Developing personas and mapping digital customer journeys

The Assignment 

Without an in-depth understanding of their target audience and behaviours, digital marketers risk wasting time and budget developing digital content, messages, and experiences that aren’t suited to the target audience, and not reaching them in the right channels and platforms. The process of persona development and digital journey mapping involves narrowing down a target audience to specific ‘types of people’ with defining characteristics, and then mapping their digital customer journeys. Understanding personas and their journeys allows digital marketers to improve the customer experience across key touchpoints, reduce pain points, and communicate in a more effective and engaging way.

This assignment is designed to help you develop your skills in understanding a target audience through developing audience personas and mapping their digital customer journeys.

What you need to do:

1. Watch the client briefing, instruction video and review materials.

Before you start the assignment, please ensure you review all of the materials provided. Watch the client briefing video, review the materials they have provided, and watch the instruction video. 

2. Gather data and analyse the target audience

The next step is to collect and analyse the data that is available to you about the client’s target audience. You should use all of the information that is available to you, including the information provided by the client, as well as a range of other sources that you can find online. This can include marketing intelligence reports (IBISWorld (Links to an external site.), or MarketLine (Links to an external site.)), analysis of their social media pages to observe and profile the types of people that follow the business, use of analytics packages like SocialBlade (Links to an external site.) to generate reports about a business’ target audience on various social channels (free trials available), publicly available market research studies such as Helix Personas (Links to an external site.) or similar, or reviews posted by by customers and journalists.

Hint 1: Focus on obtaining and analysing data and metrics that will allow you to group similar people into buckets i.e. demographics, psychographics, affinities, needs, desires, goals, frustrations, and anything else you think is relevant.

3. Develop and profile your audience personas

As you do your analysis, a number of defining characteristics should emerge that will allow you to group people into buckets of ‘similar types of people’. This is the foundation for your audience personas. Based on this analysis, develop three audience personas for the client (the industry rule of thumb is to have 2-5 personas). Your personas should be distinct from each other.

Profile your personas based on their defining characteristics. The key is to be as specific and detailed as possible so you can really understand each persona and be able to picture them in your head as a real person on character. The idea is to create a profile of each persona as if he or she were a real person who represents a segment of the target audience.

For each persona, develop a ‘synopsis’ statement, which captures the essence (most important characteristics) of that persona in 1 sentence. The [persona name] is [gender] aged [age range], who live in [place or type of place], and like to [activity/ interests]. The key is boil your audience personas down into one simple statement that can guide the client’s digital marketing efforts.

Hint 1: Find an online template to profile your personas (as an example, see https://www.socialbakers.com/free-social-tools/create-your-persona/form (Links to an external site.)). Persona templates will provide a great visually appealing layout for you to use and will also give you a number of specific fields to fill out. This will keep your thinking structured and will mean that you won’t miss anything when creating your profiles.

Hint 2: Use the information provided by the client and the data you have gathered as evidence in the form of referencing industry reports, showing charts, quoting statistics etc.

Hint 3: Remember that creating personas is both an art and a science. The data will guide you but you need to also use your imagination a little bit to ‘fill in the gaps’ and bring this to life.

4. Mapping the digital customer journey

From the personas you have developed, choose the one that you believe is the most valuable to the business so you can map their digital customer journey. Follow these steps:

  • Justify, with evidence, why you believe this persona is valuable to the brand.
  • Find a customer journey map template online  (or use the one provided in the week 2 lesson) 
  • For each stage of the digital customer journey, make sure you include: goals, decisions, touchpoints, channels, pain points, delight points, emotions and moments of truth

Hint 1: Be thorough in your analysis, and ensure you fill out each cell in your template. This will keep your thinking focused and structured and ensure you don’t miss anything.

Hint 2: Use your template to make your digital customer journey visually appealing. It should be a single page lift out that can be circulated through the client’s organisation and understood ‘at a glance’.

Hint 3: Remember that the entire point of this section is to gain some insight into where things can be improved. This means that if you don’t have some very obvious and clearly described ‘paint points’, or problems, or areas for improvement when you get to the end of this section, you need to go back and put some more work into your analysis.

5. Making recommendations

Based on the persona you have selected, and their digital customer journey map you have developed, briefly make three recommendations for how the digital customer experience could be improved. Remember, although you can recommend communications strategies, digital marketing is about more than just communications, and includes all aspects of the digital customer journey. Justify your recommendations with evidence.

Hint 1: Make sure that your recommendations align closely with your persona and their digital customer journey.

Recommended structure:

Your assignment should be presented in business report format and include numbered headings, such as the following:

  • Executive summary
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Audience personas 
  • Digital customer journeys
  • Recommendations
  • References

Important note: Your work should be supported by evidence from a range of sources. The more relevant evidence you provide, the better. Reports with less than five sources (industry reports, industry articles, academic papers etc.) are unlikely to be eligible for a pass.  The word limit is 1,500 words (excluding executive summary, tables and references). To fit within this word limit, you should focus only on crucial information, write succinctly, and use charts, tables and graphics to present analysis and evidence.  

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