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Creating a persona: explanation, template and example


Creating a persona or buyer persona? In this article, we give you a clear explanation on how to create personas, you will see a Dutch example persona and you can download a fillable buyer persona template. 

What is a persona?

A persona or buyer persona is a fictional person that describes the needsexperiencesgoals, and buying and decision-making behaviour of a specific customer segment.

Personas can be divided into two groups: 

  • Persona (also called user persona). The persona or user persona maps the preferences, wants and needs of the person who will ultimately use the product or service.

  • Buyer persona. Unlike a (user) persona, a buyer persona maps the preferences, wants and needs of the person who is authorised to purchase the product. 

Creating a persona (B2C)

In a B2C context, the person who buys the product or service is often also the person who will use it. This means your best bet is to create a normal persona. Still, there are exceptions to this too. For example, consider a situation where a parent buys a toy for a child. In this case, there is both a persona and a buyer persona. You would then do well to create both types of personas. 

Creating a buyer persona (B2B)

In a B2B context, there are often multiple stakeholders involved in buying a product or service. Is the person with the decision-making power not going to use the product or service themselves? If so, you'll want to put together a buyer persona (B2B) in addition to a user persona. 

In other words, the person who makes the purchase - the buyer persona - does not always have to be the person who will subsequently use the product or service (the user persona). When creating personas, therefore, ask yourself the question: is the person who makes the purchase also the person who will use the product? 

If the answer is yes? Then you're in luck. You can then get off with creating one type of persona: the user persona, for which often just the term persona is used. 

Is the answer no? Then, in addition to creating the (user) persona, you should also create the buyer persona. 

The benefits of user personas

The purpose of a persona and buyer persona is to gain insight into the needsexperiencesgoals and purchasing or decision-making behaviour of various target group segments. Because personas are based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative research, you get a realistic and reliable picture of various customer groups. 

Creating personas helps you set the right tone for each customer segment and respond to the needs and issues that those within the persona are struggling with. 

The benefits of personas are: 

  • Better content. Buyer personas help you create content they are really interested in. Capitalise on the pain points and needs that persona is struggling with for optimal results.   

  • Better ad targeting. Use the different personas as a starting point for ad campaigns on Google, TikTok and Meta. By creating content that resonates with the group, you get more return from your ads. 

  • You get more out of UX research. Use the different personas as a starting point when conducting quantitative and qualitative UX research. Sound UX research depends on the quality of the respondents, so having personas is an excellent starting point. 

The contents of a user persona

A persona and buyer persona should contain at least the following information to be of value to a company:

  • Demographic characteristics. Give meaning to the persona by adding some demographic characteristics such as age, education level, job title and marital status.
  • Biography. Write a short story in the form of a biography, clearly highlighting what is typical for this target segment.
  • Pain points (pains). Describe common pain points of this target segment. What are common pain points for this segment? Think both broadly (e.g. macroeconomic), but also about specific pain points related to the product or service you offer. 
  • Gains or fine points (gains). Describe the benefits and motivations this persona sees with the type of product or service you offer. 
  • Fears. Describe the issues that concern the persona.
  • Objectives. Name the long-term goals the persona has.
  • Product expectations. Get a clear picture of the persona's expectations regarding your product and/or service.
  • Purchase and decision-making behaviour. Summarise how this persona makes a decision and describe what the purchasing process looks like for this persona.
  • Quotes. Bring the persona to life by working with quotes you collected after conducting in-depth interviews.
  • Social media. Describe which channels the (buyer) persona is active on.
  • Communication preferences. Name the communication preferences and explain them.

The above aspects will help you draw up personas for different types of personas. Do not focus on the above aspects. Are other factors important for your product or service? Then you can include these in the in-depth interviews.

Example user persona and user persona template

Download our examples and templates for free.

Download user persona template

Most common pitfalls of user personas

While several studies have shown that working with personas and buyer personas can be very rewarding, there are a number of pitfalls to watch out for.

No management buy-in

Getting buy-in from management can be tricky. Under the guise of 'We know the customer anyway', persona research can be dismissed as unnecessary. This is a misconception, as knowing a few customers does not equate to substantiated personas representing different customer segments. 

It may be wise to present persona creation as a way to get everyone on the same page. The biggest advantage of personas is that it prevents you from creating marketing statements or designs that suit yourself but not the target audience. In short, making personas prevents making assumptions and steering by gut feeling. And as icing on the cake, it prevents internal discussions about 'what the user wants'.

Creating personas in silos

Buyer personas are only useful when used organisation-wide. Creating personas is therefore not something that should only be done by the marketing or UX team.

To avoid personas not being used, it is important to involve stakeholders in the research process. For example, make sure they watch along when in-depth interviews are conducted with the customer or that they have access to the recordings.

Is watching the session or viewing recordings too time-consuming? Then make sure you keep them informed via a newsletter or an e-mail sharing the progress of the persona research.

When stakeholders don't know what a persona is and why they are of value

Although personas have been around for a long time and are in circulation at many different companies, not everyone has a clear idea of what exactly a persona is and how they can apply it in their daily work. 

Therefore, once you have created the buyer personas, make sure you not only present them, but also provide the stakeholder with clear tools to then use them.

Create a user persona in five steps

Wondering how to create a B2B or B2C persona? With these five steps, you can conduct your own persona research and create your buyer or user persona.

Step 1 - Define the target group

Creating a persona depends on defining the target group before you start fieldwork. First ask yourself the question: is the person making the purchase also the person who will use the product or service? If so, you can work with the standard persona type. Is this not the case? Then you also want to create a buyer persona.

common mistake when defining the target group is to only look at the group that is currently a customer. In doing so, you exclude an equally important group. Namely the group that are not yet customers, but do fall within the target group. Ideally, you combine different data sources here. Don't just look at your own customer database, but also use Google Analytics, for example, to gain insight into the different visitor groups that visit the website and use this to draw up the target group criteria.

Step 2 - Collect quantitative data

Once the target group has been defined, you can start gathering quantitative insights among the target group. Sending out a questionnaire among the target group not only ensures that you get a picture of sentiment in the market, but also helps you make a diverse selection of respondents to conduct in-depth interviews (see next step).

Step 3 - Conducting in-depth interviews

Creating personas and buyer personas is done by engaging with your target group. Using in-depth interviews and a pre-prepared interview script, make sure you get the most out of the conversations and obtain enough information to create personas. To create representative personas, conducting 12 to 15 interviews is recommended.

Pro tip: the research stands or falls with the selection of respondents. Therefore, make sure you make a diverse selection, for instance based on the response to the questionnaire you sent in step 2. You can also outsource the recruitment of respondents.

Step 4 - Analysis

When you get to this step, the fieldwork is over and you can get to work on the analysis. Chances are you have collected a large amount of data. Can't see the wood for the trees? Then go through the persona analysis using the three stages below.

  • List all variables. Make a big list of all the different variables or characteristics that emerged in the questionnaire and interviews.

  • Match the interviewees with the variables. Now that you have a list of all the variables, it is time to match the interviewees.

  • Identify trends. Go through the research data and try to create clusters of six to eight variables per persona.

Step 5 - Create personas

In this step, you have gathered and categorised enough information to create the personas. You can choose to create them all by yourself or use our free persona template.

Frequently asked questions about creating user personas

Who do you interview to compile a persona?
To build representative personas, it is important to interview a diverse group of respondents. Make sure you look beyond who is currently in your customer base and also interview people who fall within the target group, but are not yet customers. This way, you make sure you get a good picture of the different personas within the target group.

How many personas should you put together?
Generally, two to four personas follow after conducting persona research. The question here is also: to what extent can the (communication) needs of the personas be met? In some cases, it may be more practical to work with two broader personas instead of four more focused personas.

How do I prevent the people I interview from falling within the same persona?
Conducting solid persona research hinges on the selection made while recruiting respondents. Include enough questions in the interview application form to allow for a diverse selection. Or outsource it to a recruitment agency like User Sense.

How many interviews to conduct in persona research?
Conducting interviews is a qualitative research method. And with qualitative research it is important to continue fieldwork to the point where you are no longer collecting new information. To create personas, conducting 12 to 15 in-depth interviews are sufficient.