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UX Experiment: How to Leverage Your A/B Tests to Determine Personas

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Identifying the personas of your website users can be a key step in increasing the win rate of your A/B testing campaigns. The more you know about the groups of people using your site, the more intelligent and focused your testing strategies will be.

The traditional process of identifying personas is typically a lengthy (yet worthwhile) project involving user interviews and market research.  But what if we could leverage our A/B testing campaigns to help us quickly identify a snapshot of the various personas that exist within the user base?

It may sound like a dream, but in fact we can use quantitative methods to identify personas in three easy steps.

Step One: Create the Personas

The first step is to identify three to five possible (best guess) personas, based upon existing market research, demographic reports, customer insight, available reports, or through helpful exercises such as using a persona group worksheet.

An important step in your process will be learning how to get all of this information as quickly as possible. When this information is not readily available, work with marketing, sales, and customer service reps as necessary to find out as much as you can.

example persona case study screenshot brooks bell blog photo

Create the personas with the following details:

  • Give the person a name
  • Insert a photo (this helps bring this person to life)
  • A short narrative describing the user
  • A quotation that captures the user’s key objective
  • List the user’s key goals

Step Two: Test the Personas

Create a testing campaign that delivers unique messaging and value proposition to each persona identified.  If necessary, choose only the personas that have the most variance and will be easy to differentiate.

Pay careful attention with your test approach for each persona. It’s important to get inside the mind of each persona and to try to see the world like they do. Be sure to reach these people with a message or product that appeals to their goals and objectives.

Step Three: Iterate and Dig Deeper

To further define your personas, you must iterate and keep testing. Each analyzed test is a step closer to a more accurate persona. As you test, you’ll work towards proving or disproving your personas.

Try to identify the primary and secondary purchase drivers of your users/personas and deliver them a test that will give you strong insight.

For example, perhaps most of your users purchase your product because of trust, but a second motivating factor is emotion. If results from a trust vs. emotion test return flat, offer a trust-based, emotional appeal test against the trust-based control and measure the results.

Optimize Your Personas

As with A/B testing, optimization is the ultimate goal. The personas you initially identify will most likely need to be refined, or simply thrown away.

Unlike segments, which are usually a very general grouping of users, a collection of detailed personas will add invaluable insight into your testing campaigns—and open the door to more granular strategy. Understanding the behaviors, attitudes, and motivations of your users will take your A/B testing campaigns to places they’ve never been before.

Bonus:

If you are feeling bold and are determined to discover these personas quickly and accurately, you could set up a specific campaign/challenger in which your users would have the option to “self select.” Be creative and purposeful, and assure the user that the information they provide will ultimately improve their experience on your website. This test could be ongoing, as you deem necessary, and could give you an unmatched understanding of who is using your site.

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