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What Data You Need to Create a Valuable User Persona and How You Get It

Targeting your key audiences can be a challenging endeavor, especially if you’re unsure of what data points you should give the most credence to.

A user persona, also known as user story mapping, is a focused representation of quantitative and qualitative customer data.

In simplest terms, it’s a tool for creating a fictional “customer” that symbolizes an actual brand audience. It intends to summarize a given customer’s behaviors, demographics and needs to inform business marketing decisions.

As a team undergoes the process of building targeted user maps, they will find that they develop a better understanding of who their customers are and what they are looking for from businesses like theirs.

Gathering User Persona Data

While every example of a user story will look different based on factors such as whether a company is B2B or B2C, there is an essential cross-section of standard, helpful information.

Basic Demographics

Begin at the beginning. Businesses can use broad stroke demographics to create a rudimentary outline of someone to whom they plan to market.

Include information such as:

  • A fictional name
  • Age and generation
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Number and age of children
  • A short personality narrative

Demographics provide a wealth of information, especially as the persona gets into the more quantitative data like preferred social media channels or a typical buyer’s journey.

Most Frequented Social Media Channels

Suppose a company plans to implement a user persona as a resource for building a social media marketing plan. In that case, they must have a crystal clear understanding of which platforms their customers use.

Otherwise, a marketing team could potentially waste vast swaths of their budget on ads and content their intended audience won’t even see.

For example, those in the 65+ age group represent a mere 13% of Instagram users.

A B2C company that markets to seniors could conclude that spending time creating an Instagram marketing strategy would likely be a waste of resources.

In contrast, a Facebook-focused plan could potentially target 50% of older users.

Pain Points and Frustrations

Successful user story mapping includes defining ways a business can solve problems its customers face.

In any purchasing journey, a consumer is seeking a solution to a perceived problem. A business’s job is to solve that problem with a solution-oriented, value-added brand personality to back up its claims.

Defining the specific pain point on a user story can sharpen the trajectory of a product or service, which means a more productive marketing strategy.

Buyer’s Journey and Shopping Habits

Buyers tend to seek particular routines when trying to solve a problem, and a business that understands those routines has a cutting-edge advantage over those that don’t.

That advantage is the ability to step in before a buyer meets a hurdle that could define whether they choose one brand over another.

The latest demographic of shoppers, Gen Z, take their time thoroughly researching products and seeking out the best values. They tend to be savers, not spenders, and emphasize quality.

Marketing teams aware of these tendencies would then know that their products must appeal to that buyer’s journey and adjust their advertising efforts accordingly.

Website Use Analytics

Analyzing how visitors use a business site can inform an almost unimaginable number of digital strategies, from shifting product emphasis in email ads based on search patterns to changing how much text is on the site’s home page.

Combine website-use analytics with other data to decrease bounce rate, increase organic traffic, and drill down on particular site content that performs well with customers.

How to Gather User Persona Data

As a business’s data team seeks out information, they should remember that the most valuable resource is the customer. While statistics are informative, they’re nowhere near as impactful as insight into what the actual buyers have to say.

On-Site Surveys

Customers want to communicate with brands. With the ease of interaction provided by social media presence, there is an expectation that dialogue will happen between a business and its buyers.

Capitalize on that fact by seeking out data straight from the source. Use on-site surveys at check-out or pop-up landing pages offering discounts in exchange for information.

Segmented Email Lists

If a business already has email lists, they have the perfect channel to communicate with specific groups of users in an organized manner.

Cast a wide net by creating surveys based on segmented audience groups, then sending them out to the relevant inboxes. Be sure to tell the recipients that their feedback is actively helping shape how the company will grow to serve them better.

Unbiased, Research-Based Statistics

While first-party data is ideal, plenty of statistical information is necessary for a comprehensive user persona.

Sites like Statista and Pew Research offer invaluable, unbiased databases over virtually any topic a marketer could need to achieve their user story mapping goals.


User personas and user story mapping are not new concepts, but they are evolving into something greater than the sum of their parts.

With this tool at the helm of their strategy, businesses can craft productive strategies that authentically attract their intended audience by streamlining insights and reflecting actual customer expectations.


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