Data is key to personas that work

Marketing personas, semi-fictional representations of your existing or prospective consumers, put a face to your data and give you something meaningful and relevant to talk about with your top targets. They help your team answer critical questions such as “Who are these consumers?” “What’s important to them?” “How do they use healthcare?” “How can we increase use of our services?”

But personas are only as good as what goes into them.

Bringing reliable data into the development process is critical to creating actionable new personas that reflect real characteristics or behaviors. Data ensures that your tactics hit the right target – and it may show that your initial assumptions didn’t hold up.

Start with Data

The most effective personas are born not from spitballing or brainstorm sessions but from multiple sources of quantitative data such as media and consumer habits, segmentation data, income and education level and qualitative insights. This quantitative survey data should be put through regression analysis to find commonalities that start to take shape as rough segments or customer types. These segments are then refined and given life in qualitative workshop sessions or interviews with sales liaisons or other SMEs. Their input helps add detail and context for more accurate and believable personas.

Prepare for Surprises

A persona development process that uses data can also help confirm—or correct—initial your assumptions. For example, Movéo worked with a large regional healthcare network to target consumers in one of their local communities. Despite having a large hospital presence in the neighborhood, they weren’t attracting enough local healthcare consumers. Our client assumed that a persona for this popular, gentrifying urban neighborhood would match a classic “hipster” type — younger, single and employed in part-time or creative endeavors. Drawing from four third-party sources of rich demographic data tied to the zip code, Moveo developed six distinct personas with widely varying ages, ethnicities, interests and attitudes regarding their healthcare choices.

This surprisingly diverse and nuanced picture of the area helped our client avoid investing in poorly aligned marketing tactics and messages. With precise, data-driven personas in hand, our client is able to filter ideas and target their efforts with precision and messages that resonate with the breadth of prospects in the area.