UX – How to define persona to refine your customer journey?

Send the right message to the right customer at the right time to improve conversion rates: this is the goal of all marketers. The relevance of messages, offers and moments of contact is the key to marketing performance. The problem is that it is getting harder and more expensive to achieve that goal.

This is where the personas come in. Representing specific segments of the audience, personas provide a good understanding of the individuals (or companies, B2B) you target, the best moments of contact and the most effective conversion levers.

Personas make it possible to refine your customer journeys and to improve the experience delivered to your customers.

In this comprehensive guide, we explain what is a customer journey, giving examples, and especially how to build and use them to concretely improve the ROI of your digital marketing.


What is a persona? [Definition]

In English, “persona” simply means “character”. In the marketing field, a persona is a fictional person, a character, an archetype, a stereotyped individual symbolizing a typical consumer profile. Each persona represents a homogeneous group of customers/users/ consumers. Each persona is defined by a set of socio-demographic, psychological characteristics (centers of interest, ways of thinking, etc.), needs, motivations, expectations, behaviors, and objectives.

Your personas represent the different types of target customers of your company. It can happen, but it’s rare that a company targets only one customer profile. In this case, there is only one persona. But in fact, companies generally have 3, 4, 5 personas, or much more. It is advisable to focus on 3 or 4 personas maximum (those corresponding to the most important types of customers).
Here is an example of a persona (Source: Humanlytics):





In general, it is estimated that 3 or 4 personas suffice to cover more than 90% of customers (in terms of turnover shares). Successfully identifying these 3 or 4 personas can be one of the keys to improving the ROI of your marketing efforts. Why? Because it helps to better understand your customers (existing and target) and therefore better target your content, your offers, your advertising and your messages – which translates behind better conversion rates. Remember that a strategy that targets everyone does not target anyone. Targeting is the key to marketing performance.

In a nutshell, building personas creates content and messages that engage your target audience and build engagement. It also allows you to customize your marketing for each of your audience’s segments.

For example, rather than sending the same nurturing emails to all your leads, you can segment your campaigns by persona and target your messages based on what you know about each of your personas and their stage in the cycle. purchase.

It is important to emphasize that personas have an interest regardless of the size of your business. Focusing on the customers who really matter is great for any business. It is often thought that this personas method is reserved for large companies, those with thousands/millions of customers in hundreds of cities and countries. It’s wrong. Even a small website needs to know its core customer segments and therefore build its personas.

Suppose you manage a small kitchen website, a site where you share your recipes, tips, tips for healthy cooking to your visitors and to those who subscribe to your newsletter. A search on your personas may make you realize that the majority of people who follow you are young mothers around their thirties. Knowing this will allow you to adjust with much more relevance to your content and your offers to your target, but also the design of your website. With the key, richer experience for your visitors, better conversion rates, more revenue.


What your personas should not be [Warning]

But be careful, do not look to build personas for the pleasure of having. Your personas are only relevant if they present actionable information about your audience, “useful”. For example, information on the preferences of your target customers, on the communication channels they use or prefer, on their main challenges. We must not say to ourselves: “my company has reached X euros of turnover, or X customers, I have to build my personas”. Personas are not a gadget. The goal is not to build beautiful presentations and beautiful visuals. We can very well have beautiful personas and understand nothing to its customers. A persona is more than vague adjectives and cool photos.

If your personas are not “actionable”, if they do not improve your marketing strategy, they are useless at all. A persona is not a simple description of your potential buyers. They need to educate you about the characteristics, behaviors, and preferences of your target audience so that you can better manage your marketing efforts, focusing on the people most likely to turn into customers.


What are “negative personas”? What are they for?

Negative personas represent customer segments that waste your time and resources, that is, customers who have no intention of buying or a low probability of buying. It is important to take the time to build these “negative personas” because they represent the individuals who reduce the profitability of your business: they consume your resources (the time of your sales and your marketing budget) without bringing you anything.

Identifying negative personas will allow you to better allocate your marketing resources by focusing only on your best customer profiles. An example of a recurrent negative persona? “Students” who consult content on the internet for their research and learning! But we can think of individuals who do not have the budget to acquire the products offered by the company. In e-commerce, we can think of individuals who consume a lot of customer service resources of the company (by asking a lot of questions) and who, in the end, do not buy. One can also think, in the SaaS, to users who unsubscribe from service just before the end of the free trial period.


How to build a marketing persona in 3 steps?

Here’s how, very concretely, to build your personas.


Step # 1: The documentary research

The first step is to conduct research to collect relevant information about your buyers. Doing research on your target audience will help you create a typical customer profile and may allow you to identify interesting details about your buyers that you did not know until now.

The most successful personas are those based on market research, but also on the data you have on your existing customers. These data are accessible from your analytics tools (Google Analytics for example), your questionnaires, your satisfaction surveys, your interviews, etc. Even though the analytics tools give a lot of information, there is some information that you will only be able to obtain by interviewing your customers.

Here are the types of information you should try to recover to create consistent personas:

  • Demographic information: age, gender, employment, income level, education/level of education …
  • The so-called “psychographic” information, which concerns the personality of your clients, their beliefs, their ways of thinking, their interests …

But also all the information to answer the following questions:

  • Why did your customers buy your product?
  • Where did they buy it? Which channels? Which points of contact: e-commerce site, points of sale …
  • How is your product used? What features or functions are most important to your customers?
  • What challenges did your customers face with your product?
  • How often do they buy?
  • What would lead them to not / no longer buy your product?
  • What are their preferences regarding the mode of communication (email or phone)?

Remember that only potentially actionable information (to better target your marketing campaigns for example) are interesting. Do not waste time collecting data that you will never use.


Step # 2: Defining Marketing Personas

Now that you have gathered all the relevant information about your target customers, you need to organize this information to bring out distinct personas. To do this, identify in your audience individuals with the same expectations and objectives and group them into categories. Each category corresponds to a persona.

For example, if you are a fitness company (with gyms and a website selling products to lose weight), you can distinguish customers looking to gain muscle and those who want to lose weight. These two profiles have very different goals. They must be distinguished and separated into two personas. If, at this point, you realize that you need more information about a particular persona, go back and deepen your research until you have a clear vision of what defines that particular segment and ways to engage it as effectively as possible.

As we said, the number of personas is very variable from one company to another. Some companies have one or two personas. Others may have up to 10, 15 or 20. But, as we said, it is strongly advised to focus initially on 2, 3 or 4 personas maximum – those corresponding to your main segments.


Step # 3: Enrich your personas

Now that you have identified and defined your different personas, you need to enrich them by adding context information. This information will serve your marketing but also, more broadly, improve your products and user experience.

# 1 Priorities

You should try to look for the circumstances (personal and/or organizational) that drive your buyers to devote some of their time to solving problems that your product or service is solving. For example, let’s say that you are a company specializing in digital marketing. You have identified marketing managers as one of your personas. These marketing managers often have a problem in the analysis of their data. You could try to further research to find out when, in what contexts, in what form to target the people matching that person with your Data Analytics solution.


# 2 The conditions for success

What results do your customers expect when they buy your product or service? It is essential to answer this question. It can be rephrased: what are the perceived benefits and value of your offer? In research, you may find that one of your personas considers that the key success factor is the reduction of marketing costs while for another, it is the increase in income. For the average person, “cost reduction” and “income increase” mean the same thing. But, from a marketer’s point of view, these are two different things, which refer to different actions and marketing content.


# 3 The brakes

What are the reasons your buyers think your solution or business is not the best option? Investigations around this issue will help you identify the barriers. You will find, during your research, that some barriers are objective: for example, a risk that your software is not adopted by all users, or a product too expensive. But you will also see that some barriers are irrational, purely subjective, for example, related to a bad experience with a previous provider or reading a negative opinion.


# 4 Customer Journeys

Finally, you must take a closer look at the path of your different personas between the moment they discover your offer and when they buy it (it is even advisable to take an interest in the post-purchase route). This will help you to identify how to contact your customers based on their journey through the purchase cycle and to qualify the various touch points (to improve those who can be). How to make your customers move faster in the buying tunnel? This is the question to answer. What are the contents, the messages, the marketing actions likely to positively influence your customers? You will probably realize that this, in fact, depends on each persona. You must seek to improve the customer journey of each of your personas to optimize the customer experience and increase your conversion rates.


How to improve the performance of your marketing thanks to personas?


Now that you have your personas, here are some tips and notes to get the most out of them and significantly increase the ROI of your marketing efforts. Your personas allow you to better customize and target your nurturing content and actions. Your searches allowed you to identify what your personas were interested in, how they talked about what interests them, the sites and blogs they visit, and so on. Use all this information to create blog posts that may interest your personas and build interest in your brand.

Personas allow, as we have already seen, to personalize your messages, your contents, your landing pages for each persona – to better target their needs and their preferences.

You can also use your marketing personas as part of your advertising campaigns, to better target your ads and create differentiated campaigns for each persona.

Be that as it may, never underestimate the power of customization over buying decisions. All studies have shown that content, advertising, and personalized messages are much more effective than others. You can not get into digital advertising or content marketing without first knowing your target, your different target segments. This is the purpose of the personas method.


You must not neglect this method of marketing personas. This is not a gadget, even if many companies reduce it to the rank of a gadget. Personas are always perfectible. You will improve them over time. You will also have to make them evolve, insofar as the behaviors, the centers of interest, the challenges of your customers are likely of changes, even mutations.

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