Without a shadow of a doubt, consumer expectations regarding website content are getting higher and higher. Therefore, product descriptions need to be so valuable that after taking a look at the product and the text accompanying it, users will know that this is the right thing designed especially for them. You’re already aware that getting to know the target audience is the first step to successfully select appropriate ads. So now it’s time to name your users. Who are your personas?
A user persona – who or what is it?
Before discussing how to effectively use this tool, let’s start from a very basic question: who are these mysterious personas and how do they influence your business?
A persona is the so-called perfect client, it’s a silhouette of a potential recipient which is based on specific behaviors and characteristics; an imaginary addressee of our activities, who schematically represents the target group.
Personas are fictional characters, which you create based upon your research in order to represent the different user types.
– R. Lieb and J. Szymansky, “ The Atomic Particle of Marketing”
Personas – the embodiment of your target group
To put you in the picture, we’ll try to show you an exemplary specific persona.
Imagine that you run a company selling products for children and a beige baby blanket is your flagship model. Let’s assume that you already know your target group, it’s not everyone who has a child but, for example, women aged 25-34 who live in big cities. Thanks to Google Analytics you know the interests of your target group and Facebook Audience Insight showed you other pages they may like. But that’s all the information you’ve. Now it’s time to face some real challenges such as:
- How to identify particular types of people in the target group?
- Which language to choose to communicate with such a numerous group?
- How to devise the perfect advertisement that will improve the sales of your blankets and reach the right people in the right way?
- Which communication channels to select?
That’s when personas come in handy. Personas are the embodiment of your target group or people who somehow interact with the brand. You may know a lot about the group but when you actually get to know the individual, it’ll be easier for you to understand the needs of your customers. Give him/her name, specify the exact age, think about character traits, problems they may face everyday and try to find out how your company can help solve these issues and convince personas to buy your products.
How to use personas?
Let’s follow our previous example.. Meet Kate.
Kate is 28 years old and lives in New York. She has two daughters and works as a freelancer dealing with PR. Her younger child, Lucy, is less than one year old and her carefree childhood is disturbed by atopic dermatitis. Kate has already tried out several blankets and changed her washing powders but it didn’t work. She is fed up with brands which provide false compositions on their websites or don’t know in which country their blankets were produced.
Now it’s time for you and your company. The product on your offer was manufactured in Poland, it’s made of organic cotton, filled with hypoallergenic materials and the paints used for the pattern on the fabric have been dermatologically tested.
If you know your persona, you’re able to inform Kate that you offer a blanket that will meet her expectations. Present her quality certificates and when it comes to advertising, focus rather on Instagram or Facebook not on Google Ads, after all you know that Kate doesn’t necessarily have much time to shop online right now. Show her the product when she’ll be drinking her afternoon coffee and scrolling through favorite social media platforms.
Does it mean that your brand can have only one user persona?
Of course not! Your wide target group consists of smaller subgroups and people who are at different stages of interacting with the brand and who have an indirect influence on the purchase. Therefore, at the beginning you should select more personas and then focus on the most important ones later on, find their common grounds and develop a brand communication system especially for them. In order to determine how many personas you need (or how many you can afford), you need to answer a few basic questions:
- Are you capable of running separate marketing strategies for given subpages?
- Which personas are really crucial and you’d like them to reflect your future customers?
- Are you able to minimize the number of personas by combining those with relatively similar problems and preferences without sacrificing quality and personalization of content?
User personas in marketing and SEO: why are they so important and what do these two areas have in common?
Creating your user personas is one of the elements of developing a marketing strategy. At this stage, you learn about your customers, analyze your budget or plan specific advertising and sales activities such as SEO or advertising campaigns.
Every online marketing activity has one major aim: effective action that positively affects your e-commerce results. Content marketing, being active in social media as well as all sorts of SEO and SEM activities are supposed to improve organic traffic.
Personas help you to understand the recipient and allow you to better target all your activities.
- They prevent you from burning the budget and spending it on unpersonalized activities. Users’ expectations are really high. Banner blindness is omnipresent and texts written in a slapdash way don’t sell. Therefore, proper planning of your activities and addressing them at your target group is a must.
- They improve the effectiveness of your SEO activities. You know your personas so you know which products they may look for, what are their priorities and how they browse the net.
- They help you to work on Customer Journey Map (CJM). Describing one persona precisely won’t only limit the customer journey map to the experience of one individual but it’ll also prevent chaos which doesn’t provide any useful information. Moreover, CJM will allow you to allocate the budget for your campaigns and customize the content.
- They serve as perfect cognitive tools in content marketing which, as you know, is inseparably linked to other SEO activities. Content directly influences organic traffic and sales, moreover, it builds the brand. Thanks to personas, you’ll know not only what you create but also for whom you create.
- It’s increasingly popular to design websites for specific personas. Thanks to knowing their needs, age or preferences, you’ll be able to adjust the layout of the site to the way a given persona browses the Internet.
What do you need to know to describe user personas?
We’re going to make a bullet point list with elements necessary to describe user personas:
- Basic data such as name, age or avatar photos.
- Hobbies, values in life or a day in life that would include all of these. It means all elements that will bring you closer to the personas you’re targeting your activities at. This will enable you to get to know the personas and their surroundings.
- The technologies they use. Find out whether they have Xiaomi smartphones with Android or Iphones with iOS? Learn if they shop online using mobile or desktop devices? Do they use Google?
- Presence and being active in the online world. How often do your personas shop online? Which social media platforms do they use? Are they eager to comment and read newsletters? Or maybe they’re more passive users?
- Temper and purchase decisions. How do they make decisions? Are they rational and reasonable or do they prefer to buy on the spur of the moment?
- Goals and challenges. What do your user personas have to face everyday? Maybe these problems could be solved by your company?
- Brand expectations. What do personas pay attention to when contacting with the brand? (friendliness, professionalism?)
- The role in the purchasing process, meaning the point of interacting with the brand. We’ll discuss it in more detail later.
How to collect information about user personas?
Your idea of the target group may be one of the sources of collecting data about your personas. However, that’s not enough. Analytical data is essential to create an authentic and realistic persona. To retrieve such data you can use tools such as:
- Google Analytics;
- Facebook Audience Insights;
- Surveys, focus studies;
- Opinion and consumer surveys (e.g. Millward Brown);
- Google Consumer Barometer;
- Google Ads Display Planner;
- Interaction with the customers;
- Insight into social media – who talks about your products and what do these users say?
The purchasing process and the role of personas
When devising your personas, you need to remember that not all of them take part in the purchasing process. Do you remember the example from the beginning? Kate won’t necessarily be the person who interacts with your brand first and whose activity eventually ends up with a purchase. Think about all the people who encounter your product in the meantime.
Thus, personas need to be categorized according to their roles in the purchasing process.
- If a given persona buys your product, then he/she becomes the buyer persona. In our story, Kate who buys a blanket for her daughter will be the buyer.
- If a given persona uses the product, then he/she becomes the user persona. So this concerns both the mother and the baby who will be wrapped up in the blanket. However, in this particular case, the child, as a persona, is considered to be less important due to its inability to make any purchase decision.
- If a given persona advises others while shopping, then he/she becomes the advisor persona. In this case, it can be Kate’s mother or a dermatologist who knows the composition of the product and claims it to be suitable for a child with atopic dermatitis.
- If a given persona likes to share revelations with others, then he/she becomes the initiator persona. This is a very intriguing type such as an extravagant friend or a sister who wasn’t a target buyer but saw an advertisement of the blanket and showed it to Kate. If you’re able to impress the initiator, you can reach even a wider range of recipients.
3 most frequent mistakes made when creating user personas
- Undermining the emotional aspects of shopping. It’s essential to know whether your target group is dominated by a fairly spontaneous generation Z or a sensible generation X which reasonably manages its budget and tends to be slightly distrustful. This is the key factor deciding about your advertising and communication methods.
- Too vague user personas. Keep in mind that an individual persona doesn’t equal the target group. While creating, you need to pay attention to every single detail and characteristic trait or habit that make your persona a realistic figure.
- Dismissing personas who aren’t strictly buyers. When the initiator personas show your blanket to their friends and these friends ask their mums, who happen to be advisors, for opinion, then all these methods of interacting with the brand are equally important!
The most helpful tools – what will be of use to you?
Templates for creating personas
- …or simply Canva with a properly edited CV template.
Free stocks with pictures of user personas should also be of help, check out pexels or unsplash.
Now all the tools essential to create an ideal user persona are at your disposal. Moreover, you can devise as many personas as your business needs. Don’t be afraid to try out new solutions – every marketing strategy involves a good mix of creativity, analysis and logical thinking. We’ve suggested you where to find the necessary data and how to apply it. Now it’s your turn – good luck!