Why Digital Personas Are No Longer Enough – gb


Pola Zen

July 10, 2018 | 2 min read

Last Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Brands today are constantly on the lookout for the perfect user experience (UX) formula that will keep their digital audience engaged all the way to conversion. But connection is a two-way street, and to be successful, requires a sophisticated understanding of who it is you’re trying to connect with.

For that, brands have personas – ideal archetypes of the people who might come to them for goods and services. And while personas are helpful, what they lack are the layers of complexity that define everyday interactions – including browsing for stuff online.

A cosmetics brand, for example, might direct its collection and messaging at a specific demographic. A typical persona might be Coachella Chloe, a 19-year-old college freshman and fashion enthusiast who never turns her phone off. Based on the variables used to define Chloe, our cosmetics brand will make a number of assumptions about the digital behavior of their target audience.

But while some things about Chloe will remain constant, many things won’t. Her behavior online, for one, is subject to any number of influences depending on where she finds herself, what device she’s using, and of course, what she’s trying to achieve.

Making Chloe a happy digital customer requires more than simply taking into account her persona. Only the combining of persona with intent and context can lead to an in-depth understanding of Chloe’s mindset – the emotional foundation that will impact her navigation.

Become a mindset reader with behavioral analytics

We analyzed millions of user sessions to better understand the digital patterns of behavior associated with different and recurring consumer mindsets.

We investigated three distinct combinations of persona, intent and context, looking at what happened when one of the variables – persona, intent, or context – was different.

To understand the impact of context on mindset, for example, we examined the difference in behavior of a converting group of users on laptop versus non-converting users on mobile. From our research, we were able to extract two distinct mindsets – distracted and determined.

We found that determined users were quick to make up their minds about the products they were drawn to, browsing fewer items and heading straight to the pages that interested them.

They were twice as likely to land on the cart page, for example, than the other group.

Distracted users were 23% more likely to land on a product page than determined users and saw these pages 22.3% more than their determined counterparts. They also displayed an 18.8% higher chance of reaching the homepage during their navigation, indicating longer, more chaotic sessions.

Distracted users on mobile were 17.6% more likely to reach the checkout than determined users on desktop, suggesting a real intention to buy. Despite this, determined users had 59% more chance of reaching the checkout confirmation page than when distracted, presumably encountering enough friction at checkout to defeat their initial purchasing objective.

Determined users also saw the cart page 82% more times during their navigation, spending 1.7 times longer there than when distracted.

Why think beyond digital personas


Putting consumer mindset at the heart of their strategy helps digital teams adapt interfaces to changing environments and fluctuating user moods. It allows them to move beyond the composite sketch of persona to address real-life situations and the feelings they trigger.

Because digital behavior and digital journeys are anything but static. Coachella Chloe, for example, will browse differently depending on whether she is determined or distracted. By developing experiences that can adapt to her changing mood, our cosmetics company is that much closer to delivering a consistently satisfying experience to its valued audience.