For conversion optimization, it’s useful to identify the basic buyer type that you’re optimizing for.
In Waiting for Your Cat to Bark, Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg and Lisa Davis segment buyers into four fundamental personality types based on logic vs. emotion as one dimension and speed as the other:
Competitive: Competitive buyers want to perform smart, quick, and decisive actions as a competitive advantage.
Methodical: Methodical buyers review all technical information to assure themselves that they’re making the right choice.
Spontaneous: Spontaneous buyers enjoy the thrill of a quick purchase and the perceived emotional benefit that it will generate.
Humanistic: Humanistic buyers are also motivated by emotion, but want to understand more about the organization they’re buying from and the individuals who comprise the organization.
For most websites, you can start with some basic assumptions about the buyer types: a website that sells life insurance probably does not have the same buyer profile as a site that sells jet skis.
These assumptions can drive some initial design and messaging decisions for your site. For continued optimization, you can take advantage of ongoing visitor feedback, and also run content experiments within Google Analytics.
In many cases, your audience will include multiple buyer types, or a single prevalent type that spans across more than one quadrant. In this case, you can design your site to accommodate multiple modalities. The best design for the life insurance site might incorporate both methodical and humanistic elements, both readily accessible.
While we can never know the exact motivations of our visitors, we can make some reasonable assumptions and test them as part of our ongoing optimization efforts.