Monday, November 12, 2007

Personas Do More Than Increase Conversion Rates

image There was a long pause. "Wow, that could be our tag line."

I was on the phone with three executives of a $150 million telecommunications services company. We were in the middle of a Conversion Analysis Interview in which I was taking them through the process of organizing what they already knew about their customers.

The process includes discovering the core benefits of each of the "features" of what they offer. In this case, we uncovered new ways to look at and talk about the business.

The interview is part of a process designed to create Personas, or "named profiles that represent members of each key customer group, and describe their characters, personalities, tastes, and quirks." Once we're done with the process, then entire team -- copywriters, designers, marketers -- talk in a different way about their visitors.

"Tom Techie isn't going to relate to this copy."

"Mary Meticulous needs a more detailed spec sheet on the site."

"We'll put a big read button in the header for Peter Paniced."

Tom, Mary and Peter are Personas, virtual stand-ins for larger segments of my clients' visitors. The names draw to mind intimate details about each persona and give the entire team a uniform focus.

People can relate to people easier than they can relate to analytics reports.

Unexpected Benefits

In almost every one of the conversion interviews I've done over the past year, we've accomplished more than we expected to.

  • We've simplified messages by boiled long lists of feature statements into a few core benefits
  • We've reduced the workload of marketing teams by making it intuitive to prioritize content development
  • We've redefined the company tag line or value statement
  • We've gotten previously unheard salespeople into the marketing process
  • We've helped executives understand "what the hell was the marketing team thinking" when proposing experimental projects.

We've also increased conversion rates and revenues.

If I haven't personally introduced you to Conversion Analysis using Personas, then read this article for a great summary of what they are and why they work. Thanks to for the reference. - Persona-lizing a site

Photo Courtesy bigevil600


  1. Amy Looper9:08 AM

    Hey Brian! Thanks for the post on Personas and the additional link to the article. Excellent stuff!

    My question is specifically about personas for youth marketing. It seems this approach would work equally as well with them. What do you think? Or are kids too all over the place ie: chasing the latest fad as quick as the wind changes) to be able to place them into persona buckets withour running the risk of gearing up offers to them that would be obsolete in short order? Would their needs and demands "as customers" reflect accurately enough information to leverage personas for this target market?

    Thanks for your time in advance!


  2. Amy, I'm certain that personas will work with teens. Remember, you don't create profiles of every possible visitor. You'll probably want to start by targeting what we call the influencials, those that tend to spread the word. Cater to them and they'll do much of the rest for you. You'll also want to create a profile for contributors and even lurkers. In a few profiles you can address the key personas that you want on the site.


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