Posted November 13, 2007 11:22 am by with 2 comments

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Internet Retailer has an article this month about developing personas to boost ecommerce sales. If you do not know what I mean by “personas,” don’t feel bad; personas is just a code word consultants use that really means expensive customer behavior research.

Many large companies spend a lot of money on this kind of study and try to identify the mindset and goals of customers. In many cases, they might identify 2-6 different groups of customers and try to sell to them in different ways. For example, some customers are price-driven while others might be very dependent on user reviews. If you can figure out what types of consumers are visiting the site, you can attempt to determine on the spot which group each consumer is in and give them content that is more likely to result in sales.

While very expensive (often in six figures), persona research can make a dramatic difference. Some companies report up to a 400% increase in the conversion rate. However, if you are a small company without a huge budget, you can do your own research into your customers’ behavior and mindset and implement changes that can boost your conversion rate as well. Here are a few simple things you can do.

1) Focus groups. If you know the general demographic of your customers, bring in 10-15 people in that demographic and let them play on your site. Plan a list of tasks that you want them to perform and ask questions that can help you understand how that demographic makes buying decisions.

2) Surveys. Find a way to implement surveys on your site. You want to survey not only people that buy but also the ones that don’t.

3) A-B split testing (or multi-variate testing). A simple script will allow you to test scenarios to see how changes on the site affect buying decisions.

4) Research. In most industries, you can buy research that tells you about the demographics and buying tendencies of your customers. It is not free but is often quite valuable.

  • rcjordan

    Collect detailed leads from your site? Look at them for clues. Ask qualifying questions on your form. Ask broad questions that will help you fill in the blanks on details they’re not going to tell you.

    We do travel leads. I think our (hellatious, daunting) online form is now approaching 50 fields rather than the usual gum-label info. Even with the number of fields we have, we still get several thousand requests per year –more than enough to be statistically relevant. We found, for instance, that 8% of our people researching vacations were also researching relocation or retirement. Bingo! Add pages about bird-watching, sell waterfront lots.

  • Thanks, that was informative. I did not know what ‘personas’ meant in marketing parlance.