How Buyer Personas Can Help You Convert Customers During the Holidays


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 23, 2019. It’s been updated to reflect the most current data and insights. 

Who are my customers? What do they like? What do they dislike? 

These are age-old questions entrepreneurs and brand builders often ask when it comes time to put together a marketing plan. 

Understanding who your customers are and what drives them to make a purchase is key to your brand’s growth. 

Holiday sales normally account for a large percentage of a brand’s annual sales, but they’ll be especially important in 2020 as many businesses work to offset losses sustained earlier in the year as a result of the pandemic. 

Many online businesses experienced an influx of traffic earlier this year as customers headed online in the wake of retail store closures, so brands now have the opportunity to convert those new customers into holiday shoppers. 

So how can you use the information you have about your customers to create an effective marketing plan that drives holiday sales? 

Creating buyer personas is a particularly valuable way you can use your data. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your customers based on data you have about your existing customers, including their shopping behavior. 

Buyer personas are an incredibly helpful way to learn more about your customers, but you don’t have to go overboard when you’re creating them. 

Mark Schaefer, a well-known marketing strategy consultant, says three to four buyer personas often account for more than 90 percent of a company’s sales. 

By figuring out the right buyer personas you need to create ahead of the holidays, you can tailor your product assortment, promotion, content, and messaging to your audience so you deliver relevant, compelling messages and experiences that ultimately drive sales.


Read Holiday Planning: The Retailer’s Guide to Driving Sales

Here are some common holiday shopper personas and ideas on how you can engage them:

The deal hunter

Missy is a classic deal hunter. She typically waits until the Thanksgiving turkey’s put away, but then she hops online or jumps into her car to go looking for holiday deals. 

A suburbanite who loves to save money, Missy gets a thrill not by how much she spends, but by how much she saves. 

Her only brand loyalty is to the stores that gave her great holiday deals last year. Otherwise, she’ll shop wherever she can find the best savings. 

Capture Missy’s attention by sending her promotional emails with the deal called out specifically in the subject line. 


Take 30% off everything! 

Today 6am-10am: virtual doorbuster deals up to 50% off! 

Everything’s on sale! Up to 60% off this weekend only.


You can also capture the deal hunter’s attention with your social ads. Since Missy frequently visits Facebook and Instagram, you can build a Facebook custom audience to target her with your promotions on those channels. 

Learn more about how to get a deal hunter’s attention.

The last-minute shopper

It’s not uncommon for Rob to miss the free shipping cutoff dates that most online retailers put in place. To get his holiday gifts in time and to avoid disappointing his parents, he typically ends up choosing an expedited shipping option. 

He’s a young, single urbanite who usually makes purchases on his phone while he’s on the subway to work or during downtime while he’s working.

Rob’s a procrastinator like many people—last year, nearly 134 million people planned to shop the last Saturday before Christmas, according to the NRF. Capture his attention with emails that convey a sense of urgency in the subject line. 


15% off + free shipping ends tomorrow!

Order by 12/5 to get free shipping! 

Still searching for holiday gifts? 20% off ends 12/10!


You can also make it clear to him that you offer expedited shipping options so he doesn’t turn to a competitor. 


Only 15 days until Xmas! Get rush shipping today only.

Haven’t found the perfect gift? Buy by 12/10 + get free shipping.

Order by 12/15 + free 3-day shipping = guaranteed delivery 


Learn more about how to get the deal hunter’s attention and what you should know about shipping for the upcoming holiday season.


Sarah typically purchases high-value items from your store and she buys them frequently. She’s also left a few positive product reviews on your website. She’s what you’d call a brand loyalist. If only every customer was like Sarah, you’d be growing faster than you’d planned!

This suburbanite is a generous gifter to others, but she also makes purchases for herself during the holidays.

Capture Sarah’s attention by giving her special treatment and making her feel like a VIP. Consider offering her experiences like early access to a limited-edition product you’ve brought in for the holidays or send her a highly personalized thank you note that you either handwrite or email.

You can also use her past purchase history to recommend products she’d like for herself or for others. Or prompt her to share a discount with a friend who’s not familiar with your brand and give her a discount, also, as a thank you.

Learn more about how to capture the VIP’s attention.

The window shopper

Barry’s a browser, not a buyer. He often looks around your website and he may or may not add items to his cart, but he almost always leaves your site before making a purchase. 

He’s an indecisive urban shopper who needs a little nudge. 

Capture Barry’s attention by reminding him about the items he’s left in his cart. Send him browse abandonment or abandoned cart emails, and dynamically populate them with product images so he remembers the specific items that caught his attention the last time he was on your site.  

You can also build Facebook custom audiences and target Barry with your products on Facebook or Instagram, which are the social channels he frequently visits.

Learn more about how to capture the window shopper’s attention.

The impulse buyer

Kristen makes decisions fast. As soon as you release a new product and let your customers know about it, her name is the first one that shows up in your new orders. 

As an impulse buyer, Kristen makes snap decisions when items go on sale and has discretionary income to cover the cost of those impromptu choices. The fear of missing out is real, so she’s always on top of the latest sale or product release.  

Capture Kristen’s attention by creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity in your communications. And send her post-purchase upsell communications to keep her engaged. 

Learn more about how to capture the impulse buyer’s attention. 

Key takeaway

The holidays are an important time of year for any ecommerce business and they’re even more critical due to all of the challenges brands encountered in 2020. With all of the noise of the season, brands must work hard to stand out from the crowd. 

The best way to do that is to show your customers you know who they are, what interests them, and send them relevant messages as part of a highly personalized experience. 

Create buyer personas for your business, try some of these tactics, and make them even more effective with segmentation and personalization strategies. 

Want more tips to prepare your store for the holiday shopping season? 


Check out this holiday planning guide to learn how to drive more sales.

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