Here’s an example of the value of personas. According to CyberCollege, only about 22% of people without a high school education use the Internet, while almost 90% of people with a college education are regularly online. This demographic insight doesn’t help define a specific interaction design or engagement plan. Similarly, comScore has found that women account for 71% of the money spent in online shopping for apparel and accessories. This knowledge wouldn’t help you craft the right experience for your specific target audience.
Now take the persona of Carey, a college-educated professional woman whose time constraints require frequent multitasking. She uses her mobile device to buy name-brand clothes for her two-year-old son (usually at home but sometimes when catching up over coffee with friends who have children of the same age) at competitive prices (because her peers see frugality as a virtue). Carey shops this way so she can spend more quality time with her family rather than waste it on stress-filled shopping trips. The persona provides much richer insight for digital designers and marketers, guiding the design of campaigns, engagement plans and digital experiences.
How to create a persona
Personas are derived from a combination of five research modalities:
- Demographic — Defines the basic structure of a population based on geography, income, level of education, and other standard descriptive attributes.
- Psychographic — Focuses on values, opinions, interests, aspirations, attitudes and lifestyles.
- Ethnographic — Involves participatory observation where insights are gleaned by watching subjects in their daily routines and capturing what isn’t explicitly reported.
- Transactional — Reveals insights through a historical customer relationship, including first- and third-party purchase histories and post-sale service records.
- Behavioral — Captures data passively through engagement with websites, mobile devices and other media, content and channels that reveal how audiences engage over the course of a relationship.
Digital designers blend the persona’s behaviors and goal descriptions with a context (such as the availability of a mobile device) to create scenarios. These scenarios form the backbone of an initial campaign, storytelling or UX design. Personas and scenarios also help to make complex situations comprehensible to management.
Manage personas over time
Consider applying an estimated lifetime economic value to each persona based on the idea that customers aren’t valued equally. This will help you prioritize customer experience investments based on what delivers the highest yield to the business. It’s typical to develop four to eight different personas as a series of abstracted profiles that help illuminate your target audiences.