Running an e-commerce site isn't easy. You have to do a lot of planning before you can open the doors and expect any sales. The first step is to pick the product that you want to sell which isn't easy. After you pick the product you need to focus on a specific audience for that product. It’s not surprising that people don’t want to part with their hard earned money. People aren’t really interested in buying products. They’re really interested in the end result or what the product can do for them. People don't care about the weight loss pill they just want to be thin.
You need to think about the problems that this product solves. Instead of looking at it from your point of view try to look at it from your customers point of view. Once you have the customer in mind you can create a site to communicate that message to the audience.
One of the ways you can figure out your audience is to create personas. Personas are representations of a specific type of customer. Instead of just saying our customers are middle aged women (which is a really broad that isn’t helpful at all) you can go into much greater detail and talk about their likes, dislikes, their job, or anything really as long as it helps refine the idea of your customer so you have a really good idea who you’re selling to and what their pain points are.
If you’re selling yoga mats the beginning yogi doesn’t know all that much about mats. They've probably used one in their local studio a few times but they don't really know which material is the best material for not slipping. That means if you're catering to beginning yogis you may want additional information about each the different mat materials and how they perform. Including that information could you make a sale. An experienced yogi has probably already tried a number of mats and is probably less interested in the composition and more interested in social proof. They may listen to podcasts and recognize and respect industry experts so highlighting testimonials from experts would help sell your product to those customers.
Just with this one example you can see that depending on how you use your valuable screen real space you start to cater towards a particular group.
Let’s take a look at two different stores that sell yoga clothes.
If you look at how Yoga Direct sells yoga clothes they take a very sales driven approach. Right on the home page they have a “Products on Sale” menu item that's at the very top of the menu and it's in red contrasting with the rest of the menu. They also offer you a discount with a popup right when the page loads.
On their product pages they show the price and the main image of the product. You have to scroll down to get any more information on their products. To me that says. “Ok good you want a yoga block. Now, how many?”. It's not a very welcoming experience.
The second site is Ula Sport. Ula Sport is a very custom store where everything was created to reach a particular audience. Everything on the site is minimalistic, sleek, and sharp. When you first load their site they do a really job communicating the experience. You don't see any offers you see a big image of someone using their product alongside a quote you would hear in a yoga class.
If you take a look at their product pages they’re not focusing on the product page at all. The collections page contains well photographed pictures of models using their product. In the videos they're showing people fully using the product. They’re focusing on the experience that you’ll have after you buy the product. You’ll be free, you’ll be comfortable, and you’ll be able to get into advanced poses.
Focus on One Persona
I don't think one website is better than the other. Ula provides a premium experience and Yoga Direct has affordable yoga clothing and a wide selection. Both of these business models can be very profitable. The reason I show you these two very different sites is to show you that you can’t do everything.
You can’t say that your target audience is everyone from 25-50. If you try to please everyone you’ll end up pleasing no one. That’s why you should try to focus on just one of your personas. You’re going to get a wide variety of customers no doubt; by focusing on one persona you’ll have a much higher chance of connecting to that customer.
Adding Details to Personas
Going back to the personas. You can add tons of details which will help you with all aspects of your business. Give the persona a job. If you think your audience sits in front of a computer all day you probably shouldn’t buy TV ads, it may instead be really helpful to sponsor a local event where those people will be out and about. On the flip side if you think your audience is on their feet all day they’ll probably really enjoy resting at home after work and on the weekend and a TV commercial will be more appropriate.
Does the persona get up early to work out before work? If so, you may want to send out your newsletters at 7am so they read them right after that workout. It also means you shouldn’t have any late night webinars as they might be getting ready for bed early to get up early.
Or another example. How much experience do they have? If they don’t have a ton of experience you may want to create an email or online course that explains everything to them in bite size pieces. That would be incredibly useful to someone just getting started but would mostly be a waste of time for someone very experienced.
You can get as detailed as you like with your personas. Each detail will help you make a decision down the road.
Create Personas to Save Your Time
Planning all of this out ahead of time is really important. If you set your heart on a specific WordPress theme before thinking about your audience you may pick something that looks pretty but doesn’t resonate with your audience.
I hate hearing from store owners that their e-commerce solution doesn't handle X or doesn't handle Y. By thinking through the features on your site that your intended audience will find helpful you'll know ahead of time what you need to look for in an e-commerce platform. Once you pick an e-commerce platform you really don’t want to switch. Doing this planning will help make sure that you aren’t locked in to a platform that doesn’t meet your needs.
I hope that thinking about your intended audience will help you plan your site and create an experience perfect for one of your personas and that it has a positive effect on your store. Please let me know how it worked out in the comments below. 🙂