As an online business, thoroughly considering the desires, goals, patterns, and behaviors of your customers is a key step in accurately marketing and selling your products or services to them. This can be achieved through the development of Personas which, along with user experience design, has recently risen in popularity. Below is some information that can help you familiarize yourself with the process of persona creation and to discover if it can help your business.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a representation of the type of customer(s) that you want to target. Each persona should include information about motivations, frustrations, expectations, personality, and basic demographics. This information is put together like a profile or story so he or she can be related to as a real person using your product or service. Personas are usually named and have photographs.
These personas can further be broken down by influencers and decision makers. Is the persona a teen who is purchasing a purse online or is it the parent that must give their approval before their daughter makes an expensive purchase on a shared credit card?
How do I create a buyer persona?
First, you will want to get in contact with your existing customer and/or desired customers and conduct interviews with them individually. In-person interviews are best because you can infer a lot from non-verbal cues like facial expressions and body language. If you are not able to interview in person, a phone interview is always an option. If interviews are not possible, surveys can be sent out to gather information as well. Interviews are always better, however, because answers to questions can create follow-up questions which could lead to a clearer, more detailed persona description.
Next, you will want to ask open ended questions; first, about who they are as individuals with a problem to solve, and then, how they relate specifically to your products or services. Below are some topics you can cover:
- goals or objectives
- motivations for purchasing decisions
- concerns regarding your products or services
- where they go for information
- what is their current process/experience when trying to achieve their goal or objective
- how often they use your product
The Buyer Persona Institute offers some great information on buying insight if you are interested in researching further.
Finally, after sorting through your results, patterns should start to emerge. Group people with similar profiles into one persona. It’s important not to get too granular. Personas should portray a general idea or goal. There really isn’t a standard for how many personas you should have. It depends on the products and services you offer and your type of business.
Why are buyer personas important to your business?
User experience teaches that consumer decisions are first driven by emotions and then later logically justified. A drip marketing email campaign may tap into their emotional state and then site content might justify their impulse to buy. It is important to know how your customers think.
Personas can offer insight to different parts of your business. The design team and content writers can benefit from getting to know your persona’s personalities, observing how they talk and behave, and what their interests are. Products and services can be improved from feedback. Sometimes a business might figure out that the people they were targeting through their marketing efforts have absolutely no interest in buying their product or service. Sometimes internal process or production issues may be exposed.
Most importantly, don’t ever stop interacting with your personas. Their needs and frustrations may be relevant now but maybe not in a year. Marketing efforts and products may create a frenzy of clicks and site visits at first, but eventually the novelty wears off. Staying in touch with personas and recognizing the need for new personas can support the successful evolution of your business.
Nicole Domanski is a founding partner and the Chief Design Officer for Envalo, Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based eCommerce solutions company.