Category Archives: Personas

Purchasing Furniture – Why Did She Buy From Your Store?

By My Web Writersphoto (1)

This typical female, Gen X, furniture customer Is ready to buy. Where will she make her purchase?

Today I’m pausing to journal about the major furniture purchases I recently made. I’m doing this for both of us. Though they’re in other industries, we’re always looking for ways to improve online marketing for our clients.

When I shop, I often revert to a personal pattern that pre-dates my use of the Internet.  Do you?  If not, you’re younger than thirty-five.  Though, I’ve changed through the years, I’m probably typical for a female, age 35 – 50.  Knowing that 65% of US shoppers will browse online and buy in stores over the holidays, how can we better serve this lucrative demographic?  What triggers dollars spent at your store?

Of course, I’m just one woman and each woman is an individual, but here’s a snapshot of how I arrived at furniture purchases from four different stores during the week prior to Thanksgiving 2013.

Top of the Furniture Sales Funnel

The buying process started a few weeks earlier.  A builder suggested that we look at Houz, a home ideas app, for backyard ideas.  The app offers ideas for all rooms of your home, too.  We never did build, but the trends I saw in the app stayed top-of-mind when it was time for furniture in the home we recently purchased.

I could have scoured Pinterest, too, but I didn’t.  I just didn’t have a lot of time to hunt and peck for pieces of online furniture and more ideas to confuse the choices.  Time is valuable and I tried not to waste it.

Middle of the Furniture Sales Funnel

Like many Americans, when it came time to shop for furniture, I drove to the nearest showrooms- Kittles, Ashley Furniture, Value City Furniture, Kittles Express, Office Max, Office Depot, and Houseworks.   Kinesthetic shoppers need to see, to feel, and to touch each piece to envision family and guests relaxing, conversing, working, and eating.

Would the quality be worth the price?  Would the exact colors match the floors, walls, countertops, and appliances?  What are today’s trends and which classics are still hip?  I didn’t shop online when I was absorbing information because I learned plenty in the stores.

In one store, a sales woman approached my husband and me and wouldn’t stop chattering. If we paused at a piece to discuss it, she’d wiggle into the middle of our conversations.  We’d politely stand there wondering when she would stop. After doing this for the third time, we quickly walked out because a hungry salesperson’s stalking, at this stage, wasted our time and was annoying.  We weren’t buying on that day.  We were just looking.

The office furniture seemed blah- mostly ugly, big ego desks or very cheap, modern designs with little space to spread or to store.  The sofas were perplexing.  Do we buy another puffy couch for the family room or a grandma-like sofa for the living room? Nothing appealed, at first.

Did we want to have a fun and casual red set or an espresso, leather upscale look? The new kitchen table needed to be round, but how big?  Should it match or contrast our floors? Should we go rustic or classic? Geez — so many choices.

Pages like the one below from Kittles did very little to help me to understand what I’d want in my living room, family room, kitchen, and office.

Kittles with no content

There is no category level content to entice or to educate.  With the exception of the main slide, the pictures don’t suggest use, features, or style. Kittles, if you’re reading this post, consider how strategic copy writing and editing can help both your conversion and SEO.  My own sales pitch aside (hey, I do understand the sales woman); there came a day when we could no longer function without furniture in our rooms.  It was time to buy.

Bottom of the Furniture Sales Funnel

Last Sunday, I decided the best place to find office furniture would probably be at an office supply store.  By then, I’d ruled out a modern, sleek look in the office. The sales person at Office Max offered the Black Friday price a week early and probably called me “Ma’am” fifty times.

Office Max pic

He put up with my indecisiveness over this desk verses that desk and he stopped talking after I cut him off on purchasing the extra protection plan.  The prices were exactly the same in the store as online.  This was a coordinated attack and I bought the furniture at the store with the same free delivery offered online.

Office Max product description

While the in-store experience offered set-up at a charge, notice that at the same purchase point online (the product page), the company’s set-up package is not suggested or offered.  If the customer has to hunt for it somewhere else on the website, forget it.  Adding drop down boxes for “I need set up” on each product page would immediately increase online revenues at Office Max.

The Final Hours of Purchasing Furniture

I spent nearly a day in Kittles yesterday trying to fine-tune what I wanted. Then, came the ping-pong price game.  Prices kept dropping, but we went back and forth so many times and it took so long, that by the afternoon, I left the store.

I opened my iPad and typed in searches for long-tailed keywords with model numbers to check pricing in other stores.  What was the price for a “Broyhill Travis sofa”?  Another business could have stolen my purchase in these moments when my sales person was going back to her manager for yet another price reduction request.

Broyhill Travis couch

After he said, “No, I can’t do it”, I would have bought online, especially if free shipping were offered. Instead, my search took me first to the Broyhill website.  Obviously, they didn’t want to get into the middle of price negotiations because they left out prices in their product descriptions.

Other stores did the same.  Instead of sharing prices, online store-after-store said, “request a quote”.  I didn’t have time to wait for a quote.

Request more info

With Thanksgiving in a few days, I wanted shopping done asap. Because I didn’t know if the purchase was sound, I dropped the sofa and chair from my list all together.

I took a trip back to Ashley Furniture and found a different sofa.  I popped into Value City Furniture and found a kitchen table and chairs that I liked better than the ones offered at Kittles and Ashley.  While there, the Value City online prices dropped, so a lower price was honored at the store.  Bed Bath and Beyond sold nifty bar stools for less and with free shipping. Then, I went back to Kittles and purchased the items I felt were fairly priced.  All of the stores said their prices were Black Friday prices and that if anything changed, they would honor the changes.  At a certain purchase point, most offered free shipping.

I’m waiting for the door bell to ring with my deliveries.  How fun!

What’s a key to increasing online conversions? Lower your online prices.  Develop better content (pictures, videos, and words) to display furniture in ways that highlight colors, finishes, and uses. Provide in-depth information.  Keep the various stages of the furniture sales funnel in mind and develop profiles of your buyers at each stage.

What have you noticed as important to increasing online sales, whether you’re in the furniture business or another industry?  How would the above process differ for a man or a younger or older person? How would the process differ for another woman in the same demographic? Take a moment to share!

~Jean


Other Posts:

Holiday Content Challenge- Let the Family Games Begin!

ZMOT- Where Consumers Are and Businesses Should Be

Adding Content to their Website Increased Our Client’s Keyword Reach

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases in E-commerce Content

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Filed under Apps & Tools, Business Strategy, Customer Profile, Holiday Blog, Local, Mobile, Personas, Product Descriptions

Five Shoppers to Keep in Mind When Writing Holiday Copy

By My Web Writers Fido shops stockings

The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner.  When the snow begins to fly and the trees are lit, if you listen closely you’ll hear, “cha-ching”!  Counting down the days until Christmas equals an incredible amount of shopping.  Shopping means money is being spent, and who doesn’t want a chunk of that change in their pocket?  Which approach or tactics should you employ in order to funnel sales?  When writing holiday copy, it is helpful to keep in mind your audience.  Take a good look at what each type of shopper looks like.  Do your homework, and get into their heads and see what makes them tick.  You’ll be able to expertly craft written holiday material that will bring in sales, and you’ll be singing Jingle Bells to the bank.  Keep in mind five key shoppers this year when writing your holiday copy.

The “I had it first” Shopper
 
This shopper is the one who loves the hype of the newest, up-and-coming product.  Waiting in line for days is never a problem for this type of shopper, if it means getting that desired merchandise.   Setting an alarm for three o’clock in the morning to be ready precisely at the release time of the greatest fad product and clicking online a million times to place the order is what this shopper will do if it wins the prize.  The best way to target this type of shopper is to work early in advance to build hype of showcase items.  This can be accomplished with the help of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.    Market items, blog about them, and put an emphasis on exclusiveness, time-sensitivity, and desirability, and you’ll have this shopper waiting in line and setting an alarm to purchase your product.
 
The Last-Minute Shopper
 
The last-minute shopper is frazzled, harried, and in a time crunch.  This shopper has no choice but to select overnight shipping for purchases made, and will definitely not want to read much.  Target the procrastinator by offering incentives that come in handy when it’s down to the wire.  Discounted shipping on last-minute purchases or an upgrade to quicker shipping is a great tactic to funnel sales from this shopper.  When writing copy for last-minute shoppers, go big or they’ll go home.  Large print and simple verbiage are you best choices; nix the inclusion of long, descriptive, and flowery paragraphs describing the product.  Last-minute emails written concisely are an effective tactic for this shopper.  This shopper wants to get in, get out, and get on with it.
 
The Holly Jolly Shopper
 
This shopper seethes with holiday spirit, anticipating the season well in advance, and may or may not have reindeer antlers on the family minivan.  Wanting to just soak everything in, the holly jolly shopper browses much and often, taking time to scrutinize and decide on just the perfect gift for each person on the Christmas list.  To win over this shopper (and money), spruce up your e-store for the holidays.  Put together sentimental or even humorous videos that will enhance the shopping experience for this shopper.  Take time to write content that is festive and sends out warm, fuzzy, and sparkling vibes-great for winning sales from the holly jolly one.
 
The Shopper on a Hunt

This shopper has a specific product in mind, and is scouring the globe to find it.  Wanting to get in the store, grab the loot, and get out, this shopper has radar set to the product of choice.  To complete a maximized sale from this shopper, send the shopper down your crumb trail by categorizing products with internal linking, making it necessary to delve in further to reach the desired gift.  Maybe on the way, the shiny product you’ve showcased will grab the attention of the hunting shopper, and you’ve got an extra sale.  While writing content, target this shopper by offering other suggestions that are related to the product this shopper is looking for.  Maybe you’ll spark an interest in something else you have to offer. 
 
Deal Seekers
 
We all know one.  You can spot this one a mile away.  Money-saving is often the topic of conversation.  The deal seeker is someone who will spend time to save money.  Prices are compared.  Deal seeking is a little like fishing.  You’re never quite sure how big it really was, but you love to hear the stories recounted as the deal seeker says, eyes gleaming, “And she said, ‘The amount You Saved is..’”,  and her voice trails off and she gazes somewhere, her happy place, as you share in the joy of the dollars not spent.  Get the deal seeker’s holiday sales by writing content that turns shopping into a game, with the prize being discounts.  Give gift cards with a purchase over a certain amount, or free shipping.  Set the incentive within easy reach, and you’ve got a game that any deal seeker will want to win.  You, in turn, will win as well, as the order values increase.  If you can earn the loyalty of deal seekers during the holiday season, they are sure to return, with friends.  Deal seekers talk about deals often, so you’ll be able to sit back while word-of-mouth marketing unfolds all year long.
 
As you prepare for the holiday season, keep your shoppers in mind while writing holiday copy.  When you cater to each, your sales will increase.  Your effective marketing will not only increase holiday sales, but will gain returning customers.  Everyone shops during the holidays, and it is the prime time to build your customer base.  Holiday marketing is the gift that just keeps on giving.

~Tricia

Other Posts:

Ten Content Tips for the Zero Moment of Truth Marketing Plan

Five Ways to Prepare Your e-Store for the Holidays

A Writer’s View of Google’s “Hummingbird” Algorithm Change

Guidelines for Writing E-Tail Category Content

Tips for Giving a Successful Toast

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Filed under Audience, Capturing Audience, Content, Holiday Blog, Personas

Snow White and the Social Media Personas

By My Web Writers

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Wake up dwarfs. The evil queen has been collecting information for your persona and now she’s creating content to influence dwarfs just like you.  How did she learn so much about your little home in the woods and your whistling while you work?  Was it the mirror or the little birds who told her?

Actually, it was you.  Your sleepy blog posts, doc TV comments, grumpy G+ rants, and bashful LinkedIn profile updates have been noticed.

Now, she knows what she needs to do to deliver the apple to Snow White.

Build Personas with the Help of Social Media

If you’re tasked with finding your brand’s personas, but your company can’t or won’t interview customers, social media can help.  Look at internal data, identify key customers, and start searching for information via Google Plus, Bing, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube.  If customers are talking about themselves online, it’s fair game for companies to use that information.

Ardath Albee, a B2B marketer, content strategist, and author of Up Close & Persona says,

“What you find is that some of the people you may be after actually write their own blogs, or they’ll divulge things about the job that they do that can really help you understand, not only orientation and objectives, but also some obstacles that could get in the way. You know, I mean the things people will share on social media are very important.

So, the three categories that I focus on with personas are objectives, orientation and then obstacles. Obstacles means what could derail the deal for that person or that persona. So, what could stop it in its tracks. And the reason why I really take a look at that is because if you can eliminate some of that stuff before sales gets in the conversation, it’s going to just keep momentum moving faster and shorten time to close for that account.”

With the information gathered, your  marketing manager identifies the personas’ buying stages and the questions each persona typically asks before feeling comfortable moving from one stage to the next.  Your content is crafted to meet each persona at each stage of the sales funnel to help transition a prospect into a customer.  These various content pieces are then placed where prospects are likely to be on the journey, in order to move them toward purchases.

Personas Marching Into the Dark Forest of Social Media

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Some SEO and social outreach companies create networks of personas (niche accounts) on major social media networks to connect, on behalf of their clients, with industry influencers and publishers.  These networks distribute client content to customer influencers.  Some SEO companies build niche blogs that are dedicated to hosting their persona guest posts.  Guest articles, created by persona writers, regularly appear on these blogs with the sole purpose of linking to client websites, while looking pretty natural.

Megan Brown of iAcquire writes that a profile is:

  • An authentic representation of the team member
  • Focused on a certain audience in an organic way that does not.
  • Owned by the SEO agency or client (up to you), not the team member
  • Entertaining and interesting
  • Serves as a place to focus on common ground to create stronger relationships with influencers and audiences

What it is/does NOT:

  • Fraudulent, make-believe, deceptive
  • A copy of the team member’s or someone else’s profile
  • Containing words/phrases/photos that are not legally property of the client, SEO agency or team member personally
  • A soapbox for a team member promote personal causes or interests
  • A duplicate any of the content in any other personal or persona profiles that the team member may manage

However, let’s call a spade a spade. What exactly is an authentic representation of the team member?  While each persona might match a segment of the team member’s personality, it exists for the sole purpose of moving client customers through sales funnels. These accounts wouldn’t exist without a monetary purpose behind them.

Brown’s earlier post says that this particular SEO company and its management team have,

had plenty of experience link building with personas… Every team member’s goal, no matter the vertical, is to establish his or her persona account as a thought leader or influencer in that vertical. This will have publishers or other influencers coming to you for content or ideas as well as enable you to drive action and sharing of content.

Be Snow White and wary of the gray.  Google is after spam networks.  You’re safe to create persona profiles and content for your target segments, but setting up many alternative accounts to distribute content might result in a hapless journey through the woods.

~Jean


Other Posts:

How do I write content based on buyer personas?

Prioritize Your Social Media Channels

10 Content Tips for ZMOT Experts

Clever Conference Presentation Openings

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Filed under Personas, Social Media, Twitter

How Do I Write Content Based on Buyer Personas?

By My Web Writers

She was the portrait of a Language Stars mom.  As a teacher, she understood that the window of language development was wide open between the ages of one to five years old, so she enrolled her children in Language Star’s Spanish immersion classes.  She communicated the company’s mission with enthusiasm to other Moms.  She organized free classes for neighbor children in her home and coordinated an after school program at her children’s elementary school.  She was the ideal brand ambassador and thus, felt very honored when the company’s executives asked her to spend two hours with them.

They wanted to pick her brain to better understand what drove her involvement with the brand.  She gladly did it in exchange for $200 and a few discounted classes for her kids.  Was it worth Language Star’s time and effort to identify personas with the help of this customer and others like her? Absolutely.  The company grew from three sites in the Chicagoland area to over twenty-one in two states in just ten years.

What are Personas?

Good writers clarify their client’s audience, so that they can accordingly adjust language choice, accent, tone, logic, and voice.  Personas are basically audience segments.

Ardath Albee, author of Up Close and Persona, defines personas as, “a composite sketch, representative of a segment of your target market.”  The sketch is much more defined than a broad audience overview.  For example, Language Stars could have stopped short of realizing all income avenues by categorizing their target demographic as “moms.” Their product or service development and marketing would have been relegated to what their employees felt all moms would appreciate.  Those categorizations would be based on subjective verses empirical information.

Successful authors use personas to organize fictional characters and their relationships with others. Businesses use information from real people to create profiles of the customers they represent.

Image courtesy of the Mind Mapping Software blog

As a web writer you’re often at the mercy of the company’s SEO or marketing manager to provide vision for the content you write.  Your knowledge beyond periods and comas becomes evident when you ask for customer personas to help you to write blog posts, social media posts,  and web content. As a marketing manager, it ought to be standard practice within your organization to interview customers, to develop profiles based on observation and data, and to deliver detailed personas to the brand’s writers.

How Much Content Does Each Persona Need?

There is a formula floating around the web.  Jay Baer suggests:

“Essentially, your initial list of questions can be generated using this formula:

Number of Personas X Number of Buying Stages X Number of Questions in Each Stage = Number of Questions You Need to Answer

In our hypothetical example, we’d need 5 X 8 X 3 = 120 questions answered. Even if you have a FAQ today, I can almost guarantee it covers far less than 120 questions.”

Albee didn’t factor in buying stages when she made the following comment:

Let’s say you come up with 12 questions that you know your prospect or your persona has to answer in order for them to agree that the decision to buy is the best choice, to buy from you. So, let’s say you can answer each question two or three different ways. So, now you have the possibility, the possibility of 24 to 36 pieces of content.

You can do the math as to how much personas will cost you, but what of the value?

Success with Personas

Rachel Sprung highlighted seven companies that successfully understand their buyers’ personas.  Like Language Stars, the company that understands its customers and niches is going to have more success interacting with them.  From Jenny Craig to Orbitz companies are creating personas to better understand their customers and to connect through interests.  

Tips for Writing Content Based on Personas

1. Research the persona’s interests, hobbies, activities, and stances.

2.  Play with the voice of the article based on your persona’s gender, ethnicity, age, and experience.

3. Work on the opening lines, supporting arguments, and conclusions of your blog posts to make sure they are in line with the way your persona would view the world. For example, would the persona be persuaded more by data or by personal success stories?

4.  Align vocabulary with your persona’s education level.  Learn how to raise or to lower the reading level of your content through MS Word’s spelling and grammar tool in Tools and then Options menus.

5. Make connections. Who would your persona look up to as a mentor or fellow brand enthusiast? Link to their content and connect with these individuals through social media.

6.  Ask one of these connections to read your article for feedback before publishing.

7.  Think about the pictures and infographics that will most likely move your persona to buy or move into the next stage of the buying cycle.

What are some of the techniques you’ve used to write articles based on appealing to certain personas?

~Jean

Other Posts:

Snow White and the Social Media Personas

Articles on Audience

Overcoming the Beautiful Little Fool

What Would History Say About Google Authorship Profiles?

Writer Tips for Google’s Penguin

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Customer Profile, Marketing, Personas, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media