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Ifigenia Arampelou
Director of Digital Transformation

Persona: ‘the aspect of someone's character that is presented to or perceived by others.”

A membership organisation is all about looking after its members, members are people, and they have personalities. Members have common needs, desires and traits. We all have our space into a persona, a term that has been very popular and instrumental in the digital world. 

What is a user persona?

A user persona (also known as a customer persona, digital persona or a member persona) is a fictional representation of the different user types that might want to become members of your organisation. We will use “real” members to get inspiration for creating our personas, but in principle, the member personas are fictional. 

Why is persona important?

Understanding your member's personas allows you to present them with the content they are looking for, provide them with solutions to the problems they are facing and ultimately take them down the journey that will lead to a conversion. An example of conversion may be the acquisition of a new member or upgrading an existing member to the next membership grade. 

How do you create your personas?

In the membership world, a quick and straight forward way to create a persona is to look into their membership status. Without much analysis and thinking, we have two personas already.

  • Existing member
  • Prospective member 
  • Existing Individual Member (Early Career/Late Career/Retired)
  • Existing Corporate Member (Small/Medium/Large)
  • Lapsed Member

We need to dig a bit deeper to better define our personas and guide them through the journey that gives them what they are looking for and ideally leads to a conversion.

Typically to define a member persona, we are looking to answer the following:

  1. Name: e.g. Steve Smith
  2. Photo: e.g. how Seve looks like! 
  3. Age Groupe: e.g. 40-50 years old 
  4. Occupation: e.g. Professor 
  5. Membership Status: I used to be a member thinking about renewing 
  6. Location: e.g. London 
  7. Main points about the person: e.g. Steve is a university professor, he works full time and lives with his family. He is proud of his job title and values the concept of membership.
  8. Pain points the persona needs to address: e.g. Steve finds marketing communications frustrating, doesn’t like receiving multiple emails that are not relevant to his needs. He dislikes spending his time looking for information online. 
  9. Goals: e.g. Steve wants to be part of an organisation that is proud of and enhances his professional status. He wants to feel part of the community and have the ability to communicate with other members. Steve wants to feel like he is getting value out of his membership and would like to see a return on his investment. 

How do I find personas information?

Existing member base:

Your first point to gather persona information is your current members. You can create surveys and conduct interviews with your existing members that will allow you to draw out the key personas of your current base. 

Perspective members:

You can create surveys that target prospective members that visit your website and your associated digital media (e.g. social media) to gather information about who the prospective members are and what they are looking for. 

A wealth of information can be gathered from your analytics (if you have not configured them yet, do it now!). This can be your google analytics and/or specific analytics you have configured on your website and digital media. It will provide you with information about what your users look for when they visit.


Look at your competitors and see who their member personas are. If they align with your target membership, then chances are they are relevant to your organisation.

What happens next 

One word of advice is to avoid ending up with far too many personas. During your research, you will find a lot of personas. Although we want to fulfil the needs of all our members we need to focus on the main ones. 

This is just the beginning of your persona journey; the digital world is constantly moving and so are your member’s needs. Periodic reviews of your personas and your digital landscape should be part of your agenda and at the heart of your marketing team.