5 Tips to Build Buyer Personas for eCommerce Businesses

creating buyer personas for ecommerce merchants

Are you confused about what your brand’s bottom line should be? Are PR and paid advertising not giving you the desired results? Do you not understand how to cater to and customize yourself for the different types of customers you have?

All these problems and more can be solved by using a more organized and strategic approach when tackling these problems. Simply put, you need clearly-defined buyer personas to refer to when you are approaching your marketing, sales and business strategy.

Personas guide you, in that they help you understand how to approach a group of buyers and persuade them to believe in your product.

Here are a few tips that can help you build solid and actionable buyer personas for your ecommerce business:

 

Creating Buyer Personas

(source)

 

1. Start with Brainstorming and Planning Out Your Buyer Personas Logically

 

Begin with a rough idea or a template of who your ideal customer is:

You can do this by trying to answer the question – who do I want to attract to my website? This can help you build an estimate of a persona.

Now obviously, you will come up with more than one ideal type of customer.

For example, say your online business has products that are gender-based or age-based or both. This will obviously lead to several buyer personas with their own specific interests and needs.

Start by taking a closer look at your product and who is buying them. Understand what is the motivation behind a prospect purchasing your product.

For instance, say your product is usually given as a gift to spouses, in such case, you should build two buyer personas – one for the gift-giver and one for the gift-receiver. This way you can tailor your marketing depending on the group you are targeting.

 

2. Dig Into Internal Data to Get More Insights

 

The next step is to research the data and insights you have collected from your customer and contact database.

Of course, using the right tools can be helpful in gathering this data.

For instance, if you have a website then you can use Google Analytics to collect information about the demographics of the traffic visiting your site.

When you have enough data, you will start to see patterns and clusters of information. Using the commonalities and patterns you can further refine your personas. This step can also help you get details about the various components that go into a persona such as age, gender, income and more.

You can also gain insight into user behavior, habits, interests, online activities and other behavioral cues.

For example, by understanding which social platform is driving highest traffic to your website, you can identify the favorite hangout of your potential customers.

Here are some of the important components of a buyer persona you can get from your customer database:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location of the prospect
  • Interested websites and social media platforms
  • Buying interests and pain points
  • Profession and average income

And much more.

Also, you have to understand that some criteria are relevant to your personas while others not so much. Identifying correctly which attributes make a difference to your bottom line is crucial to building a strong persona.

 

3. Look at Your Competitors

 

One proven technique is to scout your competition:

By now, you have a buyer persona that is clearly defined but you can go deeper and segment even further with the right data so your marketing strategies are spot on.

Use a digital intelligence tool such as Similar web to analyze the traffic on your competitor’s website.

This will give you a fair idea of what your competition is up to, where the majority of their traffic is coming from and other data that can be useful.

By trying to reverse engineer their buyer personas based on the traffic, you can identify the possible missing components of the personas you are creating for your business.

You can also see if you have missed any potential group of customers while creating different personas.

It’s smart to research their website and analyze the type of content they are publishing. This can help inspire ideas for your own marketing strategy.

Does your competition use social media, content marketing, AdWords etc? Basically, how are they acquiring customers?

 

You don’t have to remake he wheel. Competitor analysis is a powerful tool for building our your customer personas and finding where to locate those groups of customers that would go gaga over your offerings.

 

Keep in mind no to blindly follow your competitors. The insights you gain should be used as a reference point or a general framework when devising your own strategies.

 

4. Talk to Your Customers and Use Surveys to Uncover Insights

 

Your customer base has a wealth of information you can use, while one way is to use analytics, another is to directly talk to or question the customers themselves. Or, as Steve Blank would say, “Get out of the Building.”

In my personal experience, while creating buyer personas for my startup Hiver, I found this method to be extremely effective.

 

From the insights we gathered by questioning our key customers, we often observed clear patterns and clusters of data which helped us build more effective personas.

 

One idea to collect information from customers is by sending simple quick surveys. There is nothing wrong or even intrusive about asking a few quick questions.

You can either create a survey or ask them questions during the buying process or question gate access to some high value content.

You can ask them a lot of useful questions.

For example:

  1. How did you discover our website?
  2. What lead you to decide to buy our product?
  3. What are you specifically looking to get from our products?
  4. What is your favorite aspect of our product
  5. What, if any, were the concerns you had when trying to decide to buy the product?

And much more.

You must ensure that you don’t take too much of your customer’s time. Keep the surveys short and quick. When asking questions during the buying process or question gating content, ensure that you make it an integral part of the website experience and that it doesn’t require any extra work from your customer.

The key thing to remember is that you have to pick the right questions

 

5. Put all the Pieces Together

 

The final step is to gather all the intel and data you have collected and boil it down to actionable insights for framing your personas.

Here’s an example of a well-built persona:

Example of an Ideal Buyer Persona

source

 

The end product will be a collection of personas for the various groups of buyers in your customer base. You can name each persona based on the group of buyers it belongs to and start using them to inform your marketing, branding and sales strategies.

 

Wrapping up

 

Remember that a buyer persona is not a static element.

Just like the ecommerce landscape, it is ever-changing. Based on new trends in the market, varying customer expectations and competition you will have to keep modifying and adapting your personas to maximize the output.


Floship Guest Post – About the Author

Niraj is the founder of Hiver, hiverhq.com, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool.

When not working at Hiver on programming or customer support, Niraj likes to play guitar.

Niraj can be reached on Twitter @nirajr


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