Personas for online shops: a helpful tool for audience analysis

by Richard Stevenson, 27.06.17

Experience has shown that creating “personas” can be extremely useful. These are fictional characters meant to represent a particular set of customers. In this article, we show you how to create personas for your online shop.

Personas are described on the basis of factors such as age, gender, family status, income, place of residence, job, interests and hobbies. In addition, criteria such as purchasing behavior and favorite locations – both offline and online – can help you to understand your target audience better. It is also essential to set down in a brief statement why a particular group visits your shop.

Here, for example, are two fictional personas who visit a shop selling tea.

Even if these personas are only fictional characters, thinking about them will assist you in your day-to-day work. Thanks to personas such as Deborah Detox and Olivia Organic, abstract data can be given a face and a history. They will give you an insight into the needs and behaviors of your customers. This will provide you with a better understanding as well as a better feel for your target audiences. You will then find it easier to successfully address your customers and to optimize your shop.

Creating personas: the first steps

Real-world information forms the basis for creating your personas. This is why it is important as a first step to gather as much information as possible on your target audience. To do this, make contact with your (potential) customers. You can interview individual customers, hold face-to-face conversations at trade shows, or set up an online survey in which visitors to your shop can take part. Similarly, chatting within topic-specific forums and Facebook groups can be informative. It can also be useful to consult data from your own shop or from general market analyses.

Representing all of the various customers from your shop using personas is, of course, unrealistic in practice. You should therefore concentrate on developing a maximum of three to five fictional characters. These will describe your primary target audiences and their main requirements. On the basis of these, you can focus on your most important customer groups.

Our tip: an interview script

In order to carry out the subsequent analysis successfully, it is vital to ask open questions. In this way you will learn as much as possible about your interviewees’ requirements and attitudes. To ensure you can properly compare and analyse the results you obtain, we suggest here a brief script for you to follow, including some important questions:

  • How did you find out about our online shop?
  • Why do you like shopping in our online shop?
  • How often do you make a purchase from our online shop?
  • When you are looking for product X, where do you normally get your information?
  • What do you not like about our online shop?
  • How could we improve your purchasing experience with us?
  • What products do you feel are missing?

You should also capture some demographic data:

  • How old are you?
  • What job do you do?
  • Where do you live and what is your lifestyle?

Another tip: only ask questions that will supply you with valuable information and that you really need. This is because the shorter you keep the interview, the more willing people will be to take part.

Learning from personas: evaluation and actions

Initially, it makes sense to bring all of the data into a standard form and sort the information by topic area. You can then begin to identify common features and differences and create a “persona map”. This will ensure you have sight of the most important information as you work. Take care always to see things from the perspective of the persona. Doing this will help you to exclude your own biases, wants and needs about your shop.

If we analyse the two personas above, we can determine some really useful focused offerings and marketing tactics that would likely be particularly effective for addressing them both.  For example:

For addressing Deborah Detox:

  • Offer varieties specially blended for detox
  • Write blog articles about ‘teatox’ experiences
  • Offer quantity discounts and express deliveries
  • Create Pinterest campaigns

For addressing Olivia Organic:

  • Display environmental compliance symbols prominently
  • Offer tea tastings and seminars
  • Distribute flyers at farmers’ markets

What is important for your customers? Perhaps you already have a few ideas about who the main personas for your shop could be? In any case, we hope you enjoy finding out all about your target audiences’ needs and consumer behaviors.

About the author

is Head of Global PR for ePages. For 14 years, Richard has participated in the web technology industry, working with small companies and the media all around the world to help drive awareness of online techniques for marketing, communication and sales activities. Like everyone at ePages, Richard is super passionate about Commerce.

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