Persona Mapping: What it is and why you need to do it

Persona Mapping: What it is and why you need to do it

Hannah Williams
12 May 2017
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Persona mapping is the creation of fictional, but realistic profiles of our target customers. They reflect characteristics like personal attributes, goals, motivations, attitudes and more.

Why use persona mapping?

Persona mapping is a deeper way to understand our customers, compared to traditional research and demographic methods. It allows us to create more personalised strategies, therefore positively impacting customer experience.

So where do we start with persona mapping? 

  1. Start with basic demographics

Knowing basic demographics such as age, gender, occupation and location is important. Whilst we shouldn’t make assumptions on the persona’s of customers based on demographics alone, they do provide initial information. The way we reach out to customers to find out more intimate details about them, may be affected by their age for example. It can also help us come up with the kind of questions we want to know about these people. We can find out such demographics using surveys, a social media monitoring platform such as Meltwater Engage, as well as looking at who our existing clients are.

But, persona mapping doesn’t stop there!

  1. Decide on what you want to know about your customers

Next, we need to be clear on the type of further information we want to use in our persona mapping and how deep we want to go. Remember, the more detail, the more focused and personalised our customer experience can be.

Here are some examples of questions to consider:

  • How many hours do they work?
  • What phone do they use?
  • Do they use social media? What do they use it for?
  • What challenges them in their role?
  • What are their career goals?
  • The average day in the life?
  • What are their values?
  • What buying experience does the customer want?

There are a number of persona mapping templates out there that have the kind of questions we should be asking. We’d recommend trying the below to guide you:

buyer persona examplepersona mapping example

  1. Dig deeper

Finding out more intimate details about our customers gives us a much better basis to target our communications than if we’re working on more superficial assumptions about gender and age.

Media monitoring tools can help us understand the topics of conversation, tonality and the social networks our audience interacts with. We can also learn more about the influencers our target audience interact with, what they read, talk about and how they communicate. This can give us greater insight into our target audience’s aspiration and lifestyle. A combination of media monitoring, focus groups and surveys are likely to provide us with an overall picture of our target market.

  1. Track competitors

Tracking competitors to see who they are targeting helps us stay in the industry know; for example, keeping up to date with who they are targeting so we can easily spot new market opportunities or threats from plying money into redundant audiences. We can do this by looking at their blogs and social media. Who do they address their posts to? For example, blog posts such as ‘How to impress as a marketing intern’ is an easy giveaway of who they are targeting.

Like we mentioned above, we can also use social media monitoring to learn about the positive and negative experiences of our competitor’s customers – what are they complaining or raving about? By learning more about our potential customers, we can better adapt our customer experience approach to stand out against the competition. Use this as part of your persona mapping. 

  1. Analyse traits

Once armed with these details, we can begin to group personality traits together. Try to avoid going back to the “basic” targeting approach, such as grouping all of the ‘marketing manages, males, those who are/ aren’t married’. With all the information we have collected, we can create a number of specific personas by common interests, lifestyles and work roles. Simply keeping a tally of recurrent answers will allow us to begin grouping traits to create our personas.

  1. Check Persona’s against a checklist

Alex Cowan – US-based entrepreneur, advisor and CRM expert has created lots of helpful content surrounding persona mapping. His ‘React’ method, as shown below, is a great list for checking whether we’ve gone deep enough with our persona mapping.  

  • Real: Ensure our personas represent the customers we currently have, not the ones we want. Also, don’t create convenient archetypes, ensure personas are based on substantial research.
  • Exact: Similar to our previous point, ensure we don’t over generalise- create specific persona’s that are more than ‘male 45-55’.
  • Actionable: Are we able to create a customer strategy based on the persona’s we have? If not we need to dig deeper to find out more about each persona.
  • Clear: Could someone else understand the persona? Would they be able to tell a story about the day in the life of the persona? If they can’t, then we need to go back and make this possible.
  • Testable: Test the personas in the field. Perhaps go back to interview subjects and ask if they feel the persona represents them. Adapt communication strategies to suit our new personas. See how our audience are reacting to the communication. Are more people engaging? Is the sentiment towards our brands more positive?

Well, that should get you started with persona mapping. Remember that personas will need to be updated regularly to ensure they’re still relevant. Once we have a better idea of who we’re targeting, mapping content to each individual and their life cycle stage is made that much easier. Learn more about content mapping in our Ebook  

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This blog was updated July 2018.