6 curated persona examples and how to build your own | Appcues Blog (2022)

There’s a reason message-in-a-bottle marketing never caught on. You’d never know who’d pick up your bottle or if they’d be interested in your product—and there’s already enough trash in the ocean, thanks. But if you’re using half-baked user or buyer persona examples, that’s essentially what you’re doing.

Personas are representations of your user or buyer segments that guide and inspire the work your team does—a specific “who” that informs everything from marketing campaigns to product development. Your personas need to be informed by data and interactions with actual customers, so they’re accurate reflections and not just caricatures with buzz words. Armed with these tools, your team can gut-check their messaging, onboarding, and product decisions with a clear understanding of who they’re designing for.

This curated list of persona examples and templates will save you time when creating user and buyer personas for your business. It includes six template examples that give you a baseline of where to start your persona, what it should look like, and what information to include based on different business goals. This way, you spend less time reinventing the persona wheel and more time building relationships with your new and existing customers.

User personas

A user persona represents a major segment of the people who actually use your product. Because not all users are necessarily buyers, a user persona is usually used to inform UX and UI decision-making, not your marketing strategy. Common uses for user persona examples include improving and personalizing onboarding, product launches, in-app messaging, and user retention.

User persona templates include information like:

  • Demographic information
  • Stage in life
  • Job
  • Personality
  • Motivations for using your product
  • Main pain points your product addresses
  • Brands they follow
  • Technological literacy
  • Quotes from actual user interviews

Although your persona’s name will be fictional, user research should firmly ground the rest of your persona in truth. Conduct interviews, send surveys to long-term users, and look at product analytics to fill in the information for your user persona.

You also don’t need all of these pieces of information to create a successful user persona—tailor it to how you plan to use it. If this user persona is meant to help your team improve user retention, then demographics, motivations, and pain points should be on there. If you’re trying to improve engagement through messaging, then personality and the brands they follow and interact with will give you more clear insights.

Goals-based user persona and template

This user persona example from usability.gov isn’t the prettiest, and it’s a bit dated (2001 called, and it wants its dial-up back), but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it. It does a great job of laying out who this person is, what they need, and what their constraints are so you can design a product or product features that could help your users achieve their goals.

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This user persona is effective because it’s grounded in reality and detail. Instead of saying he’s proficient with technology, they give details like he uses dial-up at home and uses the web for 1.5 hours a day. Or, instead of just stating his job title, they get into what his day consists of. These details flesh out this persona, so your product team designs solutions for “Matthew Johnson” and not Senior Manager #1.

A highlight of this example is that it specifies his level of technical proficiency and internet access. For people who use the internet every day from an urban center, it’s hard to remember what it’s like for people who are less familiar or have less access to good internet speeds. In 2020, around 6% of the US didn’t have broadband access, with that number rising to around 25% in rural areas. If one of your user segments predominantly doesn’t have access to fast internet or isn’t proficient with computers, your UI and UX design must be intuitive and lightweight for a better user experience.

Personality-based user persona and template

User personas can also be leveraged to understand the type of personality drawn to your product. With this information, you can design messaging and UX copy that engages and educates your users. This example from Venngage includes sections like frustrations, motivations, and personality to form a complete picture of the person you’re designing for.

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Get this Venngage template here

This template includes space for information you get straight from user interviews or surveys to flesh out “Lisa Montoya.” The quote and trusted brands sections should come straight from actual user data. This practice not only grounds this persona in reality but also gives your team an idea of what messaging style works with these users. If your users trust Patagonia, then maybe a casual, eco-friendly tone would work better than a more traditional business one.

Another important part of this persona is the bio. When written based on actual users, the bio becomes a story that makes Lisa feel more real than saying she is 75% introvert and 25% extrovert. Using the story told in her bio, your team can target messaging at Lisa that plays to her desires for more automation and streamlining to remain an “agile team.”

Skills-based user persona and template

When designing a product, it’s important to know what your users do and don’t already know. Spend too much time explaining things they already know in onboarding, and they might churn before they get to their aha moment. Leave them with too little information, and frustration will cause the same thing to happen.

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In this template from Adobe, every section acts like a pseudo-resume. It codifies what this user segment knows, what skills they have, and what their experience level is.

Using several of these different personas covering your most important segments, you could design personalized onboarding flows aimed at more experienced and less experienced users. You could get even more nuanced by using the skills section to design an onboarding experience that accounts for a segment’s specific skill levels in different areas. The more relevant and personalized, the better.

Buyer persona examples

A buyer persona represents a particular segment of the people who buy or sign-up for your product. This is also called a customer persona. Buyer personas are best used to inform marketing, sales, and customer success initiatives involving the economic buyer (think closing deals and renewing customer accounts).

Buyer persona templates include information like:

  • JTBD (jobs to be done)
  • Demographics
  • Attitudes
  • Pain points
  • The role this person plays inside a company (B2B)
  • Buying patterns
  • Reasons your product can help

Like with user personas, buyer personas based on real people get the best results. If you have a sales team that often interacts with your customer base, use them as a wealth of knowledge and firsthand insight into the people that decide to buy your product and their motivations.

Segment-based buyer persona and template

Commissioned in 2015 by MetLife, this example actually shows a comparison of five buyer personas. Using the data on this document, MetLife refreshed its business strategy to be more data-backed, targeting the “right customers” with “truly differentiated customer value propositions.” To create these personas, MetLife conducted over 50,000 customer interviews, so they weren’t using caricatures but representations of who their customers really were.

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This example not only shows us one way to create buyer personas but also shows us what the next step is: a strategy based on your findings. In MetLife’s case, they identified their two most high-valued segments, “Young Achievers” and “Concerned Moms,” and separated them from low-priority segments. This way, they focus more of their marketing efforts on the segments with a higher ROI.

When designing your own buyer personas, consider what value that persona brings into your business. This helps you create targeted marketing plans as well.

Problem- and solution-based buyer persona and template

Sandy Sanderson is a simple persona example from ClearVoice. Instead of a massive analysis of everything that drives Sandy, it keeps things brief, summing up the most important things about selling a product to her (and her segment) in less than 50 words.

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This example lays out what Sandy wants to achieve, what’s in her way, how you can help, and how you convince her of that in an easy-to-read format. With this information clearly written down, your whole team can design your marketing and product around what drives this segment. Content, onboarding, and product activation goals can all be tuned to help this segment attain success through your product.

The best part is that it shouldn’t require heavy analysis of analytics, just an understanding of your target customers and what they need. Put all of that information in several simple personas, and your team has a reference point to base their work on.

Messaging-based buyer persona and template

With this buyer persona from HubSpot, your business is forced to think about your product from the buyer’s perspective. What might seem like an obvious choice for you (after all, your product is better than the rest) might not be so cut and dry for your potential customers. It’s important to acknowledge this, so you overcome their hesitations and find effective messages that convince people to convert.

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Get this HubSpot template here

This general buyer persona is effective because it’s always grounded in real customers. What real quotes represent your customers? What’s a common objection to buying or signing up? What messages or pitches resonate with this segment? Answering these questions helps your marketing team do its job better.

It also gives your whole product team insight into who your ideal customers are and their concerns going into onboarding. Using that information, build a better product that aligns with what your customer wants and eases any concerns or preconceived notions they might have.

Great personas start with research

User and buyer personas are only as effective as the data and research you put into them. Without putting in the hard work to accurately represent your users and buyers, you’re left with fictional characters more likely to lead you astray than anything else. But doing user research is easier said than done. To help you out, here are some resources to get you started learning everything you need to know about your users and buyers:

  • 4 UI-centric user research methods to understand your customers
  • User research: How to tap your users for better UX
  • We watched users browse SaaS marketing sites for 1,800 minutes and here’s what we learned
  • Marrying the quantitative and qualitative equals analytics bliss

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