Bigfork present: customer profiling for fun & profit. Why produce customer profiles?

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1 Bigfork present: customer profiling for fun & profit As part of our successful website design series, we look at why you need to research and profile your website visitors and how to do it. Don t worry, it s not complicated, you already know how to do most things, you just need to apply it. Why produce customer profiles? Profiling your website visitors and customers is essential to producing an effective website. Don t even think about designing page layouts until you ve at least given this some thought. Profiling comes down to gathering the right intelligence on the people you want to visit your website. This will help you build a successful website because: Your website content will be based around the needs of your customers; Your website visitors will stay longer as the site will be more engaging; Profiling actually makes the design stage quicker because it maps out what your website needs to do; The end result is a better performing website. SO, how to do it? Start by thinking about who will be visiting your website. This will probably be split into two types of visitor new customers and existing customers. You then need to ask yourself some questions about each type of visitor and start listing basic information about them. 1

2 understanding your audience part 1: new vs existing customers New customers Who do you want your new customers to be? (If you just answered everyone then try again with more realism, or a colossal budget) How do these new customers break down? Try to define segments based on the characteristics of your desired new customers. example segments Females aged in Norwich Small businesses in the IT industry People who drive expensive cars existing customers Divide your customer base into broad segments An example of a broad segment would be a small business owner or an amateur gardener Focus the criteria on your different customers characteristics For example location, typical spend, age, gender. example segments Customers that make a purchase every month Males based in the UK Companies in the engineering industry Tip: Aim for 2 to 5 segments for each type of customer 2

3 understanding your audience part 2: ask questions! You now need to build typical profiles for each segment but you need some more information. Try and put yourself in the place of each segment and answer these questions: What do they want from your business? Which of your products and / or services does this customer want? And What do they want from your website? What benefits, information and incentives do they want or need from your website? What content will they like? Does this segment like pages of text or would they rather see photos and videos? Will they respond better to a serious tone of voice or a more informal approach? IS there any sort of content they won t like? Your company history may not be of interest, so no need to give it prominence Content should be appropriate, a humourous image probably wouldn t suit a law firm website MOST importantly what do YOU want them to do? What are the preferred outcomes from every site visit? For example, an online sale, an newsletter sign up or a telephone enquiry. 3

4 building profiles some examples With your list of segments and the answers to the five questions for each, begin to produce profiles for each. These profiles represent your customers and by building a picture of their behaviour and requirements you can begin to design your website for them. We ve created three fictional companies and a profile for a typical customer. Remember, you will probably have several segments to build profiles for so it s easiest to start with the main ones. #1: B2c website, new customer green shoot garden centre Rachel, gardening enthusiast Female, aged Professional with high income Typically married with children and living in an owned home Very busy and short on free time Rachel visits Garden Centres at weekends to buy plants, she usually also buys food and drink (if available) and quite often has kids with her. A frequent internet user, regularly uses Facebook, news websites and online shops. She is interested in things that make her life easier and would rather pick up the phone than spend a long time browsing. What does Rachel want from the website? Plant information and garden ideas Product ranges in stock and prices Special offers Online orders with delivery / store pick up Opening times Cafe menu and prices Telephone number and location What do we want Rachel to do? Make a telephone enquiry Visit our garden centre and make a purchase Spend money in the cafe Become a repeat customer 4

5 building profiles some examples Sometimes the profiles you create will seem really obvious, there s nothing wrong with that, by getting it all written down you re creating reminders so that you don t omit anything important at the content and design stages. #2: B2b website, new customer The Easy IT Company frank, small business owner Male, aged 45+ Owns a small business with 5-20 employees Conscious of spend but interested in ways to improve his business Not interested in toys and gadgets Frank outsources his IT support including troubleshooting, general maintenance, hardware upgrades and software updates. He wants to work with a local company that can understand his business needs, speak to him in plain English and most importantly are reliable and trustworthy. What does Frank want from the website? Product and service information in language that he can easily understand Case studies and testimonials from existing customers Information about who The Easy IT Company are, their contact details and location(s) What do we want Frank to do? Call or to find out more about The Easy IT Company Fill in a request a call back form so we can contact him Download a company brochure 5

6 building profiles some examples The reason we give profiles names and pictures is to make them easier to remember than just existing b2b customer that runs their own business. At the design stage you can also use the names to help need the phone number on the home page because Frank will be looking for it. #3: existing customer, b2b website perfect oven co. charlie, restaurant owner Male, aged Runs a successful restaurant Former head chef, understands the benefits of quality equipment Charlie is an existing customer who purchased two high-end oven products six months ago. He also has a maintenance and support contract in place to make sure that all his equipment is kept fully functional. Charlie needs the best and most reliable equipment he can afford, as well as good service and support available at all hours. What does Charlie want from the website? Customer area with account details and contact information for service, support and emergencies Product news, info and technical data Online ordering for spares / accessories Training and manuals for products, prefers videos to PDFs What do we want Charlie to do? Continue to subscribe to his maintenance and support contracts Regularly buy new equipment Recommend both us and our website to his friends in similar industries 6

7 buying cycles or the art of covering all bases what is a buying cycle? A buying cycle illustrates the typical process that a new customer goes through before making a purchase. To help you fine tune your profiles you can map out these buying cycles. example: a b2b buying cycle for a new IT supplier 1. initial research Gathering information on various suppliers 2. narrowing options Shortlist suppliers and arrange meetings 3. Final decision making process Analyse and compare supplier proposals 4. committing Employ a chosen supplier why do buying cycles matter? Your potential customer may view your website at any stage of the buying cycle, using this knowledge you can work out what they might be looking for at every step. 7

8 where next? With profiling you can produce a great deal of information that will form the basis of your website plan. By understanding who your customers are and what they want, you already know everything you need to start building great content. Depending on the size of your website and business you may spend more or less time on customer profiling, but by always including it in the initial planning stages of your website, you are on the right track to creating a successful end product. try it yourself Print out the next page and try creating a profile for one segment of your website visitors. It s easiest to start with an existing customer that represents the majority of your business. (The next page is Page 9 for when your printer asks) Good luck! this guide is part of the bigfork effective website plan series. visit our website to find out more 8

9 customer profile customer profile name PHOTO (not actual customer names, it s just for reference) Customer Type: NEW CUSTOMER EXISTING CUSTOMER SEGMENT: (e.g. amateur gardener, small business owner, professional astronaut) customer overview: (describe the customer in terms of age, profession, experience, expectations and an overview of why this customer is your target audience and would use your business and your website) what do they want? List the things they want from your site what do YOU want? List the things you want them to do

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