Why should you develop ecommerce personas?
The main reason is that not everyone in your market reach might be your potential customers. Because of this, ecommerce personas can help reach your actual potential customers!
So, before you step out with your marketing plans and campaigns, it is important to identify the target customer group you are trying to reach – these are usually your most high-valued customers or customers that you want to reach with a new product.
Being well informed of your best customer segments is one of the essential elements in running a successful ecommerce business. The critical success factors of ecommerce marketing lie within these two simple questions:
- Who are your customers?
- Why do your customers buy your products or services?
Answering the first question is useful for targeting and segmentation.
Answering the second question is useful for defining customer pain points (i.e., their needs and wants)
One tool to assisting with answering these questions is ecommerce personas. Ecommerce personas are profiles of people that are fictitious but based on real data about your customer segments. Developing the right ecommerce persona is a key step to ensure that you are reaching the most valuable customers for your ecommerce business.
How to develop ecommerce personas?
Ecommerce personas can be based on current or target customers. In the methodology explained here, we focus on using existing ecommerce customer information to create ecommerce personas.
Although there are many persona creation methods, usually the main steps include the following:
- Identify your most valuable / targeted customer segments from your existing data (CRM, Web analytics, etc.)
- Define the essential information you want included in the persona profile describing these most customer segments
- Collect the key information and create the ecommerce persona profiles corresponding to each segment
These steps are:
Step 1: Identify your broad group: To define your ecommerce persona first, you need to discover your targeted customer segment. Try to learn about the end customer of your ecommerce product or service. Find out who they are buying for. Are they using the product by themselves or are they making a purchase for someone else as a gift? And so on.
The understanding of nuances in ecommerce purchase behavior will help you diversify your marketing campaigns for different buyer types.
Step 2: Locate the key information: Once you define your general customer segments that are most valuable, look for more granular information about your ideal customers to build a complete persona profile. This may include information like location, age, interest, gender, language, relationship status, products of interest, and so on.
Information like the motivation level of the persona, what concern they have with your type of product, and what kind of website they prefer to browse will help you build a more factual persona and possibly support user experience (UX) design of your ecommerce website.
Step 3: Collect persona information: After you are done with identifying the key information, you can start collecting the information. You can begin the data collection process by using the data you already have, such as CRM records or Web analytics data.
However, it is important to get deeper than just aggregate numbers. For this, you might conduct some interviews with 6-12 loyal customers. Ask about their motivations and show a caring attitude to encourage more personal feedback. You can also run a survey in your ecommerce website to collect in-depth information about customer preferences. Provide discounts and incentives to encourage responses.
Step 4: Crafting the personas. After collecting information that corresponds to the persona profile information that you want to have for decision making, ask help from a graphic designer to create a persona profile or use an existing template (such as the free persona template available through Xtensio).
Some general persona creation guidelines to consider:
- Give a name to your persona (to make it more empathetic)
- Use a real-life image for your persona (to make it more empathetic)
- Create at least three different personas that represent your ecommerce segments (to enable A/B testing)
With the creation of ecommerce personas, you can turn the valuable customer information you already have into actionable insights for any ecommerce niche. More specifically, with the help of immersive and empathetic personas, you execute customer-centric ecommerce marketing campaigns and create content that will echo the needs and wants of your most valued customer segments.
This is why you need ecommerce personas!
Jansen, B. J., Salminen, J., and Jung, S.G. (2020) Data-Driven Personas for Enhanced User Understanding: Combining Empathy with Rationality for Better Insights to Analytics. Data and Information Management. 4(1), 1-17.