6 out of 10 founders I work with don't create buying personas. From those 4 who do only 1 add an emotional dimension to it. And this one always becomes a winner. How to add emotions to your buying personas and increase conversion rate?
Buying persona: what is it?
First of all, if you belong to those 6 who don't create buying personas, let's begin with them (if you do — skip this part)
Buying personas is a cumulative image. It is an "average" portrait of a person whom you consider to be your perfect customer. It probably doesn't exist in real life but it bears most important features of different persons who you believe would be interested in your product.
It sounds pretty easy, right? But in reality, it's not.
When I first started creating buying personas 6 years ago, I did it all wrong. Here's an example of the first buying persona for cooking-related app:
Demographic and Background Data: Mandy is a 30+ years old. Lives in the suburbs. Stay-at-home mom.
— Knows how to cook. She does not need basics. She needs advice on specific aspects of cooking.
It obviously turned out to be an absolutely useless exercise because it did not help me to understand who "Mandy" really is. What her challenges are, how does she solve her cooking-related problems, what options does she have to solve them and how does she feel about them.
Why I could not do it properly? Very easy — I've never talked to real "mandies". Everything I knew about my customer was very fragmented data retrieved online (from social media) plus my personal experience and expectations because I was scratching my own itch with the app I was building, so obviously I presumed all other potential users were just like me. Again, it's a totally wrong approach and I paid a price to learn this lesson.
Two years later when I was pretty good at doing customer interviews my buying persona looked like this:
Looks much better, right?
Already here you can see why it's useful to create buying personas.
Quotes — the quote here is taken from a real customer interview. This is definitely something that can be used later in the copy on a landing page. "Cook not because you're supposed to but to get rid of the stress" — looks like a great motto for the app and directly addresses specific needs of a group of customers. There's some demographics but it will matter later, when the Facebook ad campaign will be rolled out. It's useless on the first stage where you have to decide what features to implement for your app, and equally useless when you have to craft a landing page.
What's important now are Needs and Frustrations. For the product stage obviously Product/Device sections are of great importance. Also, Goals and Scenarios. They are also super important for the stage when we start crafting the landing page: just from looking at this oic we can say that we'll need "Search by emotional state" as a shortcut but also as a highlighted feature.
However, with time I noticed that this Buying persona I created still missing some important information that will help me create a really compelling landing page. The only emotion that is mentioned here is "STRESS". It's useful but stress is a pain that presumably my buying persona is trying to get rid of. In your case it can be boredom, fear, uneasiness — whatever emotion-related state you're trying to address with your app. However, looking at this profile I don't see what Mandy's PERSONALITY is about. Is she an introvert or an extrovert? What her values are (aside from the obvious one — family)? And if I don't understand all these important things, how can I create a copy and visuals for the landing page that will be compelling and convincing for my Mandy?
Emotional categorisation of Personas
Limbic Mapping Framework
About a year ago I stumbled upon an approach that was popularised by neuroscientist Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel in early 2000. As I always vouch for science-based approaches I decided to give it a try, and it has shown tremendous results so far. This framework is called "Limbic categorisation" (the name is derived from the limbic system where 20 years ago scientists used to locate emotions — it has been proved since that that it's not the case and that emotions are formed all across our brain, but it doesn't really matter because the framework deals with customers emotions, not the parts of the brain). Basically, Dr Häusel made a thorough research and mapped the majority of human motives and values into something he called the Limbic map.
Create emotions-driven buying personas using Limbic framework during customer interviews
How does Dr Häusel suggest using Limbic Map? Simple:
Talk to your customers and ask them what they think their basic values are.
Then put them as dots on the map — the value that gets more dots than others is the most important emotional dimension for your buying persona.
I don't believe that it's a great method though. Asking people what their values are usually produces very biased results — we tend to give the answers that we BELIEVE are correct, they are not necessarily correct. So, what I also do:
During the customer interview where I want to get more understanding about my buying persona, I ask a person to name me their favourite web-site (or a physical product) and tell me why they love it so much.
If they can't come up with anything I offer them some examples that are NOT related to my product but related to their current tasks. For instance, I ask what they are going to do after the interview. Let's presume they say "I will do the dishes''. Then I ask them to go to the Tesco website and tell me which dishwashing solution they would buy. Why TESCO? Because, 100% of non-UK based customers have never been to this website and most probably are not familiar with UK-brands. If it's a UK-based customer I offer to visit the Wal-Mart website.
The main idea is to get from a customer an explanation of WHY they would choose a product by looking at a product or WHY they love something so much. The words and adjectives they use to describe their choice are crucial for understanding what their values are.
I also take 3-4 values from each sector and ask customers to explain what their associations are about these values. I carefully listen for positive or negative vibes. For instance, I ask: "A word "Humour" — if it was a person, can you describe it to me, how it would look like?" Or "When I say "Duty" — what your first association is?" I mark only positive associations. This might seem random. But if you take 20-30 customers and map all this stuff — you'll see that there are clusters of positive associations in specific areas. You can even do the "heat-maps'' to show what values are shared with most of your customers.
This are already very valuable insights — you see what values are the most important for your customers and can address them on your landing page. Mind you, it's not something they have DECLARED to be valuable for them . It is something that ACTUALLY drives their decision making.
But it gets even better! Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel has also created a framework of Persona Types based on their values. He identified 7 different types of Personas based on the values that guide their decision making.
He also has calculated how many personas of each type an average market consists of.
Here's a little useful visual for you.
Emotional types of buying personas and their core values
All seven types are different in terms of their values. What does it mean for the topic of this article — the landing pages? It means that there are no "good" landing pages and "bad" landing pages. If you personally don't like it — you're probably just not the type it appeals to (I presume we're talking about the page where most core UX design principles are at place and we don't see something really ugly and out of 90th).
Here's a chart that I use to figure out who my buying persona really is.
Let's get back to my Mandy example. As soon as I added the emotional dimension to my persona it all became very clear what kind of value proposition does this persona expect and what will be more compelling for them.
(What's happened to the Goal and Scenario? It's been moved to the User Journey — see here)
Create a landing page using buying persona's emotional dimension
Based on our discoveries, the best copy for buying persona like Mandy would sound like this:
— The most efficient way to bond with your loved ones while cooking. ✅
— Safe and Efficient way to find stress-relieving recipes ✅
— Your world of culinary creations to connect the whole family ✅
Copies that will NOT work for Mandy:
— Hustle-free way to become a chief ❌
— Get 1000 recipes for $1 a month ❌
— Get access to unique recipes from the talented chefs ❌
Those are not bad copies. They will work great. But for a totally different persona.
Mandy's personality and values will also impact the visuals that will be chosen for the landing page and the necessary blocks of content. This is actually a very important aspect.
Some marketers would insist that social proof is a must-have on any landing page. Social proof can be presented in the form of "wall of love" (reviews of the actual users) or just the brand names of the companies that you cater. I would argue that this is not the case. Social proof is important for several types of buying personas (traditionalists and harmonisers, I'd say it's important for performers as well as social proof symbolises their affinity for elite status — performers have to be sure they get what other elite persons get). But Adventurers, Free Spenders, Hedonists — they don't care so much for social proof.
Does it make sense to send them the message they will not read? I don't believe it would be a good idea. An A/B test that I ran for one of my customers who had Spenders and Hedonists as major buying personas proved this hypothesis: the conversion on the page without social proof was 10% higher than on the page with social proof.
Why startups need to create emotionally-focused landing pages
As a startup founder, you probably think that you don't have time for all this stuff. Probably, you're right — there're tons of things on your plate that need immediate attention. But to think of it: this emotional personas-based approach doesn't require too much. It is based on the things you have to do anyway: running customer interviews to identify the pain points, then to create the buying personas. You have to figure out who you are selling your product to, right? So why not take one extra step and add some emotional depth and values to this persona? Especially, if it can make a real difference? In a classic case study by André Morys of KonversionKraft the conversion from the landing page that was designed with emotional dimensions in mind was 79% (!!!) higher than on the generic well-designed landing page.
But what if you've been wrong with your research and your buying persona is not the one you've been crafting so carefully? First of all, you have to be thinking of creating several personas anyway. Though as a startup you should be very niche, your customers will be different emotionally anyway. And you're not really sure until you start operating which group your product will resonate with the most. What if you ran 30 interviews and most of your candidates were Traditionalists but 5% were also Hedonists. Should you focus all your effort on Traditionalists? Hell, no! You should craft landing pages for ALL types of buying personas you have captured during the interviews and start sending traffic to them all with different targeting. As soon as you find the winning one (that provides better CTR and also brings better conversion) — go all in with this buying persona. As a startup you can't afford serving different types of customers at once, you have to focus on winning only one first. But you can't do it without understanding what your options are and which group resonates better with your product.
More on running experiments and slightly different approach to landing page copy and visuals you can read here: