How to Write Web Copy that Sells Stuff and Engages People #2: 5 Online Personalities You Have to Accommodate in Web Writing

13 Sep 2010


Good copywriters know that there are lots of different online visitors, each with unique reading and learning styles. In order to connect with the greatest number of visitors, your website should give your readers the information they need in the way they want it.

Below is a brief profile of the 5 online personalities, with best practice Web writing suggestions to get them hooked, make a sale, and convert them through your online copy.

1. The Information Gatherers:

Information gatherers are researchers: they want to know as much information as they can before they make a call or place an order. They want to know your pricing, you guarantees or warranties, how your product or service works, your credentials – anything they can get their hands on, really.

Consider them the well-informed consumers.

Information gatherers will probably spend a lot of time on your website, clicking through different pages as they slowly amass knowledge. These types will be reading your copy attentively, so all of the standard copywriting rules apply to these folks: Be clear. Be concise. Be specific. Be benefit-oriented.

The golden rule of attracting information gatherers is to never make them guess – use your website as a tool to explain your product or service in order to make the sale. Reach out to information gatherers by including:

  • Charts comparing your product/service to your competitors
  • Certifications and testimonials
  • Detailed information: pricing, specs, processes, etc.
  • Case studies

2. The Visual Learners

Visual learners hate to read, but they love pictures and charts. These types look for visual representations that help them grab information quickly.

Accommodate visual learners by adding graphics to your website – like a flow chart about how your business or service works, or a table comparing your prices to your competitor’s prices. Give them stuff to look at like:

  • Comparison tables (your service or product vs. your competitors)
  • Test results
  • Process charts on how your service works
  • Labeled diagrams
  • Web tools

Side note: There are lots of different types of web tools that can add an interactive element to your website. For instance, an energy auditing company might have an interactive calculator showing potential customers how much money they could save in a year, 3 years, and 5 years if they switch to fluorescent light bulbs.

Make sure your copy is supported by design, and give the visual learners lots of eye candy like charts, graphics, and tools that grab attention.

3. The Doers

You’ve probably known a doer or two in your life: Doers will come to your website. They might read a headline or two – maybe. Then they skip over all the rest of your well-crafted copy and scroll to the bottom of the page to call you, buy your product, or fill out your form.

It’s hard for copywriter to believe that these people exist, but they do.

Doers are hasty people. They’re the antithesis of information gatherers: They don’t want to research your website. Period. Doers want to find your action statement – and they want to find it fast.

Side note: You know you have a doer on your hands when … they don’t know anything about your company or product. We get calls all the time at TWFH for copyrighting – yes, COPYRIGHTING – though we are not, in fact, lawyers of any type. These callers obviously misspelled copywriting, and then just went straight to our phone number. There’s absolutely nothing on our website that would lead anyone to believe that we provide legal services. That’s what you get when you combine a “doer” with a simple spelling error.

To make sure you make the doers happy, you just have to make contacting you easy:

  • Highlight your call to action. Whether your call to action is “Print This Coupon” or “Sign Up for Our Newsletter” or “Buy Now,” make sure its highlighted, bold, and in a prominent position on your website.
  • Put contact information on all of your Web pages
  • Be sure to allow for multiple methods of contact: phone, email, forms, chat boxes. Consider putting forms on every page.

Then, breathe easy as the doers come knocking at your door.

4. The Speed Readers

Speed readers — or at least they think they’re speed readers – are skimmers. Theyneedtogetasmuchinformationastheycaninaverysmallamountoftime.

These are the people that bite down hard on your website, chew you up and spit you out.

Speed readers figure they can get everything they need to know by reading the headlines and a few bolded points on your homepage. They’re not going to sit down and read every single word on your website (again, another antithesis to information gatherers). So to make speed readers happy, your copy needs to be broken up:

  • Bullet points break up copy and highlight important information in a succinct manner.
  • Headlines need to be big, bold, and targeted toward your reader.
  • Use bold inside the body of your copy
  • Only bold key statements so that they jump off of the page from the rest of your copy. Use bolding sparingly, and choose the information you want to bold carefully. One two-to-three word bold phrase per paragraph is usually plenty.

Especially if your web copy is long (like this blog post), most ALL types of visitors will appreciate well-placed headlines, bullets, and bolding. Don’t let the eyes get overwhelmed by endless amounts of black and white text.

5. The Listeners

Listeners would rather see it and hear it than read anything (have you noticed, by the way, how many types of people don’t like to read? That’s exactly why you need a clever copywriter that can sell to EVERYONE).

Listeners can be kind of geeky. They’re often technophiles – they’re the kinds of people with multiple iPods in different colors. Or they might just be TV junkies rather than book worms. In order to reach out to listeners, you need some interactive, auditory stuff on your website. Things like:

  • Instructional or marketing videos
  • Interactive flash
  • Talking heads and avatars
  • Music

Movement and sound keep their attention (even though we know those talking heads can be sort of creepy), so you need to distract them and sell to them at the same time.

One Last Word to the Wise:

Don’t forget that there are endless combinations of all five personality types. One of the most common combos are speed reader/gatherers. They read fast first, but the scan in depth later. Or you’ve got the ones that “do” when they are in a hurry, but will read more in depth if they’re putzing around at home.

Most people don’t always follow one type all the time (no, not even us writers), but it’s important to be egalitarian and forward thinking: accommodate all personalities – regardless of positive attributes and annoying aspects — so that people can interact with your content in whatever mode they’re in.

This means that redundancy is ok in web writing – and good websites have a combination of elements that we’ve talked about. Bolded words and bullet points. Complete, clear, and concise information. Charts, graphics, or pictures that support your copy. Videos, flash, and voice recordings for the listeners. And a clear, highly visible call to action.

The Writers For Hire, Inc. 
At The Writers For Hire, you are hiring not just one copywriter, but a streamlined team of experienced writing professionals. We've perfected our unique cooperative writing model, so you'll have the advantage of receiving a fine-tuned final draft that has been reviewed by several editors.

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