Building Personas For Your Business

In a previous post I wrote about 7 reasons why you need to be doing Conversion Rate Optimisation, so I thought it would be a good idea to show you the next steps of a CRO project. Whether my previous post persuaded you to carry out a CRO project, or whether you’re simply looking for tips to improve your business, in this blog post I’ll be introducing you to the process of creating Personas. Persona’s are both an important first step when looking at optimising your website to increase your conversions, as well as generally useful for your business in general.

What is a Persona?

Lets start with basics. What do I mean by ‘persona’? Personas are representations of your websites key audience segments, i.e. groups of users that follow the same purchasing decisions and behavioural patterns. These should be both reliable and realistic and should therefore be created around qualitative and quantitative user research and analytics. In layman’s terms, grouping together the type of users that visit your site based on them having similar goals and motivations. The reason that creating personas is one of the first steps within a Conversion Rate Optimisation project is because they will help you continuously work towards the goal of making your website as optimal as possible for your primary user groups. The most successfully created personas will do the following:

  • Be based on thorough research.
  • Describe the backgrounds, motivations and goals of real/ realistic people.
  • Provide a detailed picture of how users are likely to use your site and what their expectations are.
  • Represent the most important group of users for your website and what their primary needs are.
  • They are focused on the here and now and not based on the future.

Why you should create Personas 

Of course, as a business owner, you should want to fully understand the common users who are visiting your site and making purchases or signing up for services. Whether you create personas just because it’s a good business practice or whether you’re carrying out a CRO project, the most important reason for creating personas is that they help you to make important business decisions, as well as major website design and functionality decisions. As I mentioned earlier, they will give you a clear goal, and I can almost guarantee that once you’ve outlined your personas and then take a look at your website, you’ll sit there thinking ‘what have I been doing this whole time!?’.

So, other than helping you to understand the users who are actually visiting your website, there are many reasons why creating personas are an important initial step for your CRO project.

  • Your personas will help you to stay on track throughout the whole project, as they will also be there to refer to when making decisions.
  • Speaking of making decisions, personas help you answer that all-important question, ‘why’. Having personas will help you back up your idea with a logical justification. This is particularly effective when everyone in your team has different ideas and opinions. If it’s going to work for your users – end of discussion.
  • Personas can also work as a brief for your developers and copywriters. You’ll make their jobs a lot easier if they have a clear understanding of who they are creating/ writing for. Otherwise, it’s like doing your make-up in the dark. You think you know what your doing until you turn the light switch on … (not a pretty sight) … and then you have to start all over again.
  • Personas can help you to build empathy. You’ll be able to gain a clearer and more concise perspective of what the user wants and what the best way to give it to them is.

Do I need personas? 

If you want my personal opinion, conversion rate optimisation is all about increasing your conversions right? And who makes these conversions? Users. So it makes logical sense to gain as much information on your users as possible to help you understand how they are going to use your site and, in turn, this will also help you to optimise your conversion funnel to give your users what the want in the most effective way. But hey, that’s just what I think!

How do I create personas? 

Now, there are many guides and best practices out there when it comes to creating personas, but I personally think that one guide that works really well for one company, might not work as well for yours. For example, if you’re B2B, you’ll take a different approach to personas in comparison to B2C. So rather than provide you with another template (trust me, there are many out there), I’ve pulled together a checklist of aspects you should be looking at, so at least you know whether you’ve found a good template or give you the foundations for your own!

Oh, one little side note – make sure you understand the aims of your website and business before starting on your personas!

As a minimum, I’d fill out the following for your primary and secondary users, but the first step should always be creating a name. If you ask Ian in my team to come up with a name, I’d bet my right arm he’d say Sarah or Steve, but anyway, here’s what else you should consider …

  1. What is their job role and career path?
  2. Do they report to anyone?
  3. Are they male or female?
  4. How old are they?
  5. What’s their average income?
  6. Do they have a family?
  7. Where are they from/ where do they live?
  8. Do they have a communication preference?
  9. What is the primary goal they want to achieve on your site?
  10. What is their secondary goal?
  11. What challenges do they face meeting their goals?
  12. How can you help them achieve their goal by overcoming challenges?
  13. Why would they be using your website, buying your product or signing up for your service?
  14. What other sites within your industry do they visit?
  15. How do they search for information? The Internet, emails, social media?
  16. What publications do they read?

Don’t worry; I’m going to provide you with a brief example to!

Alice Persona

My personas’ name is Alice and she is a primary user on your online shoe store.

  1. Primary School Teacher
  2. Yes, a manager and the School Board
  3. Female
  4. 26
  5. £27,000
  6. No children, but lives with her boyfriend
  7. London/ Kent
  8. Email
  9. Buy shoes
  10. Keep up with trends
  11. Cheaper elsewhere, messy and confusing website, unclear conversion funnel, low stock, lack of information.
  12. Make sure we have competitive prices, have a clean and tidy website design, create a simple and short conversion funnel, ensure stock is replenished, provide categories containing shoes relating to certain trends.
  13. Shoe lover/ for a special occasion
  14. Office, Adidas, boohoo
  15. Internet & Social Media
  16. Daily Mail, Metro, Daily Mirror

Creating personas right at the beginning and it will make your life much easier later on down the line of your conversion rate optimisation project. After all, CRO is all about optimising your site to encourage your users to convert, so the more you understand your users; the more you’ll understand how to meet their needs Even as a business owner, it’s vital that you seriously take into consideration your users because these are the people making your business thrive.

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