Suppose you have any prior experience as a marketer. In that case, chances are you must have been reminded a million times that optimizing the customer experience, identifying the decision making elements, and tracking the buyer’s journey is the ultimate path of getting fruitful marketing results.
Undoubtedly, the customer is an essential part of marketing when it comes to online e-commerce stores. Your strategic marketing foundation should be built on all the knowledge and information you have about your customer.
But then there are some gaps and loopholes that your customer data and marketing strategies might be failing to fix. PR and paid advertising is not giving the desired results, the brand’s objectives are not clear, and you are unable to personalize buying experience for the different type of customers you encounter.
But not to worry, because all these issues can be solved by using a more organized approach of collecting customer detail and catering to the problem by building specific buyer personas.
A buyer or customer persona, by definition, is a semi-fictional character that is created by a brand to represent the targeted customer based on data. The idea is to create the many different types of customers that make up your customer base depending on their unique details like demographics, preferences, and backgrounds so that it helps you give them a more personalized buying experience.
As per the statistics, 80% of companies today use customer buying personas to improve their value proposition. Therefore let’s find out how to create one for your e-commerce store.
How to Create an Actionable Buyer Persona for E-commerce Business
The following are some essential elements and core components of creating a successful and effective buyer persona for an online e-commerce store.
1. Understand why it matters for your business
It is crucial to understand here that you cannot just go on developing any strategy just because it seems to be working for others. Firstly, you need to understand why it is working for your industry type and what it can do for you. Therefore, it is important to understand why buyer personas matter for e-commerce.
In a recent report by Accenture, the results conclude that almost half of all the customers who have exited a business website and went on to make a purchase elsewhere reported poor buying experience as the reason. Considering such stark contrast in the buying behavior, no wonder generic marketing tactics have failed to resonate with consumers.
That is the reason why curating buying personas has become a way of creating a unique and compelling marketing campaign that is personally relevant to the customer’s buying experience. They create a widespread utility as they can work for small online startups and big e-commerce stores just the same.
2. How should your buyer persona look like?
A good buyer persona would immediately stark the marketer as it would highlight the demographics, preferences, objectives, and the factors that drive the buying behavior. It would showcase all the concerns and expectations of the said buyer.
You can create your version as simple or as complex as you may like. Many buyer personas are brief digital presentations meant to capture the relevant details of the buyer. A combination of quantitative and qualitative research results can do the job.
You can construct potential buyer personas even if it is a new product not yet available to customers. Such research and categorization allow deriving three to four umbrella groups that undertake all types of customers that a business might have.
3. Essential parts of your buyer persona
Many people feel that a customer persona is either a list of characteristics or a set of specific details. However, the concept of a convincing buyer persona is more than that. They are supposed to be flexible to changes, accommodating additions, and help in building brand identity. The following are some essential parts that make up for a useful buyer persona for an e-commerce business.
a. Basic information
Basic information, like the name, is an essential part. It needs to be easily memorable, more so catchy to retain in a market’s thought profile. Therefore, many marketers use alliteration to achieve this, like, Landlady Laura, Researcher Ronald, Analyst Abigail, etc.
Secondly, it is important to mention demographic details like gender, age, location, education, job title, and household income. The best way to put it is by categorizing the similarities and then creating character-based interpretations under umbrella terms. For instance, Abigail is a 25-year-old female, Geography major, who is currently earning $50,000 as an Analyst in Arizona.
c. Background information
Background information also plays a vital role as it adds the psychographic element to the buyer persona. The data is relevant as it shapes the customer’s buying behavior towards the product and explains why the customer reacted a certain way.
d. Thought process and mindset
As the name suggests, this section provides help in explaining the thought process and perspective of your customer. It answers questions like:
- What does the customer think about it?
- How does the customer feel?
- What is their general perception of life?
- The solutions they may desire?
e. Goals and objectives
This section deliberates on the goals and objectives the customer might have. It clarifies the customer’s personal and professional pursuits that are significant influences of their life and their choices.
f. Shortcomings and challenges
This heading should compile the weaknesses your customer has and the challenges they feel in life. These might be the reasons that are a hurdle in achieving those life goals discussed above.
g. Hobbies, interests, and preferences
Contextual information is crucial to designing a buyer persona that answers the “why” to your customer’s needs and demands. Therefore, you need to know how they spend their spare time, their general preferences, and their shared interests.
h. General objections
This section should answer as to the potential rejection from your customer. Why would they say no to your offering but yes to your competitor?
Lastly, an image is optional, but it is the element that humanizes your characterization. You can find many stock photos that would fit the description.
4. Planning your persona logically and brainstorming
Begin with a rough idea of who you think your customer is. Use a template to help visualize the characterization. The focus is to create an estimated persona of who you want to attract to your e-commerce store. Obviously, you’ll have more than one ideal type of customer, so planning and brainstorming accordingly is a crucial step.
5. Gathering Data
The next step towards a compelling buyer persona is gathering data to support your brainstorming, logical input, and ideas. However, there are two ways you can go about doing that:
Through Quantitative Sources
You should start with a broader region of data collection by conducting quantitative market research. Sources like web analytics, insights, surveys, and industry data should give a great boost at acquiring in-depth detail about customer characters.
You can leverage platforms like Google Analytics, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other popular social media channels amongst your customer base.
You can also use the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) dashboard at their website for industry information and fact sheets.
Through qualitative sources
Next, you would require getting in touch with your customers to gain data through qualitative sources like interviews, emails, online discussion forums, and customer service feedback. Hearing directly from your target customer as to what they think of your e-commerce store will give you more direct access to buyer personification. You will not only gain views from current customers but potential prospects that need specific targeting to become leads in the future.
6. Market segmentation
Now that your research is complete and you have both sets of data to use, your consequent third step is to narrow down your results and the generic information you have attained. You can easily achieve this through market segmentation.
The idea is not necessarily to segment your market in a fixed way, but rather it is freeform. You can go about segmenting your customer base. However, which course suits your e-commerce business type.
Start by looking for current market trends and commonalities that come with everyone. For example, suppose your e-commerce store sells products that are high-end compared to more economical prices. In that case, most of your customers will have budgeting as a challenge, so mention as it is for all and group them based on their buying power.
7. Finalizing and sharing your personas
Now that you have finally concluded the analytical work, the research, and segmentation, it is time you complete your personas and build them out. Select the template that works for you and organize your collected data according to the relevance of communication and buying decisions.
Name your groupings and identify them with the description of the people it represents. After you have populated them, distribute the personas to the sales and marketing team for reference going forward.
It is important to realize that buyer personas are never truly finished. Just as the real people they depict, the details are also in the constant state of evolving. Therefore, the best practice to keep them relevant is by revisiting the personas and updating them as per your company and customer growth.