How well do you know your customers?
What are their needs?
What are their online habits?
What are the factors that influence their buying decisions?
When it comes to succeeding in online business, knowing your customers is the magic trick. And creating a buyer persona is the first step to success.
In this post, we will discuss what is a buyer persona? Why is it important to your business success? And how to create buyer personas?
WHAT IS A BUYER PERSONA? WHY IT MATTERS?
A buyer persona is a fictional character who represents your ideal customer. It is a snapshot of his demographic, professional and personal profile. A buyer persona is created using real information from customers.
Buyers persons are of two types: Positive and negative. While a positive buyer persona is your ideal customer, a negative buyer persona is exactly the opposite of it. It is someone whom you don’t want as a customer. In the age of getting optimized RoI on every dollar spent, it is important to identify your negative buyer persona and exclude him from your marketing activities.
Benefits of creating buyer personas for your ecommerce business-
- Better Marketing: Buyer personas help you in sharpening your marketing strategy. It helps you wisely spend your money in places where your customers. A clear understanding of your customer helps you craft appropriate messaging with the right tone and voice.
- Better product portfolio: Buyer persons help you keep the right products as per your customer needs. For example, if you run an online clothing store and your buyer persona is a cool, college-going student. Then you can keep more stylish t-shirts, casual shirts, jeans and other fashion accessories in your store. And if your buyer persona is a middle-aged family man then you will store more of formal shirts, suits etc.
- Business consistency: A defined buyer persona directly helps your marketing and sales teams. But it can also benefit other teams like operations and customer support. It will help your people get a deep understanding of your customers which can boost customer satisfaction.
- Boosts conversions: Creating a buyer persona can affect your conversions and sales. Now that you know your customer, you can design the website as well as the entire path to purchase as per his tastes and preferences.
HOW TO CREATE BUYER PERSONAS FOR YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS?
The first step in creating good buyer personas involves talking to people. Real information needs real conversations. There’s no their way to find out about them. To create a buyer persona, you need to answer three things-
What to ask?
Whom to ask?
How to ask?
What To Ask?
What information do you need to create your buyer persona? There are several questions you need to ask to get a deep understanding of your customer’s motivations, fears, and social profile. You need to create a questionnaire and seek answers to them. Some of the questions can be-
- Personal background
- What’s your age?
- Are you married? If yes, do you have children?
- What level of education you complete?
- What subjects did you study in college?
- Professional background
- What’s your occupation?
- What’s your income level?
- What’s your family’s income level?
- Do you have debts?
- What percentage of your income do you spend on shopping?
- What do you feel about your current spending habits?
- Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
- Shopping Preferences
- How do you prefer to shop? Online or Physical Stores?
- How do you search for information on products you wish to buy?
- How do you decide to buy a product?
- Who, if anyone, influences your buying decisions?
- Which sources (websites/blogs) you rely on making purchasing decisions?
- What motivates you to buy from an ecommerce store? Price/Quality/Delivery Time?
- Describe your last purchase?
- How do you spend your weekends?
- How often do you party?
- How often do you travel?
- How busy is your lifestyle?
- Are you active on social media? If yes, on which channels-Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin?
- Have you ever bought a product on recommendations from the social network?
- What are your favorite brands in (your product category)?
- How loyal are you to your brands?
- Are you open to switching brands for better quality/price?
- How often do you shop at our store?
- Do you have your favorite ecommerce stores or you buy from wherever you get the best deal?
- Do you search for coupons before buying a product?
These are generic questions which should be part of any questionnaire used in creating a buyer persona. You need to tweak a few questions or add a few new ones depending on your business.
Some questions discussed above may look a little uncomfortable to answer. The trick lies in framing the answers. While some questions need descriptive answers, most of it needs to be multiple choices. For example, when you are asking questions on income and debts, you can give your customer 4 to 5 income levels like $50,000- $100,000 to choose from. Wherever you feel your customer will be uncomfortable answering questions, give them choices to pick. This will get you the closest answer without offending the other person.
Whom To Ask?
You need to define a pool of people whom you will approach to define your buyer persona. It is best to get a mix of people- your employees, customers, prospects, and referrals to get information from. A pool of around 50 people from different locations and backgrounds will get you enough data to create your ideal buyer persona.
Employees: Your employees have a treasure trove of information on your customer. And this information is readily available. So pluck the low lying fruit first. Talk to your marketing, sales and customer support staff. These people regularly interact with your customers helping them gain crucial customer insights. Also, you would need a different questionnaire to ask your employers. Ask them-
- What demographic and lifestyle information do you have about our customers?
- How customers reach our store? What’s their path to purchase?
- What age-group of people mostly buy from our ecommerce store?
- What is the most frequently raised issue on the customer support?
- Why do think customers buy from our store?
- What are the reasons do customers cite for choosing us over our competitors?
- What are the most common objections from our customers?
Customers: A significant part of your interview pool should be your customers. These customers have bought products from you and therefore would be able to tell you both good and bad experiences. Make sure that you have customers in the pool who have reported complaints or have sought assistance from your support team in resolving an issue.
Prospects: These are people who have not bought from you but are part of your target audience. Adding prospects to your pool would help you get insights from people who are unknown to your store.
How To Ask?
You can use all tools available like phone, email, online surveys etc., to interview your interviewees. However, do understand that you will face resistance from people. Not all will be interested to participate answering a detailed questionnaire. Here are a few ways to get people to say ‘yes’ to the interview-
- Convey the purpose of the survey. Clearly, communicate that it’s not a sales call.
- Email or if you are calling, give them an outline of the interview with a few questions you would be asking
- Incentivize participation in the survey. Discount coupons, gift cards and free samples etc., work well in encouraging people to participate in the survey.
- Be flexible in the medium of the survey (phone/website/email) and timings.
- Listen attentively to your interviewee. Encourage them to speak as much as possible.
- Request them to quantify their responses or illustrate it with examples
But don’t push hard. You need people who are willing to talk and give you insights about them. So approach a large number of people. And I’m sure you will the required numbers.
- Don’t forget to thank all of your interviewees with a followup message.
CROSSCHECK YOUR FINDINGS WITH GOOGLE ANALYTICS
It is important to cross check your findings from the interviews with data available from Google Analytics. Findings from interviews normally have an element of bias because of various social and behavioral factors. Here’s a good on types of research biases and how to avoid them.
Bias exists and to minimize the impact of those biases, you need to check your findings with data from Google Analytics. If you’re new to Google Analytics then read this: Get started with Analytics
On the Google Analytics dashboard, click on ‘Audience’ on the left bar-
Here you will get data on your users based on demographics, interests, locations, behavior etc.
Demographics- Here you get data on the age-group and gender of your users.
Interests- Here, you will get data based on three types of Interest Categories:
- Affinity Categories: identifies users in terms of lifestyle; for example, Technophiles, Sports Fans, and Cooking Enthusiasts.
- In-Market Segments: identifies users in terms of their product-purchase interests.
- Other Categories: provides the most specific, focused view of your users. For example, while Affinity Categories includes the category Foodies, Other Categories includes the category Recipes/Cuisines/East Asian.
Use the data available with Google Analytics to cross-check your findings and get more insights on your users.
CREATE A CUSTOMER AVATAR
Now once you are done with the interviews and deep-dived into your Google Analytics, start compiling all the data. You will now begin to see a lot of commonalities in personal, income and lifestyle background. Put these commonalities in one place. Arrange it under various subheads like personal, income and professional. And your buyer persona is ready. Give it a face and name. You can use name and face of celebrities, sports personalities and toon characters.
TIME FOR ACTION
Now that you understand the importance of a buyer persona. And what it takes to create one, you’re ready to define your business persona. Here’s a list of templates and tools which you will find useful in creating a buyer persona-
Use these tools to create a buyer persona. Understand your customer better. Reach out to him in new ways. And get more business.