Imagine a brunette woman at the age of 25. Let's call her Sabrina. She sits with her laptop on the couch and follows her favourite hobby: online shopping. She proudly holds her credit card in her hand and looks at the many colorful shopping bags already distributed in her stylish apartment. Does this picture of an ideal customer look familiar to you? 🤔
Probably yes! Because these or similar situations are pictured in numerous stock photos with the title "Customer shopping online" and represent the dream of every shop owner.
But the reality looks different. Because there are not many of these showcase customers. In addition to Sabrina, there are numerous other users who shop in different situations. For example Maria, who sits at her old desktop PC and thinks online-shopping is totally risky anyway. Or Jason, who checks the latest trends with his mobile phone on his way to school and realizes that your online shop is pretty uncool.
What does that tell us? - Only very few of your customers correspond to the dream world of numerous stock photos. In reality your customers have different needs or wishes and shop in different situations. In order to get to know the target group of an online shop better, many shop operators resort to so-called buyer personas.
Get out of the stock photo dream world: Start getting to know your customers better!
Buyer Persona meets E-Commerce
To answer the question about how Maria, Jason and all your other customers are ticking, you can create Buyer Personas for your Online-Shop. These are virtual, fictitious representatives for a specific customer group. They are described by characteristics such as gender, age, place of residence, income, marital status, hobbies or interests. In addition, information about shopping preferences, locations and referrers can help you better assess your wishes and needs.
For the creation of personas you should use real data. For this it is important to collect as much information as possible about your customers. Online surveys or customer reviews in social media, for example, can be helpful here. Using analytics tools, you can also find out which regions your users come from, which browsers they prefer or whether they surf with their PC or smartphone.
Congratulations! Now you are finally able to understand your customers better. This may seem helpful, but Maria and Jason may one day be interested in products that don't fit their persona at all. Too bad that you can't take this into account due to predefined, rigid groups.
This is Jason. He is 17 years old and belongs to the persona group 'Digital Native'. But how well do you really know him?
Bye Bye Buyer Persona!
A realizable implementation of buyer personas in practice refers to a maximum of 3-4 characters, which reflect the most important needs of your main target groups. However, if a customer has other needs and interests than the selected persona group to which the online shop is focused, the " Wannabe Personalization " will fail.
Here is an example: Your customer Jason is one of dozens, of the persona group "Digital Native". He gets inspiration from Facebook and Instagram, visits your Online- Shop from home with the tablet and finishes the ordering process on the go with his smartphone. His shopping cart usually contains the latest streetstyle fashion. If you now suspect Jason in your Online-Shop, you will optimize it in such a way that a seamless Omnichannel Experience is given and all Streetstyle articles are placed particularly present. From now on, you can adapt recommendations and sorts to suit his persona group.
But what if Jason wants to buy a new pair of swimming trunks during his family vacation at the seaside, or is looking for new business outfits at the desktop PC of his new internship in the city center? As you can see, the reasons for visiting your Online-Shop depend heavily on the current situation.
The solution to this persona problem: Different personas can be created based on surfing behavior and historical data. If Jason now browses through your online shop, you assign him dynamically and in real time a persona that best fits his current situation. Today Digital Native, tomorrow Happy Casual and next week Friday Cultured Elite. Through the use of so-called real-time personas, he is guaranteed to find what he is looking for in every situation.
Real-time personas as a new dimension of customer segmentation
Real-time personas are possible thanks to ODOSCOPE's world-leading platform for situationalization. This takes personalization to a new level: Instead of classifying users in rigid drawers, as is the case with conventional buyer personas, only the current situation counts for situationalization.
All elements and content, no matter whether in the online shop, on the landing page or in the web magazine, are adapted to the situation, interests and behavior of each user - always new and with each individual interaction. The result: Whether Maria or Jason, every user receives a customized customer experience.
In practice, situationalization with the help of real-time personas is already revolutionizing the online presence of the publisher InStyle.de. At the moment of access to the virtual magazine, readers receive individual article orders and recommendations that fully correspond to their interests.