By Alex Benincà, CEO and Product Owner at B-Works
How do we start with Conversion Optimization? A sure-fire guide to get more out of each website visitor by improving your Conversion Rate through Customer Personas and by understanding the different Buying Stages of customers.
Conversion Optimization is important. Every visitor to your website or app is a potential client. The higher the conversion rate, the more orders and active clients you will have. Conversion Optimization is about lost sales and is meant to help you get more out the money you are investing. It is the most powerful marketing technique, as it will get you more conversions out of the existing visitors, without having to spend more in advertising or SEO.
Our approach at improving and optimizing conversions starts at the root. Whether you have an existing website or app, or you are planning a new one, the approach is always the same. We start by defining the desired Target Actions you want users to complete. Is it a purchase? Is it the generation of e-mail leads? Or do you want the media to get interested and call you for an interview? The Target Actions depend on the type of business you have.
Once we have laid out what actions we want to trigger, we create 4-6 Customer Personas. Customer Personas are a description of the demographic, behavioural and personality type attributes of your target customers. Customers’ awareness of your company and products differs across different Buying Stages, which is why it is essential to present tailored information at different stages in the buying process.
After we have understood what each customer persona is looking for in the different Buying Stages, we lay out the content, design and functional requirements and draw the UX mock-ups.
UX Design, SEO and Software Development start in parallel with an agile Scrum Sprint planning meeting where user design, functional elements, and content are validated by both designers, developers and the client. This also allows prioritizing elements by their business value and ensures the UX ideas area feasible to develop.
Once the website changes have been implemented we start to track and measure traffic data, including the micro-conversions (target actions) that lead to the macro-conversion (i.e. a purchase). The above steps are then repeated to refine, optimize and improve the conversion rate further.
In the next sections I focus on how we can define Customer Personas and on how to change your website or app. We will address each persona at the different Buying Stage he/she is in, with the ultimate goal of improving the conversion rate of your target actions.
There are cases for and against creating Customer Personas. I believe in Customer Personas as an effective tool for addressing customer types at an individualized level and to see your website or app from the visitor’s point of view. I am not aiming at covering the range of all potential customers. Customer Personas are very useful in getting to know different personalities and temperaments of your target audience and to develop your website accordingly.
The first step is to cluster client groups based on demographic factors like:
If you have an existing business you may analyze client data to determine useful clusters. If you are starting out and don’t have any client data, research competitors’ clients and look at complementary industries to get an idea about relevant customer groups.
Demographic factors provide a useful structure for each customer persona, that will be further refined through a behavioural profile.
To understand the behavioural profile of your customers you may survey existing clients by finding answers to questions like:
If you do not have any existing customers you may survey prospective customers to get a starting point.
Aristotle in 325 BC was among the first to divide individuals into four temperaments. In the 1950s David Keirsey defined the 4 temperaments we will use in our persona creation:
We will briefly go over the 4 temperaments. For more details refer to David Keirsey's book Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types.
Artisans represent 30-35% of the population. Address this persona second on your page.
Guardians represent 40-45% of the population. Address this persona last on your page.
Idealists represent 15-20% of the population. Address this persona third on your page.
Rationalists represent 5-7% of the population. Address this persona first on your page with a strong headline and benefits list.
From our work on defining Demographic Factors, a Behavioural Profile, as well as understanding that there are four different temperaments, we can create Customer Personas.
Below we have an example of two customer personas we developed for our client www.cosmobutler.com: a digital concierge in Switzerland that allows booking local home services such as an on-demand laundry home delivery service, through their web-app and website. For Cosmobutler we developed a total of 6 personas to be representative of their customer range. Note how one of the two personas in the following examples is a mix of two temperaments.
Sara Pedrone – 35, female, housewife, Zurich. She used to be a store clerk for 15 years. She is married, 1 child, and has a household income of over 200’000 Chf. Sara doesn’t like to do house chores and wants quick solutions that are good for her family. She is impulsive and caring. She relates well to reviews of products. She likes Websites that allow her to order fast and easily.
Carl Stimmer – male, 30, single, banker, Zurich. Logical. Carl likes convenient service that saves him time but he also wants the best value for money in town. He carefully reads the benefits of the service, compares the competitors and likes to see numbers and prices. He gets recommendations from his friends, before visiting the site, to further verify reviews and press mentions. Security concerns.
Once we have created our personas, we use a set of questions to find answers to what functional, design and content elements our personas will need on the website or app, to feel individually addressed. The number of required personas depends on the use case. Generally 4-6 personas provide a good starting point for understanding your customers.
Now we show examples of what website changes we determined for our two Customer Personas above.
Next to the functional and design requirements that result from the above answers, note how this process helps in finding the “trigger words” relevant to each persona. Trigger words are a great resource for your SEO keyword prospecting.
To relate to your customers at an individualized level, it’s important to understand that customers will visit your website at different Buying Stages before making a decision. I briefly outline the five Buying Stages as described in Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers, by Khalid Saleh and Ayat Shukairy.
Need recognition (i.e. realizing that your shoes are worn off)
Information search (i.e. looking for new shoe models)
Evaluation of alternatives (i.e. comparing shoe models and comparing shoe stores)
Purchase (i.e. buying the shoes)
Post-purchase evaluation (i.e. evaluating factors like friendly customer service, shoe quality and other purchase experience factors)
Once we have done our homework we can put our work and knowledge about personas and Buying Stages to use. It’s important to understand that the earlier a customer is in the conversion tunnel, i.e. Buying Stage, the lower will be his/her conversion rate. This is because in the need recognition stage, we may have a customer who is not even aware of our company or our products and the respective level of trust is still low. In this stage we will have to appeal to her mainly emotionally and less rationally, to first introduce the customer to our products and to provide more details, as the interest increases. As customers go through the conversion tunnel, it is our job through good UX to turn customer states from unaware to aware, from aware to interested, from interested to evaluating and from evaluating to purchase.
Using our previously developed customer personas, we can now break down the answers to their specific questions and concerns by addressing their needs in the single Buying Stages. The below table summarizes our approach at Conversion Optimization by addressing the different Customer Personas through the five Buying Stages.
To be successful in Conversion Optimization look at each Buying Stage from the lens of Personas to satisfy their individual needs on your website and app. Visitors in different Buying Stages will need different sets of information to convert.
Contact us to find out how we can help you get more out of your website visitors with Conversion Optimization.