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The anatomy of an insightful customer persona

A customer or buyer persona (aka Pen Portraits or Customer Avatars) is a valuable tool in bringing your customer segments to life, by capturing the key traits of your audience segments. The persona is a fictional character but represents the collective traits of a particular segment, which is driven by data you have collected through research and insights. A persona presents cold data to us in a way that is human. 

When used correctly, a persona can help you create key messages that appeal to your audience. They also allow you to define appropriate channels and enable you to dissect the motivations behind your customers purchasing decisions in order to align your product development or marketing messages with the needs of your customers.

But how do you go about creating a persona? And what should be included? In this article, we will talk through some of the key elements of an insightful customer persona.

The anatomy of a customer persona

1. Put a face to the name

Putting a face to your persona will help you feel connected to your ideal customer. When drafting messages imagine you are talking directly to your persona. You can use stock photos or real images of customers, but avoid using celebrities or images of your staff as they may have pre-defined assumptions associated with them.

2. Give your persona a name to bring it to life

Your persona guides the way you speak to your audience. By giving your persona a name that is a representation of that user and will bring your profile to life.

3. State the key demographics

Answering some basic demographic questions will help to build a profile of their lives. Demographic data forms the basis of your persona and helps to segment your market into more defined sub-categories. Demographic attributes often relate to other buyer behaviours.

4. Define the personality

Personality traits go beyond the demographic data and start to explore the mannerisms of your segment. It’s important that you base this on real data from your conversations. Demonstrating personality traits will make it easier for you to identify certain personas when communicating with prospects.

5. How does a day in their life look?

Start to define your persona’s lifestyle and daily routines. Use your research to establish when are they likely to be scrolling social media or browsing the web, when are they busy and focused on achieving their daily tasks?

6. Goals – what is your customer trying to achieve?

Once you have identified your key demographics and their personality traits you will have a better understanding of what they are trying to achieve in respect to your product or service. These can be functional, social or emotional goals that will help you understand how to develop an emotional connection

7. Frustrations – what are your customer’s pain points in relation to their goals?

Equally as important as establishing your customer’s goals, exploring their frustrations and pain points can help you to identify key ‘pain relievers’. Again these can be function, social or emotional pains, which will enable you to identify the value that your product/service offers.

8. Bio – tell your persona’s story

Give some background to your persona. Tell the story of your personas user journey, and give more depth to understanding their goals and achievements. Highlight the most useful information that demonstrates why they are an ideal customer.

9. Motivation – what drives purchasing decisions?

Much like identifying your persona’s personality, exploring the motivations of your persona will help you to break down those key motivations when purchasing. Why do they take action?

10. Brands – what other brands do your customers use

Exploring the brands your customers are loyal to gives a lot of insight into their traits. It is also a great opportunity to explore the marketing messages and techniques used by these brands, take note, as there may be some tactics you can apply yourself. In this section, you can also include influencers they follow.

11. Preferred channels – how do your customers access information?

In this section explore which channels your customers are most likely to use to find information or new products/services. This will give you some insights into the most appropriate marketing tactics for reaching your audience. You could also focus this section on what advertising channels your customers prefer, what are their preferred communication channels, or which social media sites they can be found on.

Before you get started…

Define your key target segments

Before starting your customer persona, you should have a clear understanding of your customer segment(s). Segmentation allows you to tailor marketing messages to each audience. It is crucial to understand who your target segment is, if you have a niche product/service, you may only have one segment, however, if you have a product or service that is used by many different people you will likely have more than one key target segment.

To start, gather as much information you can from your current customers. Look at your customer list and define key attributes. Once you’ve pulled together a list of your best customers with your chosen attributes analyse the data to uncover trends. It may also be useful at this point to analyse key metrics from your website and social media analytics to identify trends. If you have a sales team, ask for their feedback on the leads they are communicating with, do they have an insight on what type of customer is a warmer prospect?

Don’t group different customer segments together – try to be specific and produce one persona per customer segment

Gather real data from your target segments

To understand your audience segments, you need to gather real data, don’t just make assumptions, or include quirks that you think make your persona interesting. Your persona needs to represent a whole segment not just one persons views, so you need to capture information from a wide selection of individuals.

You can use customer surveys, either online or offline to understand what your customers motives and goals are. Ask open ended questions to really delve in to their minds, think about how to frame your questions so that you gain those vital insights.

It is worth conducting interviews with existing or prospective customers to further explore their goals and frustrations. Take notice of facial expressions and tone to identify key characteristics. Dont just interview happy customers, you can find out just as much, if not more, from customers who have experienced problems or frustrations with your products or services.

Once you have completed your qualitative research, combine and compare this with quantitative research and data. Conduct desk research by reviewing data and insights available through tools like Google Analytics and your social media analytics. You can also explore third party data and reports on buyer behaviour to back up your findings. Sites such as YouGov ( Audience Explorer allows you to unlock insights into opinions and brand affinities, behaviors, media consumption, hobbies and interests for your desired audience.

Our strategic marketing team has worked at senior levels within industry and offer insight, business acumen and creativity to help you implement your marketing plans. Find out about the marketing support we offer here.

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