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User Profiling

User Profiles v User Personas for app marketing

June 20, 2017

Think back to your last good conversation with someone you have known for your entire life. Now compare it with talking to someone you have just met… it was easier and frankly more enjoyable chatting to your buddy because you knew them, right? 


This feeling of comfort through communication is one that you want to replicate. 

Naturally, you want it to be enjoyable for both you and the user when communicating. We are all humans at the end of the day. Top tip - REMEMBER THAT! Therefore, a great way to make this process easier is through creating user profiles and user personas.

So where do you start? Well Ray Jones from CIM makes a the point that it is to find out as much as you can about existing customers. Knowing this information will contribute to both your user profiles & user personas. 

User profiles and user personas both provide information about your user that can be used to inform you when designing your app marketing. Therefore, in order to be effective, user research should be conducted on both user personas and user profiles.

So what are they? Are user profiles & user personas not the same thing I hear you ask? And the answer is simple …



It is a common and simple mistake to make but be sure not to get the two mixed up.

What are User Profiles?

User profiles are made through collecting data about your app users, in order to piece together who they are and what they like, in the form of a profile. User profiles are the representation of the users and they are the outcome of the user profiling process. The elements included in a user profile may include geographical location, academic and professional background, membership in groups, interests, preferences, opinions, etc. This type of data would be seen as descriptive, however, user profiling is improved by including statistical data gained from monitoring behavioural app data.

Through behavioural app data capture, you are flooded with vital statistics such as, how many times the user opens the app, how long they spend on the app and what features they access. This statistical data provides insight into how and why users turn to your app, allowing you to see where it fits in their life. 

User profiles provide focus on your specific users, and what drives them as they interact with your brand. App marketing can be difficult at times but this data compiled into a user profile can prove to be very helpful if used correctly.


User profiles have become very important when app marketing, as it helps to achieve personalisation. You want talking to your users to be like putting on an old pair of slippers - familiar, easy and personalised. This does not happen over night! You have to put in the ground work and commit time to effort to find out who your users are.

Creating user profiles can be a timely process! Therefore, make the process as easy as possible by having the right tools. With the right tools, you can look at a user's full history of interactions with your brand and trigger targeted communications based on their actions to make the conversation seem personal but saving you time.


So what about User Personas?

As mentioned these are similar to the User Profile, however, not the same thing. 

Where user profiles are made up of real life facts and figures the user persona is not. Yes, they are based on market research and real data but they are as stated by Hubspot ‘a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers’. User personas focus on the why of customer behaviour, not the what. When creating users personas you should include analysis of the user profiles, including identification of important clusters of users within or between user profiles. 


Image credit: MELEWI

Think of user profiles as stage 1 and user personas as stage 2. 


When to use them?

When marketing an app it is essential to know when is best to use each. You can see, they are based on different things but equally the use of each is very different too.

When to use user profiles:

  • When target marketing campaigns to users or find new users.
  • To understand the statistical values and behaviours of each different type of user.
  • When the broader picture is needed to create the plan 

When to use user personas to:

  • To help construct your messaging.
  • When advising members of your team on the motivations behind your users.
  • When you are narrowing down the plan to create the communication and remembering that you are talking to a fellow human!

User profiles are not a replacement for user personas! In fact, despite their differences, there are benefits of using them together. Even though they may be based on the same user and market research, they provide different views of your users. 

When app marketing, best practice is to analyse the user profiles and then create a targeted set of user personas. When it comes to how many you should have - the answer is how long is a piece of string? It depends entirely on your brand, how many you should have but you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. Using both user profiles and user personas has armed you with a plethora of information on your users letting you to speak their language 💁🏼.

For more information on user profiling check out our guide How to Profile your App Users or contact me directly via [email protected]
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