Marketing up close and personal – The app buyer persona guide

By Einav Mor-Samuels
App buyer persona - featured

Who is your app for?

It may sound like a simple question on the surface, but most app marketers struggle to come up with a convincing answer. 

You may say it’s for students, or gym enthusiasts, or maybe even butchers. But there’s more to each of these categories than meets the eye. 

That’s why, instead of basing your marketing efforts on gut feeling, you need to invest in researching your audience inside and out. 

What are app buyer personas exactly?

App buyer personas paint a picture of your ideal paying customer, including demographics, pain points, user behavior, interests, and more. Rooted in qualitative and quantitative research, they help you focus your sales and marketing efforts to engage a very specific audience rather than trying to reach everyone, everywhere, all at once.

Why do you need them?

Why do you need app buyer persona

You can’t just build an app and expect users to come flooding in. It’s easy to fall into the fallacy that “if you build it, they will come”, especially in an increasingly competitive app marketplace. 

Your app will undoubtedly be used by people with multiple interests, demographics, and behaviors — and the better you know your audience, the easier it is to connect with them. 

You may find out your fitness app users like cats more than dogs or their favorite movie is Shrek. While these might not be particularly relevant to growing your app, you’ll start to unearth insights into your audience that will shape the way you build, market, and sell your app.

And as we move into a post-IDFA world, app marketers will have to rely less on behavioral targeting and more on the messaging, design, and creatives in their marketing campaigns. App buyer personas will be crucial to creating compelling advertising, because it’s impossible to sell to anyone if you’re selling to everyone.

Every strategic business decision you make should be traced back to ultimately serving your core users. Below are four ways that app buyer personas can help you do just that.

1. Narrow down your core audience with segmentation

Developing personas will help break your total addressable market up into smaller pieces, so you can focus on creating individualized marketing funnels and user flows. You’ll distinguish which audiences are more profitable than others and find markets with higher growth potential. 

2. Build your app marketing strategy

Personas are the difference between a generic marketing strategy and a focused one. They’ll determine whether you write a compelling app title that makes your app super discoverable, or one that doesn’t even show up in the app store search results.

Whether it’s your app store optimization efforts or your in-app campaigns, understanding the interests, pain points, and motivations of your ideal customer  will enable you to craft impactful creatives that resonate with your audience, improve your overall marketing performance, and in turn boost your bottom line.

3. End the guessing game and prioritize media channels

One of the fastest ways to waste your marketing budget is spreading it across too many channels. When you understand where your users live and how they behave on different channels, you can allocate your resources to the channels that convert and ignore the ones that don’t. This will ultimately speed up the expensive experimental phase and begin attracting highly valuable users, faster.

4. Increase engagement with existing users

It may be that you’re already doing a great job serving your core audience (or you think you are). But with personas, instead of basing your app strategy on assumptions, you’ll have the data to show you which audiences to focus on. By understanding their behaviors, you can fine tune your features or provide more personalized user experiences for your most profitable users.

How to create an app buyer persona

How to create an app buyer persona

Now you know why, let’s talk about how to create a real, data-driven, and actionable buyer persona. It starts with a commitment to getting accurate data, and going as in-depth as possible. An effective persona is based on data and research, and not personal assumptions or biases.

Outline what data to gather

Before pulling every possible report and sending out surveys left, right, and center, take some time to think deeply about what information would be the most beneficial. Here are some common criteria that you can use as a guide.

Demographics — who they are

  1. Location
  2. Age
  3. Gender
  4. Job title
  5. Industry
  6. Income
  7. Language
  8. Relationship status
  9. Level of education

Psychographics — what they’re like

  1. Common objections
  2. Personal goals
  3. Professional goals
  4. Frustrations
  5. Fears
  6. Beliefs / value systems
  7. Political party

Behavior — what they do and where 

  1. Favorite website
  2. Favorite games and apps
  3. App usage
  4. Information and news sources
  5. Preferred media

Tasks — how you can help them

  1. What problem are you solving?
  2. Where are your users wasting the most time doing?
  3. How can you make their lives easier?
  4. What app behaviors drive the highest conversions?
  5. What is the first value of your app?

App marketing guide: Cracking the code to success

Master app marketing

Establish and pull from your data sources

The next step is to identify where and how you’re going to gather the data you’ve outlined above. While it may be tempting to just do a little Googling, nothing is more effective than gathering your own first-party research in combination with third-party research. 

There’s a wealth of data sources to explore:

  1. CRM data
  2. Subscription data
  3. Social media conversations
  4. Survey data
  5. Net Promoter Score
  6. App reviews
  7. Customer feedback
  8. Customer support emails
  9. Customer purchase history
  10. Online chat scripts
  11. Interviews
  12. Focus groups
  13. Data collection software
  14. Information management systems
  15. Sales calls and transcripts
  16. Analytics tools
  17. Past campaign performance data
  18. Industry reports
  19. Research studies
  20. Census data

Bring your buyer persona profiles to life

Now that you’ve gathered all your research, you’ll need to turn data into insights. Bring all your data together, and start connecting the dots and identifying commonalities for your personas. 

And now for the fun part: writing up your personas! Give them names and list their relevant characteristics to build up a rounded picture. You may want to include an illustration or stock photo to help bring them to life. 

You can use any format to create your buyer personas  — whether it’s a simple Word document, a spreadsheet, or a presentation slide. What’s most important is having all your information in one accessible place.

Here’s an example:

Bring your buyer persona profiles to life

In this process, you may even consider creating negative buyer personas: people who you want to avoid advertising to. This is a segment of app users who do not make you money, are expensive to market to, or are detrimental to your community. 

Putting your personas into practice

Putting your personas into practice

Congratulations! You’ve created your app buyer personas. Now you know exactly who you’re talking to, and you have the data to prove it. 

Personas enable you to really focus your marketing efforts. Use them to improve your app’s most profitable features, align your advertising budgets with channels that matter most, and develop new, more personalized ad creatives that resonate with your core audience.

Don’t forget to test, tweak, and overhaul your personas regularly, whether it’s on a monthly or quarterly basis. As you continue to gather more data and as your app evolves, so will your understanding of your users. 

And most importantly, put your app buyer personas at the center of all your strategic decisions. Whether it’s product development, marketing, customer support, or sales, put your customers first. 

Einav Mor-Samuels

With extensive experience in digital marketing, Einav is a Content Writer at AppsFlyer. Over the course of the past 15 years, she has gained ample experience in the mobile marketing landscape, researching market trends, and offering tailored solutions to customers' digital problems. Einav fuels her content with data-driven insights, making even the most complex of topics accessible and clear.
Ready to start making good choices?