How to Build Buyer Personas For Your Online Store

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Your online store needs marketing, and where there’s marketing there is a need for a “buyer persona.” Buyer personas aren’t just another marketing buzzword. It’s an effective tool that can streamline your brand’s goals and help you reach them.

Understanding your customers is undoubtedly the most critical part of eCommerce marketing. The foundation of every future marketing project for your Shopify store comes directly from the knowledge you gather about your consumers as individuals. We’ve put together an outline to help you understand, develop, and utilize buyer personas for your specific Shopify marketing plan.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is like an avatar or fictional identity of the specific kinds of customers you cater to at your store. It is a collection of data that describes your consumers’ motivations, preferences, and needs. And pretty much everything else you know about them. You then use this information to inspire your Shopify marketing campaigns, website and social media content, and your products and services.

A buyer persona is developed from actual interviews with your real customers and helps you understand what motivates potential customers. Rather than making guesses about consumers you’re hoping to impact, buyer personas show you factual insights to your buyers’ decision-making process. Their specific triggers, problems, and purchase criteria are all laid out for you so you can better understand how to develop your eCommerce marketing plans.

How does this apply to my Shopify marketing strategy?

When attempting to understand the way your customers think and what they need, aligning your Shopify marketing choices with your buyers’ expectations is a breeze. Marketing becomes especially straight forward when you have direct quotes from real consumers. This will include why they chose to do business with you – or decided to make a similar purchase elsewhere.

Benefits of buyer personas to your eCommerce marketing

What’s the benefit of all this? Well, it goes back to that bit about understanding. The more you understand your customers, the more effective your eCommerce marketing becomes.

When your personas are complete, you’ll feel as though you know your customers as if they were your good friends. And your writing will reflect that. Warm, friendly social media posts and web content will make you stand out to readers. It’s refreshing when a business proves they understand and agree with their audience’s values. At that point, you can almost bank on their return business.

Additionally, as your store grows and you’re able to hire marketing staff, you already have the personas developed for them. There’s no quicker or more effective way to introduce your customer base to a new content developer. This is true if you plan to outsource your Shopify marketing as well! It doesn’t matter if you’re hoping to attract new customers or encourage repeat business. Succinctly describing your typical customer will help staff create tailor-made marketing strategies.

What Buyer Personas for eCommerce marketing are NOT…

You cannot base buyer personas on impressions, assumptions, or what you think your buyers want. The data you use for your Shopify marketing should come from:

  • Shopping statistics
  • Web analytics
  • Industry data
  • Customer surveys
  • Conversations with customers
  • Notes from online discussions
  • Customer service inquiries

How do you build a buyer persona for your Shopify Marketing plan?

If your Shopify store sells clothing, then understanding price points, and style trends that are important to your market is vital. Depending on who your Shopify marketing caters to, you should know what events are coming up and what trends are popular in your area.

Interview your current and potential customers. Find out what they’re looking for and what made them come to you for it, rather than your competition. Include interviews with your “bad” transactions. Understand why they returned an item or what about your services wasn’t a good fit for them. All of these details will help you improve your product and make yourself more marketable for your target audience.

Here are the components you need to build effective buyer personas:

1. Get the basics – personal statistics

When you’re creating personas, try to think of them as actual people with real problems and needs. Give them names and pick a photo to match the “customer.” Write up a quick summary to explain what differentiates them from other customer personas.

A customer’s personal statistics will help you create a general outline. They don’t show the details, but you get a base for your buyer persona, and that help you focus your research.

Get these details in your buyer’s stats:

  • Age
  • Family details
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Location
  • Job title
  • Income

In marketing, it’s a common mistake to stop with this information. These facts are not enough to develop a deep understanding of your customers. The next few points will help you delve deeper into their minds for better Shopify marketing.

3. Thought Process

The “thought process” portion of a buyer persona is to explain what exactly is going on in your customer’s mind. How do they feel? What are their thoughts? What obstacles are they facing? What solutions are they seeking? To get to the bottom of these questions, answer the following in as much detail as possible.

  • What challenges does this customer have?
  • What goals does this customer hope to accomplish?
  • How does this customer plan to solve their problems?
  • What would make this customer avoid a potential solution to their problem?

It makes no difference if these questions don’t have any relation to your product. Be sure to document all you can learn about your customers. Their answers will help your understanding of them in the long run.

4. Present and Future

“People don’t buy products. They buy better versions of themselves.”

That old marketing saying rings true still. It’s your job, as a shop owner and marketer, to encourage a customer to transition from a “present” self to a “future” self. To do that, you have to know what those two selves look like. This process will help you develop Shopify marketing and advertising strategies that recognize your consumers in their present selves and lure them with their future.

You want to consider your customers before they buy your product and their state of mind after they make their purchase. Don’t forget to ask each of these questions twice.

  • What does the customer have presently? (cold / warm)
  • How does the customer feel? (uncomfortable, irritated, distracted/comfortable, content, able to focus)
  • What was the customer’s general feeling of wellbeing? (e.g., frustrated / happy)

5. Process

Each of your Shopify customers goes through a process with three distinct stages:

  • Realization: They realize they need a specific product. (“I need new shoes”)
  • Deliberation: They debate the pros and cons of potential products. (“Do I want slip-ons or lace-ups?”)
  • Conclusion: They conclude that one product is better for them than the alternative. (“I want the Vans over the Nikes.”)

Some customers are indecisive, and the process takes a few weeks. They need to take the time to research products before they’re comfortable. Others move through the process quickly. The point is, knowing how they process and what will lead them to a favorable conclusion will always increase your sales.

6. Motivator

A motivator is an event that influences a customer to initiate the buying process or to start shopping around for a particular item or service. It’s the trigger that made them type in that search term, to begin with. As with all other aspects of building a persona, by understanding your customer’s motivators, you can anticipate and influence them. This is a key point of eCommerce marketing.

Motivation can be internal or external.

As you may have guessed, internal motivators are thoughts, ideas, and feelings that spur a customer into action. Other internal motivators include:

  • Desires, dreams, and goals
  • Repeated mistakes
  • Secret wishes
  • Insecurities

Conditions that are outside of your customer’s control that influence buying behavior are external motivators. Examples of external motivators are:

  • Work (or school) tasks and projects
  • Resources or belongings that are beginning to fail 
  • The feelings, comments, and reactions of other people.
  • Significant changes in their day-to-day life (marriage, the birth of a child, job changes, moving)
  • Weddings, graduations, birthday parties (something that requires a gift)
  • Situations they find stressful or frustrating
  • Circumstances and events they try to avoid

7. Language

Most people use at least some language that is unique to their hobbies, interests, peer groups, and industry. Take note of these words and phrases so you can utilize them in your marketing material and your Shopify store. Here are some examples:

  • Emojis
  • Text abbreviations
  • Common hashtags
  • Industry vernacular
  • Memes
  • Pop culture quotes

Finding your customer

The best place to interview your customers is somewhere they feel most at ease and can speak comfortably and give natural answers. For instance, if you have a pet supply company, you may consider joining some pet based facebook groups or attending local pet events. Consider following relevant hashtags via Instagram to stay current on trends to continually update your buyer personas and your Shopify marketing materials.

The work isn’t over yet.

Your customers change over time, and so should your buyer personas. Revision and modification for a constantly changing world is the only way to guarantee that your product accurately represents your buyers in the future.

Keep in mind that as you modify and refine your buyer personas and create their relevant eCommerce marketing content, you may see less website traffic. The upside is, the traffic you do receive is going to significantly increase the number of sales you make. This improvement is because the people your marketing is attracting will find your products more useful and relevant. Continue to modify your buyer personas regularly!

Buyer Personas are vital for your Shopify marketing success.

The marketing world is entirely different from what it was even ten years ago. Marketing today isn’t only TV and radio commercials. It’s all the online aspects, as well. There’s social media, video, pop up ads, and email campaigns. Unfortunately, many businesses are just throwing marketing money down the drain because they fail to personify their buyers. They’re pitching to the wrong audience!

The most crucial step to developing an accurate eCommerce marketing plan is buyer personas. They make it possible to target ads to specific problems, behaviors, and needs. Without them, Shopify marketing leaders are wasting their time and effort.

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