How to profile your customers and target your traffic

May Marketing Madness Online Strategy Week, Post #9

One of the first questions when building or trying to improve a website is: who is the site meant for? To answer this question you first have to define the main aim of your website, and what a conversion means to you.

The main aims of a website usually include:

  • to provide information
  • to create a community
  • to sell-sell-sell!
  • and many others

Based on the aim of your website, you define what a "conversion" means to you: does it mean the visitor buys something? Does it mean that they spend a long time and read many pages? Does it mean they register to receive your newsletter? Or do they leave their details?

Not All Visitors Are Created Equal

Once the aim is defined and you know what conversion means to you, you can also define who your site is meant for. It is very rare that a site is meant for one specific, well defined, targeted visitor profile. In most cases (I would even go as far as saying in 99% of the cases), you will have more than one user profile.

Let's think of a simple example. Say your website is a mega shop for baby products.

Who is your target audience? Obviously parents are the clear target. But do prospective fathers and mothers view the site in the same way? Are they looking for the same things? And what about the grandparents: should you not consider them? And friends who want to buy a present for the newborn?


Babies R' Us has clearly designed their site around multiple customer profiles, giving guides and advice to parents to be, gift suggestions to friends and family, registry options for baby shower invitees, etc.

Each profile may have different needs and priorities. You want to convert all of them into customers, so you must consider their different needs.

When you know the profiles of your visitors, and understand what they are looking for, suddenly designing the site and deciding on new features is much easier to do. Does the design/new feature help at least one of the profiles? If it doesn't: don't do it!

In a Nutshell

When planning, designing, building and improving your website, always ask yourself:

Who is my target audience? Define your audience based on their interest and motivation, not your product.

What are the different user profiles that exist in this audience? Never accept only one profile. Anywhere from 3 to 6 profiles should usually do it.

Are all profiles important? Make sure you prioritize, and understand the value of each customer. Don't spend too much time worrying about a marginal group of customers that will probably never convert.

Does the site cater for the different user profiles? Make sure the initial design and any new feature actually provides value to at least one of the profiles.

Once you are able to answer the questions above, converting different visitors into customers will become more of a clear process rather than a daunting project.

This post is one out of Clicktale's month long May Marketing Madness series. Each of our daily posts will highlight and explain today's best practices, useful tips and smart tools to measure and improve your online business performance. This week's theme is online strategy. Make sure to stay tuned in for more!

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