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Thread: How do you create user personas

  1. #1
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    Default How do you create user personas

    I'm currently reading a book about how to build a good following with marketing your business/building a brand and one of the steps it advises is to create several customer personas. As described, this is very similar to making user personas as part of a UI/UX design, so I'm a bit familiar with it. But the thing that has my brain stalling is, how do you fill in the details or is it normal to pull details out of your bum (aka guessing)? For example after you write down the bigger picture items like gender, name and other basic demographics, you should fill out details like political affiliation, hobbies, etc.

    More specifically, how do I do this without making them a complete fiction which isn't going to help me at all?

    Also, is this something that can start as near-complete fiction but gets refined and replaced with facts over time as I learn about my customers?

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    The best way to fill in those details is to get them from real analytics. If you receive enough traffic and are using a good analytics package, it possibly tracks many of the details you want to know. You can also run surveys and ask your visitors. I don't think the idea is to create a persona that exactly matches people, but rather serves as a general representation of your visitors.

    So you might not find out that a specific person has a specific political affiliation, but you might be able to figure out that 75% of your visitors are in one political party and the other 25% are in another. In that case you might create four personas, with three being one party and one being the other.

    You do want as much real data as you can get, but I've always suspected you could fill in a few details with your imagination and adjust as you collect more and better information about your visitors, but ideally you want as much real information as you can get and most of what you want is probably there in Google Analytics. My thought about making a few things up is that in theory you'd then be targeting your marketing to the type of person you just made up and so in theory should attract people similar to your persona. Of course, you could make up someone that's completely different from real visitors and potentially target your marketing and design to someone who isn't interested in what you have to offer.

    Real data is clearly best, but I do think you can fill in the gaps a little with fiction and then adjust as you collect better information. If you haven't already done so, get those analytic packages in place to collect the data you need.

    Hope that helps.
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    I have a tool that works very much like Google Analytics. But anyway I have googled (heh!) to see what kinds of details are available in GA that my other service may not have and it looks pretty much the same. I found lots of various examples of dashboards and reports and none of them have things like political affiliation, religion, or other kinds of personal details. It's all just technical stuff like referrer details, time on pages, platforms and browsers, etc.

    But for polling site visitors... I don't think that's reasonable at my size. Given that it's rare for anybody to comment on my blog posts or social media posts, and I did a Facebook poll that got one response (my mom, eesh), I can tell you I won't get any usable results. So... other ideas?

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    We typically use a combination of analytics and market research. For example, we use Interviews (face-to-face and telephone), Polls, Questionnaire, Product tests, Diaries, etc. Also, you can always invite customers or potential customers to lunch (or office) and ask them questions. In my experience, 7-10 people can be enough as long as you prepare good questions.

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    It's actually easier than you're making it out to be.

    When you first develop your product or service you already have a target market in your head. You already have ideas on who this will appeal to. Who that person is. Who that ideal customer is. If you didn't you wouldn't try it. No one starts a business without any idea of who their customers will be.

    Take that and build on it.

    For instance, if your target market is heads of creative departments, simply build a profile of who is most likely the kind of person in that job. Sex, Age, Education level, size of the company who typically has this position, average salary, and so on. You can get much of this information using Google and searching out demographics of people who hold similar positions.

    From there you can build a pretty good profile of who that person is. Then go further with what they need. How do you build this product or service to solve their problems and give them what they need to make their job or lives easier.

    Also learn from the customers that you already have.

    I can easily say that my common customer profile is 70% female between 30-50+, 1-5 years in business, less than 5 employees, 50% of them work from home, most are married with 2 incomes, many have kids, personal income range is $50k and up. I also get a lot of couples who run their business together.

    From that I put together products and services that appeal to that person.

    You may find that it's not always going to be what you first thought, but it will help you build a product or service that people actually want, instead of holding on to what you thought they wanted before you actually asked.

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    Creating user personas is not that difficult. You have an existing audience in mind or may already have incoming traffic data. Just use the analytics along with your own definition of an ideal buyer and you'll be able to get that perfect user personas nailed.

    Just be as close to reality as possible and don't get carried away in the fiction. Good luck!

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