Who's Invited to Your Party? Defining User Personas May Help.

In my previous employment, one of my responsibilities was planning and marketing grand opening events for new home neighborhoods. The homebuilder would want us to throw VIP events for those on the neighborhood waiting lists, unveiling the new model homes for pre-sale opportunities — yes, you guessed it, this was in the early 2000s during the home-building boom. There was a lot of hard work and preparation that went into coordinating these events; defining the theme, hiring entertainment, determining the food, designing invitations, etc. All this planning only proves successful if you target the right people — your desired audience. I mean what’s a great event if no one comes?

This type of planning and defined marketing strategy should also be considered when developing a website or preparing your online marketing campaigns.

When Rhythm engages with a client during the discovery and strategy phase, we conduct an exercise to develop user personas for that client’s target audience. According to uxmag.com, a persona represents a cluster of users who exhibit similar behavioral patterns in their purchasing decisions, use of technology or products, customer service preferences, lifestyle choices, and the like. Behaviors, attitudes, and motivations are common to a persona regardless of age, gender, education, and other demographics. In fact, personas vastly span demographics.

After interviewing a client’s stakeholders, customers, and other influencers, we start to define the targeted user personas for those who will be using the website or searching to find the website or other marketing tools. Understanding what incident or triggered event the user has gone through helps guide us through the state of mind of what they will need when they conduct their search or land on your website. Google defines this as the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), or the online decision-making moment. Whether we are researching or shopping for assessment books, assisted living facilities, or a branding agency, the Internet has changed how we decide what to buy. Understanding what the triggered effect is or that life changing moment that made the user decide they need or are searching for your product or service, is critical. Therefore, defining user personas with the understanding of the perceived actions that they will take on your site and digging deep into their state of mind is equally as important.

Defining user personas is a good way to understand why a user will come to your website, how they will search, what actions they need to take, and what sections they will be viewing. It’s critical to define these during the strategy phase so you can ensure that the site’s purpose reflects the user’s needs and your content strategy is also defined to help the user search in a seamless fashion.

So as critical as it is determining the site architecture, design and technology, take a step back and first define who the users are that will be visiting your new site and identify the different user personas/target audiences so you can serve them the most accurate, relevant and actionable content on your site.

Your site should be the event destination that your user gets invited to and arrives at. Just be sure that when they reach their destination, you entertain and engage them with the content they were hoping to find, and provide them with actions they need to take so they don’t leave your “event” thinking they didn’t belong at the party.

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