eCommerce Basics: How To Define Your Ideal Customer
So you decided to start an eCommerce business, and you think everyone is a customer?
If that’s so, why someone buy from you instead of your competitor? (a classic question)
After all, the world is more connected than ever before. The recent pandemic forced almost everyone to find creative ways to supplement their income. Jobs were lost and suddenly the World Wide Web became a more crowded place.
People that were made redundant realised that there is no security and jumped into the eCommerce bandwagon. Alas, competition increased virtually in a few months.
So what will separate you from the hoards of stores that sell to everyone?
The answer is: do not sell to everyone.
“But how will I make money?” you ask.
Its simple if you think about it. When you specialise in one thing then you carve a niche and you serve only that niche. And believe me for every niche, there are at least a few thousand buyers all over the world.
So to find out what you should sell, what you should focus on, you must address to the needs of the few. Alas, you must clearly define your ideal customer – the person who you want to buy your products. Once you do that, magical things happen. And this is our promise to you (as we have done it a hundred times).
In this post, we will explain why your eCommerce website needs to have a clearly defined ideal customer that you want to do business with.
To define your ideal customer, you must define a persona, a virtual representation of your ideal customer. A persona has all (or most of the characteristics of your buyer including name, occupation, family status, income, social staus and more.
So, why do you need to create a persona of your ideal customer? Because of an old saying:
If you do not know where you are going, you will never reach your destination.
Here are the steps on how to define your ideal customer for your eCommerce website:
Step 1: Gather information about WHO you want as an ideal customer for your eCommerce website
There is also another method, where instead of trying to define who is your ideal customer, you collect feedback on the products you sell. SO instead of you saying who is your customer, you let the market tell you.
But first lets start with what the big title says. Your question now is “how to gather inforamtion about my ideal customer?” to which the obvious answer is:
To be able to appeal to the ideal customers that you want, you need to collect as much data as possible. To do that you need to start researching and your starting point is no other than Google itself 🙂
But before we continue our research, I want to ask you a question. Why did you start THIS particular eCommerce business? What made you do it?
Did you have a problem you wanted to solve (apart of money, obviously)?
Or perhaps, you started this because you read somewhere that its a good idea?
The reason for these questions is that perhaps your ideal customer is the same as you. He has the same frustrations as you have.
If you started because of a problem you were facing, then what I WOULD RECOMMEND is to write these problems/issues down.
Then take them to Google 🙂
Lets say that you sell fitness equipment (very popular in 2021, considering everyone sits at home)
Start broad. Type “Fitness Equipment”.
You will get a list fo websites so this is what you don’t want.
Start narrowing it down.
Type “fitness equipment for home”
Now you get a lot of articles which promote fitness equipment for home, and you can get ideas by visiting each one of them.
Lets start narrowing down. We want to find what the market is talking about, which are the brands that get the most promotion and how we can reverse-engineer their success.
A mistake that makes people doing when they start with their eCommerce journey is that instead of focusing on one product, one client they try to serve as many clients they possibly can, loading their stores with as many products as possible.
To me this is the wrong approach. Let me explain you why:
When you sell more than 15 products, then you are FORCED to spread yourself thin. Different ads, different copy, different personas. You are forced to write different content for different products. You have to create different funnels for each of your product and its variations.
Get the point?
So to circle back to what we were discussing, the best way is focus on one core product and expand from there.
I already see some great articles for the term. One is the “Best equipment” and the other is “20 Best home Equipment”
Now we have material to work with.
On an excel or Google Docs sheet, prepare a new document with the following:
Company name – URL – Product – Online Publication – Term – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Other
So what you do is fill out the blanks, and then I highly recommend you sign up to these companies’ email databases so you can get their news.
Follow these companies on social media and start monitoring for their hashtags. How many likes do they get? Are their feeds engaging – do people comment in a good or bad way? Start following everyone who makes a comment.
In a matter of weeks, when you have started following all these companies, get their emails, follow their people, you will start formulating a pattern. You will start recognising the problems of the people that follow – what they want, what they need, what they complain.
Then I highly suggest you reach out to a few of them and ask them for feedback.
How do you do that? You organise either a zoom call, or you send them an interview. But why will people partcipate? What will it be for them?
This is the part you need to start being creative.
Have you found that some of the customers of ACME Equipment complain about something? Send them a message and say that “I saw that you had this problem. I am about to start a business around this and I wanted to ask for your feedback.” But be creative. Many people won’t even respond so you need to follow up and be persistent. You want to help them solve it.
Did you read that some people praise the company or the equipment? Send them a message and tell them that you are starting something similar and you want them to get even better results. In exchange, you could send them a coupon for when you start. Some people will accept, others won’t. It’s a numbers game. You can’t really send to 5 people and expect everyone to respond to you.
Getting feedback is a whole new topic that we will explore in another post.
Step #2: Form a Hypothesis
As soon as you get some feedback about your ideal customer demographics and their pain points, then you need to write everything down in one single document.
There are many tools to help you with. A simple search for “customer persona worksheet” or “customer persona generator” will give you many options.
Bear in mind that you may have to create different personas for different functions of your product. Based upon the research you did above, start to form a general idea about your various ideal customers who may need of your product.
Here are some links to help you:
Make My Persona – HubSpot: https://www.hubspot.com › make-my-persona
“Create professional, customizable buyer personas in minutes with the help of their intuitive free generator.”
Persona Generator – Create a new persona: https://personagenerator.com
“Create your own User Personas by building off one of their templates.”
User Persona Template and Examples by Xtensio: https://xtensio.com › user-persona-template
“Xtensio is much more than your standard user persona builder. Create impactful documents in minutes.“
Userforge: User persona creator: https://userforge.com
“User persona generator and story tools. Understand and connect with customer needs. Simple, powerful template.”
Why is this a hypothesis?
Because you assume that this type of person will eventually buy. As you move down your journey to entrepreneurship, this persona will become more clear, and in a few months from starting out you will have a powerful card at your fingers: the power to know what to say to convert visitors into customers – and not just any customer: the customer YOU created.
Step #3: Create scenarios for your personas
Here is one more time you need to become creative and not only think out of the box but also create assumptions. When you create your persona, what you want her to do? Your persona worth nothing until she becomes part
of a scenario.
To make this easier to understand, ask yourself this question: In any given situation, with a set goal in your hands, what happens when the persona uses the product?
Remember above where I asked you to contact, interview and collect information from what you consider to be, your ideal customers?
These customers have needs. Some needs have been met, others haven’t. Based on their needs, feature each of your personas as the user in your situations and create a story. I know it is easier said than done, but this is the part you need to be creative.
Just picture them using your product. What do they say to their friends? What do they think? How do they behave?
For example, in our fitness equipment theory, the scenario would be that Sally, above, would really use the help of the Exercise Core Sliders after a whole day sitting at her home office and doing interviews back-to-back. She could use the sliders in a wood floor with no scratches, making for endless options for low-impact movement during an intense workout. At the end of her exercise she would strengthen major muscle groups throughout her body,such as her inner and outer thighs, legs, and butt.
This would not adding any impact to her joints and her downstairs neighbours so she would exercise without the noise.
Using these scenarios, for each persona you create, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the problem each persona wants to solve and as a result, you will know how to address that problem-solution to your content, ads, and emails.
Creating a persona, an image and virtual representation of your ideal customer who you want to buy from you is the first step to take to your eCommerce business. Once you have that, you stop compete with every other store out there, because you suddenly became unique not only in your approach, but also on the way you market and present the same products to everyone.