The Importance of Developing User Personas


If you are selling something online, you probably have heard about user personas and how important they are. A user persona is essentially the who, what, where, why, and how of the people visiting your website. They’re built off of extensive research and a deep knowledge of your audience.

Developing (and documenting) user personas is the first step in optimizing your website, once you’ve accomplished that, you’ll need to incorporate that knowledge into your user experience. Here are tips from us on developing user personas and implementing them like a skilled digital agency.

Who Are Your Customers?

This is the most obvious question, but it can be the trickiest. You have to know the demographics of your users, and here are some ways to do it.

– Follow their tracks

Take a look at the patterns of your existing customer base. When they land on your website, what path ultimately leads them to your lead generation or ecommerce pages? Their behavior on your site tells you crucial information. For instance, if one page is more popular than others, that tells you that it’s meeting some need. Explore what that need is.

– See how they engage your brand

Beyond that, you can learn a lot about your customers from how they communicate with you via social media. Not all of your users are on every network, so take a close look at who is on what social site, and tailor the messaging accordingly.

This information doesn’t just tell you about your customers, it will also come in handy for marketing. For instance, if your customers are mostly business professionals, then Linked in will be a great place to start advertising. Facebook is more geared for B2C businesses, while Twitter is great for both.

– Ask them

Customers are often willing to volunteer information, but the trick is to keep it light. One study by Higher Education Marketing had a nearly 20% success rate when asking visitors to volunteer information, as long as it was 2 pieces of info. More than that, and people aren’t interested.

If you ask for information in order to fine-tune your user personas, do so unobtrusively. Don’t get the “Tab Closed; Didn’t Read” treatment.

Design For The Right Users

Once you’ve taken these steps, you’ll have actionable information about who’s on your site. Draw the commonalities into a rough description of a “person,” and this will become a user persona. Go as far as to give that person a real name, and it will be easier to visualize this person.

Now, once you’ve got a user persona, that’s where most companies stop. However, that information should be used to guide your site design.

Market research firm Gleanster explains that “customers and prospects… demand an increasingly compelling and personalized user experience across multiple channels,” and there’s a direct relationship between how much time visitors spend on relevant content and how likely they are to buy. To take advantage of this fact, design with user personas (and the actions you want them to take) in mind.

If you’re directing traffic to your site via social media channels, make unique URLs for each channel. This’ll tell you how visitors are engaging with your site. You can even send them to distinct pages, tailored to the user personas. For instance, if your twitter followers are typically in your industry, send them to a landing page that’s geared towards that audience. Unique landing pages are great tools for sending people to the right place.

Are you working on user personas for your business? Let us know in the comments below!

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