When it comes to digital marketing, understanding your audiences is key to getting results. Although it can be tempting to broadcast general messages to capture everyone, this approach risks failing to meet the needs of anyone. Our audience persona template will enable you to get familiar with your different audiences.
What is an audience persona?
A great way to start the process of understanding your audience is through creating personas. Personas are fictional characters used to represent the audience groups that interact with your charity in a similar way. They help you bring your audiences to life by giving them faces and names. There are many different persona templates online, but this one has been created with charities in mind.
Download the Persona Canvas
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How to use the Audience Persona Template
Time: In a group it will take you 90 minutes to create a first set of personas (3-5). If you’re flying solo it is possible to use your existing knowledge and assumptions to create a persona. Give yourself 20 minutes per persona.
Resources: Print-outs or digital copies of the Audience Persona Template; biros and coloured pens; magazines and glue sticks (optional) and data on your audiences from Google Analytics and social media insights.
Team: We suggest 4-8 people who work or volunteer for your charity and have a good understanding of your beneficiaries, supporters and other stakeholders. If that is not possible completing them yourself is perfectly fine.
Brainstorm the audience groups that you can create personas for. Think about the roles they play for your charity, the goals they want to meet and the characteristics they share.
Work in pairs to fill out one Audience Persona Template for each audience group.
Once you have completed templates for each audience group, present them to the rest of the group and add any additional information.
Review your personas at least once a year and update any details that may have changed.
Template headings explained
Name: Giving each persona a name will help you personalise the character and make it easier to refer to them in the future.
Picture: Find a photo in a magazine, newspaper, or online that represents the persona or you can draw something.
Role: Capture the specific role they play for your charity.
Facts: Basic demographic information — age, gender, location.
Relationships: Think about family, friends and professional connections.
Activities: What do they do on a day-to-day basis? Include work, hobbies and habits.
Digital behaviour: Their preferred social media channels, news and shopping websites.
Wider world: What positive and negative trends in society affect and/or preoccupy them?
Feelings: How do they feel at this point in time?
Drives: What is pushing them towards your charity?
Goals: What do they want to achieve through your organisation?
Tips on creating audience personas
You’ll find it more manageable to work with a limited set of personas. Smaller charities (under £2 million in income) should aim for 3-5 personas.
If it’s possible to know all the members of an audience group personally (e.g. local politicians, your corporate partners), you don’t need to create a persona for the group.
Strengthen and validate your personas by adding research. This can be information about your current audiences from Google Analytics and social media insights (quantitative data), details from conversations you have with people who fit within your audience groups (qualitative data), or a mixture of both. You might also have some external market research data to bring into the mix.
Watch out for personas that emphasise unhelpful stereotypes. Although you will be making generalisations, you want these to be constructive. If there is less knowledge about this audience within your team, it will be worth taking more time to do some research.
Share your personas with everyone in your internal team (staff, Board members, volunteers) and encourage their use every time you create a new piece of content, campaign, or project.
Asking, “Who is this for?” and then stepping into the shoes of that person when planning your work will help it be less internally-focussed and more effective.
People change — throughout the course of their relationship with your charity, people can move through different personas. Think about what you could do to encourage these transitions, where appropriate (e.g. from information seeker to service user). You can use the Journey Mapping Template later to map out the way relationships with your audiences could develop.
Once you have a better understanding of your audiences through building personas, move on to the Journey Mapping Template.