Building User Personas. The secret sauce to growth?

I’ve seen many marketers concentrating so much on their campaigns, messaging and creatives that they forget who they are targeting in the first place. Who is their target audience? Has that changed since their last campaign?

It doesn’t matter if you are a startup or a huge organisation, knowing your target audience at every stage of your business is important.

Building a user persona should be simple. And what I mean by simple is don’t try to target the entire world, target your core customers, the customers that are more likely to be your early adopters, use your services or buy your products.

Create a hyphotesis of whom your customers might be or whom you may want to target. Next step is data. Grab your hands on any data that you have access to, be it from Google analytics, email campaign analytics, CRM, social media analytics, social media tools such as Brandwatch and any sales databases.

Data is a great way to validate your assumptions. Even if you don’t have the full picture, it will help you when you are ready to build your user personas.

A long time ago marketing used to be the only department looking at user personas. Now designers, product managers and even sales should be involved. Because they represent every aspect of your business, it can improve your user journey, optimize services and products and it can help your sales team too.

Hubspot has done a great job in listing - The 6 Steps to Building User Personas and Why You Should Care. I recommend going through it. 

They’ve also developed a pretty straightforward tool called - Make my Persona that will help you build it.    

My favourite tool is Xtensio. It’s so simple to use, the templates guide you through things you should be asking yourselves when you are building the user personas. Such as what are their frustrations, their annual income, the potential brands they might buy from or like to be associate it with. Someone said to me once – get as many details on your target audience that make you feel uncomfortable.

Knowing your target audience is one way to unlock user and revenue growth. But of course, just like with any other areas of the business it should be revisited, optimized, remember to test and test again.

Good luck! :)

GDPR for online entrepreneurs. 7 days to go!

GDPR is coming whether you like it or not, so you need to start working towards compliance now.

If you’re still unaware or confused as to what it is, here’s a summary from the official EU GDPR information portal:

“What is GDPR?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy."

"Who does the GDPR affect?

The GDPR not only applies to organisations located within the EU but it will also apply to organisations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects. It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company’s location."

"What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Organizations can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover for breaching GDPR up to €20 Million. This is the maximum fine that can be imposed for the most serious infringements e.g.not having sufficient customer consent to process data or violating the core of Privacy by Design concepts. There is a tiered approach to fines e.g. a company can be fined 2% for not having their records in order (article 28), not notifying the supervising authority and data subject about a breach or not conducting impact assessment. It is important to note that these rules apply to both controllers and processors -- meaning 'clouds' will not be exempt from GDPR enforcement.”

"What constitutes personal data?

Any information related to a natural person or ‘Data Subject’, that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer IP address.” You can read up more, here.

This is also a great GDPR summary from Southerly.

If you are a small business or a freelancer and use your clients’ data for marketing purposes, you need to obtain consent from your customers in order to continue using the data for those and any other purposes. This will mean you need to update your website in order to collect the consent information.

If you need legal support, Suzanne Dibble is a brilliant solicitor for small businesses. She has done an amazing job in making it easy to get ready for GDPR. You can check Suzanne’s work on her Facebook page.

I’d also recommend getting Suzanne's GDPR Pack which contains a compliant Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, checklists, agreements and all the other templates you need to get compliant:

If you are using MailChimp for your email marketing, I have good news for you. They’ve launched new tools for GDPR compliance, which will make your life much easier. MailChimp says you can visit its What’s New Page to stay informed.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen some great examples of email marketing on requesting consent from customers. Here are a few examples that I thought they’ve hit the spot:

GDPR email example from The Pig Group.

 GDPR email marketing example from Norwegian Airlines.

GDPR email marketing reminder from ASOS.

Finally, my key suggestions for your GDPR email content strategy are:

  • Choose your subject lines carefully.

  • Make it easy for customers to give the consent. You’d want your customers to give it right away. If they don’t, you can ask for it again on each visit but at the risk of annoying users that genuinely don’t want to give consent.

  • Tidy up your data and keep track of the customers that have not given consent, because you wouldn’t want to contact them for marketing purposes after the 25th May 2018. You also could be audited by authorities or solicitors on behalf of customers and you should be able to easily and transparently show the consent collected, what you use the data for and your policies for protecting customer data and an ability to “destroy or transfer” data on request.

If you’d like to learn more and need last-minute support on how to compose and produce the right emails for your customers. I’m offering four consultations (15 min slot) for free. First come first served basis. So hurry. GDPR is coming :)

Should everyone learn how to code?

Every job candidate knows the better their skills, the better the chance of getting a job; there has been an emphasis on the importance of children learning code so when they leave school, they have the advantage when it comes to forging a career.

However, is coding essential for everyone?

Schools in the UK have now introduced coding as part of lessons. At the centre of the recent drive towards teaching coding was the then education secretary Michael Gove who said in a speech at the BETT Conference that due to the changing nature of business, learning code would give children the best chance of finding a job in the future. However, opinions differ on how important learning code is and whether it is necessary for everyone.

The argument for

Zach Zims, the Co-founder of Codeacademy, has noticed a huge increase in demand from people keen to learn programming. In an article published on the Coca Cola website, he argues that due to 21stcentury technology, programming is essential for being able to compete in the modern job market.

Zims also states coding isn’t just essential to jobs or businesses in the technology industry, but coding can help employees to be more effective in other jobs such as journalism, where coding can be used to create stunning graphics and engaging readers.

The argument against

However, software developer Jeff Atwood considers the surge towards people learning to code and the emphasis on learning programming as a step backwards. He maintains people who enjoy coding, should stick to coding.

As Atwood explained to NPR,

“…When I hear: ‘Everyone must learn to program,’ what I hear is: We’re going back in time to a place where you have to be a programmer to do things on the computer.”

Atwood thinks it is a positive thing that people don’t need to program to be able to use a computer. However, he also states that with all of the resources available today, it has never been easier to learn and discover if coding is something you might enjoy.


Coding is now part of our everyday lives. It has opened up many job opportunities and as technology develops, it will open up even more in the future. However, it’s essential that individual candidates find a career they can enjoy and excel at.

If you would like to learn how to code, here are a few websites that can get you started (most of them are free):

  1. Codeacademy
  2. Code Avengers
  3. Girl Develop It
  4. Udacity
  5. Computer Clubhouse
  6. CoderDojo
  7. Code school
  8. Treehouse

Say NO to refined sugar

Why should I say no to sugar? I was asking myself a few months ago as I was sitting on my dentist chair. You can imagine what the dentist was telling me. But let me come back to this point later on.

First, I would dive into the world of sugar. And how we find ourselves consuming sugar without even knowing. Because most of the products out there do have sugar, especially processed foods. And a lot of the big brands out there are getting away by just mentioning sugar in the product description. But not specifying a lot of the times the amount of sugar. You are probably thinking, yes we already know that. But do you really know how many sugar scoops a glass of orange juice has? And I guess the bigger question is. Is this good for me?

I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I was beyond normal when it came to sugar intake. Since I was 5 years old I was eating lots of cakes, sweets, candies, you name it. And this habit has continued in my adult life. Being more excited about dessert than the rest of my meal. I know it’s not just me, it’s ingrained in our culture through birthdays, weddings, any celebration involves a sweet treat. Why shouldn’t we reward ourselves with something that makes us feel good and happy? Did you know that the sugar addiction sits in the same area of our brains when it comes to other addictions like cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.

Sugar can do many things: obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, ageing, increasing cancer cells, decayed teeth, affecting our thinking ability, mood swings and more. The Business Insider UK published an insightful article on the effects of eating too much sugar where you can read up more.

Throughout the years my weight has fluctuated, luckily I’ve always been an active person so I am at a normal weight. When it comes to losing weight or staying in shape, the media, doctors, the food industry, they are telling us to reduce the fat, the bad cholesterol, or any junk food. In fact healthy fats are good for us and there is no bad cholesterol. Have you ever wondered that all of these factors are influenced by one thing — refined sugar.

So going back to what my dentist said, these were her words:

“You have sensitive teeth, so if you don’t want for the rest of your life to keep coming back to see me every week I’d suggest to cut the sweets all together.” I was thinking, are you kidding me? That’s part of me, that’s who I am.

But then I started to read about sugar and inform myself. This book by Damon Gameau has helped me a lot not only to understand the dangers of sugar, but also how to cut the unnecessary sugars from my day to day life. Damon did an experiment, he ate 40 scoops of sugar a day. You can find out more about it, here.

I am not saying that fruits which do have natural fructose are bad for us, they are not. But we are consuming much more sugar than our ancestors did because even bread, cereals or salty popcorn have sugar. So on average we consume at least 20 scoops of sugar on a daily basis or maybe even more. And, when you look at it this way, yes, that’s a lot!

So my final thought is — try for one week or even two weeks to reduce sugar from your coffee or tea. And stop drinking any fizzy drinks. Or if you are brave enough reduce the sugar all together for 2 weeks and see how you feel.

I am still learning how to reduce unnecessary sugar myself but one way to look at it is, educating ourselves and knowing exactly what we are eating, which sometimes can be difficult with misleading packaging. Next time you do your food shopping, read the labels carefully, and be more aware of the the amount of sugar you and your family are consuming.