University of Liverpool: Improved profiling of research audiences

The University of Liverpool’s 2026 strategy is to be a world-leader in specific research areas and to be globally recognised for its research and impact activities. As a member of the Russell Group, the university is already one of the world’s leading institutions for research, but wanted to get a more detailed understanding of its research audience as part of a wider content strategy. Sigma was asked to create personas of the university’s most important audience groups to provide a better understanding of their characteristics, needs and motivations, as well as to create a customer journey map, which will inform future marketing and content strategy efforts.


To help inform its future content and marketing strategy, the university needed to gain a better understanding of the audiences of its research and impact information, including their needs and motivations for engaging with research. It also needed more insight into the customer journey undertaken by each audience persona to help guide future marketing efforts, including digital architecture.

The key objectives for the project were to:

  • Create personas that represent the most important audience groups, including their goals, needs and frustrations
  • Create a map of customer journeys for each persona to inform future marketing and content strategies


Carrying out interviews and surveys with key internal and external audiences, we gained a better understanding of the groups who were engaging with the University of Liverpool’s research. Using this information, we established their needs, preferences, barriers to engagement and motivations.

We then developed “personas” for the university’s core audience – from funders to those interested in business or research collaboration or those seeking a general overview of a university’s research activity. We also identified the specific requirements of each persona, including their motivations and likely behaviours during the customer journey.

The second objective for the project was to create a “journey map” which showed the user journey through both digital and offline channels. We identified key touchpoints and likely points of interaction during the customer journey, enabling the university to optimise these points of engagement and improve the overall experience.

"Our work with Sigma has really helped us to understand more fully the needs of our research audiences, and to devise methods for communicating with them more effectively. The research was insightful and timely, and the journey mapping exercise has enabled us to visualise and tailor our marketing communications in a really powerful way."

Mike Deyes, Deputy Marketing Director (Digital), University of Liverpool


The personas and journey map will provide valuable insight for the University marketing team as they embark on the next steps in their strategic programme and begin to look into content strategy. The journey map, in particular, will provide a focused, usable, pictorial view of the user journeys to be implemented at the next stage and a key reference point for design, development and marketing teams.

Services delivered

  • Stakeholder workshop
  • User surveys and interviews
  • User journeys and personas

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