How to Create an Ecommerce Avatar (with Template)
These days, paid social channels make it so “easy” to target the right audience that we’re seeing ecommerce businesses fall into a risky mindset—they’re losing touch with who their target customers actually are.
Have you ever launched an ad, confident that your platform’s algorithm will target the right customers, only to wonder why people aren’t purchasing? (Or if you’re still seeing decent ROAS, have you ever thought about what happens when that ad strategy stops working?)
Our ad platforms may have crazy smart algorithms… But they’re not quite smart enough for you to skip out on identifying your own customers. Ad platforms can’t do their job if your ads are not written with your unique customers in mind.
In order to market successfully, we need to know our target customers as well as we know our neighbors and friends. This goes beyond demographics—we have to consider their potential motivators, influences, hobbies, interests, values, and more.
Once we know who our target customers are, we can craft messages that speak to their unique wants and needs. It’s simple, really—the more unique your ads are to your customers, the more effective they’ll be at getting the right people to click… and less of the wrong people to click. This ultimately reduces your cost and increases your conversion rate.
The best way to do this? Create an ecommerce customer avatar, also known as an ICP (ideal customer profile).
In this article, we’ll explore why customer avatars are essential to your business’s success, and we’ll provide a template so you can start following our method for creating avatars today.
The Importance of Developing Customer Avatars
Your ecommerce business does not need to be a jack of all trades. You’ll quickly find that if you try to be everything to everybody, you’ll end up being nothing to nobody.
What we’re really trying to say is that your product likely has a bunch of benefits, but that doesn’t mean that every customer values those benefits in the same way—and that’s okay!
Here at Metacake, we talk a lot about the importance of selling based on emotion and your brand’s story. If you’re doing that well, your story will not connect with everyone. Your brand is not going to be a good fit for everyone, but that’s not a problem as long as you can identify the customers who are absolutely in love with it.
The only way to identify and connect with your brand’s superfans is to know who you’re talking to. What are their unique stories? What pain points resonate with them?
What Are the Benefits of Ecommerce Avatars?
When you dial in your ideal customer profiles, you’ll find:
Avatars force you to clarify exactly who you’re selling to. In doing so, you’ll be better able to identify—and address—your customers’ potential objections. Your brand messaging (ad copy, email marketing, product descriptions, etc.) will all be much more effective when they’re written with someone specific in mind, as opposed to a diverse audience.
Avatars allow your team to be strategically aligned around one common goal—creating and selling for the defined customer profiles. This definitely helps the marketing team, but it will also benefit customer service, product development, and more.
Identifying your ideal customers will reduce the amount of time and money your team spends on selling to the wrong people. Again, this is crucial not only for marketing, but also for product development.
How to Create an Ecommerce Customer Avatar (and What to Include)
In order to write ads that speak to your ideal customer, you first have to think about the specific types of people who are most likely to purchase your product.
While demographic data like gender, age, and occupation may be a starting point, your descriptions must go deeper than that. For years, marketers have used demographic data to market, but there is a major problem with that approach—people don’t primarily identify with those data points! For example, men who are 50 don’t derive their primary identity from being 50 and male. People derive their primary identity from other things: common interests, tribes, struggles, and more.
For each customer that you identify, brainstorm as much as you can to dial in this person’s identity. What are their interests? What is their personality like? What are their goals, values, and even fears?
For example, Metacake’s audience is more specific than just “ecommerce business owners.” We break it down further—one of our avatars is the founder of a fast-growing company and another is an executive at a larger corporation. Each of these avatars has their own unique motivators, values, and pain points that shapes our marketing strategy.
To flesh out customer avatars, our team uses a simple Google sheet, which includes targeted questions to help us identify the characteristics of each avatar. We’ve made it simple for you to get started with our free ecommerce customer avatar template! It’s our tried-and-true method for establishing customer avatars for any brand. Download the template by clicking the link below, and then make a copy to start creating your own customer avatar sheet today!
How to Put Your Customer Avatars into Action
Once you have established your customer avatars, this narrowed audience should affect every part of your marketing plan. Here are 5 key areas that will be heavily influenced by your avatars:
Identifying your ideal customers will help determine where you should run your ads. It should go without saying, but only advertise on the platforms that your audience uses! Just because other brands are advertising on TikTok, Snapchat, or Pinterest doesn’t mean you should. Knowing where your audience spends time might actually open the door for advertising on less traditional channels, such as podcasts or magazines, if that’s what is right for your customers.
Your ad copy will become much more specific—and effective— when you write with your avatars in mind. Make sure to highlight features and benefits that will resonate with these audiences, as well as address their specific pain points.
Your pricing and promo strategies can also be tailored to these profiles. For example, if moms are your primary audience, an August promotion could be called a “Back to School” sale, but if your audience is mostly removed from school, it could be called the “End of Summer Closeout.”
Note: It should go without saying, but tailoring your message for your audience does not mean lying about your product. It’s simply about framing your product in a way that resonates with your audience. For example, if you’re running Facebook ads for a multivitamin that has a variety of benefits, adjust your ad copy to highlight the benefits that your customer will care about the most. Ads for busy parents could focus on how this supplement supports a better night’s sleep, while an ad for college students could message how it improves focus.
This is the most obvious aspect of your marketing process that will be affected. Be sure to use the details and interests of your customer avatars to inform how you build your audiences on Facebook and Google advertising.
For example, if you’re hoping to reach women in their twenties or thirties with an active lifestyle, target those with interests on Facebook such as yoga, running, rock climbing, weight lifting, cycling, barre, or pilates. You can also take it a step further and use brands these women love. Brands like Lululemon, Athleta, Fabletics, Nike, Patagonia, etc.
However, we’re starting to see ad platforms like Facebook facing greater restrictions around user data. As advanced targeting becomes more and more difficult, writing effective ad copy that resonates with your customer avatars has never been more important. If your ad platforms can’t help you target the right audience, your message is going to be what ultimately attracts the right customers.
4. Advertising Funnels
We’ve discussed Facebook ad funnels and YouTube video funnels in previous posts, and your customer avatar will apply here as well. In our advertising funnels, we lead with emotion, using a story or testimonial to capture a new potential customer’s attention. Next, we follow up with logic, selling based on features and benefits, before making the hard sell.
When you know who your customers are, you can tailor the testimonials according to what will resonate with them the most. Another great tactic is to address your avatars’ top objections in your retargeting ads. This confronts their unique hesitations about your product head-on and will encourage them to make a purchase.
Your customer avatars should influence how you design your store’s site experience. As you are considering layouts and design, put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. It’s true that there are best practices for home pages, collection pages, and product pages that are successful across all audiences. However, messages, images, and design should all be customized based on your avatars’ unique identities!
How Many Customer Avatars Do You Need?
This answer is actually different for every brand. You should have as many avatars as you have ideal customers. If your products are made for many different types of people, it’s best to start with 5 ideal customer profiles or less. As your organization matures and additional products are developed, that number may grow!