Understand your audience better with personas

University websites are primarily used to recruit and engage with students, but realistically they have multiple audiences to appease. It’s common for universities to forget about some of the other audiences such as parents, staff, academics.

Personas are written documents of theoretical people that you create based on your knowledge and research, in order to understand the different types of users that use your website.

We find that personas are a massive eye-opener for education brands because the collective knowledge of you and your team creates a better awareness and understanding of your audiences. It assists you to personalise your website also helps you begin to talk to the right people in the right way. We believe it is important to know and understand your audience groups, which is why we help universities through the process of generating personas.

You’ll feel the benefit of personas instantly; personas will help you to understand your users needs, experiences and goals. It helps you to recognise that different people have different expectations and needs. They give you the opportunity to engage with your audience in a more personal, timely and authentic manner. The only disadvantage you’ll find with personas is that they can take a while to create multiple different fictional characters, but we promise they are worth it in order to get to know your audience better.

Over the years, the use of personas has become common. Research shows 52 percent of marketers now use buyer personas, while an additional 28 percent expect to use them within the next two years. (http://www.engage2serve.com/apac/blog/personas-in-higher-education/)

That’s 48% of marketers that currently don’t use personas, meaning many marketers may not completely understand their audiences. Do you understand all of your audience’s wants and desires?

Some universities already use personas: Bath University and University of St Andrews are two great examples. They even publicise their personas:

SMILE has recently redesigned the website for University of Sunderland. Personas were a key part of our discovery process for understanding their audiences. Over the years we have helped educational brands to understand their audiences by delivering workshops for developing personas. If you feel like your team is still in the dark about the finer details of your audiences and how they engage with your digital assets then speak to one of our experts about building your persona documents.

Nathan Monk
Nathan Monk

I'm proud to work for some of the world’s most influential brands that shape cities and define lives: Universities and colleges.

I provide advice to forward-thinking senior leaders on how to exceed their organisational targets by creating user-focused, digital-first strategies.