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Buyer Persona: The Key Strategy to E-commerce Business

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There’s no denying the fact that E-commerce has become the heart of business, small and large alike. According to sources, 2016 will mark the consolidation of the mobile era, with half of all consumers using their mobile devices to make transactions.

Looking at the impressive mobile e-commerce numbers, U.S. mobile commerce sales last year totaled $104.05 billion, up 38.7 percent from $75.03 billion in 2014, according to Internet Retailer magazine. On the contrary, some industry analysts worry that we may have reached “peak content”, with consumer bandwidth reaching maximum capacity.

This makes a smart content-and-search-optimization strategy all the more critical for companies in 2016.

That said, if you have your own e-commerce business, you might have stumbled upon the idea of creating buyer personas. If you have failed to take this idea seriously till now, you need to reconsider and start working on it. Buyer personas have proven to assist marketers in effectively targeting their customer base.

According to a research presented by 2016 benchmark study labeled “Understanding B2B Buyers” that was recently released by Cintell, there is a growing need for an organization to optimize buyer personas.

Understanding the process of creating buyer personas

Believe it or not, but 2016 is the year you should focus on creating and using buyer personas to drive online sales.

buyer-persona

What are Buyer Personas exactly? Buyer personas are specific archetypes of a business’s target audience based on market research and actual data that includes, demographics, preferences and goals, and most importantly behavior patterns.

This data is collected directly from individual buyers. The specific characteristics identified across the group are stacked up in order to create a single entity which will represent the organization’s ideal buyer. The newly discovered persona is then named and considered as an individual who actually exists.

However, this exercise, once practiced by large companies, is now being used by smaller online retailers too. The online market has become overly saturated and therefore it has become critical for online businesses to rely on targeted ads. To add up, there are a number of tools available on the market that allow businesses to create campaigns and target customers based on an increasing list of demographic and psychographic factors.

For instance, Facebook’s paid advertising lets businesses have incredibly detailed targeting based on data like location, age, education level, language spoken and interests. With such in-depth targeting, even small-scale businesses are now willing to make an effort to understand their potential audience. This leads them to create buyer personas.

The image below will give you an idea about the parameters which can help you target your ads on Facebook:

facebook-ad

Furthermore, it is extremely important to understand that buyer personas do not remain the same forever and they will keep changing the more you try to understand them. In order to define your buyer personas, you would want to start by being as broad as possible, which would then lead you to the specifics. Keep in mind that most businesses will have multiple buyer personas. And, you might have to deal with them differently.

For instance, Medco Health, an online pharmacy, went ahead and redesigned its website to appeal to a set of buyer personas; the resulting site saw a 33-percent increase in online transactions.

That said, let’s see what the State of Buyer Personas 2016 Survey, the creators of the concept of buyer persona, have to say about the current scenario.

2015 has been an eventful year.  We are seeing continued growth in the adoption of buyer personas as a means for understanding buyers and customers.  At the same time, the growth is fraught with the perils of buyer personas being misunderstood, mislabeled, and serving as a cover for basic buyer profiling.”

In 2015, we have seen greater usage and the introduction of cloud-based platforms designed to automate buyer persona management. “

On a positive note, I have worked with some amazing organizations this year.  Teams who are finding new successful marketing and sales strategies as a result of focusing on goal-directed buyer persona development.  Yielding tremendous previously uncovered buyer insights, which are leading to successful marketing and sales efforts.  Perhaps of greater importance is their customers and buyers are engaged and benefitting immensely from renewed initiatives to be relevant to the goals of buyers.”

So now that you understand why buyer personas are important for your brand, it’s time to create them. Here are three easy yet important steps to successfully create and maintain a more effective buyer persona:

Understand your customers beyond simple demographics

You might already be aware that there are ample of resources for marketers to leverage when discovering their personas. While well-performing companies prefer to use a variety of ways to stack up details of the buyers, small companies prefer to use fewer sources of data.

Below, we have listed the top 5 sources that have been extensively used by successful companies:

  1. Qualitative interviews with both customers and noncustomers (82.4 percent)
  2. Executive team interviews (70.6 percent)
  3. Salespeople interviews (58.8 percent)
  4. CRM/MA data (52.9 percent)
  5. Customer success team interview (52.9 percent)

Apart from digging in the detailed demographics, the survey also puts forth the idea of keeping a tab on what exactly is in their customer’s mind. Businesses should know what are their customer’s hobbies, goals and of course buying preferences.

Consistently maintain personas

Creating a list of personas and then using them forever doesn’t really work. The consumer’s behavioral patterns are sure to change and so are their demographics. Therefore, it is very important to continually update the personas.

Cintell’s survey has noted that almost 65 percent of companies that revised their personas within the last six months outperformed the competition when it comes to revenue and goals. 47 companies out of those 65 claimed to have consistently maintained their personas.

The best way is to designate a person who will be accountable for developing and sustaining a persona’s profile. This method will ensure that the persona’s information is being updated time-to-time.

Educate all team members on the importance of buyer personas

Making efforts to discover the in-depth demographics of your users certainly is important. However, if the same data is being used time and again, you are simply wasting your time and money.

According to the stats, less than 30 percent of the surveyed customers could confidently say that nearly half of their organizations would be able to identify their personas and key characteristics. Letting your workforce practically greet your personas is one of the best ways to get the most out of your surveys.

Conducting meetings based on these personas with your marketing team can surely help you boost your marketing tactics. This is how your team will understand your customer’s value while forging marketing strategies.

Wrapping Up

It is now evident that buyer personas help you give a (hypothetical) face to your customers — and the better you understand them, the more success you’ll have in selling to their real-life counterparts.

However, identify the details of your buyer personas’ stories that are relevant to your marketing aims rather than simply including all the data you have found. That said, busy marketing departments can enlist third-party content strategists to come up with buyer persona guides that are detailed, accurate and easily accessible. Doing so will keep the organization focused and at the same time ensure that their customers remain at the heart of their marketing goals.

 

Sawaram Suthar on Twitter
Sawaram Suthar
Sawaram Suthar is head of marketing at Acquire, a multichannel customer communication platform and also a founder of Jagat Media & TheNextScoop. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy.
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