The simple answer is that a marketing persona is a fictional character that embodies your customer or audience. When you understand that character, you can market to their aspirations and pain points.
This avatar of your real-life clients isn’t pulled out of thin air, ideally. If it is, you’re doing it wrong.
These figures are created from all of the evidence you can find to validate that persona and, luckily, there’s a lot out of that info out there.
Who we are as people tends to get deconstructed into demographics, psychographics, the devices we use, and the platforms we’re on. This information is available thanks to data brands that exist to provide these fine details.
A persona takes that deconstructed information and attempts to reconstruct it into an accurate personification of a segment of your audience.
The best personas aren’t general, they’re specific. I don’t know if there’s a good reason to use simply a persona or two and model every interaction around them. You likely service a variety of people. Sure, they may all work in procurement for industrial lubricants manufacturing, but believe it or not, there are subsets within those sets. Some people are men, some are women, some find you in organic search, and some come from social media.
Knowing those differences and being able to identify the ways that your product or service is a solution to that very dialed in persona is the key to your next big marketing breakthrough. As you dig into your marketing campaigns, it’s likely that you will increasingly create more specific and complex libraries around the preferences of your market and personas – but things don’t need to be complicated for the sake of being complicated. Don’t be afraid to start with what you know and then test what you suspect. (Hey, I think I’ve just easily explained marketing.)
For example, if you’ve identified that your highest average sales from site visitors that found you through organic search, start at the /12-in-x-14-in-doodad page, and are largely males between the ages of 35 – 44, you can start creating campaigns that focus on that particular persona, using messages that you think will connect with their needs, delivering them on the platforms where they usually find you, and attempt to win over more and more of those audiences. You can also ask the question of “Why aren’t more women between the ages of 35 and 44 coming into that same page from organic search?” and attempt to create a campaign that messages their needs.
If you can answer the five W’s about your audiences; Who, Where, When, Why, How, and What?, then you can start customizing your messages and optimizing your online experiences to better accommodate those audiences.
As mentioned above, it’s not just our audience we want to create an avatar of, it’s a specific audience within our audience. People don’t have general needs, they have focused needs and rely on somewhere predictable patterns of solving those needs.
If you have Google Analytics on your site, you have all of the information you need to get started making personas, but putting that data together into reliable models can be time-consuming – and you may still find yourself hoping that you’ve done it right.
That’s why I created the Omnifonic Persona Modeling Tool.
Make Sure You Have Google Analytics Installed and Collecting Data
Because this tool relies solely on Google Analytics, it’s important that you have this installed and that it’s collecting data. Please see our guide here if you need assistance in installing Google Analytics.
Make Sure You Have Demographics and Interest Reports Enabled
This tool relies on demographic and interest data supplied by Google, but this information isn’t captured by default. Make sure you have enabled this reporting by following the instructions here.
Get Your Free Copy of The Tool
To begin, visit the Omnifonic Persona Modeling Tool in Data Studio. This dashboard will already be populated with example data provided by Google Analytics. It’s also not editable so you’ll need to duplicate the dashboard so you can populate it with your own data.
When you click the duplicate icon in the upper right corner, you’ll be asked to assign a data source. This is where you will select your Google Analytics view. The dashboard will populate from there using your own data.
If you don’t see your Google Analytics view listed, click “Create New Data Source” to connect your analytics to the data studio.
Check the date
The data you’ll see is going to be all of your site’s website data for the time period specified. This is defined in the upper right corner where you will see dates.
If your timeframe is too short, you may not have enough aggregate data to populate all of the metrics.
If your timeframe is too long, it may not show data that’s relevant to what’s happening with your audiences today.
Aim for a length that will allow you to get more than 50% of the metrics populated when you filter the view.
Filter the views – create personas.
Are you ready for some fun? Because this is where it gets fun. Dorky fun, but still…
Let’s assume that you want to create a profile of someone who comes in through social media. Click on the Social slice under Default Channel Grouping. Wait (it’s processing a lot of data and if there’s one downside to this dashboard, it’s slow.) and soon all of your stats will be updated to show only those sessions that came in from Social Media.
If you click the Continent drop-down, you’ll see the number of sessions from each continent.
The Region drop-down will show you which State your social media visitors came from.
The City drop-down will show you the cities of your social media visitors.
The Device drop-down will show you the most popular devices social media visitors are using and Operating System will reveal what software they are using.
The Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, Goal Completions, and Avg. Time on Page will also update to only show stats around Social Media visits.
It gets better… Scroll down the page and you will see which Goals and Events were completed by social media visitors and at what volume.
Go lower on the tool and you’ll see the most popular overall Pages social media visitors saw. You can also see the first page of their visit under Landing Page and the last page before they left under Exit Page.
Go down to the bottom and you’ll see the Affinities of your social media audiences, which signals the audience’s lifestyle preferences and In-Market which shows the subjects that the audience is actively searching for or engaged with online.
Hopefully, by now you’re already understanding how powerful this tool can truly be and we haven’t scratched the surface.
We can add additional filtering metrics to this segment to get even more precise in our persona modeling. While still filtered by Social, click the Female gender segment of the chart at the top.
The entire dashboard will update to show you everything about the females who came in through social media. This still includes events, goals, cities, and yes, even affinities and in-market segments.
Now, let’s reset our tool and I want to show you another way to filter. To reset, go to the filtered segments (in this case, the Default Channel Grouping and Gender charts), right-click on each and select Reset Action or, in a pinch, reload the tool and it should reset everything.
With a reset dashboard, scroll down to Page and click on any page listed that you’re curious about.
The entire dashboard will now update to show you the demographics (age, gender, location, devices) of people who visited that page. It will also show you the landing and exit pages, how they got to the site (Default Channel Grouping), events completed by people who saw that page, and if there’s enough data, Affinity and In-Market Segments.
Reset the filters again. Scroll down to Affinity Segments and click “Movie Lovers” (almost every site has the Movie Lovers affinity). This will show you details about who those Movie Lovers are, how they are using their site, and how often they are completing your goals.
Almost every metric on this tool can be used to filter and help refine data to create reliable personas.
Not every menu and metric may be populated. Sometimes it will take more data than your site produces to get at this information. Don’t despair. This is marketing and it’s not always a perfect science. This isn’t all of the data, it’s just the best data you have right now and should help you create a more accurate model of your user’s segments.
Also, this tool can be slow. I pulled some many things out to speed it up (which it did) but we’re still working with big sets of dynamic data. It’s magic – but it’s slow magic. It’s still quicker than putting the info together yourself.
Now that you know something about your segmented visitors, it’s time to create that fictitious characters. Give them names. Some people find it easier to give their characters cute names like “Midwest Martin” or “Shopping Sarah”.
Find a photo online of what that person looks like. This can be helpful in translating the persona to the teams you’re working with, as well as tapping into the humanity of this character.
With data, a name, and an image to guide you, it’s time to write a paragraph or two describing your character. Tell the reader (and your teams) how old the character is, where they live, their marital status, their parental status, where they work, where they play, and most importantly, what they aspire to be on a micro and macro basis.
I also find it helpful to ask ‘why’ as often as possible. Why do they use an iPhone instead of an android? Why is their preferred search engine Google? Why are they in-market for real estate? When you’re able to align the ‘why’ of their life with your product offering, you’re likely to uncover some magic from your campaigns.