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How do you organize/synethize data for creating personas?

I am in the process of developing personas, and the data will come from multiple sources such as reviews, interviews, and internal insight. Do you have a tool, template or best practices for organizing all these data points to make sense of it and then turn it into a persona?
5 Answers
Jeffrey Vocell
Jeffrey Vocell
Panorama Education Head of Product MarketingDecember 13

With a lot of inputs, organizing key attributes or commonalities of each persona is important. There are plenty of templates and tools available on the market (and many free) -- but I've always used a spreadsheet to consolidate and synthesize data, and then a slide for the persona. I'll breakdown some details of what's in each below.

Synthesizing persona data:

Ideally you should have multiple tabs, or columns with data including...

  • Demographic data (age, generder, location, income, etc)
  • Psychographic data (values, interests, attitudes, etc)
  • Buying committee (who is a part of the buying decision, what role does each play, factors that influence their decision, tools they have today/have used, etc)

Persona template/slide:

There are a lot of free templates out there, but I like to include a sub-section of the above:

  • Name (i.e. at HubSpot we referred to our marketing persona for a long time as "Marketing Mary" which gave common language for everyone internally to use).
  • Key demographic details
  • Online behavior
  • Hopes & dreams
  • Fears & challenges
  • Brand affinity (brands your persona likes, resonates with)
  • Tools your persona uses

As I like to say to my GTM teams, the persona is a map to the individual so including key relevant detail that your teams can use is critical.

Lauren Craigie
Lauren Craigie
Cortex Head of Product MarketingAugust 30

Re: templates. Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn and I’ll share what templates I’ve used in the past for ICP and personas.

Re: Synthesizing approach: I try to keep the majority of collection activities very public to the founders and team leads as I go. I don’t want my final synthesis to feel like a surprise to anyone-just a neatly packaged version of the conversations we’ve been having about new insights all along the way.


  • I have a zapier connection to Typeform where I collect NPS and satisfaction surveys. When a customer submits one it goes to my “customer and market research” slack channel. Good and bad reviews are seen and actioned immediately by the leaders in CS and Product.

  • I share updates from surveys I’ve run with the sales team in weekly enablement sessions. Nuggets about top pains per segment and persona so they know I’m constantly iterating on these things.

  • I aim to refresh the ICP every 6 months and use company all-hands as an opportunity to plug new data I have about what our customers want and what the market wants with my ICP and persona templates.

Axel Kirstetter
Axel Kirstetter
Guidewire Software VP Product MarketingJune 11

Data for personas can be grouped into various categories

  • demographic. like age, gender, residence, and education levels

  • product usage. feature and service preferences

  • career. early vs mid vs late

  • water holes. online / offline news and information gathering

  • influences. analysts, online influencers, etc who matter

  • Value perception. what someone is willing to pay more money for

From there tell a story of who they are and what they do. I suggest a mood board. it allows you to visually see who you are talking about. Then weigh up the importance of the factors and lean into them to tell story

Maria Jiang
Maria Jiang
Upwork Director, Product and Solution MarketingJune 11

I recommend starting out with the end result and working backwards from there. In other words, create the buyer persona template and then start synthesizing your data / insights into those buckets of data. For buyer personas, I like to keep it simple and break it into the following key questions: 1) What are your responsibilities? 2) What are your biggest challenges? 3) Who are your main stakeholders? 4) How is your success defined/measured? 5) How do you learn about new technologies?

Michele Nieberding 🚀
Michele Nieberding 🚀
MetaRouter Director of Product MarketingJune 12

I have a love/hate relationship with personas and their effectiveness/impact in an org. But that's for another day..

Here are my tips and tricks for developing personas that your teams will actually use!

Categorize by Source and Theme:

Organize your data by source (e.g., customer reviews, interviews, internal feedback) and by themes or topics (e.g., pain points, motivations, behaviors). This categorization helps in identifying patterns and trends across different data sources.

Extract Key Insights:

Qualitative Analysis: Use qualitative analysis techniques to sift through textual data. Tools like NVivo or Dedoose can help in coding and categorizing qualitative data, making it easier to identify recurring themes and insights.

Highlight Direct Quotes: Highlight direct quotes from users that encapsulate key insights. These quotes can add authenticity and depth to your personas, ensuring they reflect real user voices.

  • Pro tip: Put them all into a centralized location (I have a Google Slides doc I use) for easy access and a single source of truth for teams to reference.

The Power of Frameworks:

Let's face it, spreadsheets can only take you so far. Consider leveraging a persona development framework to structure your data analysis. . A typical persona template includes sections for demographics, goals, pain points, motivations, behaviors, and a day-in-the-life scenario. Tools like Xtensio or HubSpot’s persona templates can provide a solid starting point. Also, techniques like affinity diagramming can group similar themes from interviews, allowing you to see patterns emerge.


  • Canva has some great persona templates if you are starting from scratch!

  • Miro and HubSpot( Make My Persona) have tools to build persona profiles

    • HubSpot guides you through the persona creation process with a series of questions that help you capture all necessary details, and provides pre-built templates that are easy to use and modify. If you’re already using HubSpot, this tool integrates seamlessly with their CRM and other marketing tools.

  • Xtensio has a persona creator and persona comparison chart, and you can collaborate with team members in real time

  • I havent tried this one yet, but...apparently Crystal Knows uses AI to analyze LinkedIn profiles to provide insights into potential buyers

Embrace the Sticky Note Revolution:

Sometimes, the simplest tools are the most effective. Grab a stack of sticky notes and write down key data points – quotes from interviews, recurring themes in reviews, and internal observations. Plaster them on a wall (metaphorical or physical) and start grouping them. This visual representation allows you to see connections and identify commonalities across data sources, fostering a deeper understanding of your user segments.

Tools for the Modern Marketer:

There are also excellent persona development tools available online. These tools can help you centralize your data, categorize insights, and even generate persona templates. While not a magic bullet, these tools can streamline the process and ensure you're capturing all the crucial elements for a compelling persona.

Triangulation is Your Friend:

Don't rely solely on one data source. The magic happens when you triangulate your findings. For example, if a user mentions a specific pain point in an interview, see if it's echoed in online reviews. This cross-referencing validates your findings and paints a more complete picture of your user segments.

Internal Validation:

Share your personas with cross-functional teams (e.g., product development, sales, customer support) to validate their accuracy and relevance. This feedback loop ensures that your personas are grounded in reality and useful for various stakeholders.

Continuous Iteration:

Personas are not static. Regularly update them based on new data and feedback. Set a schedule for reviewing and revising your personas to keep them relevant as market conditions and user behaviors evolve.

Remember the Human Touch:

While data is essential, don't let it drown out the human element. When analyzing data points, remember the people behind them. What are their hopes, dreams, and frustrations? Inject empathy into your persona development process to create a relatable and realistic representation of your target audience.

Best Practices for actually building the personas:

  • Empathy Mapping: Use empathy mapping to dive deeper into your users' minds. This involves mapping out what users think, feel, say, and do to gain a holistic understanding of their experiences. This technique helps in creating more empathetic and user-centric personas.

  • Prioritize Key Segments: Focus on the most critical user segments that drive your business goals. Creating too many personas can dilute your focus. Aim for 3-5 key personas that capture the most significant user segments.

  • Storytelling Approach: Craft your personas as narratives. Tell a story that includes their background, challenges, and journey with your product. This storytelling approach makes personas more relatable and memorable for your team.

    • Pro tip: Use specific customer examples when you can! For example, "We won Customer X because the persona Y needed ____, and we solved for that by _____." LINK IT!

  • Persona Workshops: Conduct workshops with your team to co-create and refine personas. These collaborative sessions can uncover insights that may not surface in individual analysis, ensuring that the personas resonate across your organization.

By following these tips and embracing a data-driven, yet human-centered approach, you can transform your customer insights into personas that truly resonate. Remember, personas are more than just marketing tools – they're your window into the hearts and minds of your customers.

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