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How do you measure the effectiveness of your personas?

3 Answers
Abdul Rastagar
Abdul Rastagar
GTM Leader | Marketing Author | Career CoachMay 7

Measuring effectiveness around anything, including personas, starts with knowing what the goal is. Why are you building personas in the first place? Some common uses for personas tend to be for message development, sales training, product design or campaign creation. But there are plenty of other reasons as well.

Knowing what the goal is leads to measuring effectiveness, which usually has a process component and an outcomes component. The former can be somewhat qualitative but the latter almost always requires some type of data-driven A/B testing. For example:
• in product development, did the persona change your product design? (process) And, if so, did consumers respond better to the old, pre-persona design or the new one? (outcome)
• For campaigns, did the use of your personas change the type of content or timing of content for certain targets? (process) And if so, do those new campaigns perform differently than the old ones? (outcome)

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Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadNovember 14

My personal view on this is that your personas are effective if youre influencing the conversation around who should be using/buying your product. Some questions you could ask yourself about your personas, based on the teams you may work with:

  • Marketing: is the way the product is highlighted/showcased in various marketing channels geared at the right audience?

  • Product: are the features being created/put into roadmap enabling the right type of usage?

  • Sales: is your win rate improving because you're asking the right questions to the right people?

  • Data/Business Intelligence: does usage data validate your persona hypotheses? is your team sharing out KPIs that map to your highest value user profiles?

While a persona doc or deck might not directly answer all of those questions, if indirectly you're seeing influence across how the entire org things about the specific users of your product, then I'd say your personas are effective and to keep doing what you're doing.

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Jonathan Torrey
Jonathan Torrey
SearchLight Director of Marketing, Strategic PartnershipsJanuary 14

The shortest and broadest possible way to answer this question is that if a persona can help bring a client into a room with you, and it helps you be more decisive with both your product management and product marketing, then it is effective. I'll dive into this more below but first, some things to remember about personas. 

They should be specific down to a person and given a name. Broad categories like "Females Ages 26-32 who like dogs" aren't going to be very helpful. If you can picture someone physically sitting in a room with you and understand what they're thinking, what drives them and what challenges they have, you're well on your way. 

I always interview clients to help derive personas. An important element is to make sure you ask open-ended questions and don't lead to an answer. 

For example, I manage a video advertising product. If I ask a client why they love digital video advertising instead of "how does video advertising make you feel?" or "how is video advertising performing for you today?" I could end up with a persona that doesn't match how my clients feel or perceive their situation. 

It might help to write down the assumptions you have going in, to make sure you don't lead anyone to an answer. 

Now the harder part, measuring effectiveness: 

It's tough to point to a specific metric to determine the effectiveness of a persona. There are also some products that might not have a salesperson tied to it (like Spotify) but this is generally my approach: 

(1) Soft / suggestive / qualitative analysis - Leveraging client-facing team member feedback. When sales, customer service, support, etc. read through your personas, are they reacting positively and saying things like "Oh gosh, yes, this sounds exactly like client X". 

Are they saying "Yep, I hear this every day" or "I haven't heard this yet but it sounds like something client x would say" 

(2) If you have a product that doesn't necessarily require a direct salesperson (Spotify, for example), read the feedback/reviews of your product (this is great for creating personas, too). Say your persona has "voice controls" as their biggest need, but a majority of negative feedback is related to something else, your persona isn't going to be very effective. 

(3) This is also an opportunity to start quantitatively doing analysis and measuring the adoption of new features rolled out, compared to other roll-outs. 

If your new feature roll-out (voice control) isn't as highly used as other features, you could have a persona problem. 

If marketing activities are not converting to opportunities and sales isn't converting opportunities into signed contracts at the same rate as your average product, you might have a persona problem. 

There are so many ways to slice and dice it, but I think doing personas the right way - https://www.alexandercowan.com/tutorial-personas-problem-scenarios-user-stories/#Persona this is the best reference guide I've seen on them - will make them more effective. 

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