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Using Personas to More Effectively Target Your Online Segments

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If you’re not totally familiar with personas, get ready to have some fun. Essentially, you’re going to sort your site visitors (or any large group of customers you have) into segmented groups based upon fictitious backgrounds that reflects their interests, online behavioral tendencies, personalities, etc.

So basically, you get to make up cool stories that could get your revenue revving.

In case you think this is a frivolous act, personas can actually be really helpful. If you have a huge list of customers, assuming they all want the same things is a sure way to lose money. After all, you wouldn’t speak to your best friend the same way you would a five-year-old kid or an elderly lady, would you? (If you answer yes, you might want to check yourself.)

While you can certainly use personas for most any business, a vertical that tends to use them a lot is tech. ADT, the national security company, does an interesting personas breakdown on their site.

The ADT product called Pulse is an extended option for home security, with cool features like remote control capabilities including alarm on/off, video view, thermostat control and more. ADT breaks their personas into five categories: The Conservationist, Parent of the Year, The Gadget Man, The Multitasker and The Empty Nester.

Each one of these personas comes with a video that shows the customer how this particular person is using Pulse. Though the personas are all getting the same features, ADT is smart to enable their customers to identify with a person and their particular life needs. One thing we think would be an interesting test would be to have the person doing a voiceover as the video rolled, which would make the benefits even more immediately obvious.

So how do you go about building personas? You can’t just make them up based on assumptions; you need a solid launching point. That’s where data comes in. There are so many options out there for capturing data, and so many companies do it and then let it sit dormant. Use that data! Identify trends in behavior, preferences, outliers and case studies if you have them. Use survey responses to inquiries about customer preferences. Build personas based on current customer behavior, too. ADT would be able to tell that some customers used Pulse primarily for thermostat control, which probably then led to them developing The Conservationist persona. Even if that persona doesn’t nail a customer 100%, the purpose behind it will: “I want to be able to control my heat and A/C.”

Once you have your personas established (and try not to go overboard…you don’t need to get into microsegmenting just yet), it’s time to write their stories. You can start far out in left field if you like. Have fun with it; get creative. Write a few paragraphs about each person and how this product makes their life better, how they use it and why. Then whittle that down to a few key statements that will attract the attention of likeminded customers. See how ADT did it above with Dan, the Gadget Man?

The key to the effective persona is authenticity. This person and their story have to be believable, someone who could actually exist outside of your imagination. Draw on people you know to write personas with details that ring true. Avoid going overboard or caricaturizing them; it will come off as overly salesy. Sure, the customer knows that these people don’t really exist, but a great persona transcends that and lets them visualize easily, because they relate easily. Once you have the customer relating, they can see themselves using the product, and that’s well on the way to a conversion.

Have you tried creating and testing personas? Get your data together and see what you come up with. Segmenting to your audience in this way can really make a difference in your conversion rate!

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