Conversion specialist Peter Boyle looks at how an improved understanding of your target audience will lead to increased conversions on your e-commerce site.
How well do you know your audience?
Do you know what makes them tick? Can you identify their primary pain points and the solutions to solve them? How would you describe their browsing habits and what’s their opinion of your brand?
These questions may seem basic, but they’re a small selection of the knowledge you need to know to create great buyer personae. Knowing the basic demographic information of your target audience doesn’t cut it anymore. Understanding the age and location of prospects doesn’t offer any worthwhile personalisation.
To offer targeted, personalised messaging you need to know who your prospects are as people. What do they want, how do they feel and most importantly, how can you help?
Your job as an online marketer is to make your offer as relevant as possible for the needs of your target audience. The only way to achieve this is to dig deep into audience data and use that data to create actionable insights.
Making your offers relevant
We’re all trained to believe testing is the best way to increase conversions. Sure traditional A/B testing can help identify higher performing variables, but they’re not what drives a sale. Conversions occur when targeted traffic finds a relevant offer. Knowing that variant A performs better than variant B can be incredibly useful. But it’s not enough.
To see real gains you have to understand why it performed better. What was it that made variant A speak to the audience’s needs more than variant B?
You need to:
- Understand what your audience wants to craft a relevant offer
- Identify their pain points to highlight how you can help
- Track their on-site behaviour to understand what elements they better engage with
- Recognise the language they use to make offers in terms they understand
All of this information should be utilised to craft the most relevant offer possible.
It’s a simple concept yet one that’s often overlooked by marketers around the world. Before we have a look at some of the best methods to understand your audience, we’ll tackle one of the big questions in audience research.
Should you set up customer personae?
Step into any marketing class or browse any business website and there’ll be a huge section dedicated to customer persona. Generally speaking, the advice they give is all the same. Set up detailed personae for each demographic so you can better refine your messaging. It’s good advice, but demographic segmentation isn’t as important as it once was.
What do you need to know about your customer?
Traditional demographic data
Traditional customer personae have a strong focus on demographic data such as age, location, sex, job role, income bracket etc. These metrics can still provide some good insights but aren’t as important as they once were. Here’s how some of the traditional metrics now stack up;
Thanks to the internet and e-commerce the importance of location has dwindled significantly
Maybe applicable but is more useful in adding a face to your persona
Same as age. Applicable for certain products, but generally only helps in visualising your persona. So instead of focusing on demographic data, what should you be focusing on?
Interest and engagement data
Purchases aren’t made because someone falls within a particular age group or gender. Knowing these things can help to target your messaging, but to really get the most out of your marketing you need to understand your prospect’s motivations.
On top of digging into demographic data look into:
- Pain Points – What are the primary problems your prospects experience? How can your product alleviate these problems and help prospects achieve their goals? What do your prospects expect from your product?
- Values – What do your prospects stand for? Are they environmentalists, family oriented, independent etc. Align your messaging with their values.
- Site Behaviour – How do prospects engage with your site? Are they frequent visitors who don’t purchase, repeat business or a low engagement segment? Good for figuring out where to focus your attention.
- Obstacles to Purchasing – What’s stopping prospects from going ahead with the purchase? Do they feed into their values (i.e ingredients sourced ethically), is the cost too high etc.
Taking a deeper look into the behaviour of your audience gives you an insight into how to target your marketing. Knowing the age and location of prospects doesn’t help understand what it is they really want or what’s stopping them from purchasing which is needed to create far higher converting copy.
Successful marketing doesn’t talk to your audience, it opens a meaningful dialogue with them. The best way to get direct feedback from customers is to send them a survey. You’ll get useful information and your audience will feel far more involved and attached to your brand. To implement a successful survey, decide on a specific goal and take heed of the following three best practices:
- Open-Ended Questions
- Using multiple choice or yes/no surveys doesn’t provide useful data. You want to understand how the prospect feels as well as understand the language they use. The only way to do this is to let them speak their mind. Don’t limit their answers and you’ll gain far more useful information.
- Keep It Short
- Make your survey only as long as it needs to be. Your customers don’t have anything to gain by filling it in and making it too long will drive many of them to not bother. Remember that these guys are doing you a favour, help them to help you.
- If you simply can’t cut your survey down to a manageable size consider offering incentives for those who complete it. Find a happy medium between a reward that equals the time they’ve given yet doesn’t cause a huge loss to yourself.
Delving into your analytics data
Instead of flogging a dead horse and covering the basics of Google Analytics’ age, gender and location reports, let’s instead focus on other ways GA can help understand your audience’s behaviour and preferences.
I’d primarily like to explore the potential use of:
- Audience > Interests
- Acquisition > Referral Traffic
Audience Interests unsurprisingly shows you the interests of your audience. Upon opening the drop down menu for Interests you’ll find three other sections, Affinity Category, In-Market Segment and Other Category.
The breakdowns are quite simple once you know what you’re looking for.
Affinity Categories – These group visitors into very broad categories such as Movie Lovers or Shutterbugs and are great at helping you identify audiences as potential new customers. Think of these as good targets to direct to the start of your funnel.
In-Market Segments – This is a more detailed report indicating whether visitors are actively looking to purchase products within a specific category. These people are lower in the purchase funnel.
Other Category – The most specific of the reports. If the Affinity Category is Foodies, you can expect Other Categories to drill down to specifics like Recipes and Asian etc. Great for figuring out the specific interests and content ideas that will work well.
Referral traffic is often overlooked when conducting audience research. It’s strange as the report can really help understand what content your audience prefers. The theory behind this report’s importance is simple:
- Referral traffic comes from a link or recommendation from another site. For an audience member to find the link they need to be engaged with the content, to click that link requires trust.
- The Referral Traffic report highlights a site your referral traffic trusts and produces content that keeps them engaged.
- Follow the trail back to that site and study what they’re doing. Look for the trust building elements they implement, the language they use and the kind of content they’re putting out.
- Remember that all forms of data are complementary. Use them together to get the best results.
Conversions only occur when targeted traffic meets a relevant offer
As a marketer, you’ve got two jobs to cause this profitable meeting of desire and offer.
- Channel the right traffic to your site
- Make your offer as relevant and valuable to them as possible once they are on site
Use the qualitative data from surveys, Analytics and from talking directly to prospects to develop your products and hone your marketing materials for maximum effect. Reducing bounce rates and increasing engagement through relevant targeted offers is your primary aim. Thorough research will lead to content and offers your audience loves, but you can also take it a step further.
Audience research doesn’t have to start and end during your planning stages. Through smart use of exit intent tech and on site behaviour segmentation you can hit those you’ve failed to convince with the perfect offer.