You’ve invested time and money to get your all-singing, all-dancing online store live. You’ve purchased your stock, added your products and content, and spent a small fortune on marketing. Job done; you can now sit back and watch the cash roll in! If only it were that simple…
Obviously, there are many facets to building a successful ecommerce business, but none so important as knowing who your buyers are. Yes, you may have done your market research and know roughly who you are targeting, but do you really know your buyers and do you know exactly what makes them tick? This is where buyer personas come into play.
A buyer persona is a detailed characterization of your ideal customer based on market research, industry data, and real-life behaviour patterns. In fact, there are numerous ways of gathering buyer persona data from industry research, website analytics, online surveys, or good old-fashioned question and answer sessions. The more creative you can be when gathering this data, the more valuable your insights will be.
Creating buyer personas will help you get to know your customers better, understand their likes and dislikes, and learn their unique habits. These valuable insights will allow you to customise content specifically for your customers, which can reap dividends for your business.
Creating your buyer personas is actually pretty straightforward. You can make a start by brainstorming your ideal customers, and at this stage, it helps to be as broad as possible. For example, if your online store sells smoke alarms then your buyer personas could be:
This is obviously very broad but gives us a platform to drill-down into specifics for each persona. Gender, age, location, education level, job title are all elements that you can look at. It will also help to ask yourself the following questions:
This will depend on whether you are selling a tried and tested product, or something brand
new to the market. You may decide that this needs to be split into two buyer personas; one
who knows your product well, and one who does not.
Does your buyer like to hang out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Or, do they tend to stay away from social media and prefer TV or radio? Age, demographics and income level (amongst other things) will have a large effect on this.
For example, Facebook tends to be occupied by the younger, lower income demographic, whereas LinkedIn is more popular amongst the older, higher earners.
This can be difficult to quantify but is an essential question to ask. The more impact your product has on the buyers’ lives, the more emotionally invested they will be in your product.
For example, if you’re selling a life-saving product such as smoke alarms, this has an obvious impact on their lives, and you can customise your marketing message accordingly.
Unless you are selling a unique product, there are always going to be other companies competing for your market share. So how are you going to set yourself apart from them? What can you offer your buyer, that they can’t? This will become a crucial part of your marketing message, so you need to be on top of your game here!
Your unique selling point (UPS) will also dictate to a large degree, which buyers you end up targeting. For example, if you sell budget smoke alarms, you may be better placed to target the low to middle-income demographic, rather than the high earners.
What influences your different buyers to make decisions, is it logic or emotion? Is high-end branding the key, or is it reputation, or five-star customer service? Maybe fast delivery is the thing that floats their boat? This is a tricky nut to crack, but if you can get this right, you could hit the jackpot!
Different buyer personas may use different communication means. This needs to be considered when constructing your marketing and remarketing methods. There’s no point investing in a state-of-the-art mailshot system if your primary buyers don’t use email.
Likewise, if you are sending out content to social media channels, make sure the channels are relevant to your target buyers.
Once you have created your buyer personas, you will be able to tailor your content and your marketing messages to achieve the greatest possible success. It is important to note that your buyer personas will influence all areas of your ecommerce website strategy, and therefore should be one of the first things you do.
Your website design, marketing strategy, social media channels, and even the style of writing you use, will be dependent on your buyer personas. Don’t make the mistake of treating your buyer personas as an afterthought, or you could end up with an ecommerce site that’s not fit for purpose.
Developing buyer personas can seem daunting at first, but it should be seen as a long-term process. Sure, you may not get it exactly right the first time. But by analysing your live data, you can adjust the personas as you go along.
As you discover more information about your customers, you can develop your buyer personas into life-like characters. The more you define these personas, the better chance you will have of achieving a thriving, successful, ecommerce business.
About the author: James Brack is Creative Director at UK web design agency, Dreamscape Design Ltd. His passions are Ecommerce, inbound marketing, and creating exceptional, mobile-optimized websites for businesses of all sizes. James is also the author of The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Success.