What Are Buyer Personas and Why You Need Them for Ad Campaigns
eCommerce makes retail much easier than it used to be. Now, just about anyone can open an online store and start selling products. With such a crowded playing field, marketing becomes your most valuable asset.
To get potential customers to notice your business over competitors, you need more than the right product. You need your eCommerce marketing content to stand out, to resonate with shoppers and evoke an emotional reaction. Generic marketing strategies can reach millions of shoppers, but it’s precision that will gain loyal shoppers at a lower cost.
The best way to get started is by creating and targeting your buyer personas.
Here are 6 things to consider when creating your personas:
What is a buyer persona?
Why are buyer personas important for your online store?
Defining your target audience
Understanding your customers' behavior
How to research your buyer personas?
Getting even more out of your personas
01. What is a buyer persona?
Simply put, a buyer persona is a mold of your ideal customer. This is a customer that takes an active interest in your brand or products and purchases them.
Let’s say your online store specializes in sneakers. Undoubtedly, you'll attract a variety of potential shoppers. These shoppers will all be interested in sneakers, but from different demographics with a range of shopping habits.
For example, the following buyer personas may be most likely to interact with your brand:
Suburban teens interested in sports
Older men with lower incomes in urban areas
25-35 year old females with higher disposable incomes and interest in travel
While these groups all express interest in sneakers, they’ll engage with your marketing content differently.
Buyer personas relevant to your business are unique to you. Moreover, understanding and defining who they are is critical to running a successful digital marketing campaign.
02. Why are buyer personas important for your online store?
Creating these personas lets you “put a face” to the shoppers you want to attract—humanizing the marketing journey. You’re no longer advertising with the masses in mind, but rather to individuals.
By gaining better insight into who your customers are, you can create marketing material that resonates with them emotionally and intellectually. Marketing content that evokes a reaction will increase the likelihood of potential shoppers taking notice and connecting with your business.
Besides the ability to create highly relevant material, working with buyer personas lets you target your audience with greater precision. Ad campaigns rely on this data to reach the right crowd. Facebook or Instagram ad campaigns let you target very specific audiences based on a variety of editable parameters, from age and locality to musical interests or favorite cuisine. Every additional piece of data further enhances your targeting accuracy.
With a narrowed target audience, you can serve different markets different ads simultaneously. In one ad campaign you can target suburban teens in the tri-state area; in the other, young women in California. This method lets you create content that is relatable to each of your target groups.
Keep in mind, the price of online ad campaigns depends on the amount of people exposed to your promoted content. This means the price goes up as your ads reach larger audiences. Being precise with your target markets helps reduce the size of your audience, in turn maximizing your overall marketing efforts.
03. Defining your target audience
Defining your target audience may seem intuitive and unnecessary, but it’s a critical first step to understanding your buyer personas. If you’re running a larger business, this becomes even more important. Having a clearly defined target audience can help you and your team collectively focus your marketing efforts.
Creating a buyer persona usually starts with gender, age, geographic region and income. Putting it together, a basic buyer persona may look something like this:
Additional aspects you may want to research, include:
Hobbies and interests
Ideals and values
If your online store caters to other businesses (B2B), you should add an industry and job title to your persona. Similar to B2C personas, B2B personas differ from company to company and should be tailored to maximize your effectiveness.
Another great way to fine-tune your targeting is by creating negative personas. As the name suggests, these are shoppers similar to your buyer personas, but do not translate into sales. Excluding negative personas from your targeted audience can further increase the accuracy of your marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve defined the characteristics of your target audience, you can use targeted ads to improve conversions. But remember, your target audience is dynamic. Customers keep evolving, so your personas need to as well. Continually review your data and tweak your personas to account for changes in shopping behaviors as well as market trends and seasonality.
04. Understanding your customers’ behavior
Creating basic personas is just the start. Once you have this covered, dive deeper to understand your target audience’s needs, wants and behaviors.
Start by addressing your customer’s pain points. Pain points are any needs or problems people may have, which your products or services can answer. If your products can fulfill a real need your target audience has, they’re more likely to buy them.
Even if you can solve shoppers’ pain points, they have alternatives. To rise above the competition, you’ll need additional tactics. A good way to approach this is by connecting with your audience.
By understanding your buyers’ goals and objectives, you can create marketing content that emotionally resonates with them. Your ads will generate more engagement and increase your brand’s visibility. Forming this bond with your customers is a great way to foster loyalty and create a community around your business.
Next, home in on your customers’ shopping behaviors. This is basically a breakdown of the way they discover, interact, browse and purchase products like yours.
When researching customer shopping behavior, consider the following:
When do they shop?
Where do they shop?
What devices do they use to shop (i.e., mobile, desktop)?
How often do they buy products similar to yours?
How much do they typically spend on these products?
While understanding consumer shopping behavior can get overwhelming, it offers more information and increases the accuracy of your ad campaigns. You can target different audiences throughout the year, or create campaigns that target your competitor’s customers. Data and creativity are the only limitation.
05. How to research your buyer personas?
Gathering all this information may seem complex and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.
Basic data points about your customers (i.e., age, gender and location) can be found in most CRM systems. If you use Wix Stores, you can access this data through Store Analytics. With other eCommerce platforms, you can use Google Analytics or even Facebook Pixel.
Newer eCommerce businesses will likely see a wide range of customers in the beginning, making it hard to create well-defined personas. If you’re starting here, form simple personas and make adjustments as you accumulate more data.
CRM and analytics tools are great for foundational data, but in-depth information requires a bit more effort to collect.
The best way to start understanding your potential customers’ behavior is through online research. Look up your competitors to get a sense of their customer base. You can even explore social media and eCommerce sites like Amazon or Etsy.
With dropshipping, you can test products to research your buyer persona's preferences. Suppliers will fulfill products for you, so you can conveniently experiment with as many new product categories as you'd like.
Already generating sales and positively engaging with shoppers? Use these customers to gain more insights. Create a satisfaction survey, send an email requesting a product review or schedule a personal phone interview. Gather anecdotals from satisfied as well as unsatisfied customers for a comprehensive view of where your business thrives and where you can improve.
If you have a larger marketing budget, create focus groups and a/b test your ideas. You'll learn what your audience is after and get real-time feedback with this hands-on approach. You may find some of your initial marketing ideas don’t work as well as expected, or that certain content attracts one buyer persona yet deters another.
06. Getting even more out of your personas
Efficient, sales-boosting marketing is just one plus side of creating buyer personas. Once you have a thorough understanding of your audience, you can improve on many aspects of your customer interactions.
Your eCommerce site itself has a lot to gain, from the design aesthetic to “related product” suggestions. Knowing what your customers want helps you tailor the entire shopping experience to fit their expectations.
The same is true for social media. This is where you form customer relationships and foster brand loyalty. Putting out content that resonates with your audience, even if it isn’t directly related to your products, is a powerful marketing tool.
Bottom Line: Create your buyer personas one step at a time
Creating personas for every type of customer you encounter is a hefty task and takes time to accurately define.
To get started, focus on your most reliable customers. Focus on their similarities to piece together your ideal shopper. There are numerous buyer persona templates online. Use one of these as a foundation until you feel comfortable enough to form your own.
The most important thing is to begin the process. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll quickly see the benefits.
Use the following checklist to start developing buyer personas for your business:
Focus on one or two target groups
Define their age, gender, region and income
Find your shoppers’ pain points
Define your personas’ shopping behaviors
Create negative buyer personas
By Rom Meir