71% of companies that exceed revenue and lead targets have a documented user persona template.
The benefits of having a user persona are so far reaching from marketing to sales to decision making and more that we decided to break it down piece by piece.
By the end of this article you will:
Table of Contents
User Persona Template vs Buyer Persona Template - Whats the Difference?
There's no shortage of articles floating around the internet interchangeably using the terms user persona, buyer persona, customer persona and audience persona.
It doesn't take much to realize that the customer assumptions you have at the beginning of your startup need to verified through market segmentation followed by meeting customers directly to produce a data backed profile of your ideal customer.
Here's the reality:
The user persona template provides a profile of the end user of your product or service.
Whereas, the buyer persona (aka avatar) refers to the profile of the person that will purchase the product or service.
Let's look at some examples to explain this further.
User Persona vs Buyer Persona Examples
Consider a video-game app for children.
The user is clearly the child but the buyer is the parent.
To conduct winning marketing and sales campaigns you'd need to have a clear understanding of these two very different personas and their motivations.
And this scenario doesn't only apply to childrens products.
Consider also an enterprise sales CRM software product.
The user of the product is the salesperson in the organization.
However, the purchaser of the product is the decision maker in the procurement and/or finance or IT team.
Here too, the needs of these stakeholders would have to be addressed in order to complete a successful sales cycle.
You might be thinking that there are situations where the end user is also the buyer of the product well, you're absolutely right.
If that's the situation you're in then more power to you because here the sale is more straight forward and purchase decision cycles are much shorter.
Many Direct to Customer (D2C) products and services fall in this category.
For things like e-commerce products such as watches, travel luggage and cell phones, majority of the time the person seeking the product is the same person that completes the purchase.
In the same way when searching on platforms like Airbnb, Tripadvisor and Property Finder, the user is often the purchaser of the product or service.
What Are The Benefits Of Investing In A User Persona Template?
A study by Nielsen showed that a whopping 84% of consumers trust recommendations by people they know.
Why is that?
Other than the fact that a recommendation from a friend lacks commercial intent, the reason is that the delivery of the recommendation is so much more convincing.
This is because your friend understands you, your goals and your motivations and as a result the language and framing of the recommendation is tailored to your preferences.
That's precisely what having a user persona template will help you do.
And that leads to a snowball of other benefits that improve:
How To Create An Effective User Persona Template
The reason why the terms user persona and buyer persona are often muddled up is because they are both created the same way.
But as we already established the user and the buyer can be two different people.
Personas that don't reveal info about how you can improve marketing to your target customer are a waste of time.
To make sure that doesn't happen to you, divide your template into 3 sections:
- Individual: here we'll uncover demographics and personality data
- Desire: what are her goals, frustrations and aspirations
- Behavior: how does she act online and offline, where and how does she get her information, what groups, activities and influencers does she associate with with a deeper dive into thoughts, interests and opinions
Before we dive into more detail for each section, a quick note that this is not a rigid breakdown.
Take, adapt and change it to make it work for you.
Title: give your persona a name that describes this group of people. Be careful though not to be vague or too general. For example: if you name your persona something simple like "Emily" this might suggest that your target customers are only female.
Image: Don't underestimate this one. An image can quickly portray how your persona presents themselves to the world. Avoid using stock photos or images of people you know or celebrities to prevent unnecessary biases creeping in. An image of your persona in the space where they would be using your product adds even more clarity. For example: a UX designer might be in a studio.
Role: What is her role in the company.
Quote: A quote or saying that fits with what your target customer thinks about your product.
Demographics: Age, gender, location, marital status.
Personality: According to Myers Briggs there are 16 personality types. Is she introverted, extroverted, intuitive, judgmental, logic focused, spontaneous, bold, practical? Dig deeper and continue asking why you consider her to be of that personality. This empowers your marketing messages allowing you to communicate to your audience in a way that resonates with them.
Spending power: gives you an indication into their potential of becoming a paying customer. No point targeting customers that are unable or unwilling to purchase your product.
Transportation: Can also be an indicator of spending power but will also give insights into their preferences regarding frugality, convenience and reliability.
Day in the life: How does she spend and structure her day? Where does she spend the most time and why? Understanding this sheds light on where her priorities lie with your product or lacking areas where your product can be used to create value.
Take a look at this example:
Product goals: What is her aim from using the product? Knowing this allows you to craft how your product will help her achieve those specific targets
Career and Personal goals: The same goes with her personal and professional desires. How can your product help her get to where she wants to be.
Definition of success: In her own words, what does the end result look like for her to say "I made it" with regards to both her using the product and her personal goals.
Biggest challenge at work and/or personally: Where are the points of frustration? In Nail It Then Scale It author Nathan Furr says you're not looking for a problem thats nice to solve, rather you want to solve something that feels like a shark bite to the user.
What's preventing her from achieving that success: why aren't her problems being solved? How does your product remove those nagging pains that are in her way. Understand this well to separate between correlation vs causation of the problem so that your product focuses on the root cause.
Bio: Write out a short description of the customer journey from abandoning a product to being a free user, a regular user or even a premium user.
Check out this example of a customer journey map:
Motivation to take action: pinpoint what triggers and drives her into action. Is she motivated by trying to avoid pain or achieve a benefit?
Products she uses: how is she currently solving the problem your product addresses? This will bring forward not only your biggest competitors but possible indirect competitors too.
How often does she use the product: frequency of use is an indicator of factors such as revenue earning potential and importance of the problem being solved.
What does she like or dislike most about this product over others: Knowing her product preferences will help you design the most important features for your product.
How did she hear about the product: get insights about the channels you can use for marketing your product.
Her purchase process: to understand what your sales cycle looks like, whether there are any other key stakeholders in the decision making process and how the expected duration of the sales cycle.
Product spending pattern: How much does she spend on the problem your product solves? Remember, it's easier to get a customer to re-direct funds rather than add a new expense.
Most frequently used social channels: online marketing is a huge part of market today. Know where your persona can be found most frequently and focus more energy there.
Influencers or brands she follows in her niche (global and local): this reveals her interests which helps with your customer targeting efforts.
How does she stay up to date with news and trends in her niche locally and globally: again knowing where she turns to for information helps you craft your distribution channels and go to market strategy.
What events, groups, conferences, books, clubs does she associate with (online and offline): more customer touch points to know where and how you can interact with your ideal customer.
Here's another template:
User Persona Key Takeaways
The key takeaways from these examples are:
- Keep it visual so that whenever you're forced with a decision you can instantly think or look at your persona and consider how the decision would affect or benefit that person.
- Use an image that depicts your persona at a glance.
- Let the persona document visually reflect the personas most important attitudes.
- Use icons, scoring systems, sliding scales etc to convey the maximum amount of info in the least space and to be able to quickly compare several personas against each other.
- Add words, quotes, hashtags and products that the persona uses.
- It should be brief, visual and informative. Something that you can stick on your wall not a 10 pager.
Here are 2 more examples to review and then we're going to discuss tactics for how to actually collect this information from your target audience.
5 Methods To Collect This Information From Customers
So how do you capture this information from customers?
- Interviews: face to face interviews are an excellent option to learn directly from your customers. Not only that, but there are added benefits such as building your customer base and getting referrals to other customers as well.
- Surveys and Questionnaires: a good method for obtaining quantitative data. The problem here is the difficulty to capture deeper insights into why customers think or behave the way they do.
- Website Analytics: Good for quantitative data from your existing traffic to understand how they interact with your offering.
- Talk to customer facing staff: if you have sales reps, customer services reps or business development reps they can be a treasure chest of info due to their regular interaction with customers.
- Automation: Services such as Automatic Persona Generation, Clearbit Enrichment Program and SocialBaker's audience analysis can help you develop personas based on a variety of data points scraped from millions of users as per their online behavior.
4 Steps To Build A Data Backed User Persona
Heres the outline for what you'll need to do next to confirm you user persona template:
- Find customers to talk to: this involves reaching out to customers through any number of options such as groups, events, partnerships, ads and more.
- Arrange interviews: here you set up a process to ensure a flow of customers that are willing and able to be interviewed rather than relying on hope that people will be open to interviews.
- Conduct interviews: pre-designing exactly what to ask and how to ask it so you uncover hidden truths is a necessary part of creating your user persona without bias.
- Analyze feedback and refine the persona: if responses from customers is widely different you'll either need to segment customers further or you might in fact have more than one type of persona that's interested in your offering.
For an in depth dive into how to tackle each of these steps to and set up a repeatable process to learn about your target audience in as little as 4 days read the following articles:
Creating your user persona template is one of the most useful tools for planning your business model.
It'll help you determine essential information about your customers values, opinions, how they behave and purchase.
This in turn, shapes your marketing, sales and business model to optimize your startup decision making.
Learn your customers motivations.
Because in the words of Mike Gospe:
"Whoever understands the customer best, wins"