Creating a customer persona

Image illustrating developing a customer persona

How well do you know your customers? If you’re like most of us, probably not as well as you should be. Sometimes, a social media marketer has one perception of your target customer, and the design team has another. That’s why you should consider creating a customer persona, as they represent your target customer across your organization, alleviating this issue. By creating a customer persona, you create content that speaks to your customer's needs and wants.

What's a customer persona?

A customer persona (also known as a buyer persona) is a semi-fictional archetype that represents the key traits of a large audience segment based on the data you’ve collected from user research and web analytics. It gives you insight into what your prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh potential options that address the problem they want to solve.

Why are customer personas important?

Customer personas can provide tremendous value and insight to your organization. For example, they can help everyone on your team:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and how to solve for them
  • Guide product development by creating features that help them achieve their desired outcomes
  • Prioritize which projects, campaigns, and initiatives to invest time and resources in
  • Create alignment across the organization and rally other teams around a customer-centric vision

And as a result, you’ll be better equipped to serve your customers and deliver a superior experience that keeps them returning for more. But if you don’t nail down your customer personas, every aspect of your product development process, user experience, and marketing campaigns will suffer. 

How to create a customer persona?

Step one: Learn your target customer

Many organizations may have an assumption or idea of their target customer, but you should develop an accurate portrayal of your customer rather than assuming who they are. You can learn more about your target customers by conducting surveys, user interviews, contacting your sales/customer service teams, and other user research methods. After your user research, you'll have qualitative data to enhance your understanding of your target customer. Then, you'll synthesize the data to discover similarities and patterns between your test participants. You'll then use these similarities to create a customer persona shared across your organization.

Step 2: Get basic demographic information about your persona

During your user research, ask questions to learn the demographics of your target customer. Here are some examples of questions you should be asking:

  1. How old is the customer?
  2. Where do they live?
  3. What's their gender?
  4. What industry do they work in?
  5. What's their highest level of education?
  6. What's their profession?

By asking these questions, you learn more about your target customer and can create your ideal customer persona. 

You can also use quantitative data to create user personas with Google Analytics.

Step 3: Learn your customer's motivations and challenges

It's important to ask the "why" behind your customer's answers. Discover their aspirations, what troubles them, and who they want to be. Tie all this data together to explain how your organization can help your customer. Knowing your customer's motivations and challenges helps when deciding how to frame messaging that aligns with your customers. 

Step 4: Create your customer persona

The last step is to combine all the information you gathered about your customer into a "biographical" format where you explain the ins and outs of the customer persona. You can even give your persona a name so that, internally, everyone refers to the persona in the same manner. 

How to find test participants to create a customer persona

To design a persona, find people that align with your target customer. Here are a few ways to find some interviewees. 

  1. Use your current customers

There's no better place to start than by asking customers who actively use your product. You have a higher chance of finding people who match your target persona when you conduct research with your actual customers. 

Make sure to use customers who value your product, as well as those who aren't fond of your product. Although it's tempting only to use customers who love your product, you want a well-rounded and accurate representation of your customers' concerns and dislikes. Even the customers who don't like your product can provide useful information to help you develop your persona. 

  1. Use prospective customers

You should consider prospective customers in addition to customers you already have. They're a great option because you usually have their contact information. Use any data you collected about prospective customers to determine who matches your target persona.

  1. UserTesting can help to find interviewees

With our UserTesting Human Insight Platform, you can run remote user interviews with our Contributor Network, where you can find test participants to deliver diverse and balanced insights. No matter how specific your target audience is, our global contributor network will fit your demographic needs and is consistently maintained by quality assurance methods. You can get immediate access to real users worldwide and refine the users to pinpoint your target persona. If you’re not yet a UserTesting customer, you can always schedule calls with your panel of customers or users and hold user interviews over Zoom. With Live Conversation, 1-on-1 interviews can be scheduled with contributors as soon as that day.

Leveraging personas to create better experiences

Whether you’re a product manager, UX designer, or marketer, customer personas can help you develop a deeper understanding of:

  • Your customer’s needs
  • How to solve for them
  • Which features, campaigns, and initiatives to prioritize

Just remember that your personas are only as good as the data-driven research that goes into them. They should be based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collected from multiple sources—not from the opinions and assumptions of your team.

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