For several years, user experience has been a key focus of all business strategies. The persona method takes marketing and ergonomic issues into account to offer a help tool for product design. How to build and use this tool in a start-up?

The importance of personas

The persona method made popular by Alan Cooper, a pioneer in considering users when designing software, allows you to refocus your message on your typical customer. The ultimate objective is to obtain perfect knowledge of your audience so that you can deliver the most relevant messages to them, and offer them a product that meets their expectations.

Constructing a persona

You must not lose sight of the main objective: precisely understanding your target so that you can communicate with them better, by adapting your content and strategy. To do this, it is essential to rely on data rather than intuitions. To avoid error, it’s best to draw on several sources of information: Google Analytics of your site, research and interviews, plus feedback from the sales team who have close, practical contact with your target audience. Generally, for each product, you only need to focus on the three most important personas. Having too many personas requires too much energy, whereas a persona that is too general will not be effective. You therefore need to be precise and make sure the targets match the actions proposed.

Content of a persona

A persona is a summary description detailing the following information:

  • First name
  • Age
  • Profession or socio-economic category: what is their purchasing power?
  • Living environment
  • Family situation
  • Technological ease: novice, technology-resistant, pro, etc.
  • History / Profile: what is their personal and professional journey?
  • Behaviour: what are their interests? What do they usually buy?
  • Needs: what problems do they have?
  • Preferred method of communication
  • Objectives and motivations: why and how you can satisfy their needs. For each need there can therefore be several objectives.
  • Frustration: why are they dissatisfied with the competing product?
  • Obstacles: what are their objections to the proposed product?

This list is not exhaustive and may be completed by any relevant information connected to the product offered.

Using personas

Personas are a useful tool for many departments in the company: communication, marketing, IT and sales. The persona method should therefore be explained to all these people and they should be taught how to include it in their strategy.

The purpose of personas is to help create messages that meet users’ needs very precisely. By analysing your audience and visualising it via personas, your business will also be able to choose the right tone and angle. For example, if your persona is a 22 year-old student, the way you communicate will be different to the message you send to a 45 year-old woman. Defining personas therefore helps to rationalise the content strategy and make it more effective.

Personas are also essential to analysing and improving the conversion funnel. The list of objections contained in the persona and the arguments in response must be used throughout the customer journey to increase the conversion rate. In the same way, personas help to prioritise what information to communicate, influencing how the pages on a website are structured, according to the target’s interests.

Using the persona method involves adapting your sales practices. For example, classifying your customers by persona and using the personas in your CRM. In this way, the introductory work on personas can be developed into effective, appropriate rules of management. The contact points with customers can be broken down by persona, in order to match the persona as closely as possible.

An effective product and customer relations strategy must meet the needs and behaviour of users. The personas method helps you to empathise with your typical customer, to give them a human face and to solve their actual problems. When used well by the various departments in the company, the persona method delivers continuous product improvement and increased customer satisfaction, so it would be a shame not to use it!