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Personas are user-profiles (or user groups) a website owner uses to categorize his website audience. They represent the typical users of a website or a service.
By creating personas for your site you can better understand your readers and easier anticipate their behavior, reactions and preferences. To create personas for your website audience the first thing you will need to do is to build hypothesis trying to imagine who a typical user of your site is, what he does and what he likes.
So what makes a good persona?
What can describe or characterize each persona of your website? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to categorize each persona of your website user base:
- Who are they and and where do they come?
- How old are they?
- What’s their background? Education?
- What’s their income?
- What are their hobbies and interests?
- etc etc
Each persona should have a name and even a picture for you to better imagine it.
This is Tom. Tom is a U.S. high-school student who loves geeky stuff. He doesn’t go out often – instead he is sitting in front of his computer. To doesn’t make his own living yet – his parents support him. Tom loves…
Ultimately you will have at least 4-5 personas and you will be able to better understand how to tailor your website marketing efforts to each of them! Of course, you can go more descriptive and creative in names and let the persona names speak for themselves:
- Geeky Tom
- Loyal Troy
- Howard the Skeptic
- Busy Judith
Where do I get all this info on each persona?
The first tool you have is your head: use your imagination and your outlook. If you have a blog, your life is much easier because you regularly talk to your readers via comments.
Your website traffic analytics is another valuable tool. It will let you analyze what your readers tend to respond to and how (you can use Google Analytics goals to get a better understanding of your readers’ behavior). Google Analytics is free and it will show you detailed territorial info as well languages your readers speak, browsers they use, how loyal they are, if they use mobiles, etc.
Is there any way to test my personas?
Yes, for sure. After you have the initial list of your personas and the characteristics of each, try testing each with help of online questionnaires. Polls, surveys and quizzes will work for that purpose.
I personally prefer quizzes because they can be more fun to take. Who doesn’t like quizzes? You can actually use them to engage your site readers and hear back from them.
ProProfs online testing utility is a great tool to create nice interactive quizzes. They support various forms of fun including images and videos. I have played with the tool quite a lot and had a fun experiment in the past trying to categorize my readers’ Twitter habits. I had great feedback and lots of insight into how my blog readers prefer to Tweet.
ProProfs has various types of analytics:
- You can see what each user answered (think how much help that would be for your persona building!)
- You can access charts and graphics summarizing all the answers:
So how do we apply this to practice?
Good question. Here are a few tutorials teaching you to apply theory to practice and actually learn to use the personas in various website development and marketing strategies:
- How to Apply Personas to E-mail Marketing: Tailor every offer to a separate persona. Sending a 10% off deal to a persona who wants luxury at any cost won’t get you much.
- Personas for Keyword Research: The days of guessing at keyword research are over;
- How to use Personas & Scenarios in web design and web page design: Personas are an extremely powerful design tool, which help you to visualize an end-product that you can be confident will suit your users’ needs by helping them achieve their goals, and help you test your success.
Post image via Flickr