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written by Hannah Waddams
Aug 31, 2023


Audience segmentation

Understanding your target audience is key if you want to boost learner engagement. And the single best way to understand your audience, and keep them front-of-mind, is by creating learner personas. But how do learner personas really help us engage people… in this blog we’re gonna delve into just that.


Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page before moving on:

“A learner persona is a semi-fictional representation of your learners, combining market research, qualitative and quantitative feedback from employees and some assumptions to provide L&D teams with an actionable audience segment designed to improve both learning design and communication approaches.”

So how do learner personas help boost engagement? Here’s 4 that spring to mind:


A few years ago everybody in marketing was talking about personalisation. And I’ll admit, that hype has died down. But unlike many trends that disappear after a while, marketers stopped talking about personalisation for a different reason. In 2023 (and beyond!) personalisation is a given. People expect it… from retailers, employers, advertisers, and yes, their learning! But the reality is, in the world of learning, we don’t have a huge amount of technology that enables personalisation. So personas are a fantastic way of personalising en masse, without a ‘first name’ field in sight.

Personas help you segment your audience based on factors such as demographics, psychographics, geography and behaviours. Segmenting in this way means you can send targeted messages that resonate with a particular persona, and therefore makes your marketing feel personalised to them and their needs.

We see this in the world of marketing more than you might realise. Take this advert for Mark Ritson’s Mini MBA as an example. Mark and his team don’t know who I am, they don’t know my name, or my email address. But they have assumed as a marketer who’s been on their website a fair few times, that I’m a “fence sitter”. That I’m hesitant, and that I’m putting off signing up. (And they’re right!) So they’ve made an advert that relates to that exact pain point – therefore personalising this advert, for me, but for everyone else who falls into that persona too!


Personas don’t just help us tailor our messaging… It also helps us pick the best marketing tactics for our audiences too. Your learner persona will help you understand more about your audience’s lives, and how they live, how they work, and what challenges they face day-to-day. And based on this understanding you can choose marketing tactics that will better resonate with these people.

For example, if you have a persona – Time Poor Tim – who is wearing many hats at work and is feeling very overwhelmed. He is working hard to serve his team, to do his day job, and spending time with his young family. Sending Tim a 3,000 word article on the benefits of learning will not get him engaged. In fact, he’ll probably just ignore it! Instead, to more effectively engage with Tim, you need to think about how to grab attention in the shortest possible time. For example, you might craft a 30 second, emotive video that makes Tim want to make the time for learning.

And this doesn’t just benefit Tim. It benefits you too. Because you can focus your time and effort on the channels and tactics that are actually going to get you the most impact! Win, win, right?!


Here at MAAS, we’re all about marketing for learning®. But learner personas don’t just help with marketing your learning content – they also help with targeting your learning content. More often than not, learning content is targeted based on job titles and functions. But how does this enable people at your organisation to embrace a non-linear, squiggly career? It doesn’t. Targeting your learning content based on your personas – and your audience’s intrinsic wants, needs, fears and pain points helps to overcome this. And in the modern, skills-based workplace, this is a must.


We’ve already spoken about how personas can help you choose more relevant marketing tactics, and target your learning offering in a better way. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that personas can help improve your overall learning experience. By providing your L&D and Learning Experience team with an in-depth understanding of your target audience will allow them to tailor the user experience of your offering into something that actually meets the needs of your target audience.

Looking at an example away from the world of learning, say you’re a travel company. By developing personas, you can identify pain points and preferences of different types of travellers – budget-conscious backpackers, luxury seekers, adventure enthusiasts, family holidayers, etc. This insight would guide your website’s layout, features, and navigation, ensuring that each persona finds the booking process intuitive and enjoyable.

With personas, we can do the exact same with our learning platforms and offering.


So with all these benefits, what are you waiting for? Surely it’s time to create your own personas, right? Well you’re in luck, we have two fantastic tools to help you. Check out our learner persona eBook – which will walk you through every step of the development process. Or click below to join me on the journey of creating personas for one of our clients – from research all the way through to development, with lots of top tips along the way! Enjoy! 🍍

written by Hannah Waddams

from the blog

from the blog