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Who buys your product?

(Besides your friends, and your mom, that is.)

Understanding who you’re selling to is crucial in today’s personalized marketing environment. The more you know about your customers, the more you can tailor their experience to retain engagement, and develop greater prospects.

There are a host of decisions ecommerce owners have to make…from choosing a brand angle to which ecommerce platforms are the best for their growing business–it’s a lot to decide. But, figuring out who you are selling to is likely one of the most important decisions you will make.

According to information taken from Teradata, only around 41% of all marketing executives are currently using customer engagement data to help them inform their marketing strategies. However, the more you learn about your customers, and the more you use data to develop awesome buyer personas, the more you could benefit.

For example:

  • Using buyer personas in an email marketing campaign resulted in a 2-times higher click through rate according to MLT Creative.
  • Buyers are 48% more likely to consider companies that personalize their brand experience
  • A study conducted by Relevance found that 15% of respondents found their buyer personas to be seriously effective. At the same time, only 15% of their respondents used in-depth research to inform their data. Coincidence?

Here, we’re going to introduce the basics on buyer personas, and what you need to do to start creating one that works for your ecommerce business. Remember, having a comprehensive understanding of your customers is crucial to meeting your business goals. Regardless of whether you’re hoping to optimize or build the customer experience, create better content, or develop more sales, it all starts with understanding your audience.

Who are your Customers, Anyway?

Customers today just aren’t as loyal and trusting of businesses as they were a few years ago. With the internet available for everyone to use, it’s much easier to be skeptical of different products, and consequently, do your research about a brand before you ever consider doing business with them. On top of that, social media has given people the power to rethink and share their purchasing choices.

Today’s customers are more unique, diverse, and challenging as the digital market has worked to amplify niche segments of different industries. In other words, if you want to get ahead of the competition, then you’ll need to know who your customers are.

Learning about the type of people you’re interacting with, from their psychological behaviors to their demographics, is crucial to creating an experience that relates directly to them. That’s where buyer profiles come in. Simply put, they help you to design an image of your ideal customer, so you’re not just trying to appeal to a crowd, but you’re focusing on offering a message to a specific type of person.

For instance:

  • A single male in his early twenties living in Los Angeles might be more interested in hearing about the party scene, fast cars, and fitness tips, than entrepreneurial tips and investment opportunities.
  • A couple in their thirties without any children might be looking for ways to improve their home or build on their lifestyle hobbies.
  • A married mother-of-three might be searching for a brand that understands her challenges raising children, and trying to work on a budget.

The more you understand your customers, the more you can make steps to connect with them on their level. This creates a stronger relationship between brands and buyers.

Creating Buyer Personas that Really Work

One of the biggest problems that ecommerce companies face when it comes to developing buyer personas, or marketing personas, if you’d prefer, is that they struggle to know how much information they need to include. Personas help you in everything from marketing, to sales, to choosing your next selection of products and services. They assist in internalizing the type of customer you want to attract and relating your customers to real human beings.

In other words, identifying your ideal buyer as “someone who likes shoes”, isn’t enough. The strongest buyer personas are almost always based on a combination of market insights and research, such as the metrics you gather from checking out your Google analytics, and the data you can obtain from your sales and marketing teams. Small businesses might have one or two personas, whereas larger enterprises might have dozens.

To start off with, when you’re defining your buyer personas, you’ll need to go broad. For instance, if you’re a company that sells photo-editing software, you’ll be able to spot two different types of buyers almost instantly:

  1. Casual buyers who are purchasing the product to use for fun.
  2. Business buyers who are purchasing the product for their entire company, or using it as a solution for their entrepreneurial efforts.

Once you have those broad groups in mind, you’ll be able to break them down further. For instance, that first group might be more likely to include younger people, between the ages of 17 and 35, who are interested in technology and photography. On the other hand, the second group might include young entrepreneurs, small business owners, and professional groups that are interested in offering higher-quality images to their clients.

Once you have a broad idea of who you’re selling to, you can start to break down each buyer persona, and look at the nitty-gritty details.

Examining the Details of Each Persona

So, how do you start really drilling deeper into each of your customer personas? There’s plenty of information out there, you just need to know how to use it. By assessing the metrics on your google analytics reports, speaking to your marketing experts, and even engaging in surveys and interviews with your existing customers, you can begin to develop a deeper understanding of each user in your network.

Surveying existing customers is one of the best ways to get a pure view of your current market. After all, who better to tell you what your customers are like, than your actual customers? Just remember, that while you’re gathering information, you’re going to need to check out some of the following essential elements:

  • Location: Where do they live
  • Age: Age range (in general)
  • Gender
  • Interests (What do they like)
  • Education level
  • Job title: What do they do
  • Income level
  • Language: What language do they speak?
  • Buying motivation: What are their pain points, why do they buy from you?
  • Buying concerns: What prevents this customer from buying from you

Learning as much as you can about what your buyer does, and doesn’t want will help you to tailor your marketing and sales nurturing methods to their needs. In other words, if your persona is for “Steve”, a guy in his forties who works for a tech company and is trying to manage on a low-income, you probably shouldn’t email him with deals on enterprise-grade wholesale software.

How Can You Get this Information?

We touched above on the idea of using interviews to collect information about your ecommerce buyer personas, but let’s look at gathering data a little more. Buyer personas are often developed through interviews, surveys, and research into your target audience. This will include looking at a range of customers, prospects, and people who might align with your target audience. To get the information you need to develop your personas:

  • Examine your contacts database for trends about how certain customers and leads consume or find your content.
  • Use form fields on your website that can capture important information about your customers, such as where they’re located or what their job title is.
  • Speak to your sales team and ask them for feedback on the type of customers they’re interacting with most often.
  • Interview your prospects and customers, either online or in person to determine what they like, and dislike about your product or service.

Using Personas in your Marketing

Now that you’ve figured out what buyer personas are, and how you can start developing them, you might be wondering how you can use these strategies in your marketing techniques.

The answer is pretty simple. At a basic level, your personas will allow you to create messaging and content that appeals to your target audience on a deeper, and more customized level. It also means that you can target your marketing efforts for different audience segments.

When combined with the various stages of your purchasing cycle, strong buyer personas can help you to map every stage of your marketing process, from how you package and advertise your product, to where you sell it, to how you follow up with customers after a purchase. In other words, it can help you to define the perfect customer experience for your particular brand.

As time goes by, you’ll find that your personas will change and evolve, particularly as you continue to discover new information about your customers and what drives them. As you grow as a business, you’ll be able to keep going back and tweaking your image of your ideal customer to create a more targeted communication strategy for your audience. This will mean increased engagement, better ROI, and a generally happier customer base.