If you’re struggling with content conversion, read this article.
The problem might be that you’re writing for the wrong persona types, and a quick fix could mean a dramatic shift in your content effectiveness.
At many eCommerce stores, website visitors, buyers, and end consumers are different people. That’s fine—as long as you know how to reach each segment.
These persona types apply to nearly every store, including any that see a lift in sales around the holidays. If you want to improve end-of-year conversions (and beyond), keep reading.
Editor’s note: This article comes from years of experience helping clients sell more using high-converting content. If you’re interested in more sales at your eCommerce store, send us a message.
What these persona types mean
Let’s look at each role in depth. We’ve all been in all three roles at some point. I’ll use examples to help explain the differences between each persona.
The visitor is anyone who visits or interacts with your content or website.
Generally speaking, non-purchasing metrics like traffic, ad reach, or subscribers measure what I call visitors. By definition, visitors are not buyers. And that’s why many eCommerce stores loudly proclaim stunning vanity metrics but secretly are months or even weeks away from bankruptcy.
But that doesn’t mean visitors are worthless. Far from it! Visitors can have a huge influence on buyers, which is why they deserve your attention.
You play the visitor when you see a slick Instagram ad for a pair of trendy jeans. They look great on the model, and they’d look great on you, too—right?
Visitors want: Interesting content—especially content that’s cool, refreshing, or noteworthy enough to boost status by sharing with others.
You need: Content that enforces your brand and encourages sharing.
The buyer is the person who makes the final decision to purchase a product.
Note that the buyer might not actually make the purchase, and it might not even be their money. But they have power over the final “yes or no” decision, which makes them the buyer for our purposes.
While buyers technically might not make the purchase, most do in the eCommerce world. Metrics like cart abandonment, order size, and repeat purchases measure the buyer.
You switch from the visitor to the buyer when you enter your credit card info for those jeans you’ve been eyeing. The checkout process is smooth—you find the right size and color, and while the jeans are pricey, they’re on sale, so you know you’re getting a good deal.
Buyers want: Confidence they’re making the right choice. They want to feel they made a smart decision that’s saved money and made the consumer happy.
You need: To create an easy buying process.
The consumer is the person who uses the product.
In eCommerce, there aren’t many metrics for the consumer. Most that come close, like repeat purchases or lifetime value, actually measure buyer actions. But all successful eCommerce brands obsess about how the consumer feels about the product.
Being only the consumer is a risky position. You’re at the mercy of the buyer. And while you might be able to provide feedback to change future purchases, it’s usually too late.
After the jeans arrive, you’re in consumer mode. You try them on, and they fit great! Not only are they the best-fitting jeans you’ve worn in years, they look exactly like the ad said they would. You’re thrilled.
Consumers want: The best quality and experience possible.
You need: To create an experience that turns the consumer into a visitor—an evangelist who engages with your brand and recommends it to other potential buyers.
The 5 possible eCommerce role patterns
“So what?” you might be thinking. “At my store, visitors, buyers, and consumers are all the same.”
But are you sure?
I’ll bet your store caters to at least two of the possible five persona combinations.
1. Visitor-buyer and consumer
This pattern is the blueprint for all gifts. Picture a woman buying a wallet for her husband. She’s interested in marketing material as a visitor and will make the final call on what she’ll buy. But her husband is the end consumer.
In this combination, the biggest challenge for a store is building confidence. We’re all unsure when buying for someone else, so your marketing and sales pages should reinforce the idea that it’s the right choice.
2. Visitor-consumer and buyer
When you make a wishlist or need approval to buy something, this is the pattern at play. You pick the product and use it, but someone else is responsible for approval (even if they don’t make the purchase directly).
Examples are everywhere. The teenager who asks his parents for a game console for Christmas. The man who checks with his partner before spending $800 on a grill. The office employee who needs procurement approval for the ergonomic keyboard she’s been eyeing.
Your biggest challenge here is convincing the buyer it’s a smart purchase. You’ve won over the visitor-consumer emotionally, but you need to provide logical reasons to win over the buyer.
Get third-party approval with great reviews and certifications. Show why your product is educational, healthy, or cost-effective. Offer discounts or comparisons with similar products.
Look for the biggest objection of the buyer, and overcome it with logical reasons. Your visitor-consumer will thank you.
3. Visitor and buyer-consumer
If you sell products via word-of-mouth, this is the formula you’re using.
Here’s a real-life example. My gym trainer recommended a weightlifting belt to me after hearing about it on a podcast and doing his own research. My trainer was the visitor, but I was the buyer and (now) consumer.
The visitor’s biggest fear is recommending a bad product, so you need as much credibility as possible. Get endorsements, testimonials, and recommendations from the leaders or other users. You can also use referral programs.
The best way to use this method is to turn your buyer-consumers into content visitors who then get motivated to recommend you again and transform one sale into a chain of purchases.
4. Visitor and buyer and consumer
Sometimes, every persona type represents a separate person. If you sell to large organizations, this is often the case.
Let’s take schools as an example. When it’s time to buy new textbooks, a committee will research options and make a recommendation. The school board approves the purchase. And the final consumers are teachers and students—who have likely never met the buying team.
This model is most similar to #2, the visitor-consumer vs. buyer model. You need to appeal to the emotional side of the visitor and the logical side of the buyer.
Unfortunately, the end consumer barely matters for the sale, and many businesses take advantage of this. (That’s why apartment fixtures are notoriously low-quality—the purchase manager never has to use them.)
But for ongoing future sales, focus on the consumer experience. The first sale might go through, but few organizations will keep buying a product everyone hates.
Finally, the three-roles-in-one-person model is probably the most common you’ll find for small purchases.
Like the jeans example I used earlier, a single person visits your content, decides to buy, and consumes the final product.
In this model, you need to resolve the challenges at each stage. You need an emotional appeal for the visitor, logical support for the buyer, and a way to convert the consumer into an advocate.
Surprised which models apply to your store? If you’re using the same strategy to appeal to visitors, buyers, and consumers, it’s time to make a switch. And if you want some experienced help to readjust your personas, let’s talk.