Knowing your target market deeply is undeniably a crucial component of online selling.
The volume of online ecommerce shoppers and buyers is huge and is only growing with each year. Being able to grab their attention and speak to them should definitely be the underlying objective of your marketing strategies and efforts.
An online retailer/ecommerce business needs to stand out amongst all other competitors in order get the customer’s attention.
You can do this only and only by staying relevant and connected to the customers, i.e your marketing messages should be personalized and tailored for them. But this is no easy task; crafting relatable messages for the thousands of customers you have is time-consuming and taxing.
This is where the concept of buyer personas comes into play. Understanding how to create buyer personas and how to leverage them for maximum results is important.
But, this is not just limited to the content you should create for a particular buyer in order to sell; it is also very helpful in creating strategies around:
- Deciding which product to sell.
- How to position the brand and how to develop it.
- Sales tactics/messages and following up.
- The tone to use when talking to the buyer.
- How to locate these customers.
And much more.
What are Buyer personas?
Simply put, it is a generalization of an ideal customer. It is the representation of the type of customer the seller wants to attract to his website.
The key purpose of a buyer persona is that it can help the seller put themselves in the shoes of the prospect, allowing them to understand their behavior, decision-making process etc. Using this understanding the seller comes up with a better marketing pitch to successfully attract them.
An effective persona is built using the data derived from the customers about the customers. Here’s how to go about it:
Start with your customer/prospect database
Start at the very beginning.
Open your customer database and see what trends and commonalities you can find. Of course, using tools can help. For instance, using Google Analytics, you can get information about the demographics and other data insights about your customers. You can only notice patterns when the volume of the data is large enough.
If you can afford to do it, you should set up interviews with your key customers to understand how exactly your product integrates into their daily lives and get an in-depth feedback on the product. This is a technique that I had personally implemented when trying to build personas for Hiver and in fact, using this data we were able to come up with full-bodied and quite accurate personas which we have been implementing to this day.
Another way to do this is to set up discussions with your sales and customer support staff since these are people who constantly interact with the customers.
Make a note of all these answers and insights and you will start to see commonalities and patterns that you can take advantage off.
Here are a few broad categories of questions to target when collecting insights:
What is the usual age range of the prospects? What is the common gender? Where do they live and what is their average income? Are they married? Etc etc.
Does your product help solve any of the problems that a customer faces during the day at work or at home? Does it make their life better in some way?
- Source of information
Where do they hang out the most and from where do they get their information? Is it the news or the Facebook feed? Are there common influencers that these people follow and listen to? How much time do they spend on social media? How did they come to know about you? etc.
- Behavioural insights
Do they have common habits/hobbies/interests that attracted them to your product? How do they spend their weekends? Are they early adopters or do they wait till a technology is proven and tested? Etc.
The list is of course not exhaustive, but is a great a place to start framing your questions.
Create a few estimate personas
Start by creating 2-3 personas. It probably sounds like a daunting task, but not really. From the information you have collected above, you will start to see patterns and clusters of data. Using this you can create a good estimate of a persona.
Give each persona a name so that it doesn’t seem like some fictional character.
Here’s a helpful breakdown of the components of a good persona:
- A short gist/description about who they are.
- What are their goals in life or in business?
- What are the challenges and pain points they are dealing with currently that are preventing them from achieving their goals?
- Opportunities to connect with them. What can you say about your product that will resonate with them strongly? Where can you connect with them? on social media?
- Buyer’s mental models. What are the important factors that go into their decision making? What possible objections could they have for your product? Insights and commonalities about how this particular group of people usually think.
- Strong selling points. Maybe your product has incredibly high quality compared to the competitors and this is exactly what your customer is looking for – then the product quality is a big selling point.
- Marketing message. Write down a central theme for the perfect marketing pitch for this group of buyers.
As you get more data, you can keep adding new rows to your personas, but for a beginner, this is a fairly good persona template to have.
Dig deeper by analyzing competition and the market in general
At this point, you have a working buyer persona. Now, it’s time to further perfect and optimize it. One most effective way to do that is to analyze your competition.
You can utilize tools such as Similarweb to analyze the traffic that is visiting your competitors’ websites. This will give you a fair idea about what type of prospects your competitor is attracting. You may even find a potential group of buyers you were oblivious to before.
You can also research their website content to understand how they are targeting different buyer personas and what type of content/marketing strategy they are using.
Of course, blindly following the competition is never advisable. You should take these insights as only a general framework or reference points while creating your own personas.
Remember that buyer personas are not meant to be static.
It’s not that you create a persona once and you will never have to worry about it again in the future. Depending on the changing landscape of ecommerce business, you will have to keep improving it and adapting it from time to time. One way is to keep an eye on the results. If the metrics seem to be going down, it’s time to reevaluate your personas.
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