Jun 12 2017
diversity personas at IRCE

Supercharge Personalization – Creating Personas

There are a lot of processes and tactics you can use to create a persona program, but this IRCE presentation provided a beginning-to-end strategy for getting started. If you’re not doing personas today, and want to build a program in a short time, this method will serve your personalization efforts well.

It’s a worthy task considering these facts:

  • Personalization results in a 20% increase in sales (according to Monetate
  • 40% of those using personalization saw at least a 20% increase in return visits

But despite the potential revenue impact:

  • Only 9% of marketers use real time onsite behavior to personalize
  • Only 15% go beyond broad segments and simple clusters
  • A meager 10% of top-tier retailers say they’re highly effective at personalization.

People return because they know that you care, and the best way to show that is by personalizing the experience, but you can’t just dive in; you have to understand who your customers are.  Personas are fictional representations of large or important segments. 3-5 of them should cover around 80% of your customer business.

Segments and personas are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Segments are different sets of like people based on distant needs or characteristics. A persona is created to mimic real customers and based on demographic information collected through research with real people.

Here’s a tactic for quickly developing personas. Gather some of your most customer-savvy people. Give them all a set of sticky notes and ask them to write down traits of your customers. Instruct them to focus on needs, challenges, motivations and basic demographic info. Then have them paste them on a wall and start grouping them. Categories might include: budget, challenges, hobbies, marital status, age, and interests.

Picking a few from each category builds a persona. Of course, pick only a single one if the two are mutually exclusive (such as high or low income). If you have time and a good-natured team, try to create a consensus around which features that are representative of most of your customers.

Up next, layer in the quantitative data. You want to validate assumptions made in your post-it note session. This can be surveys of your customer base, existing internal data like purchase history, web analytics like pages and products visited most, and published studies that give you a flavor of industry trends. When you survey your customers and identify the right persona traits, make sure you also look for new behavior that can be used to deepen the person.

Next, you need to identify actionable behaviors that will trigger a corresponding event. Cordeiro broke this down into four groups: web, email, offline, and miscellaneous behaviors.

Lastly, build out your personas and share with your whole team. There are a number of templates you can create, and I also suggest creating spreadsheets where you can directly compare your customer. You can also include information about what the customer journey looks like in these sheets.

The typical ecommerce customer journey follows awareness, consideration, purchase, and post-purchase. To start, pick the one you have the most information on and build their basic journey around typical events that happen at these stages. It will help you figure out what kind of content to show at each stage.

One Whereoware client, Plum and Post, focused their efforts on the post-purchase part of the journey. They used Google Analytics to confirm assumptions about gender and age, gathered quantitative data on different segments using site and search data. With their personas created, they used behavior and search and click activity to trigger custom content, landing pages, checkout content. One persona received family-friendly images and products. The other received information and upsells from the gardening categories. Even confirmation pages and emails, search results landing page were ripe for personalization.

Matthew Rickerby

Head of Marketing

Matt began his career in ecommerce at Blue Acorn over five years ago. His areas of expertise include persona development, account-based marketing, and content marketing. He has co-written speaking sessions for Bronto Summit, DIG South, GIANT, and Revolve, and received multiple awards for videography, blogging, and copywriting.

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