According to one definition from Sprout Social, customer personas are fictional representations of who your ideal customer is.
According to another definition from Smashing Magazine, “A persona is a way to model, summarize and communicate research about people who have been observed or researched in some way.”
Simply put, personas list specific customer pain points, demographics, and hopes of dreams of a certain segment of your audience to help everyone at your company understand who your target customers are.
A better understanding of customers can help identify specific needs. As a result, personas can help focus your messaging and the development of a product or service.
Creating Customer Personas with Data
Creating personas is a strategic way to put the customer as the core focus of everyone in the company. One way to gather info about your customers is to use Google Analytics. You can look at the demographics, age, and gender of all website visitors to help you get a complete picture of who your perfect customer is.
Sprout Social suggests using social media demographics to help build personas. With a social media management tool, you can see demographics such as a gender and age to inform your personas. It doesn’t show the full picture, but it adds valuable information.
When it comes understanding the types of audiences who get to your website through search engines, Google Analytics has a few ways to segment your website visitors:
- Affinity Categories segment customers based on their interests. For example, you can see what percentage of your audience are “movie lovers,” “health and fitness buffs,” or “green living enthusiasts.”
- In-Market Categories segment users based on a product they might be shopping for. The categories include “Business Services,” “Travel/Air Travel,” and “Career Consulting Services.”
Social and Google Analytics should never be your only source of information when creating personas. Michael Facchinello, user experience director and head of Clique’s Denver office, says, “Analytics are primarily used to confirm hypotheses or create new ones. But it lacks the dynamism to paint a meaningful picture.” That’s why you should also incorporate qualitative data like customer interviews into your personas.
You can ask customers a series of questions to incorporate qualitative data. Optinmonster provides a list of 188 questions you can ask your customers (you can pick and choose the most relevant questions to ask).
Brent Trotter, a content strategist at Clique, references a simple process for creating personas. A process you can add to your digital marketing skill set.
- Interview and observe multiple people
- Look at Google Analytics to gather data
- Analyze all of the data you gather
- Uncover patterns in their behaviors
- Group participants into “archetypes.”
- Create a summary of these insights that is easy to understand.
Here’s what that might look like. Imagine you work for a software company (maybe you do) and need to create a persona. You interview 10 marketing managers from 10 companies and you see a pattern: most marketing managers need a plan to get more qualified leads through their website. You also take data from Google Analytics and social media.
The output might look something like this:
Work: Marketing Manager
Family: Married with two kids
Household Income: $150,000
- To manage time more effectively
- To get more qualified leads through the website
- To enter new national markets
- She can’t find a business solution partner she trusts
- She is having trouble convincing leadership to invest in a software
- Most of the leads that come through the website are unqualified
Samantha is a marketing manager based in Denver. She manages a team of three people. She is trying to get more qualified leads to her company’s website, but needs some help. She is busy managing her team, creating reports for the VP of Marketing, and planning campaigns.
You can now use this information to better understand the customer’s needs. You can drive messaging, services, and products that are specific to what your customer is looking for.