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Buyer Personas for eCommerce Businesses – The What? How? and Why?

It’s not like the eCommerce landscape isn’t awash with buzz-terms, but dismiss Buyer Personas as yet more vacuous jargon and, without doubt, you’ll be missing out on revenue.

What?

Buyer personas are research-based representations of who buyers are . They are the answer to questions around who is going to need what you’re offering, where they are, and how they might find you.

A buyer persona tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing along their journey – from awareness to purchase –  as they weigh up their options. They are your target audience, but rather than just existing as a conglomeration of ideas and demographics that vaguely describe the kind of person you’re trying to market to, a buyer persona defines that person according to more detailed demographic information, alongside what they’re most likely to be looking for – what their pain points are.

What was once a task only large companies took the time to do, the last few years has seen SMEs realising personas could be the answer to clarifying where and how their marketing resources should go. Typically, the average number of personas is around 3-5, but creating too many can be really tempting – and harmful. Chances are, with many personas there won’t be a clear demarcation between them all, making it really hard for you to actually attract and convert any.

How?

The key is to start with one core persona and build up from there. Once you begin to analyse the data based on your most successful customers, you’ll start to see where one persona ends and another begins. There should be clear differentiators between each persona – the whole idea here is to create an experience that resonates with each of them.

Talking directly and specifically to buyers is crucial. If your buyer personas are based on generic or internal ideas about them, your content won’t be any better than it was before you had them. It’s no good knowing who you’d quite like your potential customers to be – this’ll have you throwing marketing content into the ether – it’s all about clarifying who they actually are.

When you have insights into what your buyers think about when they’re making the decision to solve a problem your product solves, you have the knowledge you need to align your marketing decisions with your buyer’s expectations.
Here are 5 questions to ask when defining the personas:

What media do they read / watch?
How much do they know about the product?
What problem in their life could the product solve?
What does your version do where your competitor’s falls short?
What communication channels do they prefer?

Why?

The customer’s journey these days isn’t the one-dimensional linear experience it once was. And, to succeed, you need to be able to see the kind of twisting and looping route your customers travel – you need to see all of the roads they didn’t take, as well as the ones they did – and to understand everything that precipitated these decisions – it’s a holistic view.

Today is an interactive age, and so it’s no longer about promotion (an ‘interruption’ approach), but audience fit. Creating content that your audience wants to read about is the lifeblood of marketing these days. The aim is to help buyers evaluate you on their own terms, forming a magnificently valuable bond of trust.

Buyer personas give an invaluable insight, they’ll immediately see you change what you say, how you say it, and where. Getting them defined well will mean you’re running on greater efficiency: time, money-spent – all more focussed. And as your business evolves, revisiting the process will become second nature – you’ll be keeping on top of your buyers, and the trends they’re reacting to, and this will be the drive behind your content strategy decisions that support your business goals.

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