From research to content tools: Personas and scenarios

  • By Team CSI
  • |
  • May 29 2017
Categories: |Toolbox

Turn your data into stories with personas and scenarios

Audience findings aren’t useful if they’re filed away on someone’s hard drive. Gathering content insights is just the beginning. It’s time to take the next step and start building out tools for your content team. Personas are a great place to start. They’re fictional archetypes that represent your company’s distinct customer groups. These customer groups would have surfaced and been confirmed during your audience research.

How personas help

Personas ensure that consumer needs are considered during content development, design, and maintenance. They help teams work more efficiently and diplomatically. You can use personas to:

  • Eliminate personal bias from the decision-making process. Discussions are no longer based on what a team member thinks but on what “Tom” needs.
  • Validate proposed solutions. Are the needs of all audience personas being met?
  • Ensure that user-focus is maintained across all content channels.
  • Initiate discussion and idea sharing between all team members. E.g., How can we meet “Sue’s” needs? What would she respond to?

Create your persona

Your personas may have different elements depending on your industry and the type of questions included in your survey. We recommend including the following elements in your personas:

Demographics

These bits of data are easily drawn from your online survey results. Segment your results and note the average demographic information for each major group. This includes:

  • Age
  • Marital and family status
  • Location
  • Job title (if you’re a B2B company)

Personal insights

We recommend including both a bulleted list of the highlights and a descriptive paragraph in first person to help your content team connect with each persona. This requires turning data into stories. You’ll have to extrapolate from the information your audience provided on content needs, topics, and priorities. Refer back to the deeper insights you pulled from interview or focus group participants. 

Bulleted list

  • Content needs
  • Identified problems
  • Preferred content channels
  • Topics of interest
  • Preferred formats
  • Key motivators

Descriptive paragraph

  • What’s important to them
  • Why it’s important to them
  • What they find interesting
  • How they search for information
  • Their other online habits
  • What gets them excited
  • What motivates them
  • What makes them nervous

Fictional bits
Use your creativity to come up with the following:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Descriptive title: Describe the segment your persona represents. For example, Avid Golfer or Stressed-out CEO.
  • Quote: You can take this from one of your audience interviews, or make one up that represents your persona.
Sample persona

Sample persona. Photo credit: Iouri Goussev

Add scenarios

Once you’ve created personas, you can build upon them by writing scenarios. These are specific situations your personas will find themselves in.

Start with the priority tasks and topics identified in your online survey. Create a scenario for each task that aligns with the corresponding persona. For example, Avid Golfer Tom will be traveling to a new city and wants to see if there are any golf courses nearby.

Use these to ensure your audience segments will be able to complete each of their priority tasks and answer their priority questions easily through your content. The combination of personas and scenarios will keep your team focused on audience needs as they organize and develop content.

 Further reading

From research to content tools: Audience messaging cards

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