Creating audience personas

(Sarah Hawk) #1

I’ve spent the last week putting together audience (or buyer/marketing) personas based on quantitative data that I’ve pulled from Google Analytics and qualitative data from directly contacting existing members. I plan to use them to help define our content strategy and to consolidate our messaging so that it’s audience appropriate.

Has anyone done this before? Did you find the exercise useful and what do you use the personas for?

I wonder if you have any thoughts on this @Suzi_Nelson

(Travis King) #2

I’m split on the whole the persona creation thing. I supposed when it’s applied effectively then it has some value. But all too often I see hours spent on crafting these elaborate personas that are either never used again or end up being more confusing to the project.

(Sarah Hawk) #3

I used to feel that way, but personas are a fundamental part of good UX design, and marketing apparently (although that was new to me). When I was getting support to build out an inbound marketing strategy, every single person that I spoke to said to start with personas. The rationale being that you have to understand who your audience is if you want to empathise with their needs and communicate in a way that engages them and builds trust.

You’re right about it being a time consuming activity. It has taken a lot longer than I planned.

Can you elaborate on what you mean when you talk about them being confusing to the project?

(Travis King) #4

I think personas get confusing when they become so elaborate that you need a cheat sheet to remind you who they are :slight_smile:

I’ve also seen people trying to explain their projects by talking about their personas, but I find that very confusing if you don’t know what their personas are or don’t have time to research them. I guess I just haven’t really seen them applied correctly yet.

(Sarah Hawk) #5

That’s all very fair. I’ll keep digging and if I see some success in using them, I’ll report back.

(Travis King) #6

I think we sometime fail on the application side of persona building, so I’d love to hear how it goes :slight_smile:

(Suzi Nelson) #7

I’ve got a resource for you!

We call them “customer avatars” and use them for creating content (it helps when you imagine you are actually speaking to a specific person), creating targeting on ads, etc.

Our examples in the blog are our own customer avatars, but there’s a worksheet in there where you can make your own. If you want some extra help in ways to research your avatar, let me know.

(Suzi Nelson) #8

Also, I think the template requires an opt-in. If you don’t want to do that, I can always just send it to you in an email.

(Sarah Hawk) #9

Worksheet aside, that article is a good one and it helped me clarify some of the uses, thanks Suzi – especially the bit about targeting ads to areas that the personas are interested in.

I have a question for you. People keep saying ‘use personas to refine your content to target your specific audience’ but no one actually says specifically what that means. Regardless of who our audience are and what they are interested in, they come here to read about community philosophy and strategy. How would you suggest that we tailor that content to suit different personas?

(Suzi Nelson) #10

People keep saying ‘use personas to refine your content to target your specific audience’

“Targeting” can refer to ad targeting - I don’t know if you’ve ever set up online ads, but let’s say you’re setting up a Facebook ad and you want to show that ad to a specific “target” audience. Facebook lets you narrow down your audience all sorts of ways - demographics, psychographics, interests, location, etc. How do you know where your audience is? How do you know what to target in your ad to reach them?

All that info is your customer persona. If you figure out things like where they live (if thats applicable), what books and magazines they read, influencers they follow, etc, you now have a pretty good place to start.

This also applies to content.

When we write for our blog, we write with our customer personas in mind. A content piece might address more than one persona, but the key is that we aren’t speaking to anyone outside of our target audience.

For instance, we made this post:
It targets our Employee avatar who is looking to beef up their resume (and we have a call to action inside the post for our certifications).

Now this blog post about content marketing in general ( can apply to most of our customer personas (and Employee who works in content marketing will find this helpful; so will a Freelancer and an Entrepreneur). But the thing is we know who we are speaking to when we write it.

I say all this to get around to answering your question - its ok if some content doesnt hit ALL of your personas. If you know that you have a particular persona that has a particular pain point that the others don’t have, you can make content that addresses that specific pain point. They will come to your blog for information that answers their particular question/addresses their specific pain point.

Does that make sense?

(Sarah Hawk) #11

This seems like the key. Nailing those pain points.

Thanks Suzi, this is really helpful information.