As strategic marketers and UX strategists, we understand the importance of persona development, yet many still have a difficult time selling in this important step within their organizations. When discussing the persona development process with clients, I tend to receive the same questions at the outset of every project. So, I thought it might benefit our readers to tackle the basic answers to many of those questions in this post. Here it goes.
We have segmentation. Why do we need personas?
Customer segmentation enables marketers to understand the similarities in customer groups—whether it be demographic or behavioral commonalities—to uncover which customers have the most growth potential, ultimately leading to understanding which customers need the most attention.
On the other hand, personas provide a more personalized “character”—one based upon robust qualitative and sometimes quantitative research methodologies. These personas become the center of a user-centric story. The fictional hero, if you will, of a story that organizations can use as a roadmap for envisioning and evaluating what will be a truly motivating customer experience. Real end-users aren’t available throughout the strategic development and design process. However, a persona, through their story, gives them a voice by proxy that can be referred to throughout the experience design process enabling more strategic decision making.
Why should we invest in customer insights to develop personas?
While personas are fictional characters, they are characters developed as a composite of real end-users and insights uncovered during secondary and primary qualitative or quantitative research. Investing in a customer research initiative to develop personas ensures your personas are based in reality. Providing a true representation of the goals, motivations, nuance and behaviors of end-users to your project team minimizes any unconscious bias or assumed perceptions within the team or organization.
What’s the ROI of persona research?
Simply put, the ROI is time—and therefore money. Personas ensure project teams are grounded in an understanding of the user whose problem they’re solving. They’re better able to avoid rabbit holes and making assumptions by developing solutions based on where their end users currently are—resulting in more efficient problem solving and often, less rework.
Finally, if your organization likes concrete numbers, here’s a big one.
Forrester reports a web redesign using personas can provide a return of up to four times over a site design not using personas.1 I believe the same, if not greater, return can be expected using personas to develop any customer experience solution.