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Mapping the audience journey

Gary Hoff looks at using personas to help identify and map the best way to engage your audience.
By now, you should have a story that communicates your big idea and a narrative you know inside out. But you need to consider how people
are going to hear your story: how is your audience going to receive this message and engage with it? How can you bring the story into the environment that your user is in? There’s lots of different touchpoints and types of media available which all have different ways of engaging the user in the story. Those touchpoints could be mobile, it could be a poster in the street, it could be printed material, anything that’s in the experience. What type of media is the most relevant to engage the user in the right way? In order to select the most relevant points for your audience, first you must understand your audience, and a useful tool for doing this is using personas.
A persona is basically turning lots of information about groups of people into a single profile. You’re making an assumption around whether they’re male or female, how old they are, what they work as, what’s their psychology, where they live in the world. From this persona, which represents your target audience, you can test any of your ideas against it, and work with planners and strategists at your agency to build up a picture of who you are making this work for. These personas come in particularly useful when working out how best to reach your audience. A tool you can use to help decide on relevant touchpoints is a user journey map. What does the user get for interacting with that touchpoint?
How does this help to build up or add to the story? Simply explained, this is just a map of the journey you want your user to go on. Use your persona to imagine the day of the user. You could map this out, noting all the different touchpoints and events that happen along the way and how they engage with them. Then what you can do is layer in the interactions and the exciting parts of the story in that day. For example, they might catch a bus to work. There’s a poster at the bus stop which might direct them to a website. They go to the website while they’re on the bus. They watch a video.
When they get to work, they might tweet about that. At lunchtime, they might look at a magazine, and then that might direct them somewhere else, to a store after work. Then they might talk about that on social media, and then other people start to reply, and then a conversation begins. You can start to get an idea of what touchpoints your audience would use within that journey. Map these out. Sketch them using post-it notes, or just writing them down. You could start to imagine which bits of your story can be told at these different touchpoints. How does your narrative unfold across different types of media?
Ultimately, you want your user to become more and more engaged with your story as the journey goes on. Often people will rush to get it to a solution. They’ll say, we need to make an app, or we need to do a whole campaign on social media. But if the persona doesn’t fit with these, then it’s not going to work. Remember, mobile is a great tool. 50% of online transactions will be mobile in the next five years, but it’s not the answer to everything. There’s so many different, exciting types of touchpoints. There’s social media, physical touchpoints, printed ads, interactive experiences, film… the list goes on. New channels and platforms are being developed all the time.
It’s an exciting place, and we’ll be looking at some of the new technologies next week.
Now that you know what your narrative is and who your audience is, how are you going to bring the two together?
You need to bring the story into the user’s environment, and think about what type of touchpoints are relevant to the audience. To do this, you must have a deep understanding of your users and their lives, and creating a persona – a profile of your target user – helps to achieve this.
There’s lots of great and free online templates and tools to build personas. This interactive persona template is very easy to use and edit – well worth having a play with. You can also easily create your own persona documents – they can be as simple as some notes or a spider diagram.
There’s some sample personas available to download below. These were designed for those working on the D&AD brief. This should give you an idea of how simple they can be.
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