buyer personas

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

“Your market research with an attitude, your analytics in a skirt.”

Personas are fictional representations of your customers designed to help you understand what to say to prospects and how to deliver content to them.
There is no better predictor of conversion success than the availability of personas.
So, why do so many marketing departments have trouble turning personas into actionable marketing gold? I believe it is because traditional “buyer personas” are too broad in their definition.
In my most recent Content Marketing Institute post, I introduce you to Touchpoint Personas and identify the key components of them.
Read The Anatomy of a Great Web Persona.
Contact Brian Massey
P. S. Get fullvaccess to the Lab when you join The Conversion Scientist email list.

Personas provide three powerful points that will help you focus your marketing and advertising dollars, and justify more spending.

This is why Personas can mean bigger online projects.

The power of fake people

Imagine your most important customer, let’s call her Melissa, walking into your meeting room and laying the law down to your manager, telling them exactly what she wants from your Web site.

Now imagine that she’s not just your most important customer, but a representative of hundreds or thousands of your customers. Would she be able to change minds and influence decisions?

This is the power of Melissa. She is your Market Segmentation Study personified. She is your analytics report in a skirt. She is legal counsel for your creative team and a force to be reckoned with.

Melissa is an example of a persona. She represents the desires and fears of a large number of your prospects and customers in the most human and compelling way.

She isn’t real, but she will seem more real than any chart you can concoct.

Personas provide three powerful points that will help you focus your marketing and advertising dollars, and justify more spending. This is why Personas can mean bigger online projects.

Personas provide three powerful points that will help you focus your marketing and advertising dollars, and justify more spending. This is why Personas can mean bigger online projects.

Why Personas Have So Much Power

Roy H. Williams puts it best.

“Your business has three or four customers living at thousands of different addresses.”

Get to know them and they will lead you in the right direction.

Personas provide three powerful points that will help you focus your marketing and advertising dollars, and justify more spending.

1. You can Relate to People More Than Data

Melissa has a name, a face and a story. She is the perfect age, has the right income, and the ideal home environment to represent large numbers of your customers. With each little decision that marketers and business people make each day, you can ask, “What would Melissa do?” Each time you’re asked to make changes to your messaging, media, or offers, you can ask, “Would Melissa want this?”

You will relate to her as a marketer, manager, owner, CEO, Vice President or agency. This means better decisions, defendable positions, and consistent execution. Melissa is good.

2. Personas Create Consensus

The process of creating personas must involve anyone who would “know” Melissa. She is the personification of data, sales experiences, product research, customer support calls and personal experience. To make her whole, you must involved these functions in her creation.

Then, when budget time comes around; when knee-jerk initiatives seek to copy a competitor; when programs are proposed that are questionable, everyone will remember Melissa when you invoke her name.

3. Personas Turn Your Focus Outward

In any organization, it is easy to turn inward; to focus on the next product or the next campaign. Too many marketing conversations begin, “How can we get our message out more?”

Melissa changes the conversation.

“What could we do to get Melissa interested faster?”

“Why isn’t Melissa visiting the site?”

“What does Melissa need to know to go ahead and buy?”

These questions are fundamentally different. They are outward looking. Everything from strategy to copy to design will open to Melissa like a flower, and she will react.

The Key Components of an Online Persona

I’ll be covering the key components of an online persona in my SXSW Panel, provided you vote for it and it gets accepted.

I’ll also show you some of the decisions personas have influenced for my clients.

Give the panel idea your vote and then attend SXSW Interactive 2010.

Brian Massey

You can connect with thousands of visitors to your site by understanding only four modes of persuasion.

Modes of Persuasion: Relate to Four Connect with Thousands

Relate to Four Connect with Thousands

Communicating is connecting. If you’re communicating successfully, each of your readers will feel that you are writing directly to them.

I’m going to introduce you to a method of writing that will forge strong connections with your readers.

You will understand your readers when you understand the four “Modes of Persuasion.” Every visitor fits into one of four modes, and, as will see, each mode describes a different way of connecting. If you can master each of these modes, you can effectively draw anyone closer with your words.


The Four Modes of Persuasion

Each of your visitors will come in one of four modes: Competitive, Methodical, Humanist, or Spontaneous.

COMPETITIVE visitors are looking for information that will make them better, smarter or more cutting-edge. Use benefit statements and payoffs in your headings to draw them into your content.

METHODICALS like data and details. Include specifics and proof in your writing to connect with them.

HUMANISTS want information that supports their relationships. They will relate to your writing if you share the human element in your topic.

SPONTANEOUS visitors are the least patient. They need to know what’s in it for them and may not read your entire story. Provide short headings for them to scan so that they can get to the points that are important to them.

When you understand that every visitor consumes information differently, you can build empathy with more of your readers. In time, your content will appeal to a wider audience making your Web site more enjoyable and accessible.

You can learn more about these four Modes of Persuasion in the book Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

If you’re considering investing in a social marketing campaign, and you haven’t nailed your e-mail strategy, you may be investing in the wrong place.


The Superstitions That Keep You From E-mail Success

The Superstitions That Keep You From E-mail Success

I don’t think business owners and marketers are dumb. I think that they’re just superstitious. Like walking under a ladder, they fear that if they really step up their e-mail strategy, they’ll come to some sad end with only the pity of their loved ones to show for it.

Often, they’re afraid they’ll be punished by the god of “corporate image” and the unforgiving taskmaster, “brand.”

Here are the superstitions that keep us from making e-mail the effective, inexpensive marketing tool that it should be.

If I send e-mail, I’ll be seen as a Spammer

So, what is SPAM? It’s unsolicited or irrelevant e-mail.

Technically, irrelevant e-mail isn’t SPAM, but the reaction is the same, and usually involves words that I won’t publish here.

So, what isn’t SPAM?

  • It’s e-mail that I’ve specifically asked for.
  • It’s e-mail that I anticipate getting, even if I don’t read it all.
  • It’s e-mail that let’s me opt-out any time I feel it’s not relevant.
  • It’s information delivered to me in the way I want it if my inbox is my primary information source.

If you can satisfy these requirements, you are providing a valuable service. In fact, if you don’t send e-mail to someone who has opted into your newsletter or notification program, you’re breaking a contract with your prospects and customers. It’s dishonest to offer something and not follow through.

People get too much e-mail

No. People get too much unimportant e-mail. If you send valuable information to people who need it, you too can be important.

You may not be “I read every one of your e-mails immediately” important, but you can be.

Don’t worry. If their needs change, if they lose interest, they’ll tell you by unsubscribing (since you make this so easy).

People don’t want e-mail

If not by e-mail, then how will your prospects learn to solve their problems? Do you think more of your prospects are reading blogs? Do you think more of your prospects are on social networks? Twitter?

That people are using social media to get their information is only true for very specific segments of our the population. Members of the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X love their inboxes. Millennials do to, they just won’t admit it.

Let your readers decide. If you don’t have a plan for helpful, engaging e-mail, you’re denying them one of their favorite avenues of communication.

E-mail is old technology

E-mail is in its infancy. It is not a mature medium destined to fade away soon at the feet of a social media god. We are just learning how to deliver effective communications via the inbox. New technologies are being brought to bear, enabling inbox jockeys to get only the e-mail that is important, urgent, or highly desirable.

You just have to be sure you’re delivering something that is important, urgent, or highly desirable.

It takes too much time to do a newsletter

Then don’t do a newsletter.

If you can write a blog, you can write an engaging e-mail. In fact, if you have a blog, services such as Feedburner and Mailchimp will automatically send an e-mail to your subscribers every time you post. With Mailchimp, for example, you can create a template that includes promotional offers that will go out with your blog-to-e-mail posts.

My boss is more interested in social marketing and video

E-mail has an amazing quality that so many social media don’t. It’s measurable. You know who opened, who read, who bounced, who clicked, what they clicked on and if they forwarded the e-mail to a friend.

Plus, if you believe my premise that e-mail is the largest social network on the planet, you know that there is no better way to expose your video and social properties than through a list of interested individuals who’ve said they want to receive it.

No social network grows without e-mail. Why would your offering spread without it?

The “I’m No SPAMmer” Recipe

Since it’s easy to send e-mail without being a SPAMmer, why not do the following things:

  • Add a way to subscribe to your helpful or entertaining e-mail communications on every page of your Web site. Add a checkbox to every form. If you want to be extra diligent, ask the recipient to verify their e-mail address before they’ll receive anything.
  • Take the time to generate content that is going to help your readers solve their problems, educate them, or entertain them. Write as a human to a human. You do it everyday when communicating with your colleagues. Worry less about the design and more about your reader.
  • Be sure to offer an unsubscribe with each e-mail. Be CAN SPAM compliant by putting your mailing address on the e-mail. Don’t send e-mail to people who unsubscribe.
  • Send as often as the quality of your content allows. I received five e-mails in one day from American Airlines. They were telling me about the status of the flights I was scheduled to board. This wasn’t too much. It was welcome. Certainly there’s something valuable enough to send once or twice a month.

Most of this functionality will be provided by any of a hundred E-mail Service Providers (ESPs) for about a penny an e-mail. Plus, they’ll manage your relationship with Internet Service Providers to ensure that more of your e-mail makes it to the inboxes it’s destined for.

We’re talking about all things related to online marketing strategy and conversion at The Conversion Scientist. Get every post
directly to your inbox and you won’t miss a thing.


Photo courtesy zettmedia via stock.xchng

Flip through Best Buy's Personas

Flip through Best Buy’s Personas

Oh no! The secret’s out.

Best Buy actually took the time to profile their customers with the intention — GASP — of selling more to them. The Consumerist finds this somehow disingenuous, that one of the biggest consumer electronics retailers on the planet is not interested in selling to customers that aren’t profitable.

Maybe it’s not OK for Best Buy to do this, but do you feel some moral obligation to sell to anyone, even if you don’t make money? I don’t.

According to writer Meg Marco, Best Buy’s sins include catering “only to its most profitable customers, or ‘angels.'”

That sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Keep reading, and I’ll lay an even bigger shocker on you.

We All Carry Personas Around With Us

The truth is, that The Consumerist has a set of personas. They just haven’t written them down. A quick review of their content will tell you that one of their key personas is the angry, cynical or distrustful consumer who likes to rant, and who will spread The Consumerist’s message to their friends via email, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.

This is how they grow their business.

These crazed consumers are their “angels.” Meg may even see someone like me — a marketer — as a “demon” on their site. The Consumerist content is targeted, relevant, and engaging, but only to those readers who will help them sell more and more advertising.

That is the power of personas, and you can use them in your business too if you want to sell more or generate more leads.

A Scandal in the Making

Here’s the shocker. I have a set of personas for this blog. And I’ve even gone so far as to write them down.

Yes, it’s a scandal in the making. I can already see the headlines:

Exclusive: The Conversion Scientist Seeks to Grow Audience!

Blogger Targets Content Away from Uninterested Readers!

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably one of my angels. I write for you and seek to provide value to you. You specifically. I’ve created my personas so I can target my topics and writing style to you. I think this will make you read more and share my stuff with your friends.

This is how I grow my blog.

I’m going to introduce you to my personas in the course of this series on conversion Web strategies. Don’t miss a post.

Do you think you will see yourself in them?

Thanks to Britton Manasco of Illuminating the Future for sending me this.

Conversion Scientists love their crayons.

Watch the ConversionCast of the Site We’re starting something new here at Conversion Sciences: The ConversionCast.

A ConversionCast is a detailed analysis of a page based on two primary scales: The four Modes of Persuasion and visitors’ position in the Sales Process.

Learn more about the Modes of Persuasion in the book Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg.

A Proven Process for Improving Your Web Site

These two issues are key to making your Web site convert. You should understand that everyone comes to your site in a certain mode, which the Eisenbergs name Methodical, Competitive, Spontaneous or Humanistic. These modes are based on research on Myers-Briggs personality types and Jungian archetypes.
You must also realize that visitors to your site are at different stages of the buying process: Awareness, Consideration or Action.

Watch These Two Five-minute Examples

In ten minutes you should begin to understand how to look at your Web site, and how to improve your conversion results.

NOTE: These turned out a little big, but consider these the HD versions. Please comment with your thoughts and ideas.

We’ll be doing more of these in the coming weeks. Don’t miss a single ConversionCast.

ConversionCast: Designing for Personas


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.