Personas help you reach the right people with the right message. Also referred to as buyer personas, audience personas, marketing personas, and customer personas, these are fictional representations of the actual people you serve.
While personas are “made up,” they only work if they’re grounded in research. You need to learn everything you can about your audience and map out the best ways you meet their unique needs.
Here’s how to create audience personas.
Use analytics to identify trends
Right off the bat, you want to use all of the analytics tools you have to pull out things your audience members have in common. Depending on the insights available to you, you might only be able to pick out data points like which pages get the most attention, how long people stay on your website, which landing pages (and offers) convert the best, or how people engage with your emails.
But hopefully, you have some resources that’ll help you learn a lot more than that.
If your Facebook audience is big enough, you can use Audience Insights in Facebook’s Business Manager to explore more about the demographics connected to your Facebook page. You can access high-level information like your audience’s:
- Relationship status
- Job title
- Education level
If you advertise with a publisher, see what insights they can give you about their audience. At the very least, you can make a note of the kinds of content they like to read, watch, or listen to online.
Your email service provider should give you some insights as well. And you may have other marketing tools to help you learn about the people you’re currently reaching or the people you want to reach. Use this information to divide your audience into your biggest demographics.
You can learn a lot from analytics tools, but if you want to understand your audience, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying to you. Demographic data provides a useful framework for creating audience personas, but customer feedback is one of the main pieces of information you’ll use to actually flesh them out.
When it comes to your products or services, what are your customers most satisfied with?
What frustrates them?
What are they saying to your sales reps, customer service team, or field reps?
What are you reading in reviews or on social media?
Pay special attention to the things that come up most often. You’re trying to create profiles that represent what your most common audience members think, want, and struggle with. So they should be rooted in the real things your customers are telling you right now.
Survey your existing audience
Surveys let you proactively seek out feedback from your entire audience. Since you decide what you want to ask your audience, you can go well beyond their experience with your product and learn more about their experiences, problems, aspirations, and qualifications. You can dig deeper into their motives and learn about their expectations for your brand.
Surveys also give you aggregate data. Unsolicited customer feedback is helpful, but it’s also highly subjective. If you rely on it too heavily, it could lead you to make inaccurate assumptions about your audience. With a survey, your results will help you craft more accurate representations of the people you’re trying to reach.
List their goals and challenges
As you hone in on specific groups within your audience, take the time to identify each group’s biggest desires and problems. This is one of the main things that makes your personas useful because it gives you specific angles to approach each audience. Once you know their unique needs, you can craft messaging that addresses them!
Fill out a template
The last step is the fun part: now you get to actually create your persona. Your persona template doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Start with a name. Ideally, your name should communicate something about this part of your audience, such as their profession–like Senior Pastor Steve.
Then you just fill out your persona using information you’ve gathered from research and the assumptions you have about this part of your audience (which may or may not be based on experience).
Your template might look something like this:
You should include anything that feels representative of this section of your audience and relevant to your messaging. If it changes the way you talk to these people, include it.
Reach the right people in the right way
Creating personas takes time. But it’s an exercise that will impact everything you say to your audience from now on.