What’s Your Customer’s Online Personality?

In the retail world in which we live, it’s hard to know who your customers are. Unlike in the days of brick and mortar stores, customers in today’s online shopping marketplace are cloaked in layers of anonymity, their wants, desires and specific shopping styles all filtered out by keyboards and IP addresses.

This presents a major marketing problem for many web enterprises. How do you cater to your shoppers when you know hardly anything about them, and how do you target your online campaigns when you can’t see your target?

We all have clearly identifiable personalities when we shop online, and our online behavior sends specific cues — just like our clothes, appearance and mannerisms would in real life — that can be crucial for companies to understand when targeting clients.

So what is your customer’s online personality?

The wish lister

We all know what shopping cart abandonment is, but did you know that the worst offenders of this practice tend to fall into one category?

Wish Lister shoppers are the modern-day equivalent of window shoppers — the ever-daydreaming, forever-Pinterest-pinning type of shoppers who browse, browse and browse some more, but never actually buy.

Because online shopping carts are virtual, Wish Listers feel a sense of ownership over the items they place in there, allowing them to experience a bit of the high of purchasing something lovely without having to actually pull the trigger.

How can you best serve the Wish Lister? After she leaves behind yet another stocked cart full of unpurchased items, offer her a discount on one or two of those items. The next time she returns to your site to browse but not buy, the incentive just might put her over the edge and send her, at last, to the checkout.

The brand-oriented visitor

Brand-Oriented Visitors are harder to plan for, because they are the ultimate impulse buyers. Concerned with status and labels rather than form or functionality, these shoppers shop based on emotion — how will this product make me feel? — rather than necessity.

It’s easy to identify Brand-Oriented Visitors based on their shopping history. If they stick to one tried and true designer and spend long hours testing out different colors and accessories online, you can bet you have a Brand-Oriented Visitor on your hands.

How do you target your online campaigns when you can’t see your target?

So how can you best serve the Brand-Oriented Visitor? Play into their emotional system. Keep product information at a minimum so as not to overwhelm these shoppers with the sorts of stats and numbers that they aren’t interested in, and instead focus on beautiful imagery and captivating text. Brand-Oriented Visitors tend to shop based on their gut feelings, so target your site accordingly.

The rational visitor

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the Brand-Oriented Visitor is the Rational Visitor. This is the shopper who comes to your site focused almost exclusively on meeting her price point, and also the kind of visitor who will carefully analyze cost and benefit ratios to make sure any potential purchase is practical and responsible.

For these visitors, go in the opposite direction. Offer bullet points that clearly state the product’s values and benefits, and make them clear and bright so they are prominent from the get-go. Minute details are of utter importance to the Rational Visitor, so honor that need and provide all the stats you can. The more information you offer, the more informed and empowered a Rational Visitor will feel and, as a result, the more likely to make her purchase with you over a competitor site.

The maximizer

Customers whose online behavior shows them visiting every single product review, hovering over statistical information and scanning pages from the very top to the absolute bottom — these customers fall into yet another category. They are the Maximizer shoppers, the visitors who are obsessed with making the absolute best purchase they can and who often drive themselves a little nuts before they are able to make a decision.

For these customers, anxiety is an issue. When faced with too many options on an e-commerce site, Maximizer shoppers can panic and end up closing their browser all together. All the choices and stimuli presented to them end up scaring them off rather than providing a sense of entertainment or comfort.

So be smart when offering text on your site. Limit the options presented to Maximizers — utilize filters to keep things organized, limit rows of products to five items at a time and offer encouragement or a slight “nudge” by suggesting purchases that are streamlined to each visitor’s shopping history.

The satisfier

Sometimes when we analyze website traffic at Clicktale, we see shoppers who start browsing at the top of a page, scroll down a bit and immediately stop and purchase an item when they find their match. They do this regardless of the fact that there are other items below that also fit their search criteria. These shoppers are called Satisfiers — they come to an e-commerce site with a specific need in mind, and the minute they find an item that meets that need, they plow ahead and purchase.

If you can identify a shopper’s personality, you can tailor your website to help get him exactly where you want him to go.

Satisfiers hate wasting their time with useless browsing and they find themselves easily pleased. So help these shoppers along by filtering down their options and keeping things in razor-sharp focus on the page.

Another great tool for helping Satisfiers find their products in as little time as possible is by allowing them to search by size, color and brand, immediately homing in on exactly what they are looking for and keeping irrelevant search results out of the page.

The hesitator

What about shoppers who come to your site ready and poised to buy, enjoy their browsing experience, stock up their cart and then freeze when the time comes to click “purchase”?

These shoppers also have a name. We call them Hesitators. These are customers who enjoy shopping and genuinely want to buy, but they are plagued by the fear of making a wrong decision and ending up with buyers’ remorse. You can spot them by their online behavior — they tend to hover over the final call-to-action button that will take them to the checkout page, choosing instead to leave their cart full and click and hover around nearby tabs while trying to decide what to do.

To help Hesitators feel more confident on their way to opening their wallets, consider the power of reward-based behavior. Design your website so it offers feedback and positive reinforcement along each step, scrapping neutral language like “Welcome to our site” for the more encouraging “You’ve made a great decision shopping with us!”

Also, focus on streamlining your site so there are fewer opportunities for opting out along the way, keeping the number of pages on the way to checkout at a minimum and making it harder to return to a previous page once the customer has finally clicked “purchase.”

The takeaway

In the brick and mortar era, sales representatives knew how to identify shoppers based on body language and appearance signals. In today’s world of online shopping, the game has completely changed, but businesses should know that even an anonymous online shopper is offering dozens of cues about his or her shopping tendencies based on how they browse and click.

If you can identify a shopper’s personality, you can tailor your website to help get him exactly where you want him to go — onto the checkout page and straight into conversion.