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3 Signs You Need New Persona Research

by Megan Harris
February 3, 2020

When you are organizing your marketing campaign, it is important to understand the audience you are targeting. One way to better understand your target audience is through performing persona research, which is research collected and organized into a fictional depiction of your target audience. 

However, if you have existing persona research, chances are it may need some updates. Learn about the various scenarios you might find yourself in that could prompt new research to be conducted about your personas, as well as some ideas on how to conduct your persona research. 

What is Persona Research?

Rather than making broad assumptions about your audience, persona research can give you more specific information about the audience. It covers a wide variety of attributes your persona has: 

  • Background and Demographic Information - Who are they? What are their digital behaviors? Who are their trusted sources?
  • Psychographics - What do they value in a program? What are their goals? What pain points do they have?
  • Marketing Specifics - Where do they search for information? What marketing channels do they use?
  • Decision Influencers - What are the key things users must look for in order to act and participate?  

Your personas may be in a place where they are making purchases, which would make them a buyer persona. However, some personas may only have influence over key decision-makers. The way to uncover these patterns is through doing the research to determine the roles and responsibilities of the personas. 

Persona research should be seen as a living document that is updated every few years when new information arises and informs your digital strategy. Moreover, persona research can be built upon over time, so even if you have recently conducted it but learn something else, you can include that in your documentation. 

Triggers for New Persona Research

Your Business is Restructuring

It may be cliche to say that the only constant in life is change, but there is something to be said about this constant state in enterprise organizations. It is possible that a business restructuring itself for a wide variety of reasons may prompt the need for new persona research. 

Some types of business restructuring that may impact this include: 

  • Mergers
  • Acquisition
  • Downsizing

The most common industries that experience mergers and acquisitions are health care, technology, financial services, and retail. For these industries, persona needs are likely to change frequently over time because the nature of those businesses involves shifts of various kinds. 

It is also important to know that while company structure changes such as downsizing or a layoff may not prompt persona research right away, it may be useful to think about once the dust settles because, depending on who you consider your targeted audiences to be, the structure of the company may have impacted the outcomes of that audience.

For instance, if you consider internal stakeholders like employees as a persona you have researched, a business restructuring may lead those users to behave differently when it comes to an intranet than they did with the previous structure. 

Your Target Age Group Has Shifted

You may need to update your persona research because the needs of your audience have changed. For instance, if you serve a population that is aging, their needs are likely to change over time. 

Nielsen Norman Group recently released the results of a study that conducted usability research for senior citizens across several countries and two decades to understand how seniors age 65 or older use the internet. Some changes that became apparent over time with this population included: 

  • Adoption of smartphones and other emerging technologies
  • Adoption of social media
  • Increased comfort level with using computers and smartphones

Yet even as the technology community has made improvements towards accessibility for more people, the research showed “that digital products still discriminate against seniors.” For instance, the content written for and by older people saw them more as a niche interest group “rather than a diverse and growing demographic.” 

Seniors are just one example of a persona that has changing needs. If your business works with certain groups, it is important to recognize their challenges and work to reduce barriers. 

The Goals for your Business Have Evolved

Your personas and your business may have changing priorities. For instance, there may be new revenue streams that open up and cause your existing product lines or services to be sunsetted or updated. 

Another reason to look at your persona research in new ways is to determine whether or not what you’ve been doing is working. In the intranet example, for instance, you may find that users may not be behaving the way you want them to, and so gaining a better understanding about how the intranet is being used may help inform your direction going forward. 

How to Improve Your Persona Research

Your persona research should be updated on a regular basis and inform many aspects of your campaign such as your content mapping, your KPIs, and the user journey. Once this is done, you have more tools to inform how you build the user experience and bring in more qualified leads. 

Mediacurrent’s New and Improved Buyer Persona Template can help provide you direction as you consider your existing research and ways to improve it. Use this ebook and accompanying worksheet to enhance your research so you can better attune your strategy to what users really want.

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Meet team member, Megan Harris

Megan thrives on collaboration, clear communication, and transparency for her clients. Her extensive digital marketing background has encompassed a wide variety of sectors including SEO, Copy Strategy, Content Marketing, and Social Media.

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