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User personas, user archetypes and user stories are an essential component of any data-driven marketing strategy. Businesses depend on accurate predictions of user behaviors to make the right decisions. When you understand the expectations of your target customers, you can build a successful product that meets their needs and increases your market share. 

Smart organizations combine insights from user personas and archetypes and use the information to develop effective user stories that capture the behaviors and characteristics of the market. With this data, they can align their core messaging, brand value, and product positioning to meet user's expectations. 

What is a User Persona? 

A user persona is a semi-fictional character representing your ideal customer profile or core business customers. It mirrors the preferences, characteristics, and behaviors of the people who would be most interested in your product or service. 

The idea of user personas is to provide enough detail that drives informed decision-making for the product. It helps you to frame your brand's offering and messages in a way that best appeals to the people you want to attract. 

Most businesses start building their user persona using demographic information. So, it's common to see a description like this, "Caucasian, 42, high-income earner, university-educated." While this is an excellent place to start, it's not exhaustive. 

"user-persona-questions

The right user persona goes beyond demographic information to explore the core needs and preferences of its target audience. It digs into their experiences to uncover customers' main goals and any obstacles to achieving these goals. The only way to discover these details is to get into your customers’ heads using VOC research. 

When you have a well-researched user persona, it becomes easier to build a product that people love. 

Read: User Research: Definition, Methods, Tools and Guide

Types of User Personas 

User personas are classified into four types based on their perspectives. Let's go into them in detail. 

1. Goal-Directed Persona 

A Goal-Directed persona prioritizes what the target audience wants to achieve with your product or service and how they plan to use your product to achieve this goal. 

2. Role-Based Personas 

Goal-directed personas and role-based personas are pretty similar. However, the difference is that role-based personas focus on the behavior and emphasize the user's role in the organization.  

3. Engaging Personas 

An engaging persona merges role and goal-directed personas with traditional rounded personas. The idea here is to create a realistic depiction of the target audience or ICP using illustrations. A good example is a 3D rendering of a character. 

4. Fictional Personas 

Unlike other user personas, fictional personas are not developed from actual data (user research). Instead, they stem from the experience of the UX design team. These types of personas are based on calculated assumptions that can be true or false. 

What are User Archetypes? 

A user archetype outlines the behavioral expectations and general characteristics of the target customers. In other words, it is a detailed prediction of thoughts, feelings, opinions, and emotions of your user groups based on interpreting existing patterns. 

"user-archetypes"

User archetypes show you how an existing customer is using your product or service at the moment. They provide relevant information for understanding the approach and functionality of a user experience. You can understand customers' motivations for using your product and prioritize relevant product features based on this information. 

Explore: Customer Experience: Examples, Strategy & Improvement Tips

What are User Stories? 

User stories are minor units of an agile framework and are most common in software development and product management. 

You can think of user stories as simple, informal explanations of how a customer uses a particular product. The whole idea here is to show how the product or feature solves a specific problem for the end-user. 

User stories are devoid of all technical jargon or high-level language. Instead, they explain the end goal of a feature from the primary user's perspective. These stories emphasize your ideal customer's need and their reason for choosing a particular product over others. 

A good user story helps the development and technical teams align with your product’s core value. They'd understand the problem the product is trying to solve, why it's solving that problem and the benefits of doing this.  

When Are User Personas and Archetypes Useful?

User personas and archetypes help businesses understudy their target markets’ different segments and adjust their brand messaging and products to appeal to these segments. 

In user experience design, these data sets help designers to define the expectations for each product clearly. In addition, they also help the product team understand how the different features and benefits come together to create a successful product offering for their customers. 

Other benefits of user personas and archetypes include:

  1. They help you to step out of your mind and understand the product from the user’s perspective. 
  2. User archetypes build a deeper connection between the target audience and the product development process. 
  3. They provide a clear direction to drive informed decision-making. 

When to Use a User Persona Vs. a User Archetype (Pros and Cons)

User personas are created during the research phase of product development. At this stage, you are working to place your target audience into segments based on their preferences, attitudes, demographics, and understand the reasons behind their purchasing decisions. 

So, where do archetypes come in? 

Typically, you should develop user archetypes during the strategy-setting phase of your project. Here, you are looking to define the brand voice and product offering in a way that appeals to your target audience. User archetypes help you to understand how the target audience interacts with your product. 

Pros of User Personas 

  1. Creating well-researched user personas is an effective way to learn about the needs of the target audience. 
  2. User personas help you discover any loose ends in your product. 

Cons of User Personas

  1. Data for user personas are typically based on stereotypes, so they cannot be relied on entirely.
  2. Creating user personas is time-consuming and requires a lot of resources. 

Pros of User Archetypes 

  1. User archetypes help you to align your brand messaging with your target audience’s personalities.
  2. It forms the core of the product offering. 

Cons of User Archetypes 

  1. User archetypes do not take the place of real-time communication with your target audience. 
  2. User archetypes are mostly patterns, not an exhaustive interpretation of your customers’ characteristics. 

Why Do Personas Fail? 

User personas are one of the most critical aspects of understanding your customers and building the right brand and product. Yet, even the most researched personas have limitations, and they fail sometimes.  

Why does this happen? Let's consider a few reasons.

1. The Personas are Too Broad 

If your user persona doesn't narrow down to specifics about your target audience, it becomes irrelevant. Many companies make the mistake of creating one user persona for different ICPs within the target market. Of course, this doesn't work. 

As an organization, you can have up to 4 user personas. So, rather than create a one-size-fits-all representation, make sure each persona reflects the actual characteristics of the different groups. 

2. Survey Sample Size 

How many people do you need to collect data before making an informed judgment for user personas? The truth is there's no easy answer. This is why many user personas fail—the sample is either too small or too large. 

Many marketing experts say a sample size of 10–30 respondents is the ideal number. But this doesn't apply in all cases. 

The best way to determine the sample size for your user research is to consider the peculiarities of your industry, the context of research, and what you want to achieve. Then, you can get an accurate picture of your customers. 

3. Lack of Research

This seems like a no-brainer, but if you simply whip up characteristics in your head without relying on actual data, your user persona would be a caricature, at best. When this happens, you'd lose the empathy factor and end up with stereotypes that are nothing like your ideal customer. 

Data Sources for Persona Building (Forms, CRM, Analytics Software)

You already know that you cannot build effective user personas without relevant data. So how do you find these pieces of information? In this section, we will discuss three standard methods for sourcing user data. 

1. Forms

Forms are one of the most common methods of collecting data for building user personas. With surveys, questionnaires, and opinion polls, you can gather relevant qualitative and quantitative responses and interpret them for your user personas.

"demographic-survey"

There are several ways to conduct surveys. If you’ve opted for a paper form, you can send out mail-in surveys to your customers and ask them to respond after a specific period. Alternatively, you can send out online forms using several options like email invitations, adding the form to your website and social media channels, or sharing the form as a QR code. 

Common online tools for creating user persona surveys include Formplus, Google Forms, and TypeForm. For example, with Formplus, you have access to more than 1000 templates, 30+ form builders, and multiple options to make your data collection process seamless. 

2. CRM 

A customer relationship management system is exactly what its name suggests. It allows organizations to manage sales, marketing, and communication with leads, new clients, and existing customers. 

CRMs manage all interactions with your target audience and have a large store of information. You can use these pieces of information to understand your target audience’s behaviors, preferences, and perceptions and leverage this information for user research. 

3. Analytics Software

Analytics software allows you to track user behaviors and visualize data for decision-making. In some cases, analytics software is part of a more extensive customer relationship management system or content management suite. In some other instances, it stands on its own. 

How to Build a User Persona 

Nailing your user personas is the first step to creating the right product and crafting a unique brand messaging that resonates with your target audience. Here are a few tips for developing the best user persona for your business. 

  1. Create a customer journey map that shows how users interact with your product across multiple phases. 
  2. Create illustrations to visualize the demographic information of your persona. 
  3. Use sliding scales to describe specific user characteristics like personality traits.
  4. Make sure your user personas are short and straightforward. Avoid the fluff and other irrelevant information. 

Based on these tips, you can create your user personas using these four steps:

1. Send out a simple survey with Formplus to give you insights into why people use your product. Consider asking open-ended questions like:

  • Describe yourself in a few words.
  • Why do you use our product?
  • What challenges have you faced while using this product? 

2. Analyze your data and identify any patterns and trends in survey responses.

3. Create your personas. Typically, a user persona should have the following elements: 

  • A name
  • A photo
  • A brief bio
  • Demographic information like age, education, income level, marital status, and ethnicity/religion. If you like, you can conduct market research plus a demographic survey to gather these data sets. 
  • Character traits, motivations, goals, and challenges of your ICP. A motivation assessment can help you with this. 

How to Develop a User Archetype 

The most important thing to do here is to ensure that genuine users drive the archetype-development process. This means you should create a realistic behavioral expectation of the user based on a deep understanding of who they are and how they act. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you: 

  1. Understand the primary behaviors of your target customer or ideal customer profile. 
  2. Clearly define the end goal of your product and different product features. In other words, what would your product help the user achieve? 
  3. Understand how the ideal customer would use different product features to achieve a particular objective. 
  4. Understand the environment within which these actions take place, such as the time of the day, physical location, and so on. 
  5. Discover any psychological connections between the user and the product. 

How to Write a User Story

Depending on the structure of your team, writing a user story can be an individual effort or team effort. While some organizations restrict user story writing to the product manager, others allow every member of the customer-facing teams, including marketing and sales, to contribute to the writing process. 

User stories are not "actually" stories. So, there's no need to write 100-page prose on the core benefit of the product. The best user stories comprise a few words that explain the core benefit and value of your product. For example, a standard template you might be familiar with is this: As a [type of user], I want [an action] so that [a benefit/a value]. 

But, the fact that user stories are brief doesn't mean you should just throw in a few words without context. To help you, here are a few things you should have at the back of your mind to craft the right stories. 

  1. First, define who your ideal customer is. This shouldn't be a problem if you've built a well-defined persona and user archetype.  
  2. Once you have your ideal end-user, the next step is to define what the user wants to achieve in terms of their expectations for your product. If you already know your customers' pain points, it's easy to craft their expectations within this context. 
  3. Next, think of the value users would get after performing an action or using your product. This ties to the earlier expectations we have already established. 

At the end of the day, your user story might look like this:

  1. As a digital marketing professional, I want to understand SEO so that I can meet my KPIs for this quarter. 
  2. As a project manager, I want to organize my work so that I can feel more in control.

User Persona and Archetype Examples 

1. Employee Data Sheet Form Template

With the Formplus employee datasheet, you can collect relevant bio-data and other information about your employees in an organization. This template makes it easy for you to update employees' records at different points. You can tweak it to suit your needs in our form builder. 

Try out the Formplus Employee Data Sheet Form Template.

2. User Experience Research Survey Template

Do you want to know what users think about your new product interface? Try out the Formplus user experience research survey.

"user-experience-survey"

This form allows you to gather relevant feedback from users to improve the quality of your product. 

Check out the Formplus user experience research survey template

3. Free Demographic Survey Template

A demographic survey is one of the most effective ways to discover the characteristics of your target market, especially when you're building an ideal customer profile. With our demographic survey template, you can collect different types of demographic information, including age, gender, income level, and religion. 

Try out the Formplus demographic survey template for free. 

4. Voice Of The Customer Survey Template

To create a product that your target market loves, you must understand their needs and preferences. The Formplus voice of the customer survey helps you to achieve this.

"voice-of-the-customer"

With this survey, you can collect relevant information to improve your product before it goes live. 

Try out the Formplus voice of the customer survey for free. 

5. Opinion Poll Template

Do you want to conduct an opinion poll on a pressing political or social issue? Use this simple opinion poll template to gather responses from participants. You can easily organize responses in our form analytics dashboard and interpret your data quickly. 

Try out the Formplus opinion poll template for free. 

Conclusion

This article explores how businesses can leverage user personas, archetypes, and stories to better understand different market segments. These concepts help organizations to define who their customers are and identify their most important needs. 

Everyone in your organization needs to develop a shared understanding of your target audience. When you create a water-tight user framework, you can go ahead to implement effective strategies that capture consumers' attention. 

Build User Personas with Formplus






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