaningful to your business and can drive change.
With more and more companies moving from product based to customer centric marketing the question becomes even more relevant. User Personas or Buyers Personas are an indispensable part of the development of an Inbound Marketing Strategy, Digital Strategy and development of new Digital Products.
What is a Persona?
A Buyers or User Persona is a customer archetype or fictional character that represents goals and behavior of a hypothesized group of users or customers. The purpose of User Personas is to create user experiences tailored specifically to the goals of each group. They are used in User Experience Design, Inbound Marketing and Product Development and leveraged during the development of wireframes, visual design, content strategy, online optimization strategy etc. . Companies can share these Personas across different departments and maximize their return of investment.
Think about all the users or potential customers that land on your website or other digital properties – they have different characteristics, goals, and pain points. Within the pool of all your users, there are differentiated groups that form common patterns - this is the underlying idea of the Personas - a delineated group that has common behavioral patterns, characteristics, goals and frustrations and could be reached by a specific marketing message.
How a meaningful Buyers persona is created?
The first step is to define the customer lifecycle and understand all of the corresponding touchpoints.. The three most important things to remember are:
The first step is analyzing your target audience. There are different tactics such as users / customer interviews, ethnographic research, existing data mining, or interviews with your sales / customer service people. This is the key building block when creating a successful Persona.
Once you have gathered all of the necessary data you should categorize it into meaningful groups. You should look at how they are different, how they are the same, what are their different patterns. One of the common pitfalls is creating too many groups and losing focus. You should always try to keep in mind what is really relevant for your business and the Personas needs. If you have to create a User/Buyers Persona for a female consumer brand – gender and maybe age would matter, but if you were working in the B2B space you might find that for you, much more relevant criteria, would be the job function or the geo-location than the gender itself. A meaningful number of Personas is four or at maximum five groups for a larger organization.
Make them Real
This is one of the most important parts of the process - as a final step, explore and define essential attributes of the User personas to represent each of the different groups. The Persona should feel real and have included in their dossier key characteristics, questions, frustrations, pain points.
Avoid Common Pitfalls
Trying Too Hard
Don't try to define each and every micro group, rather try to prioritize based on the most important goals.
Relying Only On Data
Using analytics is a good way to gain insight, but don't rely solely on them. Remember - this is a qualitative exercise and an experienced UX / UI designer can be invaluable in defining the right groups and attributes.
Skip The Exercise
What could be your biggest mistake while improving the user experience, developing a digital software product or redesigning your website - not creating Users Personas at all.
Do not agree with this process? Let us know how your process of defining User Personas for UX, Product Development and Inbound Marketing is different.