How to Create a Persona in 4 Steps: A Guide with Template & Examples
Every successful product marketer has at some point wondered how to create a persona. Good user personas are critical to any successful product marketing campaign.
They help you decide what product or service to prioritize, streamline your advertising and marketing, and better connect leads with their goals and pain points. Put simply, user personas impact your entire business model.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at the user persona creation process. We share a user persona template, an example persona, and also helpful tips to follow when creating personas.
- User personas are semi-fictional characters that illustrate the needs, pains, goals, and demography of your ideal product user.
- A user persona answers three primary questions: Who is the user? What is their primary goal? and What are their pain points?
- The number of user personas you need will vary depending on your business and the diversity of your audience. While most businesses only need 2 or 3, others may need more.
- Good user personas help you to design better products for your target users and achieve PMF. It also helps you improve customer retention and make better marketing decisions.
There are four steps to creating a user persona for your business:
- Conduct extensive user research to learn who your ideal user is and why they use your product. You can start by collecting data on your existing users through:
- Product usage data
- User surveys (such as churn surveys, end-of-trial surveys, CSAT surveys, etc.)
- User interviews
- Website analytics
- Product analytics, and more.
3. Create user personas around your user segments. Work with a persona template or a persona creator (e.g. Hubspot) to create a data-backed persona.
4. Finally, build a negative persona to identify qualities that lead to failure with your product.
- Book a demo today and learn how Userpilot helps businesses like yours collect valuable customer data for the creation of impactful user personas.
What is a user persona?
A user persona is a semi-fictional character that represents your current or ideal customer. It is a composite character that paints a clear picture of your target audience — their goals, behaviors, and needs.
What does a persona consist of?
User personas are not guessed. Instead, they’re created using data from real people. A good user persona must contain a few key features and answer the following questions:
- Who are they? User personas should tell you who the user is. It should identify their job role, marital status, demographics, etc. For example, someone purchasing a lead management product may be in sales.
- What is their main goal? Here, you want to identify their motivations for using your product or service. For example, our salesperson may use your software to track and organize leads.
- What are their pain points? Pain points refer to the challenges or barriers the user faces while trying to accomplish their goal. For example, our salesperson might struggle with remembering and satisfying the many leads they generate daily.
User persona example from Userpilot
To better understand what a persona is, let’s examine an example persona for Userpilot. Userpilot is a product growth and user onboarding tool designed to drive user adoption for SaaS companies.
As a result, one of its primary customer personas is a Product Manager from a B2B SaaS company. This manager wants to better understand how users use their product so they can align users’ needs with product development and increase business revenue.
How many personas should you have?
When looking to build personas, it’s important to note that your users will have different motivations for using your product.
The number of personas you need will depend on your business and the diversity of your audience. For example, the software developer persona may be critical for a product handling API integrations while accounting for only 2% of your user base.
Likewise, most businesses have multiple distinct personas. And the impact of each persona will determine whether they’re acknowledged or not. For some businesses, 2 or 3 are enough while others may need up to 20.
Why do businesses need user personas?
Each user persona is a reflection of a real user, therefore they help you better understand the different ways people use your product.
Armed with this knowledge, you can design your product to meet the specific needs of your target audience and find new ways to target that audience with your marketing campaigns, making it easier for you to achieve product-market fit (PMF).
Achieving PMF is also crucial to improving your retention rate. A product with a good PMF has enough customers willing to pay for it, making it easier to attract and retain customers.
Ultimately, crafting your user personas early on helps you make better product marketing decisions. Knowing what each user needs from your product helps you to better position your product in a manner that communicates your value to the user.
The process of creating user personas
Regardless of your business model, there is an art to creating good user personas. First, you want to gather useful data and analyze it before building a persona based on that data.
1. Perform user research
Good personas are a reflection of your ideal customer. As a result, you must avoid making assumptions or doing guesswork while creating them. Instead, your personas should be the product of extensive user or market research.
So, where do you begin? Start by collecting data from your existing customers. This data can reveal valuable insights about who your customer is and what they use your product for.
There are a variety of methods for collecting data from your users, including:
- Product usage data to help you identify patterns in how customers use your product. This data captures everything from how customers engage with your product to their in-app behavior.
- User surveys to help you hear from your users. Welcome surveys can tell you who your users are and why they need your product, while other surveys like the PMF survey tell you how customers feel about your product.
- User interviews allow you to speak in detail with your customer and identify their need for your product, and how they’ve made it work for them.
- Website analytics to get a clear picture of how visitors interact with your website on their way to becoming customers.
- Finally, social media comments from users give you an unfiltered view of your customers’ thoughts about your brand.
2. Analyze the data and find patterns
After gathering data, your next task is to analyze the data to find patterns. This data analysis process is where you ‘make sense’ of all the data you’ve collected from your customers.
Your goal here is to identify clusters of similarities/differences within your user base and segment your users based on these similarities.
Ensure you keep an open mind while analyzing the data. The personas you identify must not confirm your internal narratives or biases. Instead, listen to the data and allow it to speak for itself.
3. Create personas
Finally, it’s time to create user personas. The second step above should have revealed about 2–5 distinct personas which you’ll build out in this step.
Ideally, you’ll want to work with a persona template or a tool that generates a persona for you. For instance, tools like Hubspot have a persona generator that fills in a template with the data you provide.
If you don’t already have users, you may skip step 2 above and use an AI tool to build personas based on your product description.
Note that the best personas are derived from real data. So, when using a tool, ensure you collect data and constantly update the persona.
Your final persona(s) should have a name, demographic information (like age, location, qualification, etc.), goals related to your product, pain points, and motivations.
4. Build negative personas
Before leaving for good, there’s one last persona you must create — the negative persona. A negative persona is exactly the kind of person you don’t want to attract.
These users are a bad fit for your product as they’re unlikely to find value in it. Building out a negative persona helps you identify customer profiles that lower your retention rate.
Ultimately, it keeps you from wasting your time and gives you a better idea of who your ideal customer is.
How to collect real data for your persona creation process
The key to creating a good customer persona lies in the quality of data you’re able to gather. Let’s dive a little deeper into the different data collection methods available to you.
Collect data during a sign-up flow to create personas
Beyond making a good first impression on customers, the sign-up flow presents your first opportunity to get to know them better.
Consequently, you want to include questions that help you better understand your user in your sign-up flow. For example, the Miro sign-up page includes questions about the user’s purpose, role, job description, company size, etc.
The insight gotten from these questions will inform you about your user’s job to be done, company demographics, etc., which will help you create accurate customer segments for your customer personas.
Learn more about your target audience with in-app surveys
Leverage in-app surveys to learn more about your already existing customers. In-app surveys allow you to connect with your existing customer base and learn more about them.
If you missed the chance to send out a welcome survey at the start of the user journey, for instance, in-app surveys allow you to do this later. You can send out a survey that identifies the customer’s role, goals, and pain points.
Likewise, other types of surveys can tell you how well your customers rate your product, what features they like best, etc.
Collect customer data through interviews
Interviews help you learn even more about your users than surveys ever will. They give you a chance to speak at length with multiple users and identify the different user personas in your user base.
However, you may not be able to interview every user in your user base. Instead, select users who meet your desired criteria for your interview.
Next, send out in-app invites to your target users for an interview. You can make the time spent worthwhile for the customer by offering a free voucher to responders.
Take a look at your analytics to find product usage patterns
Product usage data captures all of the user interactions within your product and its different features.
It tells you how much of the product is utilized by a user and provides objective insights into customer behavior. As you examine the data, you’ll likely find varying customer goals, feature preferences, etc.
These patterns will help you when creating user personas, making it easy for you to identify user clusters.
Dig deep into individual user analytics
Your power users are a group of users who have mastered how best to use your product and are not shy to tell others about it.
Identify and examine each power user more closely to find patterns. Look out for their pain points, most used features, goals achieved, etc.
The information you gather here will help you to identify user clusters for your personas and provide you with invaluable data for creating your personas.
Look into qualitative responses from satisfaction surveys collected at multiple touchpoints
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys provide you with wonderful insight into the thoughts of your customer.
It tells you if your customer is happy with your services, the features they like the most, and how willing they are to recommend it to others.
Conduct CSAT surveys at different touchpoints in the user journey to help you understand how satisfied your users are. Then, pair the results you get with the user’s JTBD to identify differences in the needs of your user personas.
Collect user persona surveys at different touchpoints in the customer journey
Conduct regular user persona surveys to help you understand areas of frustration for your users and better identify your ideal persona.
For instance, you can launch these surveys at the end of a user’s trial period to learn what’s stopping them from upgrading. Their responses will help you understand buying behavior and limitations.
For example, users who tell you the product is too expensive can give you an idea of what they expect. Likewise, users who say they can’t achieve their goals can tell you the JTBD you’re not satisfying.
Learn about customer pain points from churn surveys
Much like end-of-trial surveys, churn surveys help you understand the reasoning behind customers who abandon your product.
The responses you get can help you improve your product to increase retention. But, they can also help you identify traits of users that are least likely to find value in your product — a good recipe for creating negative personas.
Get customer success or sales team insights
Few people understand your customers as much as your sales and customer success teams. They talk to potential customers first and understand your customers’ pain points and challenges. This makes them a great source of information about who your ideal customer is and who it isn’t.
Harness data from social media comments
Finally, you may sometimes have to look outward for data. Social media users are quick to share their opinions and engage with other product users.
You can either track the random comments they make or encourage them to leave comments on your page. As you do, try to learn of their pain points and desires.
Use the data collected to improve the product and to create user personas and negative personas for your product.
Collecting the right data is an extremely important part of creating good user personas. Next, you want to carefully analyze the data to find patterns in it before creating a fully formed persona from it.
Thankfully, Userpilot makes it uber-easy to gather all of the data you need to create a user/buyer persona. Book a demo today and a representative will contact you to discuss how Userpilot helps supercharge your product marketing efforts.