October 30, 2007, 12:00 AM

Persona-lizing a site

(Page 3 of 3)

Detoxologie, a site offering various nutritional cleansing regimens, came to FutureNow because its demographics were all over the map, says founder Steve Franzman. “Our customers were everybody and we didn’t know how to deal with them,” he says. Moreover, the site’s conversion rate was less than 1%, not enough to break even, and sales were choppy. A pay-per-click expenditure of $1,000 might yield $3,000 in sales or $600.

FutureNow analyzed the company’s data and came up with several personas who had distinctly different buying modes. Detoxologie tore up its web site and started from scratch, adding extensive background information for buyers who wanted to do more research, testimonials and endorsements for those who need feedback from others, and menus that made it simple to navigate to products for specific conditions, for those who were ready to buy.

These days, conversions average 4%, and the return on pay-per-click is consistently 2 to 1.

Though full-blown persona research can be daunting, any retailer can make a start. “We can look at a customer’s existing research and call logs and put it together with industry best practices and learnings from other retailers,” says Clemmons of Critical Mass. “We can start developing something from that. For a small retailer, it could be as simple as sitting with half a dozen customers in a coffee shop and asking them how they make decisions.”

Elizabeth Gardner is a Riverside, Ill.-based freelance business writer.

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