What you need personas for - and how to create them

What are personas?

When you’re building a blog or relaunching a website, it can sometimes feel like you need a crystal ball: What language style is right? What interests the audience – and who is the target group? Personas can help you get to know your target group better.

In ancient times, actors did not have to be pretty because their faces always disappeared behind a mask anyway. So the audience could tell from the mask whether the role was male or female. And the mood of the character could also be read from the exaggerated facial features. The masks thus told the audience whether the character was young or old, stupid or clever, deceitful or wise. In this way, an entire personality was condensed onto a colourfully painted piece of clay – the persona.

Today, a persona is just as much a clichéd figure that represented a certain type of person, i.e. a cliché or stereotype. The persona is a fictitious personality that, like the mask, combines certain characteristics. The persona should help you to better understand your potential audience. In this way, you learn what interests your audience, what engages them, what bores or moves them. Here you will find some tips on how to build, evaluate and use personas.

What is the persona?

A few scientific facts about personas:

  • In ancient Greek, persona was called πρόσωπον (prosopon), meaning “face”.
    In Latin, acting masks were called “persona”.
  • In analytical psychology according to Carl Gustav Jung, a mask is a kind of collective psyche. It is the face we show to the outside world, and with which we externalise the socially desired behaviours and characteristics.
  • For the sociologist Max Weber, the persona is a summary of a certain social role that we can have within a social system. He also calls this persona a social mould.
  • Sociology in particular bases personas on qualitative and quantitative research. So they can be a good basis for user models.
  • Personas allow us to imagine potential users or the individuals in our audience and understand their needs and requirements.

“Consumers are to business what voters are to politics.”

Jim Turner, journalist

Where do personas help?

Personas can provide answers to the following questions:

  • Which target groups use the offer?
  • What are the usage and media habits of the site visitors?
  • What level and language should the texts have?
  • What prior knowledge do the site visitors have?
  • With what intention do they come to the site?
  • Which media channels should be used
  • With which pages/web offers must the offer be comparable?

>> From personality one can infer requirements

Example: A persona can look like this.

Excerpt from the profile of a persona.
Sure, the persona is fiction. But many copywriters find it easier to write for the 16-year-old hip-hop fan Finn than for a diffuse set of unknowns.

What information can the persona give you? The more detailed the better: age, gender, place of residence, marital status, level of education, profession and income can be possible clues. On average, four to five personas are created for the most important target groups of a campaign. It is important to determine what the persona’s goals and desires are, what language style appeals to them and what needs the offer to the persona must meet.

The personas help to find the right keywords: what terms would the persona search for? This way you can write targeted texts and reduce the bounce rate.

You can find the information for your persona in studies and statistics, but also through reader surveys.


How SEO improves personas

How people interact with your content

An interesting indicator of which people your website is currently attracting is the keywords. With SEO tools, you can see which keywords people have entered before landing on your site. From this, you can see which of your contents are working well, and you can also deduce what they obviously weren’t looking for. Because if you mention a certain technical term again and again, but it doesn’t appear among the relevant keywords, then no one is probably searching for it. You can also draw conclusions for your personas from this.

Time on site is – surprise – the time that visitors stay on one of your pages. For example, if someone has found a certain text on your website via Google and stays on it for 10 minutes, this person will probably have read your text completely. However, if he closes the page again after only a few seconds, although it would rather take a few minutes to read, the spark does not seem to have been ignited.

The bounce rate is a ratio that indicates how many users go to the page but then leave the website without clicking on another link. From the bounce rate you can guess whether the reader liked the text. For example, if someone has searched for solutions to a problem and found them on your page, they may leave the page directly.

That’s why the bounce rate is particularly interesting in connection with the time on site, i.e. in combination with the time the reader spends on your page. Someone who spends about five minutes on an article probably reads it completely. If the page is closed afterwards, you have probably made a reader happy.

However, if the reader bounces after just a few seconds, then your text probably didn’t match their search query. Through

SEO experts call it “bouncing” when someone goes to a page and leaves it again after a certain time without having clicked on another navigation point or another article. The bounce rate indicates how many visitors leave the page without taking any additional action.

The bounce rate does not necessarily mean that your text was not good. It may even be so good that after reading it, visitors have already found all the information they were looking for. For example, when you read a Wikipedia article, you don’t necessarily click on a link in the text or read another article on another topic – and bounce away.

The best way to see if your page is working is to put the bounce rate and the time on site side by side. A high bounce rate and a low time on site can be an indication that the text does not quite match the search query. And a high bounce rate with a high time on site tends to indicate a wikipedia-esque information density.

A customer journey is what marketers call the path a person takes on their journey through a website. This path can be visually captured in a customer journey map and can be guided by the added value of high-quality content and internal links.
A good customer journey is good for your Google ranking, but it is also good for the way your audience feels as they move through the site. This feeling is also referred to as User Experience (UX).

Make the journey through your blog or website easier for your readers – but also through your texts.

Why you should create personas

In a persona, a stereotypical personality can be condensed into a very small space. This personality condensate can help us to get to know our customers better. You can record the results of your target group analysis in one or more personas – depending on what you have in mind. For example, if you want to write a children’s book, you can create a persona for the grandson who looks at the picture book, the aunt who buys your picture book and the editor who loves your picture book.
The personas help you get a better sense of who you are doing all this for. They give you an idea of the character, the needs and the ways in which you can reach the persona.

How to create personas

To do this, create a template that is as simple and clear as possible, in which you enter the various characteristics of the personas. You can find an example of this at the top of this page.

Think about what you want to ask your persona, such as what they are looking for on your site, what their current problem is, what language they like and what medium they prefer. You can also take a look at the statistics. There are extensive and well-founded studies on the media usage behaviour of different age groups. These can give you an idea of how and on which channel you can best reach your personas.

If you keep in mind the fictitious people from your personas, you can tailor your service, your advertising material and your external communication to the personas better than you could have done for an undefined, diffuse target group. If you are planning to outsource design or copywriting to external service providers, the personas will make the briefing easier. Many marketing professionals are already used to working with personas. In addition, personas remind you to think in a customer-centric way and not to write a monologue about yourself on your website. In this way, personas can make you a real customer whisperer.

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How to create a persona

When you’re building a blog or relaunching a website, it can sometimes feel like you need a crystal ball: What language style is right? What interests the audience – and who is the target group? Personas can help you get to know your target group better.

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