Customer Journey Mapping: The 4 principles of persona development

Personas are a tool for building customer-centric services and products. They play a pivotal role in customer journey mapping and the development of customer-centric data strategies. However, there is always a risk that they become pen portraits or customer segments – these are valuable marketing tools but are very different to personas.  

These 4 key principles will help you to develop effective customer personas.

What is a persona and why should you use them?

A persona is an archetype of your customer groups that focuses on every interaction with the brand and helps you develop better insights to enhance services, products and communications.

Personas are a tool and a powerful way to: 

  • Communicate knowledge about your customers
  • Understand behaviour and empathise with their experiences
  • We find that personas also improve marketing research, analytics and performance metrics development.

4 Key Principles

Follow these tips to ensure that you build personas correctly and use them as the right kind of tool.

1. Persona isn't a customer segment

Personas represent customer actions and objectives, and they qualify customers groups’ motivations, behaviour, needs and pains. They tend to be specific to a particular product or service that you offer and the aim in developing them is to deliver deeper insight about your buyers, customers or prospects. 

Customer segmentation is about grouping together customers based on similarities they share with respect to a dimensions you deem relevant to your business or marketing activity. Customer segmentation is aimed at targeted campaigns, personalised communications.

2. You can't make them up!

Personas are evidence-based and data-driven. 

However they are not a customer profile. Demographics, psychographics, purchasing data and other characteristics are important data points used to describe a target customer and their profile. Personas primarily use market research (qual and quant) and perhaps a little profiling to add colour. 

3. Persona is a translation of customer goals

Customer goals can be described as customer pain points, motivations, drivers and a set of interactions with the brand. Keeping your focus on customer goals enables better customer-centric strategies.

4. Not a quantitative process

Avoid analysis paralysis by putting data on top of data to try to build your personas. Instead, focus on using qualitative and experiential analysis to provide deep insights and better focus on customer goals. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to commission lengthy, expensive research. It may well be that this insight exists within your organisation already – harness the knowledge of key people within your business – and a lot can be gleaned from informal customer interviews, listening to customer service calls and complaints. 

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