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Digital marketing pilot blog series: Creating personas.

Welcome to the second post in a regular series on digital marketing, below we focus on how personas can be used to inform your marketing campaigns.


I’d like you to meet Angela and Joy…


Angela is 60. She works part time doing cleaning. Angela likes to get out for a bit in the day. She walks to buy a lottery ticket, goes to the library or afternoon bingo. She has to take her time though, as she’s not as well these days, having seen the late onset of diabetes in the last few years.
View Angela’s persona
Joy is 65. She used to work mornings as a receptionist in the local GP surgery, but recently retired. She has two grandkids – aged three and five and looks after them four days a week.
View Joy’s persona

Angela and Joy have been an important part of the digital marketing pilot as they are the personas that helped us focus on who we are trying to engage.

A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

Joy represents the typical Walking for Health walker. The kind of person who, if a friend told them about the walks, would be ready to join there and then.

Whilst Angela represents a less active participant, who might take a bit more convincing to attend. However, she would likely benefit the most from joining a walk.

Why use personas?

When we began the digital marketing pilot we knew that we wanted to build on successful work that had been done to promote walking groups to women aged 55+.

However, we were aware that there is no one size fits all campaign that will work for everyone in that group. So, we’d need to identify different messages and tactics to test.

That’s where personas can be useful.

Done well they can influence every element of the marketing process. Helping you to think about:

  • What challenges do your audience face and how does the thing you are marketing potentially help them?
  • How should you try to reach your audience (what platforms should you buy advertising on / what targeting options should you use?)
  • How should you describe you offer in a way that engages and compels your audience to act
Creating personas

A good starting point is the market segmentation work that Sport England did nearly 10 years ago.

These 19 segments are based on age, gender, socio-demographic information, and overlaid with sporting activity and preferences to show the sporting habits of each segment, and factors that could encourage them to do more activity.

From these we identified existing segments Joy and Brenda as good matches for our priority audience.

This gave us a great starting point for the type of Goals and Challenges that these groups have when it comes to sport and physical activity.

The segments also identify the types of brands that might be favoured by our personas.

However, we found this was already quite dated. So, we supplemented this with data from Facebook.

The Walking for Health Facebook page has 33,000 followers. By using the Audience Insights function we could identify what brands, companies, TV shows etc that this audience are most interested in. (Mary Berry, Hairy Bikers and BBC Breakfast apparently!)

We then used insights from the Less Active Londoner Segmentation to identify where Capability, Opportunity and Motivation may be lacking for each persona.

Finally, we used feedback from existing Walking for Health participants to identify objections to becoming active and possible triggers that could start them to act.

Guides to creating personas

There are plenty of useful guides to creating personas for your marketing campaigns online. Most of them will also share templates they use for creating pen portraits of each of your personas:

One of the most useful and vital elements is feedback from the actual people who represent your audience. Questions such as the below really bring your personas to life and the answers can often be lifted straight into ad copy.

  • How would they describe the walk to a friend?
  • What concerns did you have before the first time you joined a walk?

Personas can be a useful exercise to get your team focusing on your priority audience and to inform idea generation when creating a campaign.

But remember that they will never be able to accurately reflect all the nuances of a large audience.

So, use them selectively and once running a campaign take the opportunity to test your marketing messages and channel and learn from what works.

You can download our personas Angela and Joy by clicking the link below.

Download personas


And if you have any questions or would like to be added to the digital marketing pilot mailing list for updates on the project, email [email protected]


When we started to run the actual campaign we were curious to see whether our persona names would start cropping up amongst the thousands of people signing up.
Amazingly the first person to reply was called Joy! Angela ended up as the 6th most popular name. The top 3? Sue, Maria and Christine.