Develop a digital marketing plan

How to create customer personas


A customer persona is a profile based on an analysis and research of actual customers. It can help you to define the key traits and personal motivations of your target audience to help focus your marketing communications. 

Creating a persona for an online customer can help you decide what digital marketing channels and techniques to use based on their preferences. Defining your target market should be a key part of your overall marketing strategy. 

What are the benefits of online personas?

Creating customer personas for an online marketing campaign can help you to: 

  • understand customer needs, wants and interests
  • learn which products or services to promote to your target audience
  • decide which digital channels to adopt (eg social media, e-newsletters etc
  • create highly targeted, personalised content and messaging 
  • map out your customer buying journey and add value at every step
  • design your emails and newsletters
  • determine your tone of voice and strategy on your social media channels 

With the rise of social media, customers are now also influencers. User-generated content such as online reviews and social media posts can persuade (or dissuade) new customers to try your product or service. This makes knowing your customers and putting them first even more important. 

Avoid targeting those you do not want as a customer by creating 'negative personas' to exclude. For example, customer groups that are not profitable. See target your most profitable customers

Use market research to create personas

Market research can help you to get a clear picture of your buyer persona, who they are and what problem you can solve for them.

This could include:

  • Using social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to conduct polls and surveys.
  • Send email surveys to your marketing database.
  • Meet your customers for face-to-face interviews to find out their specific needs and wants. This is known as qualitative research. See the difference between quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Research your competition to see what they do, how they interact with their customers and vice versa. See understand your competitors

For more information on conducting market research, see market research and market reports and understand your customers' needs.

Use online analytics to understand personas

Analytics and insights can help you understand how your customers behave and interact with your online channels. This includes:

  • the page on which they land on your website
  • how they got to your website
  • how long they spend on your site
  • what they look at on your website
  • what they are searching for
  • what language they use on social media channels - eg hashtags, emojis
  • what social media topics are they interested in - eg design, environment

This information can give insights into their needs, interests and behaviours. You can use this to inform and drive how you interact with them.

See measuring your online marketing.

Create an online buyer persona 

With the data you gather through market research and online analytics, you can define your target market. This involves considering factors such as demographics, lifestyle and attitudes. You can then decide how best to reach specific customer personas. 

Our customer persona template outlines how to lay out key elements of a customer persona, including information such where they get information from, traits, frustrations and motivations.  Download our sample customer persona template (DOC, 24KB).