5 Best Practices for Creating and Using User Personas in eCommerce

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Let’s say you’ve been gathering data on your customers with the intention of creating a representation of your audience. You know their age, financial status, marital status, etc. But is this data actually essential for your product design?

User personas are a method that breaks away from the outdated analysis of the audience based on shallow demographics. You can create a more precise picture of your users and customers with user personas and eventually increase your revenue. 

We can go further and explain the benefits of understanding your audience in marketing and advertising. 

According to data, 74% of marketers believe that targeted personalization increases customer engagement. This shows that personalization and marketing campaigns tailored to customers lead to better results. With the utilization of user personas, you can certainly expect better results once you master the art of creating and using them. 

User persona explained 

In a literal sense, a user persona is a made-up person that represents a specific group of your users or customers. The creation of such a persona starts with the desire of a business to create an accurate picture of its customers and deliver to their expectations.

Of course, some desires of the audience can be understood by common sense and a basic understanding of the market. But the key goal of using this method is to give the company and its design team a realistic person with its behaviors, needs, and goals. They are different archetypes of customers. 

They don’t have to be extensive in every case. One or two pages that consist of valuable info should be enough to make a helpful user persona. 

Attributes of user persona 

There are many different paths to creating a good persona. But the freedom that you can feel during this process might also lead to adding unnecessary information or made-up attributes. Instead, you should focus on the present situation that’s unique to your product

For example, your eCommerce business is related to selling footwear on the internet. You shouldn’t create a persona based on fashion trends of the start of the century or before that, instead, you need to understand the weather of the region where you sell the products and common fashion trends. 

Biases in this process are something that should be avoided at all costs. Let’s say you want to create a persona that represents an older person. Does he want boring brown shoes? Well, he might want them, but don’t make that assumption based on a stereotype. Instead, if an older population is an essential percentage of the audience, you should construct that persona on their recurring desires and behaviors. 

5 Best practices for creating a good user persona 

There isn’t a single technique that will deliver you a perfect user persona that will be a correct representation of your audience. However, particular practices will provide you with acceptable results and constant improvement. Learning how to create a user persona is a long-term process, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if the initial attempts aren’t successful. 

A good user persona starts by gathering information on the audience and ends with an agreement between you and your stakeholders on whether that persona is useful and accurate. With many eCommerce platforms allowing users to use a variety of plugins, you can find data analysis plugins to collect better data.  

1. Gathering information

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The first step to creating an accurate user persona is to conduct thorough research on your audience. You need to understand their motivation behind a purchase and how they behave when making a purchase. This isn’t something that you can accurately guess or speculate, according to second-hand data, which makes it an expensive part of the process

Interviews between your customers and a professional in this field are the best way to gather objective and factual data from the users. The more in-depth the interviews are and the more people you interview, the better your chances of creating an accurate persona will be. Of course, this will lead to an increased amount of time and money put in. 

If you currently don’t have resources, you can use a less effective but still valid method by utilizing the data you’ve collected through web analytics of your online store to create a persona. This data isn’t less worthy by default, but this method of gathering information is limiting. You can combine these two methods by resorting to a temporary user persona created through web analytics while you work on gathering information through interviews. 

Important don’ts of gathering user data 

You should refrain from resorting to creating personas based on assumptions and prejudices of your user base. In the past, marketers would gather data such as:

  • Age
  • Job title
  • Education level
  • Etc.

Which can be useful, but they aren’t going to make an accurate representation of the user’s mindset and behavior. With limited time and resources, you should focus on gathering only the most essential information of the users. 

2. Identifying patterns based on the data

This step is the foundation of all future research and the creation of user personas. The information that you’ve gathered so far will be a pulp of various attributes and behaviors. You need to identify the repeating patterns and shape the data according to your requirements.

The most important task that you want to accomplish here is to find trends among the results. For example, you’ve noticed that:

  • 10% of the customers look up the deals first
  • 20% look for the popular product
  • 20% of the people seek out products featured by the company

These rough examples give you an insight into what could trend among your customers. According to the most important variable, you should create different user personas and then assign other common attributes to them. 

3. Create and categorize personas

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Now it’s time to get to the real deal and actually start creating the personas. Once you’ve grasped the trends that users are drawn to, you have to define those personas and give them a personality. However, you should refrain from being too creative and assigning them too many personal details. You need to describe the basics of a real persona and not a character from a Dostoyevski novel. 

Too many personal details and a lengthy bio will distract you from analyzing the aspects of the personas that are essential. You should create multiple personas, but up to four. Those four personas should describe the majority of your audience. 

4. Define scenarios and create documentation

At this stage, you should already have completed user personas at your disposal. However, you must put them in particular scenarios to make them useful. Scenarios are realistic situations that occur when a customer wants to make a purchase or if he is contemplating it.

With user personas, you should understand how a certain profile of a customer behaves in a certain situation. These scenarios need to be expected to occur in real-life situations. Scenarios can be defined as a path of a persona fulfilling its goals. 

After you’ve constructed a scenario, your designers and marketers can gather the information and understand the customers better. This info can lead your designers to create a better user experience. 

5. Collaborate on the results of the research with your team

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Personas will allow you to guide your team through the tiring process of making design and business decisions. Introducing user personas to the stakeholders and your team should give them a sense of how a common user of the product thinks and functions.

Even though personas are a construct based on hundreds or thousands of different users, a well-constructed user persona will almost feel like a real person. Many companies think of their average user based on stereotypes rather than authentic data gathered from the audience.

Demographic data, frustrations, needs, and behaviors are parts of a well-constructed persona. 

User personas will give you an advantage over competitors 

This is just another tool at your disposal that you can use to improve your chances of getting ahead of the competitors. This method isn’t the best thing that you can possibly do, and it won’t be something that will give you overnight success. However, it’s quite useful in improving the design of your product and eventually helping you develop future products.

Understanding the audience and the common consumer will give you an advantage over your competitors, who don’t care for their customers as much. The downside of this process is that it can take a lot of resources and time, and it shouldn’t be prioritized over the product. 

About Writer

Veljko is a student of information technology that paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He enjoys researching topics such as robotics and programming and cultivates his knowledge in philosophy, classical literature, and fitness. Veljko’s favorite writers are Borislav Pekić, Miloš Crnjanski, and Ernest Hemingway. 

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