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Zyro encyclopedia

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Zyro Glossary eCommerce

User Persona

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What is a user persona?

A user persona is a fictional and archetypal user of your product or service. User personas came around in the 80s to help software and computer engineers understand who will be using their end-products. They are still widely used today, especially when it comes to eCommerce.

Creating a user persona, or multiple personas, helps you get a more objective view of what your customers are actually interested in, what challenges they face, and what goals they have related to your business. 

While the user persona is a fictional character that embodies the main characteristics of your target audience, the persona is based on real data of your audience and target market. 

A user persona helps you add a human touch to your business processes and make your product customer-focused. 

User personas in marketing

In the world of marketing, knowing who you’re trying to reach out to is important if you want to maximize your marketing spending and get good returns on your investment.

A user persona also helps you get in your customers’ heads and understand their thought processes when planning a purchase. 

User personas are used when building a target market audience profile. This helps to identify the buyer, or the ideal consumer, for a particular product or service. 

Building a marketing user persona means knowing what your target audience is interested in, what types of marketing channels they interact with, and which devices they primarily use to shop online. 

All of this helps you target a marketing campaign towards the right people who are interested in the product. 

User personas in design and UX

In web design and user experience development, knowing who will be using the final app or website influences the design of the product.  

If the app or website is being built for users who are primarily IT professionals or web designers themselves, the user flow can be completely different from a website that’s aimed towards kids. 

Knowing the pain points that the user persona might face helps one make decisions about the user experience in the development phase. 

This, in turn, makes the launch of the app or website much smoother for the end-user. 

Designing an app or a website with the user at the heart of the process also helps organizations avoid bad reviews or even delays in marketing the app or website. 

In some fields, e.g. healthcare, making sure that an app designed for people with diabetes collects all of the relevant information and is easy to use can have life-changing implications. 

What are user personas used for and why is that important?

User personas look at the main characteristics that the majority of users of a particular product or service share. 

This could be demographic factors like the user’s age, gender, educational level, and income. 

The users should also share similar psychographic characteristics, meaning their likes, interests, challenges, and dislikes should all align with each other. 

Knowing what challenges real people are facing will help you to create valid selling points for your product or service that will solve those challenges. 

User personas also aid in positioning your business correctly in the market as the solution to these problems. The people will basically be obligated to buy what you have on offer.

How many user personas do you need?

The answer to this question depends on your business and your market. 

If you’re selling a niche product in a very niche market, you probably have quite a good idea of who’s your buyer and, therefore, what your buyer persona is like.

Some hobbyist markets, based around a particular pop culture phenomenon for example, would fall under this category. 

But if you’re selling in a bigger market like fashion and clothing, you might want to use multiple user personas. 

That’s because different age groups and genders will be interested in different types of clothes, so you can build a couple of user personas and tailor your marketing campaigns accordingly. 

The required elements of a user persona

There are a few things you will need in order to start creating user personas: 

  • Name. Don’t hesitate to give your user persona a real name. It’ll help to make your persona feel like a real person. Stay away from placeholder names like Jane Doe or John Smith.   
  • Photo. Putting a face to a name is another step to make your persona feel more real. It will also help you to avoid stereotyping your user persona.
  • Short biography. Another step is to put some meat on your persona’s bones: give them a good backstory. Get creative.
  • Motto. What does your user persona live by? What do they desire to do with their life? The motto shouldn’t be too long, but it will make your user persona feel more realistic. 
  • Demographics. Make sure you include basic demographic information like age, gender, location, language, and income level. This will help you target users that are relevant to your product.
  • Personal traits. Take a look at things like your user’s attention span, whether they’re an introvert or extrovert, or act on impulse. When developing personas, knowing as much as possible about their behavior will help you in the long run. 
  • Goals and challenges or frustrations. Understand what challenges your user persona is facing. Make sure that most of these relate to your product and business, but it’s also not a bad idea to include some other goals that are unrelated to your business, to paint a fuller picture of the user. 
  • Motivation. You need to know what motivates the user to buy or use your product. Put yourself in their shoes and understand how they think.
  • Preferred brands and influences. The types of businesses a user wants to be associated with says a lot about them. Understanding what influences them to buy certain brands will help you target your own marketing campaigns.

How to properly define a user persona

To build a buyer persona template, you need to do user research first to understand your target audience and their needs. 

1. Gather data from your audience

Knowledge is power, and you want to know as much as possible about the real people who might become your customers. 

Collect data from as many sources as possible, like: 

  • Surveys. Invite existing customers to answer questions about themselves and reward them with a discount code.
  • Most visited URLs on your website. Look closely at which pages get the lion’s share of the traffic, and analyze the reasons behind it. 
  • Most sold products. Knowing which products are in demand helps you understand what your customers are looking for on your eCommerce website.
  • Most active members on your social media spaces. Talk directly to the people who are actively participating in conversations and interactions online. 

2. Analyze and categorize that data by demographics

You should have an idea of what your current audience looks like. Next, you want to search for patterns to further analyze and categorize your audience through shared demographics. 

For example, you may find that women above the age of 30, who come from Europe are very active on your Instagram profile, but they don’t buy much. Or, you could discover that couples from the upper-middle class aren’t that active on social media but spend a lot more than your average order value when they do buy. 

At this point in your user research, you will start noticing how a few trends emerge. 

3. Create user personas from the most common demographics

You should have now been able to identify the most important and common traits of your target audience. 

It’s time to get to the nitty-gritty: combine these details and create a symbolic representation of the average user persona.

Start by filling out the elements of your user persona: 

  • Assign them to a persona group (only if you have multiple user personas, e.g. banker, stay-at-home mum, web manager)
  • Give them a fictional name
  • Outline what their job titles and major professional responsibilities are
  • Write out the key demographics (age, education, ethnicity, and family status)
  • Define the goals and tasks they are trying to complete by using your product or website 
  • Include what their physical, social, and technological environments are like
  • Add a quote that sums up what matters most to the persona about your business
  • Don’t forget to find a few pictures that represent the user group well

4. Define the goals and aspirations of your user personas

The next step in your user research is to find out what motivates your users. 

You want to know what their primary goal in life is or, to narrow it down, what their primary goal with regards to your business is. 

For an environmentally conscious user, buying products from your natural cleaning product line could help them do their part to protect the planet.

Meanwhile, if the user has a pedigree dog, they would be happy to invest money in your high-quality dog food products.  

5. Help them fulfill those goals

The final step in defining your user personas is to focus on targeting your marketing campaigns so that they fulfill your user’s needs and help them reach their goals. 

So, if you’re planning a marketing campaign for a user persona that has a short attention span and prefers images over text, create infographics. 

If you know your user persona needs to save money, highlight how your product is cheaper than the one your competitors are selling. 

Make sure your marketing campaign speaks to the pain points your user persona is facing.

Great examples of user personas

When building a user persona, make it relevant to your business and product. 

If there are aspects in the user persona template you’re using that won’t work for you, expand on those that are more relevant to your market. 

This is a judgement call.

Example 1: Artisan coffee subscription service 

Name: Pete O’Connell

Bio: Grew up in the suburbs and has lived in metropolitan cities working various media jobs for the last 10 years. Likes to travel a few times a year and frequently eats out. Pays attention to where and how the products that he buys were made.

Motto: I want to drink coffee that doesn’t just taste good, but that also does good. 

Demographics: 

  • 35 years old 
  • Male
  • Marketing Lead at a mid-sized business in New York 

Personal traits: 

  • Extrovert
  • Doesn’t spend often, but spends a lot in one go 
  • A good negotiator

Interests: 

  • Organic products and foods 
  • Independently owned cafes and restaurants 

Challenges: 

  • Doesn’t trust big brands 
  • Busy work life  

Preferred marketing channels: 

  • Email 
  • Social media

In this example, the brand could consider highlighting its traceable supply chain and organic coffee options through email marketing campaigns. 

It could also offer coffee deliveries and coffee brewing solutions for the office environment and for on the go. 

Building a social media presence and partnering up with independent cafes could also work wonders in building the brand. 

Example 2: Online bookstore business

Name: Sarah Turner

Bio: Grew up half an hour away from the nearest city big enough to have a shopping center. Works as a civil servant in the public sector and frequently visits her hometown. Doesn’t own a car. 

Motto: Slowing down and appreciating the moment is a must.  

Demographics: 

  • 39 years old 
  • Female
  • Civil servant in the recreational office of the local city council  

Personal traits: 

  • Introvert
  • Keeps a tight budget 
  • Cautious buyer 

Interests: 

  • Scandinavian design and culture 
  • Traveling locally 
  • Literature

Challenges: 

  • Hasn’t got a big budget 
  • Misses publication dates easily 

Preferred marketing channels: 

  • Blog posts 
  • Social media

This online bookstore business could create different subscription types that would cater to the needs of this user persona. 

The brand could also focus on creating a strong content marketing strategy with blog articles on upcoming books and on how to make the most out of local libraries. 

Example 3: Cruelty-free makeup and beauty store 

Name: Millie Holm 

Bio: Grew up in a middle-sized city, did a study exchange abroad in high school. Studying as an undergraduate at the university. Has pets in her family home and visits her parents once a week. 

Motto: Equality and nice things for everyone.  

Demographics: 

  • 20 years old 
  • Female
  • Undergraduate student   

Personal traits: 

  • Extrovert
  • Has a monthly allowance from her family 
  • Somewhat insecure

Interests: 

  • Reality TV shows  
  • Fashion and beauty 
  • Animals 

Challenges: 

  • Wants to support good causes, but lacks the budget 
  • Travels a lot between university and home 

Preferred marketing channels: 

  • Social media

To grab the attention of this user persona, the beauty brand should establish itself across all popular social media platforms. 

It could also offer student discounts and highlight the travel-sized and budget-friendly products in their collections. 

Getting a celebrity or a social media influencer to endorse the products would also work as part of their holistic marketing strategy.  

Written by

Author avatar

Matleena

Matleena is a seasoned eCommerce writer, with a particular interest in emerging digital marketing trends, dropshipping, and growth hacking. She’s addicted to coming up with new eCommerce business ideas and making them a reality; she deserves her nickname of ‘print on demand business mogul.' In her free time, she enjoys cups of good coffee, tends to her balcony garden, and studies Japanese.

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