Personas: How and Why?
When creating or updating an eCommerce site, there are many factors to take into consideration: catalog structure, pricing rules, static content pages, product imagery and information, SEO, and the list goes on. One aspect that is just as crucial as the technical specifications is determining the personas of your customers.
Our team set up personas for a client who was launching an eCommerce site for the very first time. It was a way to help them hone in on whom they are trying to sell to and to keep those groups in mind throughout the site launching process. For existing sites, the concentration for creating personas is typically not on who is already visiting the site, but whom they want to be visiting the site. That way, you can reach out to groups that are not currently visiting your site. This customer, however, did not have an active site at the time, so we created personas for those people that they expected to visit their site as well as those that they wanted to encourage to visit. We also created personas for immediate use and others that would come into effect further down the road. The purpose of this was to make sure we were not alienating those future personas during the immediate development phases.
Throughout the process of developing and designing an eCommerce site, personas help to make sure that all decisions are made with the end user in mind. Creating and implementing personas shifts the focus onto the actual end user as opposed to someone who has a business stake in the site. When creating an eCommerce site, it can be easy to forget that the site is not for you. Creating and adhering to personas provides a goal to work towards and a focus point throughout the design and development phases.
Some questions to consider when creating personas for your eCommerce site:
- What is their demographic information?
- Are they tech savvy?
- What kind of experience are they looking to achieve when shopping for your products or services?
- What do they value? Is it price? Quality? Shipping turn-around?
- What are their most common objections to what you have to offer them?
- What does a day in their life look like?
- What are their major pain points?
- What kind of social media do they use, if any?
- Do they have a smart phone?
- Where do they do their shopping?
- Where is their research taking place? Forums? Blogs?
- Who influences their buying decisions?
- Are they a frequent shopper?
- How are they finding your site?
Often times, the process of setting up the personas is more important than the final outcome. The process of creating personas facilitates a discussion about the end user and involves any concrete information that can be found about them. It can be a great way to identify differences and crucial aspects of potential customers that may not have otherwise come about.
Not only does persona development help when building an eCommerce website that best fits the needs of the end user, it also helps get an organization on the same page with a clear understanding of who they really should be targeting. Across the board, from sales to marketing, defining personas helps everything else fall into place.
As the foundation to everything in eCommerce, personas help with segmenting your customer base, mapping your content strategy, and attaining the data you need to remarket to them. According to Jeffrey Russo at HubSpot, “You’ve got to know your customer.” Check out this article from Jeffrey: “From Vague to Valuable: Putting Personas to Work”
Once we’ve answered the questions listed above and have gotten to know these customers better, we will have a better understanding of how and why they are making their purchasing decisions. Below we take a look at how personas can help pave the way for Inbound Marketing for your eCommerce company:
Having an understanding of where your customers spend time allows you to target your messaging on those channels where your personas are most likely to see it. For example, one persona might turn to social media, where another prefers email marketing.
Content Based on Needs
Once you have an understanding of the day-to-day problems your prospects face, you can cater your content to those needs. Take, for example, all of the major questions, complaints and concerns you see through your Contact Us form on your website. Is there a common trend of issues people are experiencing on your site? Take the initiative and make those changes so that your other potential customers don’t experience the same issues.
Now that you’ve found the channels where your prospects are spending time looking for information as well as the types of messaging that resonates best with them, continue to collect more useful information about them so you can personally reach out to them through lead nurturing programs.
Your Customers are Idea Generators
When it comes to new product ideas, your customers can actually do a lot of that work for you. By understanding our personas (or potential customers), we can better cater to their needs and wants. Take a look at what else they are searching for or discussing on social media or in other forums. What else might they be requesting that you don’t currently offer? Maybe it’s an add-on to a product you already offer, or a completely new product you don’t currently offer. You can utilize this information to generate new products that really appeal to your customer base.
Are you able to answer the above questions about your potential customers? Do you have any additional questions you would ask to better understand your audience and set personas?
This post contains contributions from SyncShow, an inbound marketing agency based right outside of Cleveland, Ohio. They specialize in both B2B and B2C inbound marketing strategies, which includes content marketing, lead generation, and lead nurturing. Contact SyncShow today, read their previous contributions to the Briteskies blog, or check out their blog to learn more about their services.