If you’re looking ahead to the digital-first needs of your business for years to come, then there are modern ways to think about how you invest and manage the marriage of content and commerce.
Everyone is inundated with content and information; your window of interaction with your customers is getting smaller and smaller, and their expectations on frictionless experiences are getting higher each quarter.
To target efficient commerce and content experiences for your customers, it requires building a dialog in terms of segments and personas. This not only drives how you build requirements for technology partners but also how you then track the effectiveness of your commerce and content strategy. Starting here will set you up for success as a project leader, no matter what role you have in solution delivery.
What are segments and personas?
- Segments are dividing your customer base into heterogeneous groups, based on submarkets, geographies, or their operational needs to drive how you sell, brand, and market to them.
- Personas are a way to define the types of users you serve within your segments. Personas help define the goals, communication style, and workflows required by users of your digital properties.
Why is this important?
When we work with customers, we use this inventory of segments and personas as a foundation to build requirements for personalizing the buying experience: what content should be shown, what products should be shown, are there differences in how one persona purchases versus another? You may think you’re great at communicating requirements, but without this foundation crafted first, the intent of those requirements will be lost.
By first framing your segments and personas, individual requirements generated for your website carry much more validity and context. Here’s an example: “The user needs to see their orders”
If you had defined the persona of a home-based consumer versus a corporate, supply chain buyer, the interpretation of “see their orders” would be much different. Personas provide context and build an implicit understanding of who is going to use those features and capabilities. You won’t need to keep explaining this over and over if your co-workers and partners are equipped with your persona references.
For any business, you will have multiple systems in play-systems for customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation platforms (MAP), enterprise resource planning (ERP), analytics and reporting solutions, and e-commerce.
While you can bridge systems by tracking individual user activity by email address, or B2B customers by billing and account numbers — that level of granularity may become a hurdle when you want to more easily coordinate multiple systems for large populations of customers.
An example might be that for your population of 10,000 shoppers, 65 and older within the midwest, you want to target content and commerce products together across multiple systems. Instead of needing to have each system set up to store and target every individual email address of your customer population (thousands), you can have your content and commerce system configured simply to target 65 and older and midwest segments.
Now, multiply that across multiple systems (CRM, MAP, ERP, analytics, commerce), you’ll want a common segmentation framework that will be your playbook for your campaigns to make sure everything is ‘talking the same language’ as your customer base.
This exercise is unique to each business, depending on if you’re direct to consumers (B2C), retail/franchise, or business to business (B2B). When bridging different solutions together in your digital strategy, how you classify your buyers and users are foundational to building longevity in your commerce strategy, not only for the immediate, frontend experience but also as you grow into other markets.
Example scenarios to consider
As part of being able to communicate your commerce and content strategy, here are some scenarios to think about documenting or putting into slides to make sure everyone aligns to your vision, and requirements for the segments and personas can be more easily understood.
- Customer journey mapping for defining your overall content strategy and the role they play in commerce transactions
- How you expect to handle tracking and analytics across multichannel strategies as part of customer acquisition and revenue attribution
- Targeted management of merchandising and promotions to commerce buyers
- Roles of different users in key commerce workflows through fulfillment (buyers, employees, external suppliers)
- How you might bucket personalization by market to drive customers into new product categories
To help you generate your own inventory of segmentation and personas, the table below can help you get started.
How to build a persona
Building personas are the precursor to building requirements. You frame who the users are and what their goals are. This may be a slide or two per persona, a shared document, but something long lived that could apply to any solution you and your business craft. Solution requirements should not go into your personas.
This should be a fun exercise and you’ll find it builds a shared alignment of intent and a literal face to who you are building solutions for.
Have specific people you know in mind
Start with a handful of people or customers you know by name. By starting with real people, it will bring validity to your persona building. As questions come up in building features for those personas, you have a reference focus group to go back to. I would still provide an anonymous name to your persona as people will refer to ‘Jane Buyer’ or ‘James Supplier’ as a way to more easily collaborate around who they are intending to solve problems for.
Provide demographic information
People talk about millennials or Gen X’s in terms of what they expect from their interactions with technology. While fairly general, including their assumed age, job title, family, with a picture can help craft a background story for collaborators to understand intent and expectations. This also allows readers to correlate that persona to other people they have personal connections with in order to develop ideas and assumptions further.
Frame their day
Frame this as what will make this person successful in their job each day and each week. Don’t get into features or requirements, this is what will drive that person. Understanding the application of technology can be noise or a bump in the road on their day. An example might be developing a commerce solution for a healthcare professional, their goals are servicing patients, not ordering products from you. Framing their goals for success as a professional or as a busy parent on the move will help you design a more frictionless and task-oriented experience.
What incentivises them?
Pulling it up a level from defining their goals and tasks to be done each day, these are over-arching considerations that will help you with marketing your solution. If framing their day is defining the ‘what’, this is the ‘why’. Is it to save money, is it to be the first to find trendy new products, or is it to spend more time with their family? For professional, B2B customer environments, this will be an area you’ll want to focus on with your sales reps to help define.
What channels they use
With the application of technology, it’s good to include what technology they interact with during the day. If you are developing commerce solutions for a home healthcare worker on the go — you know they will use a phone or tablet. If you’re targeting an in-office physician, more often than not they may be at a computer with a keyboard and mouse. The same applies to consumers, inclusive of other social channels and apps they may use daily. Where are they when they’d use your solutions?
Optional, quantitative analysis
While this isn’t required, doing quantitative analysis to see how much of your existing user base matches your persona can be useful. If you have an existing customer base you’re catering to, being able to share that this persona fits 80% of your users vs. 10% is important. It can also be applied to the potential market of users you haven’t acquired yet — does that 10% equate to the most revenue opportunity for your business in the next year? While it doesn’t help develop better requirements, it does help with prioritization by correlating business value to features as they relate to the personas (and/or segments) they serve.
Choosing the right platforms
Getting an inventory of how your buyers, suppliers, and sellers are managed today will help you vet the requirements for commerce and how you bridge your frontend experience across multiple channels. It will also help you build a common dialog within your business, and with your technology partners in delivering a vision for you and your customers.
Some commerce platforms are optimal for simplified consumer bases, others do a better job modeling B2B commerce, like Sitecore® OrderCloud®. With Sitecore® OrderCloud®, you can build dynamic segmentation and persona strategies around concepts such as your buyers, user groups, employee groups, suppliers, and supplier groups. You can truly mirror your business and customer base with Sitecore OrderCloud.
Contact us today to see what our customers are doing to manage different brands, channels, and unique marketplace requirements to get inspiration for crafting your ideal marriage of content and commerce.
Download the Sitecore OrderCloud feature guide to learn more about how the platform and architecture supports a future-looking commerce and content strategy.