Imagine a brunette woman at the age of 25. Let’s call her Sabrina. She sits with her laptop on the couch and wants to some 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” representing the dream of every shop owner. But the reality looks different. The reason is simply that there are not many of these showcase customers. Further 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.
What does that tell us? – Only very few of your customers correspond to the dream world of numerous stock photos. In reality customers have different needs or wishes and shop in different situations. In this post we will look at a new approach to customer segmentation. It is not about putting users into rigid segments, it is rather to build buyer personas dynamically and in real time for an individualized CX. So any customer in any shopping situation will be served in a truly personal way.
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 their 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.
Bye Bye Buyer Persona!
A realizable implementation of buyer personas in practice refers to a maximum of 3-4 characters. These characters 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 street style fashion. If you now suspect Jason in your online shop, you will optimize it accordingly: Jason should get a seamless omnichannel experience, with all street style items placed in a special presence. 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 what if he 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 with platforms like a Customer Engagement Platform. They take 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 any user – always new and with any individual interaction. The result: Whether Maria or Jason, every user receives a customized customer experience.
In practice, this situationalization approach with the help of real time personas is already revolutionizing the online presence of the publisher InStyle.de or online shops like PETER HAHN. At the moment of access to the virtual magazine or shop, users receive individual article orders and recommendations that fully correspond to their interests.