How To Develop User Personas For Targeting Your Content

How To Develop User Personas For Targeting Your Content

Understanding your audience goes beyond mere demographics; it’s about delving into their behaviors, preferences, and challenges to tailor your content effectively.

The solution lies in developing detailed user personas, for a strategy that uses data-driven content to mirror your audience’s journey.

Deploying a blend of conventional methods and unusual approaches targeted at your user personas can then ensure your ideal target segments are reached and impacted. 

By integrating both the tried-and-true and the innovative, you can create a content strategy that is bang on target for your various users, setting the stage for unparalleled engagement and conversion.

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How do user personas help brands target their ideal audiences?

User personas are detailed representations of a brand’s ideal customer segments, crafted through the analysis of demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data. These semi-fictional characters embody the goals, needs, pain points, and behavioral patterns of real users, offering brands a blueprint to tailor their marketing strategies effectively. You can get templates from Canva or Piktochart to create your user personas. Check out their samples.

By understanding these personas, brands can more accurately predict and influence consumer behavior, ensuring their content, products, and services align with the expectations and requirements of their target audience. This precision in targeting not only enhances user engagement by delivering more personalized and relevant experiences but also improves conversion rates and customer loyalty.

Furthermore, user personas facilitate better communication within organizations, as teams across departments can align their efforts toward serving the defined needs of these personas.

Ultimately, the strategic use of user personas enables brands to navigate the vast, competitive marketplace more efficiently, ensuring their marketing efforts resonate deeply with the right audience at the right time, thereby maximizing the impact of their resources.

Proven and unusual ideas for developing ideal user personas

Proven strategies for developing ideal user personas often involve gathering and analyzing data through surveys, interviews, and social media interactions. Yet, adhering to my “Unusual By Strategy” forte requires infusing this process with a blend of innovative techniques that go beyond traditional methods.

For instance, immersive experiences where strategists place themselves in the user’s environment can unveil nuanced insights into user behavior and preferences that standard data collection might miss. Leveraging advanced analytics and AI to predict emerging trends offers a forward-looking perspective on persona development, ensuring content remains relevant as audience dynamics evolve.

Incorporating gamification into research methods engages participants more deeply, yielding richer, more genuine responses. Additionally, exploring cross-industry behavior patterns can uncover unexpected but valuable parallels that enrich persona profiles.

This unique mix of conventional and unconventional approaches not only captures a comprehensive view of the target audience but also fosters a creative, adaptable strategy that stands out in the competitive content marketing landscape.

8 steps to develop user personas for perfect content targeting

Leveraging my 40+ years’ experience as a Brand Content Strategist with a penchant for the unusual, I have given 8 ideas below that incorporate time-tested approaches to develop user personas for targeting your content, plus unusual twists to make these ideas work even harder. These strategies blend conventional data gathering with innovative tactics, ensuring a deep understanding of your audience while uncovering unique insights.

By integrating immersive user experiences, predictive analytics, and cross-industry analysis into your research, you create personas that not only resonate with your current audience but also anticipate future trends, setting your brand apart in a crowded marketplace.

How To Develop User Personas For Targeting Your Content (Infographic)

1. Conduct thorough, granular audience research

Delving deep into audience research is crucial for crafting user personas that truly reflect the target demographic’s needs, behaviors, and preferences, directly impacting the efficacy of content marketing strategies.

This process involves a meticulous examination of data from various sources – social media analytics, customer feedback, and engagement metrics – providing a comprehensive view of the audience’s interests and challenges. For instance, an example could involve a brand that sells eco-friendly products conducting surveys and interviews to identify key customer segments concerned about sustainability.

By analyzing responses, the brand discovers a significant portion of their audience is not only interested in the environmental benefits of products but also in their durability and cost-effectiveness. This insight allows the brand to tailor their content, highlighting not just the environmental impact of their products but also their long-term value, directly addressing the multifaceted interests of their audience.

Such granular audience research ensures content marketing efforts are precisely aligned with what the audience cares about, significantly increasing engagement and conversion rates.


  • Utilize social media analytics: Harness the power of social media platforms to gather real-time data on audience behavior, preferences, and engagement patterns. This involves analyzing likes, shares, comments, and demographic information to understand what content resonates with your audience and why.
  • Conduct customer interviews and surveys: Directly engage with your audience through structured interviews and surveys to gather qualitative insights. This step focuses on asking open-ended questions that explore the audience’s pain points, preferences, and motivations behind their decisions.
  • Analyze website and email analytics: Use analytics tools to study how users interact with your website and email campaigns. Pay attention to metrics like page views, bounce rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to identify what content captures interest and drives action.
  • Monitor competitor content strategies: Keep an eye on your competitors’ content marketing efforts to understand what works well in your industry. Analyze their most successful content pieces for themes, formats, and topics that attract audience engagement.
  • Leverage customer feedback and reviews: Regularly review customer feedback, testimonials, and online reviews to identify common themes or issues mentioned by your audience. This feedback can provide valuable insights into the audience’s needs and expectations from your brand and content.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Narrative Immersion Research.” This unusual enhancement involves creating scenarios or narratives based on the gathered data and then immersively testing these narratives within focus groups or through digital storytelling platforms. It’s a step beyond traditional surveys, where participants react to hypothetical situations that mirror real-life decisions or dilemmas related to your product or service.

Applying this to the example of the eco-friendly product brand, the company could develop stories around individuals facing choices between sustainability, durability, and cost. Observing reactions and decisions in these narrative contexts provides deeper insights into the complex motivations behind customer preferences, enabling more nuanced and effective content strategies.

2. Segment your audience into need-based groups

Segmenting your audience into need-based groups is a foundational step in developing effective user personas, as it allows for the creation of targeted content that speaks directly to the unique needs and preferences of different segments. This approach ensures that content marketing efforts are not only more personalized but also more impactful.

For example, a software company might discover through audience research that its users fall into two primary groups: tech-savvy innovators looking for cutting-edge features and less tech-savvy users seeking simplicity and ease of use. By segmenting these groups based on their distinct needs, the company can tailor its content strategy to address each segment’s specific concerns.

For the innovators, content might focus on advanced tutorials and the latest tech trends, while for the less tech-savvy users, it could emphasize easy-to-follow guides and the benefits of user-friendly features.

This targeted approach not only enhances user engagement but also significantly improves conversion rates, as content resonates more deeply with each segment’s needs and preferences.


  • Evaluate existing customer data: Analyze purchase history, customer service interactions, and online behavior to identify patterns and trends that indicate different needs and preferences within your audience.
  • Use segmentation tools and software: Leverage digital tools and software that allow for the segmentation of your audience based on their actions, such as email opens, website visits, and product interactions, to form groups with similar needs.
  • Create segment-specific surveys: Design and distribute surveys that are tailored to gather insights on specific segments of your audience, focusing on uncovering the unique needs and challenges of each group.
  • Host focus groups for each segment: Organize focus group sessions for each identified segment to dive deeper into their specific needs, preferences, and expectations from your brand and products.
  • Analyze social media behavior: Monitor and analyze how different segments of your audience engage with your brand on social media platforms to further refine your segmentation based on their expressed interests and interactions.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Psychographic Storyboarding.” This unusual enhancement to segmenting your audience involves creating detailed storyboards that depict the lifestyle, values, attitudes, and beliefs of each need-based group. Unlike traditional segmentation, which might rely heavily on demographics or surface-level behavior, psychographic storyboarding dives deeper into the emotional and psychological factors driving consumer decisions.

Applying this to the software company, imagine developing storyboards that visually represent the day in the life of both tech-savvy innovators and less tech-savvy users. For innovators, the storyboard highlights their interaction with cutting-edge technology and their value for innovation, whereas, for the less tech-savvy users, it focuses on their need for simplicity and reliability. This method provides richer, more nuanced insights that inform more effective and emotionally resonant content strategies.

3. Identify goals and needs of each target segment

Understanding the specific goals and needs of each target segment is pivotal for creating content that truly resonates with your audience. This step goes beyond merely recognizing who your audience is, to deeply understanding what they wish to achieve and how they intend to do it.

For instance, a health and wellness app might identify two key segments: fitness enthusiasts looking to enhance their performance and individuals seeking to start a healthier lifestyle. For fitness enthusiasts, their goals may include improving workout efficiency and tracking nutritional intake, while the latter group might need motivational content and basic health tips.

By tailoring content to meet these distinct needs—offering advanced training guides and dietary advice to the enthusiasts and beginner workout plans and health education to the newcomers—the app can engage users more effectively, fostering loyalty and encouraging sustained use.

This approach ensures content marketing efforts are not just seen but felt, significantly boosting engagement and retention.


  • Analyze behavioral data: Review data from website analytics and CRM systems to understand how each segment interacts with your content and products, identifying patterns that indicate their goals and needs.
  • Engage through social listening: Monitor social media channels and forums for conversations related to your brand and industry, paying special attention to the desires and frustrations expressed by different segments.
  • Implement feedback mechanisms: Set up surveys, feedback forms, and interactive elements on your website and through email campaigns to directly collect information on what each segment is looking to achieve with your products or services.
  • Conduct one-on-one interviews: Arrange in-depth interviews with members of each target segment to gain a deeper understanding of their individual goals, challenges, and expectations from your brand.
  • Use A/B testing: Conduct A/B tests with different messages and content formats to see which resonates best with each segment, providing insights into their preferences and underlying goals.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Emotional Mapping.” This unusual enhancement involves creating a comprehensive map that visualizes the emotional journey of each target segment, identifying not just their goals and needs but also the emotional states that drive or hinder their decisions. This method goes beyond traditional data analysis, focusing on the emotional triggers and satisfaction points throughout the customer interaction with your brand.

Applying this to the health and wellness app example, for fitness enthusiasts, the emotional map might highlight feelings of achievement and the need for challenge as key drivers, while for beginners, it might show a desire for encouragement and fear of failure. By addressing these emotional nuances in content strategies, the app can better motivate users, fostering a deeper connection and engagement with each segment.

4. Develop detailed profiles for each user persona

Developing detailed profiles for each user persona is a critical step that brings depth and precision to content marketing strategies. These profiles encapsulate not only demographic information but also psychographic details, preferences, goals, challenges, and behavioral patterns, providing a rich, multidimensional view of the target audience.

For example, a digital education platform might create a persona named “Eager Educator Emma,” a middle school teacher in her 30s looking for innovative teaching tools. Emma’s profile would include her educational background, teaching style, technology proficiency, content preferences, and the challenges she faces in engaging her students.

By understanding Emma’s specific needs and preferences, the platform can tailor its content, from blog posts about engaging teaching technologies to targeted emails offering classroom tools, ensuring that every piece of content resonates with her and similar users.

This approach ensures that content not only reaches the right audience but also addresses their unique needs, significantly enhancing engagement and conversion rates.


  • Incorporate lifestyle and values: Include detailed insights into the persona’s lifestyle choices, values, and ethics to understand their decision-making process and how your brand fits into their life.
  • Detail technology usage: Describe the persona’s preferred devices, software, and platforms, highlighting how they interact with technology daily and their comfort level with new tech solutions.
  • Define communication preferences: Specify the persona’s favored channels and formats for receiving information, whether through email, social media, blogs, or video content, to tailor your messaging effectively.
  • Identify influencers and communities: Note the key influencers, forums, and communities where the persona spends time and gathers information, providing insights into where to focus promotional efforts.
  • Highlight brand interactions: Detail past and potential interactions with your brand and competitors, including perceptions and experiences, to understand how to position your content in a way that aligns with their preferences and expectations.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Persona Evolution Tracking.” This unusual enhancement involves periodically updating each user persona to reflect changes in market trends, technological advancements, and shifts in consumer behavior. Unlike static profiles, Persona Evolution Tracking recognizes that personas are dynamic and evolve over time.

For “Eager Educator Emma,” this could mean revisiting her profile every few months to incorporate new insights, such as her growing interest in virtual reality as a teaching tool or her increased engagement in educator-specific social media groups. By keeping her profile up-to-date with these evolving interests and behaviors, content can remain highly relevant and engaging, ensuring that the digital education platform continues to meet Emma’s needs and stays ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing educational landscape.

5. Outline the customer journey for each persona

Outlining the customer journey for each persona is essential for crafting a content strategy that engages users at every touchpoint.

This approach maps out the path from initial awareness to decision-making, tailoring content to meet the needs and address the concerns of the user at each stage.

Take, for instance, “Tech-Savvy Tim,” a persona for a consumer electronics brand. Tim’s journey starts with seeking the latest tech trends, where he looks for informative articles and videos. The middle of his journey involves comparison and reviews, guiding him through detailed blog posts comparing different gadgets. Finally, decision-making content for Tim includes user testimonials and case studies showcasing product impact.

By understanding and addressing Tim’s needs throughout his journey, the brand ensures that each piece of content not only draws him closer to a purchase but also builds a lasting relationship, making content marketing a powerful tool for conversion and retention.


  • Map initial awareness sources: Identify and document the channels and content types where each persona first becomes aware of your brand or product, focusing on optimizing these touchpoints for maximum engagement.
  • Detail consideration process: Outline the specific types of content and information each persona seeks when considering your product or service, aiming to address their questions and concerns effectively at this stage.
  • Clarify decision-making factors: Define the key factors that influence each persona’s final decision to purchase, including trust signals, product features, and price points, to ensure your content addresses these elements.
  • Highlight post-purchase engagement: Describe the follow-up communication and support each persona expects after making a purchase, including how to use the product, customer service, and community involvement, to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Identify opportunities for advocacy: Determine how and when to encourage satisfied customers to become brand advocates, focusing on creating content that facilitates sharing, reviews, and referrals.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Sensory Touchpoint Mapping.” This unusual enhancement involves integrating sensory experiences into the customer journey outline for each persona, focusing on how they interact with content not just digitally, but through all five senses. This method adds depth by considering the look, sound, feel, and even smell and taste associations that can be evoked through virtual or physical experiences related to your content.

For “Tech-Savvy Tim,” this could mean designing virtual reality demos that let him visually and tangibly experience the latest gadgets, podcasts with immersive soundscapes that convey the excitement of new tech, or interactive webinars that simulate the tactile feedback of using a new device. By mapping these sensory touchpoints, the content strategy becomes more engaging and memorable, enhancing Tim’s journey from awareness to decision, making technology more palpable and exciting.

6. Determine content preferences of user personas

Determining the content preferences of user personas is pivotal for creating a content strategy that effectively resonates and engages your target audience.

This requires a deep dive into understanding not just the topics of interest, but also the preferred formats, channels, and timing for consuming content.

For instance, consider “Busy Parent Patty,” a persona for a family-oriented app. Through careful analysis, it’s discovered Patty prefers short, informative blog posts and videos that offer quick parenting tips, accessible via mobile during her limited downtime. She values content that is easy to consume on the go, such as podcasts discussing child development while commuting.

By aligning the content strategy to match Patty’s preferences, the brand ensures that every piece of content is tailored to fit into her daily routine, making it more likely that she will engage with the content and find value in the brand’s offerings, thereby increasing the likelihood of her continued loyalty and advocacy.


  • Analyze content engagement metrics: Review data on how different content types perform across your channels, focusing on views, shares, comments, and conversion rates to understand what resonates with each persona.
  • Survey for direct feedback: Ask your audience directly about their content preferences through surveys or polls, including questions on content formats, topics, and channels they value most.
  • Monitor social media interactions: Observe which content pieces receive the most engagement on social media platforms, noting preferences for video, images, articles, or interactive posts among your personas.
  • Conduct content format testing: Experiment with various content formats for the same topic to see which generates better engagement among members of each persona group, such as video versus blog post performance.
  • Evaluate competitor content strategy: Look at the content strategies of direct competitors to identify gaps or opportunities in content preferences not currently addressed by your own strategy, offering insights into potential areas for differentiation.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Interactive Preference Mapping.” This unusual enhancement involves creating an interactive platform where users can visually map out their content preferences in real-time, selecting not only topics and formats but also engaging in a dynamic feedback loop that adjusts content suggestions based on their interactions.

For “Busy Parent Patty,” this could mean a personalized dashboard where she selects her interests in parenting topics, and as she interacts with different content types (videos, articles, podcasts), the system learns and refines its content recommendations to match her evolving preferences. This tool not only provides immediate value by tailoring content discovery to Patty’s specific needs but also gathers deep insights into her preferences over time, allowing for a highly customized content strategy that continually adapts to meet her expectations and lifestyle changes.

7. Craft a persona-specific content creation strategy

Crafting a persona-specific content creation strategy involves tailoring every aspect of your content to the defined needs, preferences, and journey of each user persona, ensuring maximum relevance and engagement.

For example, for a persona like “Entrepreneur Eric,” a startup owner who values efficiency and innovation, a content strategy might focus on delivering concise, actionable advice through formats that Eric can consume on the go, such as podcasts on scaling businesses and weekly newsletters featuring the latest tech advancements.

Additionally, considering Eric’s likely engagement in professional networks, leveraging LinkedIn articles and posts to share success stories and thought leadership content can further align with his habits and preferences.

This personalized approach not only increases the likelihood of Eric engaging with the content but also positions the brand as a valuable resource in his entrepreneurial journey, enhancing brand loyalty and encouraging social sharing among his network, thereby extending the content’s reach and impact.


  • Select targeted content themes: Choose themes and topics that directly address the interests, challenges, and aspirations identified within each persona’s profile, ensuring every piece of content feels personalized and relevant.
  • Customize content formats: Tailor the format of your content—be it blog posts, videos, infographics, or podcasts—to match the preferred consumption habits of each persona, enhancing engagement and retention.
  • Plan persona-driven distribution channels: Identify and utilize the distribution channels—social media platforms, email newsletters, or webinars—where each persona is most active and likely to engage with your content, maximizing visibility and impact.
  • Incorporate specific calls to action: Design calls to action (CTAs) that resonate with the motivations and needs of each persona, encouraging them to take the next step that aligns with their journey and your business goals.
  • Leverage timing and frequency: Optimize the timing and frequency of content publication and distribution based on the lifestyle and online habits of each persona, ensuring your content appears when and where it’s most convenient for them.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Emotional Resonance Engineering”. This unusual enhancement focuses on crafting content that not only aligns with the persona’s informational needs but also connects on an emotional level, using narrative techniques, storytelling, and sensory cues to evoke specific feelings. For “Entrepreneur Eric,” this could mean incorporating inspirational success stories, interactive content that simulates the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, and motivational quotes within articles, podcasts, and social media content.

By embedding these elements, the content strategy goes beyond mere information delivery, creating a deep emotional engagement that resonates with Eric’s aspirations and challenges. This approach ensures that content not only informs and educates but also inspires and empowers, fostering a stronger connection between Eric and the brand, thereby enhancing loyalty and encouraging advocacy.

8. Iterate based on feedback and performance data

Iterating based on feedback and performance data is crucial for refining content strategies to ensure they remain effective and resonate with the target audience. This process involves continuously monitoring and analyzing how each piece of content performs across different channels, collecting user feedback, and then using these insights to make informed adjustments.

For instance, if a tech company notices that tutorial videos for advanced software features are receiving high engagement rates but blog posts on the same topics are not, it might shift its strategy to produce more video content.

Furthermore, direct user feedback through comments, surveys, or social media interactions can reveal preferences for certain topics or formats, prompting further customization of content to better meet audience needs.

By adopting this iterative approach, the company ensures its content remains dynamic, relevant, and closely aligned with user personas, thereby enhancing engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately, conversion rates.


  • Monitor content performance metrics: Regularly review analytics to assess engagement, such as views, likes, shares, and time spent on content, to identify what resonates best with your audience.
  • Collect user feedback directly: Implement mechanisms for gathering direct feedback from your audience on your content, including comments, surveys, and feedback forms on your website or social media channels.
  • Analyze social media interactions: Pay close attention to how users interact with your content on social media, noting which posts generate the most discussion, shares, and positive reactions.
  • Adjust content based on trends: Stay agile by adapting your content strategy to reflect emerging trends and feedback, ensuring your content remains relevant and engaging to your target personas.
  • Test different content formats: Experiment with varying content formats and distribution channels, using A/B testing to determine what works best and refining your strategy based on the results.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of “Dynamic Persona Adaptation.” This unusual enhancement revolves around the concept of continuously evolving user personas based on real-time feedback and performance data, rather than viewing them as static entities. By implementing AI-driven analytics tools that can sift through vast amounts of engagement data and user interactions, content strategies can be dynamically adjusted to meet the shifting interests and behaviors of each persona.

For instance, if “Entrepreneur Eric” begins engaging more with content about sustainable business practices, this method would automatically refine his persona profile to emphasize this growing interest, ensuring that future content is always aligned with the latest preferences of the audience. This proactive approach keeps content strategies perpetually relevant and highly targeted, fostering deeper engagement and loyalty.

In summary

  1. Conduct thorough, granular audience research: The foundation of developing effective user personas is rooted in deep audience research. Understanding the nuances of your audience’s behaviors, needs, and preferences is crucial for crafting content that resonates and engages.

  2. Craft a persona-specific content creation strategy: Tailoring your content strategy to meet the distinct needs and preferences of each persona ensures that your content is not just seen but felt. This personalized approach significantly boosts engagement and conversion rates.

  3. Iterate based on feedback and performance data: The landscape of content marketing is ever-evolving. Staying agile by continuously refining your content strategy based on real-time feedback and data analysis ensures that your approach remains relevant and effective, fostering a deeper connection with your audience.

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