How to build an eCommerce & Retail Buyer Persona (with example)

ecommerce retail buyer persona profile

The majority of eCommerce companies I’ve encountered, regardless of their niche, experience difficulties with traffic, conversion, basket size or Average Order Value, and retention.

Many times, they simply want more of everything.

With a limited amount of time, resources, and budget, merely aiming more of everything won’t get you far without a hyper-focused strategy that fits the target market, nature of competition, and company’s goals.

To create that hyper-focused strategy, understanding precisely who to go after is a must.

So, identifying your target market and creating a buyer persona are essential first steps in creating your eCommerce and retail marketing strategy.

It will also help you become more profitable.

In this article, you’ll learn more about how eCommerce and retail businesses can effectively build a buyer persona.

Why does eCommerce & Retail need a Buyer Persona?

If you’re a trained marketer, you may have heard of the STP strategy.

Segmentation. Targeting. Positioning.

A buyer persona addresses all of these.

Also, according to Omniconvert’s study, the top 1% of customers are spending 30 times more than the average customers.

If you had to choose, wouldn’t you rather spend your time, budget, and resources on prospects that are likely to be in that 1%?

But while you may understand the importance of identifying your target market, why build a buyer persona and “limit” your target audience?

Creating a buyer persona is not limiting your target to a single person or even limited to that specific group, but it helps you visualize to whom you’re speaking.

It helps with your positioning with the right messaging, which matters to the audience.

The profile also helps you plan where and how to reach them effectively.

When you start building your marketing strategy, it’s easy to generalize or assume many things about who you’re targeting.

By clearly defining this fictitious person or persona, you have the characteristics, behaviors, preferences, and other things that help you understand how this customer segment thinks and behaves.

And once you have this buyer persona, you can almost have a one-on-one conversation that speaks to the person to make an influence.

How many Buyer Persona do you need?

Well, let’s start with one!

Claritas’ PRIZM Premier divides consumers into 68 segments.

Fortunately, your company doesn’t need nearly as many to succeed.

However, the impact on the business comes from tailoring your marketing initiatives, tone, and strategy, as needed, to each persona profile you build.

For example, an eCommerce store targeting teenagers can create one persona profile for teens and another profile for moms. They would have different messaging, tone, and strategy to reach and communicate your brand.

Start with your very best customers.

They are who spend more, buy more frequently, stay with you longer, and refer more new customers than any other customer segment.

How to find your best customers

Unless you’re a startup or a new business, don’t trust your instincts. Use your data!

And when using your existing data, you can use multiple sources to cross-reference.

Having a good size data set will help you avoid skewed results.

Here are some sources you can pull your customer data from to identify your best customers.

Google Analytics

This free tool from Google is available so you can collect data on your website.

If you don’t have it installed on your site already, you may want to do it right away.

Google Analytics provides a lot of information about your traffic and purchase behaviors.

For example, it will tell you the demographics, location, technology they’re using, and even interests.

Google Analytics showing age and gender information
Google Analytics showing age and gender information
Google Analytics showing the site traffic's interests
Google Analytics showing the site traffic’s interests

Another critical piece of data you can get here is where they’re coming from, or referrals.

Under Acquisition → All Traffic → Source/Medium, it will tell you where your traffic is coming from.

It will include your organic traffic, shown as (direct)/(none), which means they’re typing in your URL directly, paid ads, including social media ads or search engine ads, clicks from social media posts, or other publications.

Google Analytics showing traffic source
Google Analytics showing traffic source

Another piece of data to help you understand your prospects is where on your website they’re going to to see what information they might be looking for.

Under Behavior → Site content → All pages, you’ll see the pages your traffic is visiting.

You can see the list of visited pages, average time on page, bounce rate, and more.

eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics

If you’re an eCommerce or an online retailer, an eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics should be enabled.

eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics will help you see:

  • product and transaction information
  • conversion rate
  • Average order value, Revenue
  • Shipping cost
  • Average quantity by SKU/category
  • Days to transaction
  • and more

Google Analytics has two options: standard eCommerce and enhanced eCommerce.

Enhanced eCommerce includes additional features and data about traffic and customer behaviors on your site.

Here’s the instruction on how to set up a Google Analytics eCommerce tag using Google Tag Manager.

Social Media Analytics

If you’re actively promoting your products on social media, you can utilize the analytics tools they provide to get more information.

They not only tell you more about your traffic and customers but also what type of content works better than others in terms of engagement.

As more businesses use social media for their customer support, you may also check out your major competitors’ social media to see what their customers and fans are saying about them.

Are they unhappy with specific features?

Or are they highlighting something specific about their products?

Capture the likes and dislikes and incorporate that in your messaging.

Ads Analytics

The quickest way to get your eCommerce products in front of your target audience is through paid ads or Pay-Per-Click.

Each advertising platform, such as Google Ads or Microsoft Bing, will give you a lot of data on your traffic and customers, including demographics, devices, and time of engagement.

For example, Google Ads shows below demographics and day & hour of their ad impressions.

Google Ads showing demographics and time of day data
Google Ads showing demographics and time of day data

Whether it’s Google search or shopping or Facebook or Instagram ads, all paid ads will provide you with two main benefits in building your buyer persona:

  1. You can tell who’s engaging with what type of messaging
  2. And test what works and doesn’t work

Customer feedback, reviews, & interviews

Your customers have gone through the purchasing journey and said yes to you.

Analyze their feedback, surveys, and reviews to identify any common theme.

Why did they choose you over other brands?

What problems did your products solve for them?

How is their life better now?

Incorporate this into your buyer persona profile to create what problems they may have and what solutions they’re looking for.

Your sales & customer service teams

If you only involve your marketing team to build your buyer persona, you may be missing valuable information.

Your sales & customer service reps are speaking and interacting with your prospects and customers each day.

They may be able to tell you a thing or two about your customers that you don’t see on any report.

Lost opportunities

Although this process is to identify your best customers, it’s essential to understand why someone wouldn’t buy from you.

Look at your lost opportunity data.

Are people from any specific part of the country not buying your products?

Is any specific marketing channel performing poorly?

By identifying these weak areas, you can consider avoiding those segments or re-evaluate your strategy.

eCommerce & Retail Buyer Persona Example

Here’s an example of an eCommerce or retail buyer persona of a cosmetic company offering an all-in-one foundation makeup.

It shows the demographics, including gender, age, location, occupation, salary, and family, as well as her problems, goals, behaviors, and preferences.

Cosmetics eCommerce buyer persona example
Cosmetics eCommerce buyer persona example

Now when we create a marketing strategy targeting “Stephanie,” we have a clear understanding of her pain points, what she’s looking to achieve, and how and where to better reach her.

We may need to add other information, such as different brands she may be using or her influencers, depending on the strategy.

Isn’t this much better to craft your messaging around than “women” or even “women in her 30’s to 40’s wearing makeup”?

Final thoughts

eCommerce and retail market is constantly changing, as well as their competitors, consumer behavior, and technology.

Getting in front of your prospects and customers and getting their attention are becoming more difficult as there are so many potential touchpoints between email, search engines, blogs, social media, and other digital distractions.

Connecting their experience from brand awareness to purchase to retention and beyond is becoming vital in marketing.

Utilizing data, not assumptions or instincts, helps you visualize that customer segment that is more likely to buy more, buy more frequently, stay with you longer, and become your brand ambassadors.

As your next step, create your first buyer persona profile.

Then from that profile, in which apparent areas can you make improvements?

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