If you have any online presence, you should be using user personas. Even if you don’t have a website.
But let’s start with the basics. User personas are based on buyer personas. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you already know that buyer personas are a powerful tool in marketing.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is the profile of a fictional customer. A good persona goes far deeper than just demographics.
An awesome buyer persona factors in attitude, behavior, circumstances, and more.
Buyer personas are useful in creating marketing strategies, establishing marketing goals, and even developing kick-ass products. They help a business and it’s marketers understand their target audience in ways that wouldn’t be possible with just demographics.
Buyer Personas vs. User Personas
In offline marketing, we focus our efforts on those who are most likely to buy from us. That’s simply because offline marketing is (generally) more expensive.
But in the virtual world, it’s not only more cost-effective to market to a wider variety of people, but we can also leverage those folks to market our product.
So in the online world, we want people to use our brand to learn so that they become our marketers. We’re not after their dollars directly (although that’s a nice bonus).
We’d rather use them to get to their circle of influence.
Buyer and user personas are essentially the same; it’s the perspective that’s different. Knowing that you are after users instead of buyers opens your efforts up to a lot more people and therefore changes the dynamics of writing content, visual design, and more.
The Ultimate User Persona
- Is the user male or female?
- What’s their age (exact – no ranges)?
- What’s their relationship status?
- Do they have kids?
- What’s their educational background?
- Do they work? Where and at what level?
- How much do they make?
- Where do they live?
- What’s their ethnic background?
- What languages do they speak?
- Do they rent or own their home?
Behavior & Attitude
- Are they tech-savvy?
- Are they a searcher or a browser?
- What are their online shopping habits?
- Do they get their news online or offline (TV, paper, radio, etc)?
- What do they use the web for (primarily)?
- Have they used your product before?
- What are their hobbies?
- Do they like to read? What kind of books?
- Would they describe themselves as conservative or trendy/innovative?
- What’s a typical day like for them (both work day and off day)?
The Secret Sauce
These are the questions that’ll take your persona super-effective.
- What are their strongest desires, dreams, and aspirations?
- What are their key values?
- What are their key motivations?
- What are their biggest fears?
- What are their goals for the next 3 months? How about the next 5 years?
- What keeps them up at night? What problem, question, need, or want do they have that you can solve, answer, or satisfy?
- What is their name?
Putting It All Together
Your persona should feel and read like a bio; it should flow like a story. Also include key demographics in bullet points.
You should also include a picture (just a stock image will do). Attaching a photo will help you understand your users even better.
I personally believe that a website should have a minimum of 3 personas. If appropriate, create personas for each section of your site (for example, I use 3 personas of solopreneurs, 2 of small business business owners, 2 of mid-size business marketing managers, and 2 of corporate marketing managers).
How To Use Your Persona
Creating great user personas isn’t easy by any means. So you’ll want to make sure you use them effectively.
Here’s some suggestions:
- Identify features and/or functionality that would make using your website a more pleasurable experience.
- Determine how to best structure your marketing efforts and website content to increase conversions.
- Make more informed design decisions.
- Create landing pages that are more targeted and therefore convert better.
- Focus social media lead-generation on the right audience.
Do you have a success story using personas? Share in the comments!