Step by Step Guide to Creating a User Persona, and Why You Need One

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Step by Step Guide to Creating a User Persona, and Why You Need One

Step by Step Guide to Creating a User Persona, and Why You Need One

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an insistent sales call which ended with you wondering how in the world they got your number and why they would think that you’re interested in their product anyway? This is an example of a business using a “spray and pray” approach to marketing, throwing stuff out there and hoping that some of it will stick. What they have neglected to do, is create a user persona for their product.

If you’ve heard the term “user persona” before but have no idea what it means, or why you should create one, then read on. There’s more to it than you may think.

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What is a User Persona?

Also known as a buyer’s persona, a user persona is a fictional representation of your core audience. If you were to consolidate all the information that you have on your customers into one or more people, you would be looking at your ideal customer.

What’s the point?

Surely if you have the statistics on your customers then you can just use this information? True, but when you’ve clearly defined your key customer and turned them into a virtual person, you can create specific content which “speaks” to this person more readily. Creating a user persona also forces you to answer questions which you may not otherwise consider and really hones your understanding of who you are talking to, and why.

A user persona helps you to create the right content for your most valuable customer, or the audience that you want to grow.

What Information do I Need to Create a User Persona?

Firstly, you will no doubt understand that no two personas are going to be the same. They will vary depending on product, industry and location. So, you’re creating this person from the ground up, and it’s an exciting project!

Remember we said that this person is fictional? Well, that is only partly true. The persona that you end up with is based on hard facts and data – not a shred of guesswork or assumption.

So let’s dive in.

You will need the following information to get started: (Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to get this info a little later on.)

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Location
  • Education
  • Marital status and family information
  • Who do they work for?
  • What is their job title?
  • What do you know about their role?
  • What skills do they require?
  • What is their goal? (As it relates to your business)
  • What problems do they have attaining it?
  • What are their common objections?
  • What are their biggest challenges?
  • How they inform themselves (Social media, news channels, etc)
  • How do they prefer to interact (SMS, Email, Phone)

This information will help you to craft a pretty solid user persona which will be able to guide you in all your content and marketing decisions.

How Can I Gather the Information to Create a User Persona?

As we mentioned at the outset, there can be no guesswork here. So where are you going to get these facts and figures from?

Google Analytics

We love Google Analytics. The information held here is mind-blowing – and sometimes a little creepy. Adding analytics to your site allows you to track the following information if it’s provided by the user:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Household income
  • Search terms used
  • How they got to your website
  • What interested them the most
  • Where they exited

(And so much more)


The success of a survey depends very much on your industry. For example, a stay-at-home mom or a teen are more inclined to spend a little time filling in personal preferences and offering opinions than a CEO.

If you are planning to use a survey to gather this all-important user persona information, then you should be able to ask more personal questions such as:

  • Hobbies or personal interests
  • Recreation
  • How do you prefer to be contacted?
  • How many children do you have?
  • What car do you drive?
  • What is your job title?

If your survey is tasteful, professional and short, then you are more likely to get a good response. Remember to ensure the security of this information and to let your audience know that these details are anonymous and private.

Short USSD based surveys are an easy way to get snippets of information from busy people and are very user-friendly.

Customer Interviews

People are busy and very hesitant to take calls from numbers that they don’t know. So, a customer interview may be a little trickier to get, but the quality of the information is always excellent.

You may have to be more creative here, perhaps having a few short questions planned and ready for shoppers as they enter your store, or even by using online chat options if they are on your website.

Social Research

Social research is just a fancy-pants way of saying “stalking.” We all do it, but if you’re doing it for the benefit of your business then that’s fine.

People love the anonymity of the internet, and once those keyboard warriors get started on a problem or a complaint, if you can cut through the bad language and sarcasm then you’re likely to find some usable gems.

You may find that you will end up with two or three user personas which represent different segments of your audience. This may be based on different products or services or locations, and this is a good thing. As long as you are talking to most of your audience most of the time, then you’re onto a winner.

These are just a few ways of digging into the minds of our customers in order to make sure that every message we send out is well-received, useful and engaging. Have you created a user persona? Do you have any tips for our readers?

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