Firing the Non-Ideal Customer


If you run an ecommerce website, you have probably thought a lot about your ideal customer. You probably know them as well as you know your best friend, your spouse, or even yourself. You are completely in touch with their needs and capable of seeing the world through their eyes.

However, there is another group that you need to be aware of as well: your non-ideal customer. This persona is not the ‘perfect match’ for your brand and your products, yet for some reason will occasionally buy them anyway. For many ecommerce website owners, this person is somewhat of a mystery. Unfortunately, in most cases they are also a pain in the backside. Here are a few ways that this customer can hurt your business.

  • They can muddy your marketing message. Because this non-ideal customer will buy your products, you may be tempted to make them a part of your core market or to make them a secondary market. Think very carefully before doing this. Your non-ideal market can be identified by their sporadic and small purchases. They are never going to be a huge money-maker, but they tempt you to pay less attention to the market that really matters. If your marketing is modified so that it no longer is perfect for your ideal customer, you will be undermining your business in a major way.
  • They are more likely to be unhappy with your products. Whatever you are selling, it is probably just perfect for your ideal customers and not-so-perfect for your non-ideal customers. This means that the non-ideal customer is more likely to be dissatisfied. They are also more likely to leave negative reviews on public forums and to tell everyone that they know about it. People are more likely to share negative information than positive information, so this can create a type of buzz that seriously hurts your business.
  • They require more attention. Because they are not a good fit in your group of ideal customers, your marketing and your company policies are not a good fit for the non-ideal customer’s needs. This means that they will need more assistance from you in order to complete those often small orders. Unfortunately, in many ecommerce website businesses, less than ten percent of customers present more than ninety percent of the problems. Ouch.
  • They are unprofitable. Again, a non-ideal customer will buy sporadically and in small quantities. Despite all the effort they demand, you are not really making money on the deal. 

So how do you keep the non-ideal customer from having a detrimental effect on your ecommerce website? First, get to know who they are. You will probably see some commonalities among your problem customers. You need to know them almost as well as you know your target audience in order to perform the second step: marketing in a way that repels them. For instance, if you are selling an expensive product to an upscale market, design your marketing so that it is not a good fit for the bargain shopper. Make sure every aspect of your ecommerce website emphasizes this. You may lose a few small sales in cutting out this tiny and insignificant group, but it will free you to focus on the market that really matters.