buyer personas

The Brad Pitt Shuffle: we’d all like to think that our target market is pretty sexy.  It’s good looking, it has money, it has style.  If you’d like to keep up this charade because it makes you feel better, by all means.

When we try to sell to everyone, our message becomes confusing.

When we try to sell to everyone, our message becomes confusing.

But if you’re ready to figure out why your marketing campaign isn’t working, it’s time to remove yourself from this little dance and turn yourself into the Digital Dr. Frankenstein you really are.  [pullquote]Use all of the resources you have at your disposal to create the ideal fake customer[/pullquote], and you’ll realize that you can target your campaign in a way you didn’t think possible.  Listen to a Brian’s keynote summary to get an idea of what we mean.
Brian Massey keynote overview from Conversion Hotel 2014 from webanalisten on Vimeo.

Online retailer iNature Skincare® sponsored a video that turned into a phenomenon.

Released on October 29, 2014, the Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question video had garnered over 4 million views within two weeks.

iNature Skincare had sponsored a viral hit.

Unfortunately, sales did not rise as much as one would think. Why not? It is not uncommon for viral videos to fail as buy-ral videos.

We took a look at their site and felt that they hadn’t mapped the visitors journey appropriately.

The Visitor’s Journey

In this case the visitor’s journey starts with being moved by the video. It should then move to becoming aware of the brand, to understanding why the brand sponsored this video, to considering their products, and then to purchase.

I feel good. I want to feel good some more.

After viewing the video, we feel pretty good. Or sad. Or nostalgic. These feelings aren’t typical when considering skin care products.

As viewers, our first response is to get more of this feeling. The most common way to extend the feeling is to share with others. This is clearly happening.

However, iNature Skincare should be enabling this next step. I would have liked to know why iNature sponsored this video.

How does my feeling relate to the sponsor?

iNature Skincare’s viral video is benefiting other brands, brands not nearly as closely aligned with it.

For me, PS Print is getting the love from this video because they are advertising here. This is most likely a retargeted ad. I think iNature Skincare should be here.

Other advertisers are getting the benefit of this viral video through advertising.

Other advertisers are getting the benefit of this viral video through advertising.

My recommendation was that iNature Skincare should ask the producer to add an overlay or advertise on the video with a message that says, “Why did iNature Skincare asked 50 people this question? Our story.” This would run before the filmmaker, Jubilee Project had a chance to make their pitch at the end.

This ad would allow visitors to take the next step in the journey. If you were producing such a video, you would want to use the end of the video to bring the viewers to the next step.

The sponsor shares my values.

The ad would need to bring the visitor to a page that answered the question posed.

Every ad should bring the visitor to a page that continues the journey. Home pages are notoriously bad at that.

The page should communicate that there was a reason for the effort, and tie the message to it’s products. We really don’t have to work too hard to do this. The message, in words and pictures would be:

We chose to sponsor this video because one of the people interviewed was clearly impacted as a child by acne and eczema. Our products could have helped. We’re still working on the Mermaid Tail.

If I have skin problems, my next question should be, “Really? How?”

The sponsor can solve a problem I have.

iNature Skincare has strong proof of the effectiveness of its products. It has an award-winning package design that lends it credibility. But we must honor the visitor’s journey.

Now is the time to begin building out the company’s value proposition in words and images.

I felt that the compelling proof found in a study was their most powerful statement of the power of the product. This study was small. Eight babies were treated with their product and the results measured on two scales. The before and after pictures are available on the site.

This page offers compelling evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the products. Click for full image.

This page offers compelling evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the products. Click for full image.

The results on this page are unclear, but the pictures are powerful. The product is effective and save enough for babies.

What product did this? Unfortunately, iNature Skincare leaves the visitor hanging on this page. This is an ideal time to introduce the product that had such an impact and offer more information. This could be done in the right sidebar area of the page.

A mockup of the Consumer Study page with a next step for the visitor.

A mockup of the Consumer Study page with a next step for the visitor.

I would also add products at the bottom of this page.

I can afford the product that solves my problem.

The visitor now needs to do a cost/benefit calculation. It’s time to introduce the product and complete the value building process. For iNature Skincare, the product page does a good job.

I recommended putting a picture of the product used and a link to learn more about the product. The page that featured the product was imperfect, but provided a good deal of information.

The iNature Skincare product page.

The iNature Skincare product page.

This was a good next step because after providing the product information and the price, the presented the next step in the visitor’s journey.

Should I buy now? Can I delay?

The next step in the journey is the choice. So far, the question in the visitor’s mind – “Should I go on?” – has been an easy one to answer. Each click offered more relevant information in the journey.

Visitors that don’t have skin problems have fallen away. Now we are talking to those who need our product.

It’s time to bring them to choice.

This is the job of the call-to-action button. For most ecommerce sites, “Add to Cart” tests well as the call to action. It is presented here in bold read.

This is the traditional next step in the buyer's journey for ecommerce sites.

This is the traditional next step in the buyer’s journey for ecommerce sites.

The button is very wide, and almost doesn’t look like a clickable button. It also lies well down the page. It could be missed. Nonetheless, it offers a natural next step in the visitor’s journey, an important final step.

If, at this point, the visitor does not purchase, then we can assume that

a) they just weren’t ready

b) we didn’t do a good enough job of building value

Price is rarely the issue. When I tell you that your product is too expensive, they mean that you didn’t do a good enough job explaining the value to me.

Could iNature Skincare entice more of these lost visitors to buy?

The Complete Journey

We’ve mapped out a journey from first exposure through to purchase.

  1. A good feeling from branded content
  2. Discovering a brand that shares my values
  3. The realization that the brand solves a problem I have
  4. Understanding the product’s value proposition
  5. The decision to buy
  6. Finalizing the transaction

Each point along the way holds an opportunity for optimization. Here are some opportunities for iNature Skincare to improve these waypoints.

Let Your Visitors Find Their Own Journey

For many visitors, we will not know where their journey started. So, we have to make it easy for them to create their own journey.

iNature Skincare as a non-standard design. The navigation bar is in a sticky band along the bottom, instead of along the top as is expected by most visitors.

This cuts 110 pixels off of the page height, space which could be used to further the value proposition.

The floating navigation bar at the bottom of the takes up precious space.

The floating navigation bar at the bottom of the takes up precious space.

Every page on the site needs to offer a next step toward evaluating the products. There are no next steps on the Our Story, About, Dry Skin or Before and After pages.

Every page should answer a question and continue the journey.

If you are stuck on designing your buyer journey, I recommend you buy Buyer Legends from Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg. They outline a process for laying out powerful stories that marketers can actually implement.

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This is a guest post written by Melissa Sawyer

The internet has revolutionized many aspects of modern life, from the way we work, to the way we shop. E-commerce is an industry built entirely around the internet. Purchases in e-commerce occur solely within an online environment eliminating the elements of physical interaction that using a traditional brick and mortar store brings.

For it to be viable for customers to shop online instead of at a brick and mortar store, the online experience needs to be convenient and practical – more so than using the physical store. In many cases, this will manifest in the form of cheaper products and a wider variety of stock than a small store could offer.

However, the strength of a brick and mortar store will always be that the customer leaves with the stock then and there. The item is theirs immediately, without any further delay. Shoppers are willing to wait for their items only if the online shopping experience is easy and free of complications.

Excellent service and efficient delivery are just as important as a well designed site

Many online shoppers are simply there to browse. They place items in their basket, but ultimately pull out of the transaction at the end. This is what is known as shopping cart ‘abandonment’. Since online shoppers can easily comparison shop, it is important that the experience is of the highest standard. This extends beyond just how a site functions, and is applicable right up until the product has been successfully delivered to the customer.

Internet shoppers will always be influenced by the aesthetics of an online store. If it works well and looks good, customers will be happy to give you their money. Businesses know this and spend large amounts of money on web development. However, a flashy site but poor customer service is a sure fire way to alienate customers and ensure that they won’t return.

One of the biggest criticisms online retailers face is poor delivery of purchased items. Goods arriving late, damaged, or failing to arrive altogether are common issues with online retail. The New York Times recently ran a piece that highlights the some of the issues online retail face, particularly shipping mistakes.

Certain hiccups are bound to happen from time to time, but if those issues are resolved well, then the customer is more likely to return. If missing or damaged items are dealt with professionally, and swiftly, then a customer will be more likely to give their businesses in the future. However, if a customer is left waiting a long time for an inadequate resolution, then you can forget it.

Steps can be taken to prevent delivery mishaps

It seems painfully obvious, but a well placed ‘fragile’ sticker on a package can work wonders. People will tend to be more careful if they know the item will be easily damaged. Packing orders well is another must. If orders from your e-commerce site keep arriving broken, then your packaging may be to blame just as much as an heavy handed courier or delivery staff.

Selecting a reputable company to carry out your deliveries is essential. As always in the world of business, reputation is everything. Choose someone you know has a good track record of quick, safe deliveries. It is even better to use a company that offers recorded delivery, especially if real-time tracking of shipments is offered. This offers peace of mind to online stores who dispatched the order, and customers who eagerly await the goods that they have paid for. After all, if any complications arise, it will be your job to explain this to the customer. This is a small detail that is often overlooked and can be extremely damaging to customer relations.

Many online retailers opt to do as suggest and protect their items during the delivery stage through the use of ‘goods in transit’ insurance. This means if items are lost or damaged while it is being delivered, then they are covered and costs can be recuperated.

If your store operates locally, and runs its own local delivery service, then it may be an idea to fit delivery vehicles with a vehicle tracking system. This allows you to see the driving habits of delivery staff, with some systems being so advanced that they can analyze the sharpness of turns and harshness of braking. These can be valuable tools for stamping out any aggressive driving that may be responsible for damaging products in transit.

Ultimately, e-commerce is built upon trust

Online shoppers put their trust into online stores to a greater extent than in physical shops. There is a massive degree of faith involved. Online shoppers cannot inspect the items themselves, so are trusting online retailers that the products they order bare resemblance to what is presented on screen, but also that they will be delivered within the time frame stated.

People flock to online shopping due to its ease and flexibility. The majority of time, this will prove to be a smooth experience, but even small errors cost businesses money. It is important to remember, just because an order has been placed and the products have been shipped, it does not signify the end of an online retailer’s relationship with a customer.

The Conversion Sciences Lab requires long hours of focused attention. Needless to say, we have to keep ourselves in shape to do good work. I keep my svelte shape in part by performing some physiological experiments on myself at Lifetime Fitness. The things I do would make me laugh if I was watching.
(C) 2012 Life Time FitnessAs part of Lifetime my membership, I am graced with the monthly magazine Experience L!fe. The March issue featured the article “A Plan for Happiness.”
Finally! A plan.
The plan for happiness begins with some convincing proof, citing a study by a PhD on some three-thousand people. Based on this research, the good doctor found that, “If you can prevent stress from happening by planning, you’re going to be much better off.” He offered three steps:


  1. Make a List before you go to bed each night

  3. Prioritize and tackle the first two or three things immediately

  5. Break down big tasks into 15-minute chunks.

Now, if you are like me and some three-fourths of the population, you will find this list laughable. This kind of disciplined and controlled regimen works for one kind of person, but not for most of us.
Now imagine that your online business was paid based on the happiness achieved by its visitors. This one recipe would not be a very profitable, because it only appeals to one personality “mode.” Based on Myers-Briggs research, there are at least four major personality modes, or temperaments, and I discuss them in my most recent Search Engine Land column.
How would we write our happiness recipe to appeal to each of the four personality types and why do you care? First of all, you care because the job of your website is to make your visitors happy. That is when they buy from you.
The list provided by our eager PhD is ideal for the Competitive types, who are often found to be on a mission to improve their life. They are goal-oriented and disciplined.
However, our Spontaneous visitors live for impulse and action. Their plan for happiness might be:


  1. Make a list if you go to bed. Make your list with an Etch-a-sketch or Lite-Brite to make it fun.

  3. Prioritize. Then tackle the first two or three things that grab your interest in the morning.

  5. Break down big tasks into “Squirrel!”

Humanists, on the other hand make decisions based relationships and how something makes them feel. Their stress relief formula might be:


  1. Make a list before you go to bed of the people you wish were snuggling with you. Call them to talk.

  3. Prioritize the first two or three things on someone else’s list. Tackle these for them.

  5. Break down big tasks and have a task party with each of your friends getting one 15-minute chunk.

Finally, our Methodicals are going to be suspicious that three steps is sufficient to solve a problem like happiness. They need information, data and detail.


  1. Make a list before you go to bed each night.

  3. Do a gap analysis of this list against the previous night’s list. On weekends, include a trend analysis.

  5. Prioritize the list, but do not tackle yet.

  7. QA the prioritized list using the list prioritization guidelines.

  9. Complete a task requirements document (TRD) for each.

  11. Identify resources required and procure missing materials.

  13. Execute.

  15. Have 15-minute progress reviews to ensure there has been no task scope creep.

Do you identify with any of these? Tell us in the comments. Read more about them in Advanced Landing Page Techniques: Searcher Personas. They are the modes of persuasion that the Eisenberg brothers define in their book Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? which I highly recommend.
How is your site making its case to the four kinds of visitors you have coming to your site?

The Dollar Shave video went mega viral because it is “funny”, right?
But to understand why and how it is funny you need to break it down and analyze what motional strings it is playing. Only then will you truly understand its success.

Michael is fed up. Who isn’t?

The major emotional theme of the video is “Fed up-ness”. At the heart of this Fed up-ness lies of course Dollarshave’s value proposition to customers who are fed up with paying for overpriced razor blades. But there’s more.
The whole body language of CEO Michael Dubin says “I’m fed up”. He just can’t sit or stand still, he needs to move, he’s on a mission. He’s fed up with political correctness as he proclaims that the blades are F***ing great. He’s fed up with over-paid tennis players. I think he’s even fed up with being fed up.
This goes right into the core of the American peoples’ feelings. Not only are they fed up with the Razor blade monopoly, they’re fed up with Washington, they’re fed up with no jobs. They’re also fed up with being fed up.

Michael takes matters into his own hands

By doing so he becomes an agent for the aspirations of Gillette-enslaved Americans. When they buy blades from Dollarshave, they’re not customers, they’re proactive change agents who can create change and fortune by their own actions. Together with Michael they enact their shared American dream.
Remember the payoff in the video?
“Isn’t it about time?”
It’s not a product or service statement. Actually not even a statement. It’s just about how you feel when you’re fed up and want to take matters into your own hands. Like Michael.

Michael is one of us, not one of them

Look at Michael’s office. It’s a mess. You’ll find similar offices all over the country. Except of course at Madison Avenue. It’s as far from that as you can possibly get. In any case Michael seems to spend most of his time in the warehouse.
Michael would not pay an agency tons of cash to make this video. If you know a little bit about video production you can see it’s professionally made. Still it’s created to preserve an amateurish look and feel. That’s not by coincidence.
And Michael obviously can’t play tennis.

Michael is American

Ok, the flag at the end is obvious, but when you think of it the American theme runs right through the video.
There’s an homage to the ancestors (Grandpa with Polio). The evil villain is a foreigner (a Swiss tennis player). There’s a reference to the Vanderbilts.
It might not be as obvious to you as it is to me (I’m Swedish), but it’s there for sure.

Michael talks to….. Yeah, Michaels

Michael is a former marketing exec. Does he need to save dollars on his shaving in order to be able to keep the kids in school? I don’t think so. He just thinks it’s about time.
So when crafting the video for the launch campaign Michael needed to decide what people he should appeal to. – “What is the persona of my early adopter?”, is the question he must have been asking himself.
And I think the answer is – “People like myself!”. People who think the Swiss Army knife approach of Gillette is starting to look ridiculous. People who don’t need to save on their shaving. People who just have this feeling that something should change. Not for rational money-saving reasons, but for emotional reasons.
Others will come later. Who really need to save on their shaving. Who wants more proof of the quality of the blades. Then we’ll see other campaigns designed for them. But for now Michaels want to wake up thousand of Michaels around the country.

Michael creates an Experience

I listened to Jared Spool at Conversion Conference SF a couple of months ago. He said that every innovation goes through three phases; Technology, Features and Experience, being the final one.
Gillette is clearly about Features, with their vibrating handle, flashlight, 10 blades and backscratcher (according to Michael). They’re trying to sell us a Shaving Experience which is an Experience around the use of the product.
Michael, on the other hand, spends exactly 5 seconds to talk about the features of the products in the 94 seconds video. Dollarshave creates an Experience around how we see ourselves as individuals and how we want to live our lives. This is infinitely stronger.
We react much stronger to messages about our identity than our actions. I guess Michael knows this.
So if and when you decide to buy those blades you’re not just shaving – You’re participating in a collective experience designed to enforce your self-image as a strong and active American who thinks “It’s about time”.
John Ekman is the Chief Conversionista of Conversionista! He is regarded as a Swedish authority on Conversion Rate Optimization. According to John, a Conversionista is someone deeply and crazily passionate about improving Conversion Rates. You can find more inspiring posts on John’s blog.

GrouponWhatever you think of deals site leader Groupon, you can’t argue with their amazing success.
Since 2007, Groupon has built an email list of 50 million subscribers and have kept them enraptured even though they send an email almost every single day.
Is it the deals? I would argue that it is not. Groupon: Is it the Deals or the Copy?
Find out how the layout and copy of their daily inbox offering keep people on their lists and reading day after day.

Groupon: Is It the Deals or the Copy?

I’m completing the chapters of my new book due out in this Spring. Find out how you can get a free copy of the book when its available.

Demographics can lie to you. In fact, they often do. This makes them very unreliable when you are trying to make decisions about what to put on your website.

How demographics mislead us and how analytics can set us on the right page again

The Content, headings, copy and images all impact the success of your site. Knowing how to develop these components for your particular audience is the key to higher and higher conversion rates.
In this on demand webinar, I guide you toward understanding your audience showing you:

  1. An easy way to model your different buyers.
  2. How demographics often mislead us.
  3. How to find different buyers in your analytics.

Then you get to test your own knowledge in the Conversion Quiz: What to Test?!

Webinar: Accelerating Your Online Business by Optimizing for Buyer Personas

Watch it now.
Password maxscientist
Password maxscientist
Thanks to Maxymiser for the opportunity to share this information with you.
I’m completing the chapters of my new book due out in this Spring. Find out how you can get a free copy of the book when its available.

iStock_000008395106MediumI am somewhat embarrassed to tell you that I’m doing a webinar with a really interesting company – Maxymiser – but that we really blew it on the title.
The irony is that the webinar is all about designing websites and content that appeal to your most valuable visitors.
You are valuable to me, yet I still named the webinar… I’m embarrassed to admit it…
“Accelerating Your Online Business by Optimizing for Buyer Personas”
See the full webinar on demand.
Now, if you’re interested at all in website conversion, I should know that you don’t wake up at night saying, “Wow! I need to accelerate my online business!”
You certainly don’t spend your day in a cold sweat, wondering how to “optimize for buyer personas.”
So, why did I name this webinar “Accelerating Your Online Business by Optimizing for Buyer Personas!?”
Because sometimes I make the same mistakes you are making in your marketing. I’m trying to come up with titles and headlines and copy that appeal to everyone, when I should be focusing on you, a real business with real conversion concerns.
So here’s my promise: I’m going to tell you who should be part of this webinar, straight up, and you can go about your business if it isn’t you.
If you want to know what color your Add to Cart button should be, you’re going to hate this webinar.
If you want to know how to get your team to stop writing titles like “Accelerating Your Online Business by Optimizing for Buyer Personas,” you’re in the right place.
If you’re looking for ten steps toward better landing pages, you’re going to be disappointed (but you will be entertained).
If you’re frustrated that your website isn’t doing better, and you’re not afraid of change, you should be here.
If you like presentations named “Accelerating Your Online Business by Optimizing for Buyer Personas”, you’re not going to like Accelerating Your Online Business by Optimizing for Buyer Personas.
We’re going to have more fun than that title suggests.
We’re going to talk about personas, which I know is very conceptual for many of you. You are dismissed.
For the rest of you, I offer a clarity of direction and purpose that few website teams can claim.
And we’re going to see if you learned anything, by finishing up with “What to Test: The Conversion Quiz.”
Yes, online marketing should be fun.
So, please ignore the title and come if you want to learn:

  1. An easy way to model your best visitors into four “Modes of Research”
  2. The limits of demographics and how to overcome them
  3. How to use analytics to uncover persona behavior
  4. The Conversion Quiz: Test your ability to apply personas to on-page tests

Pretend we named the webinar something more interesting.
Watch the replay here. I promise you will learn something valuable.

What Bouncy Bob, Lost Lucy, Methodical Mary and One-hit Juan will tell you about your business.

“It’s people!” Detective Thorn declared in the 70’s apocalypse flick Soylent Green.
The same can be said about analytics.
In the conversion lab, website analytics is a clinical tool, sterile in its collection of data on our visitors and their behaviors. It is capable of providing rafts of data and reams of reports over hundreds of metrics. And all of this is of little help to us in making business decisions.
I’ve given my analytics a more human face, and I think it will work for you as well.
In I use two metrics and two helpful Google Analytics features to capture the behavior of four characters that visit our sites.

Bouncy Bob will spend below average time on the site and will visit few pages during his visit.
Like Bob, Lost Lucy will spend little time on the site, but will hit a number of pages higher than the site’s page-per-visit average. It’s like she is lost and trying to find something relevant.
One-hit Juan spends a great deal of time on the site, but visits few pages. He lingers on some content before moving on.
Finally, Methodical Mary spends a great deal of time and visits many pages. This is typically considered a sign of high engagement.

When I apply these personalities to The Conversion Scientist blog, I find that:

  • Like most sites, Methodical Mary will drive the highest subscription rate. She’s engaged, staying for a long time and seeing lots of pages. She is also seeing my offers to subscribe multiple times.
  • Lost Lucy’s are, surprisingly, my second best visitor. She doesn’t  convert at nearly the rate that Mary does, but perhaps she likes what she sees and wants to be reminded to come back when she has more time.
  • I would expect Bouncy Bob to have the worst conversion rate, but he beats Juan.
  • Juan visits an average of one page per visit, but stays for an average of more than ten minutes. What’s going on here? I suspected that he was watching one of the many videos I post on the site. But when I look at the pages that Juan frequents, I find something different: they all have links to other sites that open in a new window. The time-on-site clock is ticking while Juan checks out another site!

Juan shows us one of the pitfalls of links to other sites. If you open links to other sites in a new window, it skews your analytics reporting, and doesn’t seem to really help visitors come back to your site.
What can you learn from the people that you meet in your analytics?

It’s people! Analytics is people!

Every site has one visitor in common: Googlebot. Googlebot is an unusual visitor that few of us understand.
If you follow The Conversion Scientist, you know that a failure to understand your visitor is conversion suicide.
So how do we get copywriters, designers, developers and marketers to configure their site for this powerful king-maker visitor? The same way we do this for our human visitors: We personify them.
My Search Engine Land column “Building Empathy for Googlebot” this month is a persona profile of Googlebot, and any site should be able to use this to their advantage.
Put it somewhere everyone on the Web team can see it; print posters, put it up on Basecamp, add it to your war room.
It should go right next to your other personas. Don’t have any? Contact us and we’ll help you understand if personas will move your online business forward.
Here’s an excerpt:

Recommended Strategies

  • Do not attempt to sell Googlebot anything or invite him to join your email list.
  • Change content frequently. Googlebot loves blogs.
  • Don’t attempt to contact Googlebot or Google support.
  • Use video. Googlebot seems to like video, even though he can’t understand it.
  • Create content that makes other sites link to you.
  • Link to sites that have words similar to yours.
  • Put transcripts of videos on the page.

Contact Brian Massey