020 8050 4370 / hello@pixelhero.co.uk

Ultimate E-Commerce Guide Chapter One

Know your Audience

In this chapter we’ll be covering the below and how this relates to your e-commerce website:

  1. 'Do unto others…'
  2. Who are your target audience?
  3. What is your visitor trying to achieve?
  4. Where are your visitors in the decision making process?
  5. How does your audience interact with your website?
  6. How does your audience complete their task?
  7. Who do you need to target?
  8. Know your Audience: Summary

‘Do unto others...

There is one problem with the phrase ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’.

It assumes everyone is the same.

Worse than this; it makes your beliefs and behaviour the standard by which everything should be judged and measured.

Everyone is different, with different needs, values and experiences. If we want to understand our audience we need to step outside of our own needs and step into their world – their problems, desires and beliefs.

The more flexible, curious and imaginative you are the better this will work for you.

So, who are your audience?

To find this out, start by using all the data available to you through web analytics, customer information, surveys etc. This can help you understand:

This is a valuable starting point to segmenting your audience and defining demographics using hard evidence.

As obvious as this sounds, be careful to keep your different segments split during this process, analyse your data only within their own peer group.

...If you had a 6 year old and 93 year old visiting your site, it would be a mistake to class your ‘average’ visitor as a 49 year old.

On the other hand, be sure there is also enough data to draw valid conclusions from; if you split your data too finely you may end up jumping to the wrong conclusions.

Variable factors can and will play a colossal part on your e-commerce website. Below are a few variables, depending on the industry you specialise in, this list could be substantially longer.

Web analytics can help you identify patterns; Google Trends is also worth a quick look.

What is your visitor trying to achieve?

Your visitor could be any one of the following:

Focus only on those that matter, for example, job seekers and affiliates will always find the pages they want, no matter how far into the site this information is buried into the depths of your website.

On your e-commerce website you may primarily focus on:

The next step is to determine what each visitor segment could be trying to achieve.

For example, new visitors are most likely:

Where are your visitors in the decision making process?

Visitors to your website could arrive at any point in their decision making process, they could be browsing out of interest or they could have already spent an hour reading reviews, know the product they want and are now looking for the cheapest and most trustworthy place to purchase it. There needs to be appropriate supporting information for a visitor regardless of the stage of the process they’re in.

Andrew Chak, author of Submit Now: Designing Persuasive Web Sites, has adapted the AIDA model specifically to define website visitors. The four groups include:


Browsers: May not know what they want, but have an unmet need. This group are beginning the research phase


Evaluators: Know the available options and are comparing details. These users are deep into the research phase


Transactors: Have made their decision and need to complete their specific task. These people are at the purchasing stage.


Customers: The transaction has been completed. These people need to stay satisfied in order to become returning visitors

How does your audience interact with your website?

People fall into three categories of learning:

Visual learners: These people are guided by imagery, demonstration, colour coding, diagrams, photos & videos.

Auditory learners: These people learn from word associations, oral instructions, telephone support, poems, rhymes, alliteration.

Kinaesthetic learners: This group learn by associating emotions with concepts, playing games, problem solving or role playing.

Effective e-commerce sales persuasion covers all of the above methods. This is particularly important at the ‘desire’ stage of the decision process, so make it as easy as possible to interact with your audience through a variety of media.

Let’s assume you’re working on a product page on your website.

A perfect example of all these elements can be seen with kitchen design and installation company Magnet. Product information is displayed and the visitor can design their own kitchen while being updated with the current total cost of all items chosen.

How does your audience complete their task?

This is the main crux of it. This is where Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) comes in to play. The aesthetics of the site, the function, the layout, placement of key information, the call-to-action, customer reviews along with hundreds of other factors accountable for influencing the effectiveness of your e-commerce site to enable someone to make a purchase.

BJ Fogg developed the Fogg Behaviour Model to answer this exact question and can be summarised in a single concept.

For a purchase to occur three things needs to be present at the same time: motivation, ability and an effective trigger. If the purchase isn’t happening one of the key elements must be missing.

1. Motivation

There are three basic principles which drive motivation:

Sensation: This is driven on the desire to feel pleasure and desire to avoid pain. Motivation to avoid pain is usually considered to be stronger than the motive to feel pleasure.

Anticipation: The hope that the action will cause good things to happen in future and the fear of bad things happening. Fear is considered to be a stronger motivator.

Social factors: The need for social acceptance and to avoid rejection. Again, the negative is considered the stronger motivator.

2. Ability

To be able to perform a specific behaviour, a person must be able to do so. This can be by one of two ways:

  1. The person can be taught, however people will generally avoid effort if possible.
  2. You can make the target behaviour easier to do. On an e-commerce website this can be through saving people time, effort or money.

3. Trigger

A trigger tells people to ‘do it now!’; this can be habitual or created externally. An external source would be someone beeping a car horn in order for you to take action, i.e. move out of their way. A habitual trigger would be something similar to taking off your shoes when you walk through your front door.

There are three types of trigger which can be used on an e-commerce website:

  1. Facilitator: This can be used when someone wants to buy an item but it seems too much effort. A facilitator would help the situation, for example a call-to-action button with messaging above stating ‘Save time with our quick and easy express checkout’.
  2. Spark: If someone has the ability to buy the product but isn’t motivated you can add a ‘spark’ trigger. This would include a call-to-action and a motivator such as, ‘10% off when you buy three or more items’ or ‘2 for 1 today only!’
  3. Signal: If the person has both the motivation and ability they just need a straight forward ‘signal’ trigger, clear directions like ‘buy it now’ can be all that’s needed for this group.

Triggers can lead to a chain of desired behaviours; an effective trigger for a smaller behaviour can lead to a visitor performing larger behaviours.

Who do you need to target?

As mentioned previously in this chapter, everyone is different, with different needs, experiences and knowledge. So how do make an e-commerce website that will keep everyone happy? The answer is quite simply, we won’t.

However the aim is to increase conversions, 100% of people will never convert, so we need to focus on those that will.

Your visitors can be divided into three groups.

  1. The yeses – these people want to buy from you and nothing will stand in their way, the sales process may be an uphill struggle, the website may be loading at a glacial pace, but they will make that sale.
  2. The no’s – these people will never buy from you. They may be on your website, they may be browsing, but unless you’re going to offer the world’s greatest discount, resulting in a loss to you, these people are happy just looking around with no intention to take this a step further.
  3. The maybes – this is the group we’re focussing on, and to be pedantic, we can break this group down again into three.
    • Yes-maybes: These people are 90% there, compelling sales copy and a few CTAs in the right places will help these people convert to a sale. This is your current conversion rate.
    • Maybe-maybes: This is the group we’re going to focus on as these people will be your maximum conversion rate.
    • No-maybes: These people are only 10% - 20% there. A focus for this group should be warming them up to move up the maybe list to the maybe-maybe’s. A well thought out marketing campaign is the optimum solution for this group.

Know your Audience: Summary

Back to our web design blog