Why Most Marketers Fail To Understand Their Target Audience

Maya Nix

Feb 26, 20155 min read
Why Most Marketers Fail To Understand Their Target Audience

As marketers, we talk a lot about target audiences and buyer personas. Understanding them is often listed as one of the most fundamental tasks for any marketing activity. We hypothesize, conduct interviews, and create content and landing pages tailored to each persona.

Yet, most of us still do not fully understand our target audience. They can surprise us with their responses to the content that we had created specifically for them. We often struggle in accurately predicting their behavior and pursuing them as effectively as we would like.

The main reason for this challenge is that we are not focusing on the right elements. We typically know the gender, age range, job type and geography of our target. But not all “male, 29-34-year-old, professionals from large metropolitan areas” are created equally and they don’t all react to our content and offers in the same way. Think about it as it relates to yourself, do you know other people who have similar profile information and fit into the same “box” as you? Do they all work the same way you do? Have the same pains and? Are motivated by the same things you are?

To truly understand our target audience, we need to add another element to our buyer persona analyses: psychological personality types.

You can use many psychology personality type methodologies for this. There is the Myers-Briggs psychometric questionnaire, which offers 16 four-letter combination assessments based on the typological theories proposed by Carl Jung. You could use the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), which is used by HR departments at major employers like Bank of America, the US Air Force and Coca Cola. Or you could use web psychologist Liraz Margalit’s six recurring patterns of online behavior, which is more specifically suited for online targeting.

The Six Patterns of Online Behavior

Only by adding a personality and online behavioral element to buyer personas, can we truly understand the driving force behind our targets’ actions and create content, calls to action and design changes that will facilitate them to proceed along the buyer’s journey.

1. The Wish Lister

This type of online buyer will remain in the early stages of the buyer’s journey without completing the sale. As it relates to online e-commerce site, they will place items in their shopping cart without completing a purchase.

The psychological foundation for this behavior is that this personality type already feels some ownership over the items they have expressed interest in (or put in their cart). When you notice (or your automation system notices for you) a buyer constantly abandoning carts or not progressing through the funnel to completion, try sending an email with a special on the specific item they are interested in.

Psychologically, this will enforce the wishful thinking bias and give “The Wish Lister” the user experience that it is “meant to be.”

Track your results of this personality type and watch as more prospects convert to customers with a personal call to action.

2. The Brand-oriented Visitor

An impulsive buyer through and through, this personality type will gravitate toward products based on reputation. They will remain stuck at the top of the funnel, but for different reasons. You will notice these visitors playing around with product attributes (like switching colors or designs) with little to no interest in practicalities like price or functionality.

Psychologically, this buyer is aroused emotionally and will buy when site elements add up to make him or her feel good. Consider adding many captivating product images and hiding detailed product information behind tabs to minimize distractions and help convert the “Brand-Oriented Visitor.”

3. The Rational Visitor

The polar opposite of the emotional, impulsive buyer described above is the rational visitor, who needs objective observation and fact-based analysis to make a buying decision. You may notice this buyer looking through your site for data and information.

To help this buyer, offer content that is rich in statistics, facts, comparisons and information to prove that they are making the right buying decision.

Once set up with the numbers and facts supporting their buying decision, “Rational Visitors” will convert.

4. The Maximizer

These buyers need assurance that they are making the absolute best decision. Second-best is not an option for them and until they are sure they have explored all available options, they will not buy.

Psychologically, this visitor is going through anxiety and frustration. To minimize that and encourage them to take action, offer fewer options. Use filtering, limit each row to no more than five items, and provide “suggested products” to improve the user experience for this buyer. When this type of buyer is certain that the best selection has been made, “The Maximizer” will convert.

5. The Satisfier

If “The Maximizer” is concerned about making the absolute best choice, “The Satisfier” can be described as making a “good enough” choice. This buyer typically has certain criteria in mind and will purchase as soon as they are met (regardless of other products that may exceed those criteria).

The best way to help this customer along is with filtering. Allow them to sift through products by category, price, size, brand, type, color, review rating, and anything else you can think of. By quickly filtering through the list to find the product that fits the needed criteria, you make the user experience much more satisfying and increase ease of conversion for “The Satisfier.”

6. The Hesitator

You will notice this online buying personality completing lead registration forms or placing items in a cart and then hovering over a Call to Action as if they are unsure or need approval to proceed.

This is caused by risk avoidance and indecision.

To help “The Hesitator” populate pages with positive wording, feedback and approval. The message at the top of a lead gen form, for example, could be replaced with, “You are one step away from improving your career” or when placing items in a cart, you could display a message that says, “You made a great choice with this classy black dress.”

According to Dr. Margalit, “Positive wording has a carry-over effect, so the feeling ‘The Hesitator’ gets from encouraging feedback puts the entire experience in an optimistic light, making him feel good about the purchasing process.”

Understanding Target Audiences Through Psychology

When we add the elements of web psychology to our process, we gain a better understanding of our buyer personas and the actions we can take to help them move along our funnels. By assessing the online behavior or “digital body language” of our prospect, we can determine whether our “male, 29-34-year-old, professional from a large metropolitan area” is a “Maximizer “or a “Satisfier,” for example.

We can then mold a user experience that will promote feeling contentment and “legitimize” the purchase. As Dr. Margalit explains, “This new body language is revealed through online activities such as browsing behavior, click-through rates, hesitation, scrolling and more. Tracking this behavior enables companies to quickly identify their buyers’ psychological needs and better assist them through the decision making process.”

Source: UX Magazine.

Author Photo
Maya Nix is the Marketing Content Producer for ClickTale, a technology evangelist in the growing field of digital customer experience. Maya applies her strong background in crafting a variety of content deliverables for the online industry to develop ClickTale’s thought leadership content. Maya holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Tel-Aviv University and LL.B degree from Dalhousie University in Canada.