Plain-spoken Online Conversion Rate Newsletter - covering web design, email techniques, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability,  and consumer psychology.

Fine-Tuning the WIIFM Dial: Personality Revisited

You’re never gonna increase your conversion rate by pushing what you want to do in the way you want to do it, because there are lots of folks out there who don’t think or act or even feel the same as you.

Let me put it more succinctly: online efforts that don’t make allowances for the different ways in which people approach making a decision leave lots of money on the table.

It’s a personality thing.

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So, to make it online, you gotta construct the type of environment that leads your customers through buying the way they want to buy. You write copy, set up decision paths and create designs that are going to snag your various visitors, pull them in and get them to take action.

Please join me for a special issue of Grokdotcom as we revisit this super-critical subject.

Your task-oriented visitors are landing on your site with a single question in mind: What's in it for me? Around here, we call it everyone’s favorite radio station, WIIFM.

They ask the question and look to you to provide the answer. And it’s a big question. Your answer depends on things like your Unique Value Proposition, the products or services you offer, your ability to instill trust and confidence. But most of all, your answer must be reflected in the way your site “speaks” to the four dominant personalty types.

We’ve talked about the sales process and my colleague, Bryan, has written about the buying decision process - these are the paths of activity your Web site must accommodate. But folks are gonna walk those paths differently. Let’s quickly review the differences (for more info, see Personality 101):

AMIABLE
Attitude: Personal, activity oriented
Using Time: Undisciplined, fast paced
Question: Why is your solution best to solve the problem?
Approach: Address values and provide assurances, credible opinions rather than options

ANALYTICAL
Attitude: Businesslike, detail oriented
Using Time: Disciplined, methodically paced
Question: How can your solution solve the problem?
Approach: Provide hard evidence and superior service

EXPRESSIVE
Attitude: Personal, relationship oriented
Using Time: Undisciplined, slow paced
Question: Who has used your solution to solve my problem?
Approach: Offer testimonials and incentives

ASSERTIVE
Attitude: Businesslike, power oriented
Using Time: Disciplined, strategically paced
Question: What can your solution do for me?
Approach: Provide options, probabilities and challenges

You’re getting the idea that different personality types ask different questions, require different sorts of information to feel comfortable making their decisions and even take different amounts of time in which to make their decisions, right?

Think about how all this works in the “real” world.

Imagine you - an impressionistic, Expressive type - go to a bricks-and-mortar store to purchase a digital camera. All you want is a camera that takes pictures and isn’t a big hassle - you just want to enjoy yourself. The salesperson comes on like a know-it-all and rattles on about pixels and resolutions and cabling and any number of other technical considerations you really could care less about. You want to know, and truly only care, whether the camera is going to fit into your lifestyle. Will it be a good match for your expectations and how you generally use techie gadgets like this? If the salesperson can’t communicate the information you need to know, in the way you want to learn it, you’re not going to be happy. You are going to start tuning out the salesperson. And you’ll probably walk away none-the-wiser, as well as cameraless.                         (continued...)

Bringing the Pieces Together

In three mind-expanding days, Bryan, Jeffrey and the Roy H Williams, the Wizard of Ads, himself will tear apart everything you think you know about how things work online and bring the pieces back together the principles of persuasion that affect your online prospects.

Integrating the principles of relevance, third dimensional realities, usability, consumer psychology, and communications neurology you'll discover how to utilize the Internet's advantages and limitations to improve your online strategy's effectiveness. This workshop will help you "grok" (gain an intimate understanding) effective conversion of your visitors into sales, leads, or subscriptions, whatever the goals for your prospect. Whether you are an internet marketing professional in a large company or a business owner with virtually no online experience, you'll know more about how your business works online.

This is your last chance to attend Wizards of Web in 2002.  Also, please let us know if you want to be included on our advanced notice list for events.

Now, imagine you are a very Analytic sort of person. You’ve done the research and inherently understand the advantages or disadvantages of each feature. To feel comfortable about a purchase, you need to know you are getting a camera designed to meet your criteria. You want to speak with someone who knows all the facts and can answer all your questions. But you get a different salesperson in our theoretical store, and this one wants to tell you all about how easy the camera is to use and shows you print-out images and explains her Mom has one and loves it. This is going to strike you as vague and ditsy. You are going to start tuning out the salesperson and may well conclude she doesn’t know the first thing about what she’s trying to sell.

Good salespeople know whether or not they are saying what the customer needs to hear, the way the customer needs to hear it, in order to make a decision to purchase. And a good salesperson knows how to redirect the presentation quickly if it isn’t working. It’s one of the most essential components of “the sale.”

Acknowledging personality types online is critical - you are conducting business in a self-service medium. You aren’t there to modify your persuasion tactics when you notice they’re falling on deaf ears. You only notice you’ve missed the mark when you check out your Web logs.

Online, it’s the responsibility of your hyperlinks to establish, maintain and offer alternatives to your “dialog.” So how do you do that?

Let’s distill the information above to the basics:

Amiables prefer to focus on WHY questions.

Analyticals prefer to focus on HOW questions.

Expressives prefer to focus on WHO questions.

Assertives prefer to focus on WHAT questions.

Now, look at this snippet of copy:

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

Different elements in this copy are going to appeal to different personality types. Amiables will latch onto the “personalized to meet your objectives” part. Analytics will make a bee-line for the “methodology” section. Expressives are going to be very interested in those “thousands of clients.” And the Assertives are happiest when you cut to the chase and talk “bottom lines” and “guaranteed results.”

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

Here at Future Now, that’s just what we do with our Web site (undergoing graphic redesign as we speak!). We’ve painstakingly crafted copy that incorporates specific words and phrases that allow us to 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, but along the way, there is always the opportunity to shift personality gears. And our left-bar navigation? You’ll notice the topics change - anticipating the questions you’re most likely to ask at that point - depending on the scenario you are following and where you are in the sales process. The global nav stays the same and lets you hop, skip and jump your way through the site, if that’s your preference.

As we developed these scenarios, we were very careful to test, measure and optimize. In examining the navigation paths on our site over time, we learned some interesting things. Those who followed an Assertive scenario were happily staying in the process. So were the Amiables and the Expressives. Our difficulties were with the Analyticals - those folks who need lots of information and take their time making decisions. (We get more Analyticals than any other personality type.) We’d snag them just fine with the methodology hyperlink, but lose many of them at the methodology page. We realized this was in part because we weren’t giving them enough information to help them decide. One of our solutions was to offer a free, downloadable report full of conversion information.

It worked! And here’s an important feature of our solution: you only get to the downloadable report if you follow a methodology link (there are a number, phrased differently, at various stages along the conversion paths for each scenario). Are the dudes here withholding cretins? Hardly. But if you aren’t concerned about our methodology, you’re probably not going to bother reading the Report. Why shove it in your face? It’s simply that much extra noise - the know-it-all salesperson blathering on about stuff that doesn’t really matter to you. Remember, not all content is created equal, and not all people want the same content at the same time!

Humans are amazingly complex creatures, and any classification attempt is a simplification of this complexity. On top of that, no one person is all one personality type. You are each delightful mixtures - one type may predominate, but others come into play, often influenced by environmental factors, social factors, even ephemeral moods. So, even though you may know for a fact that 72 percent of your visitors are Analyticals, that doesn't mean you can write solely to the analytical profile!

After all, your Analytical might follow a path that is primarily how-oriented, then decide that to feel completely comfortable taking action, he requires some who-oriented information.

Also, consider the nature of the products or services you offer. Pure impulse-buying - the kind that Newport-News.com excels at - is going to appeal most to the friendly, impulsive Amiables.

A site selling engineering equipment is going to attract more Analyticals than Expressives … and even if an Expressive engineer requires the product, his job requires that he be concerned with a logical, orderly, precise and features-attentive approach. And if you run an online dating service, no matter how Analytical or Assertive your visitor, she is likely to approach this service in an Expressive state of mind.

Your ultimate goal is to delight each of your visitors, for the delighted customer is the one most likely to complete a purchase, refer your business to others and return to buy again.

This personality stuff is the key. And there’s no time like the present for getting personable!!

Sound Off!

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GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledge and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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