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Buyer Personas Data-Driven Personas Persona Creation Personas

How to Create Personas? Typical Methods for Creating Buyer Personas

What are personas?

If you’re trying to sell your product or services and you’re having difficulty in attracting your customers, then creating buyer personas can be useful.

A persona is simply an imaginary representation of your customers whom you want to reach out.

Buyer personas (also called customer personas, customer avatars or customer profiles, user personas, etc.) let you get clearer, more concrete picture of what your customers are like. Personas are created to keep customers needs in mind and to understand the customer segments in order to improve all aspects of marketing including sales, content creation, product development and advertising. Personas are also highly applicable in ecommerce marketing.

How do buyer personas help?

Let’s say you made a product for students. Now, there are several categories of students out there. There are students of different age groups and cultures, students with different social and personal problems, college students, kindergarten students, and even the disabled students.

How do you know your product is going to benefit each category? Or did you build your product around a vague idea of a student; let’s say need of a pencil?

Now, developing a detailed buyer persona reflecting the needs of a specific category of students (For example, college students interested in Japanese RPG videogames) are going to help you design your product around that. And definitely this will lead to a targeted content creation, targeted advertising and ultimately result in more targeted audience.

Each category of customers has different requirements. Getting to know them is the sole purpose of creating personas. For example, college students interested in Japanese RPG might find your product useful, but that same product may have little to no effect on the students disinterested in this genre of activity.

This concept of giving a face to your imaginary customers is going to aid you in content creation as well as product development. If you’re well aware of challenges that are faced by college students, you can think of a solution to their problems and target them. Hence, an improved version of your product arises.

Persona creation can also help with inbound marketing, as each customer segment has different pressure points. When you represent these pain points in persona profiles, you can create a much effective content that will resonate with your target customers.

How to create a persona?

Now let’s look at the different ways to create buyer personas.

Overall, there are a lot of resources that can provide you the details you need to create your persona. You should have more than one persona depending upon the kinds of customers you want to reach. If you have different products to offer to discrete sets of customers with their own challenges, then you need a separate persona to represent each customer segment.

Here’s what you need to do to create personas.

  1. Reach your existing customers for information to be used in personas:

Obviously, your existing customers are the most basic and convenient source of information. Reach out to your customers that have already bought your product/services. Analyze their behavior as they have experienced your product and already interacted with you.

Start by interviewing a few of existing customers via a direct phone call. Ensure them that you are not going to disclose any personal information. Try to keep these customer interviews below 30 minutes.

If you do not have any previous customers and are new to your business, then you can reach out to your social media subscribers or followers (or personal connections). Get them to fill out a survey. This is where you can have all the details that you require to build up a persona.

Sometimes, people feel more comfortable filling out surveys rather than communicating verbally.

TIP: If you don’t have any subscribers, then reading your competitors’ reviews can give you the types of insights you’re looking for.

It is crucial to remember that you understand your customers on an individual level rather than figuring out who likes your company. Get a picture of their needs and wants, the challenges they encounter and the problems they need a solution for. This information will enable you to craft an ideal buyer persona.

  1. Track your customers online to generate persona profiles:

Along with reading customer reviews about your competitors, another option is to track your customers online. This might sound a bit weird but it can help a long way!

Look for your customers online and get an inkling of their interests and activities. When you analyze their whereabouts online, you can get at least some idea of the traits that your customers have. Hence, this data can be used to form a persona based on your customers’ needs.

Facebook and LinkedIn are the two basic sources for this type of online public research for persona creation, but you can also use other online data to create personas. Do remember to keep a document with the related links to a person’s information. This can help you double check and reach the required information anytime.

For a better reflection of your customer’s ideas in your persona, you need to be able to detect the hidden meaning in your customer’s online profiles. This will definitely help you reach another level of understanding with your audience.

  1. Ask your company staff for impressions of customers that can be used for creating personas:

Your company staff like customer support department might have a lot more personal information regarding your leads than you think. Reach out to accounts and sales departments and ask for a detailed description of your clients.

If you think only a positive feedback is going to help you with your persona creation, then you are absolutely mistaken. A negative feedback can be of great value while creating an ideal customer sketch or when creating negative personas (i.e., personas of people not interested in your products).

Get an insight of all the responses that different departments of your company and record them in a central database (including the staff’s real quotations).

  1. Ask the right questions to create personas:

Now, let’s get to the point of what to ask? This is very important.

You are supposed to ask the right questions to click the right responses. Your questions rely on your business or the product you want to sell. You should aim to collect both demographics (age, location, income etc.) and psychographics (behaviors, interests, motivations etc.).

Here is a list of few possible questions for persona creation:

  • Which industry do you work in?
  • What’s your title at work and your responsibilities?
  • How do you spend your day at work?
  • What sort of skills or tools your job require?
  • Who are you accountable to?
  • Are there any challenges that you or your company face?
  • Which blogs do you read mostly?
  • What do you want to achieve in your career?
  • Which public personality do you follow regarding your industry?
  • Age, marital status, languages, gender?
  • What is your location?
  • What is your educational background?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What do you look for while purchasing a product?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you face while purchasing (insert your product)?
  • What holds you back from purchasing (insert your product)?
  • What would you like to add to (insert your product)?

Follow up each of the above questions with “why”. This will guide you to create a really effective persona. The choice of your questions will greatly affect your business as it presents you with a virtual personality of your customer to focus on.

Spend time to reflect upon each question to read your customer’s thoughts. Based on your preferences, you can come up with any other questions as well.

We have also created another article with more questions for persona creation interviews.

  1. Craft the perfect personas:

Now that we’ve gathered all the right ingredients for persona creation, let’s make the perfect persona. After all, that’s the whole point of going through this effort, right?

Start by categorizing the information that you’ve collected. Recognize the patterns of each category of people. People having similar ambitions or views are put into one set. Form a persona out of it.

Fill in the demographic information that you’ve gathered. Put in the name that you want your customer segment to be represented with. The age can be in a range. You could also put in some catchphrases to make it more realistic and effective.

Then add up the psychographic information as well. Build up a matrix that will help you form a strong persona that anyone in your company or team can understand. The extent of details you want is completely up to you.

What is an ideal persona?

Typically, personas contain demographic information and in-depth information. Here is an example of persona profile content:

  • Name: __________
  • Age: __________
  • Location: __________
  • Job title: __________
  • Job description: __________
  • Career goals: ____________________
  • Career challenges: ____________________
  • Motivation for buying: ____________________
  • Objections: ____________________
  • Suggestions: ____________________
  • Short bio: ____________________
  • Pain points: ____________________

Use these details (or any details of your choice) for as many personas as you want to create. Generally, it is recommended to create 3-5 personas, even though using automatic persona generation, one can create hundreds or more personas.

Are there any templates for personas?

Well, yes! There are a number of templates to help you build your desired persona. And if you’re looking for the best ones out there then, we have already done the research for you!

Here is a list of some excellent examples of persona templates:

  1. Xtensio’s user persona creator:

You can register on Xtensio’s User Persona Creator app freely. It offers you different modules to add up to your persona. Other than that, you can add bio, preferred channels, frustrations and goals in addition to demographics. It is a really simple and neat app.

  1. Digital marketer’s customer avatar sheet:

This app includes separate sheets for males and females. As simple as filling in a pdf form on your computer, Digital Marketer’s Customer Avatar Sheet is preferred by many users. It provides you with all the aspects to consider while developing your customer avatar.

  1. Demand Metric’s buyer persona template:

This app is quite useful if you want to have a quick glance at all of your targeted audience. Demand Metric’s Buyer Persona Template offers you with an excel sheet comprising of various tabs for various personas. It also has video instructions on how to use this app.

  1. HubSpot’s Buyer Persona Template:

Comprising of four segments, HubSpot’s Buyer Persona Template helps you to focus on four aspects of your buyer persona: What, who, why and how. This makes you approach your targeted audience with a clear mindset focusing only on the key features to consider.

  1. Marketo’s Marketing Persona Cheat Sheet:

Marketo’s Marketing Persona Cheat Sheet includes blanks to fill in while creating your buyer personas. This app also provides you with a complete guide for using it.

  1. Automatic Persona Generation:

APG is both a methodology and a system for automatic creation of personas from online analytics data. It has been developed at Qatar Computing Research Institute by a persona team focused on expanding the boundaries of data-driven personas. The tagline of automatic persona generation is “Giving faces to data”, and it aims at providing many benefits to organizations using personas.

What to do after creating the personas?

Now, it’s time for you to share your personas with your team members. Create your persona in a way that is self-explanatory to your team members as well. It’s very important for you and your team members to be on the same page.

After you’ve developed the persona, you need to analyze it by putting it in a situation where your persona needs to use your product. A functional and effective persona is more on the realistic side than the idealistic one. It gives a reachable challenge to your company that makes you focus on every aspect of your product.

A good persona is a complete reflection of the required data. It shows the present state of the customers rather than predicting the future.

So if your persona satisfies this criterion, there’s nothing to worry about!

Keeping the personas updated

Do you think you buyer persona is developed once? Absolutely not!

In today’s fast pace world, persona are changing continuously and this holds true for your customers’ needs.

Personas are developed with time according to the advancement in your customers’ needs. It is crucial for you to focus on the latest changes in your customer demands and update your persona in accordance with it. Make sure to remember that.

…and we’re done!

This is all what you need to know about creating a persona. The steps are quite simple and will help you a lot if you’re new to all this. A well-established persona is a key factor to your increasing conversions and search rankings.

Jansen, B. J., Salminen, J., and Jung, S.G. (2020) Data-Driven Personas for Enhanced User Understanding: Combining Empathy with Rationality for Better Insights to AnalyticsData and Information Management. 4(1), 1-17.  https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/dim/4/1/article-p1.xml

By Joni Salminen

Dr. Joni Salminen works as a Scientist at Qatar Computing Research Institute, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Turku School of Economics, University of Turku. His research interests are heavily focused on personas, including topics such as automatic persona generation from social media data (YouTube, Facebook, Google Analytics), persona perceptions, biases in data-driven personas, optimal number of personas, etc.

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