Practical Ecommerce

Overcome The Disconnect With Persona Marketing

A major challenge for businesses today is a lack of understanding of their customers. You may know only what your online tracking reports or store receipts tell you about your customers, and not the customers themselves. You need a way to overcome this disconnect. Remember, you’re not marketing to statistics, you’re marketing to people.


Developing your personas

Personas are the answer for companies of all sizes. A persona is a model of an ideal customer that incorporates primary research and data, such as income and gender, with personality traits, such as goals, attitudes, behaviors and interests. All of this is put together in a short narrative that describes this ideal customer’s personality as it relates to your business.

  • First, decide whom you’re going to include in your target persona groups. Ideally, you want three personas as you get started—five at the very most—so you have to decide which three segments of your customer base you want to incorporate into your personas. Don’t try to incorporate everyone; it’s not possible. Just concentrate on your three most important customer types.

  • Dig into your internal customer data. Once you have chosen three segments of your customer base, you need to answer as many of the basic questions about them as you can, using the information you already have. Here is where you should look at averages and aggregate data to get some of the basic information about your personas—age, income, shopping habits, average spend, frequency of purchase and frequency of visits to your site. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this information—use what you know to fill in the blanks. Just make sure you update this information as you learn more about your customer segments.

  • Write a creative narrative. Take what you’ve learned from your customer data and what you have observed or hypothesized, and use this to write a fun narrative that describes this “ideal customer.” Include his/her likes and interests, goals and motivations, interactions with your site and other relevant information. Keep this narrative organized, interesting and brief (no more than a few short paragraphs) and write it like you’re describing a friend or family member. Don’t forget to give your personas names as well as pictures to really bring them to life.

  • Get the company involved and invested in your persona. How? Give your persona a birthday and have a cake on his/her birthday. Send around a memo from your persona when you update it, letting everyone know that “Sara got a raise so she is spending more on widgets every month,” or “with high gas prices, Sara is looking for discounts and sales on widgets right now.” It sounds corny, but when the whole team is involved, your personas will be in everyone’s mind as they develop marketing strategies and make changes to services, products and your website.

Marketing with personality

Creating your personas will help you better understand your customers and what influences their interactions with your site. You can improve your customer’s experience online and off, and help people throughout the company have a uniform and creative understanding of your customers. Your personas allow you to develop more tailored marketing strategies meant to reach people, not numbers or averages. Continually updating, modifying and adding to your personas as you learn more about your customers and your target audience will keep your marketing fresh, relevant, personal and effective.

Lisa Wehr

Lisa Wehr

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. mrtoes July 24, 2008 Reply

    Hello Lisa,
    Very nice and quite concise explanation of the need for, benefits of, and some of the how-to regarding personas.
    Do you have any articles or suggested websites to visit for companies who are in the B2B space who are doing this well?
    I than kyou in advance.
    Mark Armamentos

  2. Casey September 1, 2008 Reply

    I worked for a jewelry website where we attracted so many different customers with a large age range. It was always a challenge when it came to marketing, where I can see where your idea comes in. You are right when you create a persona it makes the marketing more tangible and gives you the opportunity to implement more effective marketing techniques.