In Part 1 of How To Practice Persuasion Architeture with Personas, I promised to write a Part 2 that would cover the practical applications of personas for your marketing. But after posting part 1 of the series, some great questions came up that made me realize we need to cover two special considerations before you get on with rolling up your sleeves and learning some tactics for applying your personas to your efforts to make your website better. If you missed Part 1 of this series, here’s a quick re-cap:
When we say that personas are rooted in behavior, we mean they are based on both pace for gathering information/making decisions (quick vs. slow), and information bias (logical vs. emotional). This approach to decision-making behavior came straight out of scientific research. Persuasion Architecture just borrowed this scientifically validated classification system and applied it to how people make buying decisions online.
People buy when they easily find answers to their questions, worded in a way that is meaningful to them. Thus the goal is to anticipate their questions and deliver the information to them before they realize they are looking for it. Your sales process needs to account for and align with four different and identifiable ways of buying your products or services.
This doesn’t mean you need 4 websites. It’s possible to cater to all four types of visitors on one website, and even within one page of that site. Tools such as Persuasion Architecture personas and Schizographic diagrams can give you the tactical information you need to do that more effectively. You can use these tools to answer key questions about each persona and start forming hypotheses about where they will go on your site.
If you’re still feeling shaky about taking the next steps, brush-up on the topics covered in Part 1 before you continue reading about the first special consideration for practicing persuasion architecture with personas.
This is another one of those “if I had a nickel for every time I was asked this” kind of questions. The short answer is, you don’t have to. The long answer is a little more complicated.
Now I don’t mean you won’t want to identify the different groups of personas that enter your site, because there are plenty of reasons why you would want to do that. Certainly, creating segments based on the criteria you have for specific personas can be useful for your optimization efforts. We’ll discuss that a little more in Part 2 (practical applications for your personas). But you don’t really have to worry about each individual who lands on your site, and determining a type for them right away. They will reveal the persona they identify with best by where they do and don’t click during a particular visit. This process is known as self-selection. It works because you give people several options that meet distinct criteria and they chose the one that feels best for them at that moment. Besides, once you read my next post detailing special consideration #2, you’ll have a better sense for why it can be dangerous to want to label individual visitors as a particular type.
And I also don’t mean that you don’t have to know what kind of information to show to each type of persona. You definitely want to know that (or at least have some strong hypotheses about that around which to build your site). In fact, that is one of the main benefits of having customer personas in the first place… to determine what kind of information different personas are after, and how they will go about looking for it. We already covered that in Part 1 of this series. When you plan your site, you should be planning specific scenarios (click-by-click paths people follow on your site) for specific types of people. By “types of people” I of course mean “personas”… the groups we use here at FutureNow to represent a unique pace and information bias. Remember, your scenarios are planned out so that answers to the set of questions a specific persona has (or links to that information) lie in the areas where they are most likely to look for it on pages within your site.
So what the heck do I mean then? What I mean, is that beyond planning and accounting for various personas, the kinds of questions they have, and where they tend to look for those answers, you don’t have to try to control the individual experience so much. Remember, on the web, the visitor is in control, and the more quickly you surrender to this idea, the more quickly you can get on with the business of giving them what they want and more effectively persuading them to want to take specific actions on your site.
I’ve found that most of the people who ask this kind of question are focused on the latest technology solutions, and in particular tend to think that personas will help them show dynamically loaded information tailored to each individual visitor who enters their site… and you certainly don’t need to go that far. Why not? If you’ve done a good job of anticipating the kinds of questions your visitors will have, where they will look for those answers, and building your site around that, your visitors will easily will find the information that is aimed at them wherever they land on your site, and begin to engage their scenario in the way that is most comfortable for them.
I know this can be tough to accept, so if you have questions, by all means, ask them! I’ll be back in the next week with Part 1B, a second special consideration pertaining to how to practice Persuasion Architecture with personas. Then we can move on to Part 2 and the practical applications for personas… I promise!