Not every buyer looks the same, but boy do they act similarly in many cases.
You know, it’s people shopping at 2 a.m. or the same three products getting ordered together again and again.
You can see it when your marketing knocks it out of the park and your order forms are slammed.
You also see it when messaging misses the mark and you get snarky comments online, or a new product launch falls flat.
It’s right there in your gut but hasn’t yet made its way to the calculation center in your brain.
It’s time to take that ethereal knowledge and turn it into something that’ll help in your reality.
It’s time to create the buyer personas that your ecommerce brand needs.
Buyer personas are the large groups that your customers fall into based on existing research and data plus some thinking we’ll get to in just a moment.
They represent the most common types of people who come through your door and are generally separated by demographic or motivational differences.
Traditional grocery stores often target people based on income and how many people are in their family, with some variations on gender.
Everyone is coming in for food, so the persona is about what they’re most likely to buy based on those outside factors.
A clothing store that focuses on business clothes in a major urban area may be more likely to section customer personas around need.
They could set their shop up so that you can quickly come in to find a tie, socks, belt, scarf, or a traditional raincoat.
Personas give you guidelines for how to set up your digital store, from making it easy to complete the purchase to supporting browsing or even what goods to recommend and what incentives to offer.
Whether you have one or 10 personas is really up to the information you’re able to glean and how targeted your marketing can be.
The most important piece of creating a buyer persona is capturing data so you can actually understand who they are, where they come from, and how it relates to you.
There is a wide range of data sources that you’ll want to consider, but we’ll look at some of the most common.
Use your company and store analytics to find information out about your customers. Google Analytics is a common tool and will help break down traffic regarding age, gender, keywords they use, and sometimes special characteristics.
Also, look for buying habits and trends in the purchases themselves.
With Metrilo’s customer behavior tracking you can see what every person does, how they interact with your site, what and how often they buy and so on.
If you’re just getting started or don’t have analytics on your site, don’t fret.
Customers will also provide you with information when they feel it improves their shopping experience or gives them a good deal. Consider adding a brief survey via email or on your site to learn more about targeted buyers.
Here are a few different items to consider asking about:
|Where they live|
|Where they shop|
|Why they buy from you|
|Shopping challenges they face|
|What makes it easy/difficult to get what they want|
|How can you help|
|Fears or values|
|What don’t think like about the shopping experience|
|What are their core personal values|
|What are their favorite…|
|Blogs, news sites|
If your store is on social media (it must be) or if your customers use social channels to log in to the accounts your store requires, you’ve got a trove of data at your fingertips.
Check the built-in analytics and see what your followers and customers look like. Each platform is a little different and provides different insights based on the relationship and your specific account.
There are also a variety of third-party tools that can automate the process to look at your friends and followers to see what they’re talking about and provide a best-guess at large-scale demographics.
If you still need a little more data, you can open your wallet and start getting industry-level trends and insights as well as targeted information.
Industry data and market research are readily available to buy online. They can give you specific insights into your industry or help you actually create personas — even if you’re a small shop that’s just starting to grow.
Creating buyer personas is really an exercise in grouping information together, and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy when you start. Sometimes it’s best to avoid anything complex and just start making a table in Excel or Word.
Your goal is to use what you’ve learned to seek out commonalities and then turn these groups into real people. Get some general groupings of data together and then start with questions like this for each of the common segments:
The goal is to write enough to start getting into the head of the customer, so you can imagine what they need and prefer.
Personas don’t have to be perfect right away. This process is just to get you started. Future A/B testing of deals and marketing lets you further refine personas.
After you’ve got some of the basics of the person, it’s time to get in their shopping mindset.
Ask why they shop with you, from choosing you to why they return. You want to look for a pain in their daily life that you help them avoid.
Sometimes it’ll be products that alleviate a problem. Or, you could be the most convenient place to get certain goods.
You might also be the cheapest option for them if they’re local to you and shipping is cheap. Audiences tend to share pain points, so what you solve for one will often be what you solve for many.
Think about the problems that you could be solving.
Then go back and look through your site and company data to see if you can verify them — sometimes based on how often people restock from you, what they purchase, or if they always choose specific options like expedited shipping.
If your customers love you, they probably love you for different reasons.
Bring the pain points back to your common traits and considerations to see if you might have a few distinct groups looking to you for distinct types of help. Identify large groups as well as smaller subgroups.
This creation process will help your marketing and keep campaigns interesting for potential new customers. You might find that you have customers at the very opposite ends of the spectrum.
On Black Friday 2017, for example, the people who shopped the most were those looking for the deepest discounts and people willing to spend more on luxury goods and personal experiences.
The two groups are very different and will respond very differently to a single marketing campaign. However, they had a unifying feature for their shopping in this case.
Your job is to look through your data and try to make sure you’re not grouping two distinct sets of people that just have one or two areas of overlap.
Create enough that people know you’re talking to them but not too many that you require a team of copywriters to create 30 versions of all your marketing materials.
One last piece of advice for creating a buyer persona is to create someone you’d hate to buy from you.
This is the person who doesn’t fit your core and will probably return your items. They’ll also likely badmouth you on social media afterward.
This negative persona is the type of customer you don’t want to attract. It’s useful for narrowing your target market — especially when you use demographic filters on Facebook and other ad campaigns.
You must focus on your pain points to find this person. Think about what does damage to your business and reputation so that you can avoid these high-risk customers.
The last piece of the puzzle is to test your work with marketing and deals that speak specifically to the pain points you identified for the different personas.
Well-defined customer personas can improve your ability to get the sale.
They do this by making your brand more human and connected to individual shoppers, improving their experience on your website and how they feel about your relationship.
They’ll also engender a feeling of loyalty and boost your chance of getting a return customer. Personas give direction and meaning to your marketing at every level.
Good luck on your own persona journey!
This article has been contributed by
Jake Rheude is the Director of Business Development for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.
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