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Ecommerce Personas: Creating personas for ecommerce

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:

  1. Who are your customers?
  2. 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.

The Why, Where, What, How, Where, and Who of Ecommerce Personas
The Why, Where, What, How, Where, and Who of Ecommerce Personas

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.

Of course, data-driven personas systems, such as APG, can generate ecommerce personas algorithmically from CRM and other data.

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)

Conclusion

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 AnalyticsData and Information Management. 4(1), 1-17.
https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/dim/4/1/article-p1.xml

By Jim Jansen

Dr. Jansen is a Principal Scientist in the social computing group of the Qatar Computing Research Institute, and a professor with the College of Science and Engineering, Hamad bin Khalifa University, and an adjunct professor with the College of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University. He is a graduate of West Point and has a Ph.D. in computer science from Texas A&M University, along with master degrees from Texas A&M (computer science) and Troy State (international relations). Dr. Jim Jansen served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry enlisted soldier and communication commissioned officer.

2 replies on “Ecommerce Personas: Creating personas for ecommerce”

[…] Buyer personas (also called customer personas, customer avatars or customer profiles, user personas, etc.) let you get clearer, more concrete picture of what your customers are like. Personas are created to keep customers needs in mind and to understand the customer segments in order to improve all aspects of marketing including sales, content creation, product development and advertising. Personas are also highly applicable in ecommerce marketing. […]