The Way Customers Want to Buy

  |  January 17, 2003   |  Comments

There are four personalities. Understanding them is mission critical. Whom does your copy speak to?

You'll never increase your conversion rate by pushing what you want to do, the way you want to do it. Lots of individuals out there don't think, act, or feel the same way you do.

Online efforts that don't make allowances for different ways in which people approach decision making leave lots of money on the table.

To succeed online, you must construct the type of environment that leads customers through buying the way they want to buy. Your copy, decision paths, and creative designs must snag your various visitors, pull them in, and get them to take action.

Task-oriented visitors land on your site with a single question in mind: What's in it for me? WIIFM is our abbreviation. Sound like your favorite radio station?

Visitors look to you to provide the answer to that question. It's a big one. Your answer depends on things such as your unique value proposition, the products or services you offer, and your ability to instill trust and confidence. Most of all, the answer should be reflected in the way your site "speaks" to the four dominant personality types.

Let's quickly review those personalities:

  • Amiable

    • Attitude: Personal, activity oriented.

    • Time: Undisciplined, fast paced.

    • Question: What is your best solution for the problem?

    • Approach: Address values and provide assurance, credible opinions rather than options.

  • Analytical

    • Attitude: Businesslike, detail oriented.

    • Time: Disciplined, methodically paced.

    • Question: How can your solution solve the problem?

    • Approach: Provide hard evidence and superior service.

  • Expressive

    • Attitude: Personal, relationship oriented.

    • Time: Undisciplined, slow paced.

    • Question: Who has used your solution to solve my problem?

    • Approach: Offer testimonials and incentives.

  • Assertive

    • Attitude: Businesslike, power oriented.

    • Time: Disciplined, strategically paced.

    • Question: What can your solution do for me?

    • Approach: Provide options, probabilities, and challenges.

You get the idea. Different personality types ask different questions, require different information to feel comfortable reaching a decision, and even vary widely in the time it takes to make decisions.

Good salespeople say what the customer needs to hear, the way that customer needs to hear it to make a purchase decision. That salesperson also knows how to redirect a presentation quickly if it's not working. That's an essential component of "the sale."

Acknowledging personality types online is critical. You're conducting business in a self-service medium. No one's there to modify persuasion tactics if they fall on deaf ears. You'll only know you've missed the mark when you check your Web logs.

Online, your hyperlinks establish, maintain, and offer the alternatives to your "dialogue." How do they do that? Look at this snippet of copy:

Our approach is personalized to meet your objectives. The bottom line is your results are guaranteed. Explore our methodology to discover how thousands of clients just like you have been delighted.

Different elements in this copy appeal to different personality types. Amiables latch on to "personalized to meet your objectives." Analyticals make a beeline for the "methodology" section. Expressives will be very interested in those "thousands of clients." Assertives are happiest if you cut to the chase with the "bottom line" and "guaranteed" results.

With this knowledge, you can develop a linking strategy. Keep it in the active window so visitors can follow the buying decision path that best suits them.

Craft copy incorporating specific words and phrases that create multiple personality scenarios (or navigation paths) to appeal to the different personality types. Each scenario follows a logical progression based on the steps of the sales and buying decision process. Along the way, there's always an opportunity to shift personality gears. As you develop the scenarios, remember to test, measure, and optimize.

Humans are amazingly complex creatures. Any classification simplifies that complexity. No one person is exclusively one personality type. Everyone's a delightful mix. One type may predominate, but others come into play. These are influenced by environmental factors, social factors, even ephemeral moods. Even if you know for a fact 72 percent of your visitors are Analyticals, that doesn't mean you can write only to the analytical profile!

Your Analytical might follow a primarily how-oriented path, then decide to feel completely comfortable taking action. He now requires who-oriented information.

Consider the nature of your products or services. Impulse buying appeals most to friendly, impulsive Amiables.

A site selling engineering equipment will attract more Analyticals than Expressives. Even if an Expressive engineer requires the product, her job requires she be concerned with a logical, orderly, precise, and features-attentive approach.

If you run an online dating service, no matter how Analytical or Assertive your visitor, he's likely to approach your site in an Expressive state of mind.

Your goal is to delight each visitor. The delighted customer is most likely to complete a purchase, refer your business to others, and return to buy again.

Don't forget to vote for your favorite marketing technology solutions!


Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) of IdealSpot. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times best-selling books Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, and Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends. Bryan is a keynote speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as Gultaggen,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others for the past 10 years. Bryan was named a winner of the Marketing Edge's Rising Stars Awards, recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and has been recognized as most influential in PPC, Social Selling, OmniChannel Retail. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed companies such as Sightly, UserTesting, Monetate, ChatID, Nomi, and BazaarVoice. He works with his co-author and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at

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