Combine Personas With These 4 Personality Types To Better Target Customers

Per­sonas help you eval­u­ate your con­tent and iden­ti­fy strate­gic gaps to meet your cus­tomers’ needs. It’s also cru­cial to under­stand site vis­i­tor behav­ior.

Bryan Eisenberg By Bryan Eisenberg from Buyer Legends. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Many com­pa­nies have devel­oped per­sonas, yet only a few use them effec­tive­ly. It’s rel­a­tive­ly easy to throw togeth­er a set of cus­tomer char­ac­ter­is­tics and call it a per­sona. It’s not so easy to cre­ate per­sonas that are tru­ly effec­tive in help­ing you devel­op your con­tent mar­ket­ing and per­sua­sive strat­e­gy.

Did you know most per­sona efforts fail as soon as the per­sonas are com­plet­ed? Teams cre­ate their per­sonas, design slick posters to put on the walls, and say “these are our per­sonas!”

Cre­at­ing per­sonas is real­ly just the begin­ning. A per­sona isn’t a doc­u­ment — it’s a clear under­stand­ing of a tar­get cus­tomer that exists in the minds of your team. Per­sonas evolve as your data around them evolves as well. Every test you do, every insight you gath­er should be designed to fur­ther under­stand your cus­tomer base and your per­sonas.

Per­sonas will allow you to eval­u­ate your con­tent and iden­ti­fy the gaps in your con­tent strat­e­gy to meet your poten­tial customer’s needs.

In order to help you under­stand what vis­i­tors need in order to achieve their goals, you need to have empa­thy about their jour­ney through the buy­ing process. Too many com­pa­nies and their agen­cies are so wrapped up in their own sales process­es they for­get that cus­tomers have a dif­fer­ent angle of approach to the prob­lem or need that they could solve if they took the right per­spec­tive.

Since it’s a chal­lenge to pre­dict behav­ior down to the indi­vid­ual lev­el with­out enough data on each indi­vid­ual, our ini­tial focus won’t be on true per­son­al­iza­tion of ele­ments but on “persona”-lization.

From Hip­pocrates through Jung to Keirsey and beyond, humans have been try­ing to fath­om the dimen­sions of per­son­al­i­ty and moti­va­tion. In the most gen­er­al scheme of cat­e­go­riza­tion, we’ve learned that each of the mil­lions of dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties falls into one of four main groups, which my broth­er and I labeled in 2001 in our book “Per­sua­sive Online Copy­writ­ing” as Dri­ver, Ami­able, Expres­sive, and Ana­lyt­i­cal, and lat­er renamed them to:

  • Com­pet­i­tive. Fast-paced deci­sion-mak­ing, log­i­cal­ly ori­ent­ed
  • Spon­ta­neous. Fast-paced deci­sion-mak­ing, emo­tion­al­ly ori­ent­ed
  • Human­is­tic. Slow-paced deci­sion-mak­ing, emo­tion­al­ly ori­ent­ed
  • Method­i­cal. Slow-paced deci­sion-mak­ing, log­i­cal­ly ori­ent­ed

It doesn’t real­ly mat­ter what you call them. The thing is, you need to become inti­mate­ly acquaint­ed with these per­son­al­i­ties. They are your website’s vis­i­tors. And once you know who they are, you have the inside track on how you shape your design and writ­ing to per­suade them most effec­tive­ly.

At the most fun­da­men­tal lev­el, all peo­ple are moti­vat­ed by a sin­gle, crit­i­cal ques­tion: what’s in it for me (WIIFM)? Their dom­i­nant per­son­al­i­ty types strong­ly influ­ence how they ask that ques­tion, per­ceive val­ue, and con­scious­ly – or more typ­i­cal­ly, sub­con­scious­ly – approach a deci­sion-mak­ing task.

Usabil­i­ty pun­dit Jakob Nielsen shared the results of an eye-track­ing study he per­formed in 2007 on the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau’s home page. He uses gaze plots to describe four main types of vis­i­tor behav­ior: “search-dom­i­nant,” “nav­i­ga­tion-dom­i­nant,” “tool-dom­i­nant,” and “suc­cess­ful.” If you were to look at these four types of behav­ior through the lens of the per­son­al­i­ty types you would nat­u­ral­ly see beyond what peo­ple gazed at and clicked on, and into why they act­ed the way they did. It’s a nat­ur­al pref­er­ence.


When you look at these four thumb­nails, which per­son­al­i­ty type do you think is the method­i­cal pref­er­ence for slow deci­sion-mak­ing style, log­i­cal­ly ori­ent­ed?

A, B, C, or D?

You can see that image B is spend­ing a lot of time on each part of the page with these heavy gaze plots and that is your Method­i­cal behav­ior. Jakob’s “nav­i­ga­tion-dom­i­nant user” behaves with a log­i­cal bias sim­i­lar to Com­pet­i­tives, but with a far more delib­er­ate pace.

Method­i­cals want to become their own expert, study­ing every detail before they make a deci­sion. No detail is too small. They want it all. The good news from a mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions per­spec­tive is that they’re will­ing to give you their time – pro­vid­ed you’re will­ing to give them rel­e­vant con­tent.

The Method­i­cal approach was to look every­where: active win­dow, left nav­i­ga­tion, right col­umn, above the fold, below. You name it, they saw it.

What Jakob observed as a “search-dom­i­nant user” in this study was image A – the Com­pet­i­tive mode, work­ing at a fast pace with a log­i­cal bias. The Com­pet­i­tive user quick­ly scans and skims every­thing, look­ing for a clue as to how to solve the puz­zle. These users want their clues to their answers to be in your head­lines and sub­heads and then they might explore more.

Jakob’s “tool-dom­i­nant user,” image C, the Spon­ta­neous pref­er­ence, behaves at a fast pace with an emo­tion­al bias. These users are high­ly expe­ri­en­tial by nature. Jakob describes these types as peo­ple who “like parts of web­sites where they can do some­thing.” They focus on the inter­ac­tive fea­tures before leav­ing because you didn’t engage them quick­ly enough. The gaze went every­where, with­out focus, until a sin­gle fea­ture grabbed their atten­tion – that is, until anoth­er rab­bit hole appeared (on anoth­er web­site) that was more enter­tain­ing.

Jakob’s “suc­cess­ful user,” image D, behaves at a slight­ly less delib­er­ate pace than the Method­i­cal, but with an emo­tion­al bias. Tes­ti­mo­ni­als and social were cre­at­ed for this type. They are attract­ed to the human ele­ments of a page.

Many peo­ple mis­take these four per­son­al­i­ty types as per­sonas. Let me empha­size – they are not; they are just one ele­ment that can be used as a short­cut to under­stand­ing your vis­i­tors’ behav­ior, seed­ing your web­site with ele­ments that match their moti­va­tion, and work­ing on the next steps to uncov­er­ing what makes up your per­sonas since these four char­ac­ter­is­tics exist in all humans. Add this fac­tor to your per­sonas and you will now give your per­sonas the voice in which they com­mu­ni­cate and you will under­stand what you need to mir­ror back to them to match their buy­ing jour­ney.

Bryan Eisenberg

Written by Bryan Eisenberg

Founder, Buyer Legends

Bryan Eisenberg is the New York Times bestselling author of 'Call to Action', 'Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?', 'Always Be Testing', and 'Buyer Legends'. Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. He is also founder and CMO of

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

Discover why brands and agencies choose Linkdex

  • Get started fast with easy onboarding & training
  • Import and connect data from other platforms
  • Scale with your business, websites and markets
  • Up-skill teams with training & accreditation
  • Build workflows with tasks, reporting and alerts

Get a free induction and experience of Linkdex.

Just fill out this form, and one of our team members will get in touch to arrange your own, personalized demo.