Motivating Your Web Site Visitors To Take Action: Personality Targeting

    September 27, 2004

The theory that I’m presenting in this article is based on a variation of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Kiersey Temperament Sorters.

The idea behind personality targeting is that people are generally motivated to different degrees by the following four qualities:

Power / Status
Competition / Cutting Edge
Connectedness / Community
Money / Price

So how do you decide which type to target? Well, you can either pick one type and go after those customers or try to cover all the bases in some way with your site. It’s easier than you think.

Here’s a rundown on the different personality types and some ideas on how to appeal to your specific audience.

Power / Status:

People who fall into this category want to be seen as important people. They look for products and services that reinforce that image. Targeting this group is great if you’re selling high-value items. Try to position your product/service/message as an important, prestigious thing. Celebrity endorsements are given a lot of weight with this crowd. These people generally have newer computer equipment and run the latest operating system versions, so you have a little more leeway when using different technologies in your site design such as JavaScript and DHTML.

A website designed to appeal to the power/status segment should be very professional, and the copywriting should convey a tone of exclusiveness. Prices may not be published; after all, if you have to ask…! Examples would be high-end automobiles, wedding photographers, fundraising balls, etc.

Competition / Cutting Edge:

People in this group are fashion-forward dressers, video-gamers and technology enthusiasts. They seek challenge and creativity. High-ticket items are no problem for this crowd since they are willing to pay a premium to get what they want before the rest of the market. A sales message to these people should emphasize the latest, greatest, fastest and the most unique features of the offering.

This group also has newer equipment and the latest browser. Your website design might feature more “bells and whistles” such as flash animation, DHTML/JavaScript mouseovers, demos and movies. Colors and design may be slightly unsettling and cutting edge — meant to be noticed. Customization, personalization and “skins” appeal to these customers. Examples of companies who would target this group would be electronics sites, website designers, art galleries, etc.

Connectedness / Community:

Those that fall into this group are the caretakers of the world. They worry about the environment, community issues, friends and family. They like familiar, accepted things. They are likely to wait until an item becomes a commodity that is in wide use before adopting it. Their browser and equipment are probably older, but still functional. A website catering to this crowd should emphasize content and advice and have simple navigation and a logical layout. The more information, the better. A comforting, simple color scheme is also important.

Recognition of events that affect our lives (e.g., 9-11, the Space Shuttle disaster) is appropriate and appreciated by this group. High-value items can be sold to this group if they are positioned correctly. They are glad to pay more for items that are environmentally-friendly or family-friendly, for example. This group likes it when you remember who they are the next time they visit, so website personalization can be helpful when targeting them. Some companies who would target this group might be “Made in the USA” products, Internet picture frame companies, chambers of commerce, etc.

Money / Price:

There are plenty of people in the world who shop by price alone, and for them you need to offer specials and discounts. Make it easy for them to buy so they don’t wander off and find your products/services cheaper elsewhere. These people need to be grabbed and called to action when they first visit your site.

For the price-conscious, limited-time offers are a good motivator. A site design for them should make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for, along with good information and prices. Be sure to include a site-search function and create the site so that it loads quickly and without gimmicks. Things like pop-up windows or slow-loading animations irritate this group and will make them leave. A huge plus for this group is a feature comparison chart. They also appreciate signing up for a newsletter that will notify them when items are on sale.

A fancy design could put this crowd off because they don’t want to pay for *your* marketing. Bright, active colors work well. Examples of the type of sites that might target these people are software companies, printer ink sales, cell phones, etc.

It is easy to focus on one personality type with your design, layout and copy, but with a little creativity you can actually build a site that appeals to all four types. When outlining the content for any given page of your site, try writing a heading and a paragraph that would appeal to each type. Better yet, try linking to a page where you can write copy that specifically speaks to that particular personality type. This way, those interested can click to the exact information they’re looking for!

This article originally appeared in the High Rankings newsletter.

Scottie Claiborne is the owner of Right Click Web Consulting. She is a speaker at the Search Engine Strategies conferences and the High Rankings Seminars as well as the Administrator of the High Rankings Forum and a moderator at the Cre8asite Forums.