Who is your audience? Where do they hang out online? What makes them tick and more importantly, buy! Having a strong and clear user (or buyer) persona is the trick under every business owners and marketers belt. It means that every piece of marketing collateral strategised, created and paid for is more likely to provide a return on investment (ROI) because it’s hitting the right audience, at the right time with the right message. Let’s deep dive a little further. 

What is a user persona?

Simply put, a user persona reflects your intended target audience. This is represented in a fictional person who displays the characteristics and buying habits of your ideal consumer. 

User personas are given an image, name, gender, age, interests, behavioural traits, buying patterns and where they are most likely to see your message. By giving your intended audience some thought, it will then allow you to capture this ideal user persona in your marketing messages and output. 

How do I create a user persona? 

Creating a user persona can take some time, but it’s well worth the effort.  

Do your research.

User personas aren’t just made up on the spot, they are backed by in-depth research and data analysis. You don’t need to hire a market research consultant or have a huge budget to get a read on your ideal customer. There are plenty of free resources available for you to use. 

The key drivers you’re looking for are

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Stage of life
  • Interests
  • Spending habits
  • Challenges
  • Job and job industry

You can find this data by analysing results, engagements and interactions on your current social media platforms, google analytics and in your existing customer database. 

Make sure to also look at your closest competitors. If they are holding the customers you would like, take a look at the people who are engaging with their social media posts and leaving reviews. 

Be sure to also keep note of what social channels they are showing up and engaging on as well as which platforms are providing you the biggest referrals to your website on google analytics. 

Identify users wants, needs and pain points.

By understanding your ideal customers wants, needs and pain points you can then have a solid understanding on how you might go about solving their problems and also knowledge on what motivates them into action..

Take a look into your own and your key competitors’ reviews. What are people saying about a certain product or service? What do the comments section look like on social media platforms and discussion forums? 

Internal teams like sales and customer service are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to understanding your customers, make sure to reach out and have open communication to identify some pain points as well as wants and needs.

Have you ever asked your community upfront what they wanted and what their challenges are? Send around an incentivised survey to capture data and gain audience feedback straight from the source. 

Ask how can I help address these wants, needs and pain points?

Now that you have listened and understood your audience, you can start to generate a clear picture of how to help. Do your products or services match the needs of your intended audience and how can you better serve them?

By doing this audience analysis you will then be able to lead with a consumer first mentality. Your audience wants to know what you can do for them, not what your brand or business thinks is important. Start by putting the benefits of your offering, how you can address your customers needs, before adding in the features. 

Put your research to paper.

Once you have done the above steps, it’s time to collate your data. 

Look for common traits, ages, demographics and interests. The more data you have collected the more informed you will be about your user persona and can start to easily identify who they might be. 

Here comes the fun part, it’s time to turn that hard data into a fictional character with a backstory and a life. 

For example, if you were in the business of food production you may have identified that your audiences are females, specifically mothers, in their mid to late thirties with school age children. They identify as a stay and home mums, are middle income earners and spend most of their time on facebook. They are responsible for the weekly shop, do the family cooking and live in high density suburban areas. 

Your user persona may read. 

Annabelle is 35, she is a stay at home mum that loves to cook for her 2 children. She finds inspirational recipes on facebook and shares them with friends and family. Every week she will go shopping for the family and splashes out on a new ingredient to try for her next dinner party. 

Annabelle will then guide your product development, marketing messages, brand voice, strategies and which social media platforms you are active on. 

You may find that you have more than one strong user persona or want to create a group of users and bring them to life depending on if you have different areas or products within your business. 

The work doesn’t stop here, make sure your user persona is responding well to your messages, you might also want to conduct this research again in a few years time as audiences tend to shift, age and gravitate towards different trends and socioeconomic realities.