You have been running a fashion ecommerce site for a couple of years already with varying performance. And now, you have just got this new supply of fancy jeans in trendy colours, featuring a brand-new style line as well!
You are certain that your fashion followers will fall for your product. You now start planning how to approach them. And yes, this season, you are committed to launching your fancy products in the best possible way! Even more than that, you are interested in winning your perfect customers for the long term…
Does it sound familiar? Many of us experience similar challenges, especially when tackling ideal customers. But do we know how to define them? How can we describe our target audience, buyer personas and ideal clients in practical terms so that to finetune our marketing efforts?
This is exactly what we will be looking at in our article today. We will start with what a buyer persona is, what makes it important, and how it can support our ecommerce marketing tactics.
And we do jump straight away into seeing what our key concept of “buyer personas” stands for. A professional presentation by the Digital Marketing Institute is always a promising start.
What is a buyer persona and why is it so important?
The concept of a buyer persona
In a word, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional character we develop based on our current (or ideal) customers. We create them to better understand our customer needs. This lets us properly focus our products and messages and thus gain better customer response.
A buyer persona is a description we make of a person who represents our target group. Although it is a fictional (rather than a real) character, the portrait we create is research-based and specific. It may include (without being limited to) a person’s name, demographics, social data, interests, behaviour, etc.
This an example of a buyer persona, developed by Indie Game Girl for an American online shoe’s store, showcased as an example:
Source: Alexa Blog
Although your buyer persona may sometimes represent your ideal customer, the two do not necessarily overlap. The reason behind this is that your ideal client satisfies the criteria of the best fit for your offering. Your buyer persona, however, does not necessarily do so.
If you wish, you may explore the difference further here.
Types of buyer personas
It is good to know that besides the buyer persona who is representative of your ideal customer, you may also have negative buyer personas. They would describe the type of clients that you do not want to attract as customers to your business.
If we go back to our jeans example from above, we may try to identify some negative buyer personas together. Thus, for example, we may not be interested in attracting adolescents due to their dependency on parents’ budgets. Or, we may not be interested in working with high-profile clients due to their niche preferences.
Examples do differ but a key thing to remember here is that buyer personas are unique to every business.
And now, let’s take a look at the way United Colors of Benetton have introduced their new line of jeans. Based on what you know about our fashion company, do you think this will be a direct competitor?
Source: United Colors of Benetton
Probably, you cannot answer the question before obtaining additional information about our company’s target customers. And this is the way it should be.
Key benefits a persona brings
If you have watched the video from our introduction, you may well remember that the three key benefits of buyer personas are:
- Improved targeting of messaging and better positioning;
- Enhanced content format selection to meet your customer needs in the best possible way;
- Discovery of new insights for your content marketing, and your business as a whole.
Buyer personas are equally important to marketing and general business aspects such as sales, customer service or product development. Depending on your particular business, you may design one or many personas.
How to create buyer personas?
As mentioned above, buyer personas are developed through research. We may specify data gathering, surveys/ interviews and final analysis. Now, let us see what some typical steps in designing a buyer persona may involve.
1. Data gathering
Any ecommerce business disposes of some immediate sources of information to base its research on. These for example include:
- Contacts databases – you may go through your collected contact information to see how leads find you, how they engage with your brand and finally, what makes them transform to customers;
- Online forms (e.g. on websites, newsletters, social networks) – you may see what type of customer information you gather, analyze it, and introduce improvements if needed;
- Sales team observations – learn your sales team impressions and generalizations about customers;
- Direct customer insights – talk to customers to learn what they like and dislike about your products and services.
Based on data like this, you will be able to complete the first phase of your persona definition. Then, you may simply segment your customer observations, develop at least one basic persona with the help of a template (you may find one here), share it with your team, and gradually upbuild.
2. Persona-specific research
As shown in the buyer persona example from above, some of the information a proper buyer persona presents may require additional research. To complete the process, you may organize a series of interviews.
Here is an example of 20 questions to ask in a persona interview. No matter that most of them are indicative, they may help you cover all the data that you miss such as career information, daily routine, personal interests, etc.
3. Free tools and buyer persona templates
Since buyer personas are fundamental to marketing, there are plenty of free tools and templates on the Internet, which can support your persona design process. With their help and your insights, you may finalize the description process.
You may wonder which of them are better for ecommerce?
Although personal preferences vary, we recommend that you initially take a closer look at free integrated marketing and customer solutions such as HubSpot.
It can equip you with both a free persona generator, but also with a free basic CRM to continuously track and update your customer data. Finally, it also offers rich additional resources on buyer personas such as guides and templates.
Are you ready for the new season? Or, do you already prefer doing it the right way with a proper buyer persona definition? Both ways, we are here to help.
If you need further tips about how to target content more efficiently to address your new customer insights, do give us a call. Feel free to also contact us on any website improvement you may need.