Your Visitor Has Multi-Personality Disorder: How to Talk to Each Side of the Buying Brain

by Dale Cudmore

Last updated on August 3rd, 2017

When you were young, how did you imagine adult life?

Pizza for breakfast, candy for lunch, and ice cream for dessert.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

This was before you could really grasp the consequences of poor decision making. Before you had responsibilities.

As an adult, you probably eat more sensibly, with the odd snack here and there. But those childish thoughts never go away. They are always trying to get past the responsible gatekeeper.

Sometimes, they do, and you end up scarfing down way more pizza than an “adult” is supposed to.

The point is, while part of you wants to have fun all the time and emphasizes the short term, there’s another side to you that wants to be responsible because it’s better for you in the long term.

It’s a constant struggle between the two to see who wins.

And this struggle intrudes on your optimization efforts as well. Let me explain…

multiple personality feature

The challenge you face as you are optimizing your website for conversions is that many visitors are caught in 2 different mindsets, sometimes even more, when making a purchase decision.

If you don’t tailor your message for these different “personalities,” one can hold back the other and drag down your conversion rates.

However, if you can appeal to all personalities, your message will resonate deeply with visitors and conversion rates will climb.

Be a Therapist: Understand Which Personalities You Need to Cater to


Those are just 3 of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types.


They aren’t too useful when it comes to conversion rate optimization because they are too general. What is useful is to look at the core values that drive strong personalities.

For example, someone who is “artistic” could value any of the following highly:

  • freedom
  • expression
  • creation
  • desire for innovation

The hard part is determining which one(s), because there are hundreds of potential core values that someone can hold.

core-values in a purchase decision

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. You’re going to have to pick the core values that affect your specific visitor’s decision-making the most. Then you’ll need to optimize your design and copywriting to speak to those values during the purchase decision.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common values that influence buying (or general conversion) decisions, and how businesses can try to appeal to those.

1. Freedom

There are exceptions, of course, but the majority of people crave freedom.

Locking people in with phone or cable contracts might seem like a great idea for short-term profits, but it contributes to the frustration that consumers have with these companies. Is it any wonder that they are among the most hated companies in North America?

Now, you likely don’t run a cable company, but this still applies in smaller doses. The more you constrain someone who values freedom, the more they will resist.

So what can you do?

If you sell a product that is used repeatedly, relieve purchase anxiety by offering a way out. Don’t leave a potential customer “stuck” with your product if they don’t like it. That’s a lose-lose situation.

One of the best ways to do this right is with some sort of transparent and simple return policy. It’s going to help your sales, even though only 12% or so will ever take advantage of it.

Here’s a good example:

sport box: guarantees that help purchase decision

At the Sportsman’s Box, not only do they offer a money-back guarantee, but they offer an example to show just how easy it would be to use.

2. Enjoyment

Everyone wants to feel like a kid sometimes: no responsibilities, no worries, just time to have fun.

While it doesn’t get out often, that part of everyone is in the back of a potential customer’s mind every time they come across your product.

If your product is boring and ugly, it’s never going to excite them. To appeal to this part of your visitor’s personality, you need to make your product fun. That doesn’t mean “fun” has to be the primary focus (because quality is often more important), but it’s an important factor that you need to consider.

There’s no better example of this than Duolingo, a free web and mobile app that allows you to learn a new language.

Think of a normal product that teaches a new language. What comes to mind?

Mountains of flash cards and hours of dreary audio tapes. “Repeat after me: aburrido” (that’s boring in Spanish).

Instead, Duolingo makes learning a new language fun. You gain “xp” and level up as you complete modules. The creators took the effort of making an attractive platform where you can see how you’re getting better visually.

duolingo dashboard

3. Responsibility

Just as there’s a kid’s personality in all of us, there’s also an adult.

An adult who needs to be responsible with purchases and consider whether money or time could be better spent elsewhere.

That’s why we read reviews, compare prices, and spend hours researching alternative options before pulling the trigger on a significant purchase.

We are afraid of making an irresponsible decision.

There are a few ways you can talk to this side of your customer.

The first is to take away the risk of a purchase. Offer a solid money-back guarantee with no hassle like we discussed earlier. Even though only a small percentage of people will likely ever ask for their money back, if you have a quality product, it will do wonders to increase your initial conversion rate. A refund policy allows your customers to feel more responsible.

Additionally, if you have an outstanding product, compare it to your competitors. Include the main features of each product in a table, and be honest about how they compare. The most important aspect is to be honest. Many prospects will check up on you, and if they find out that you’re lying, you’ve lost a sale. Probably forever.

Here’s how Formstack does it:


Finally, show social proof. If you can highlight that X companies or groups of people (key: they must be perceived as responsible) already use or have bought your product, that reassures any visitor that buying from you is a responsible decision.

On Content Marketing Institute, one of the leading websites for content marketers, here’s their opt-in form in the blog’s sidebar:

CMI signup

They don’t say “join 100,000 others,” they specifically refer to “peers.” As in, 100,000 professional marketers all decided it was a good idea to join.

4. Intelligence

Being stupid or ignorant might be cool when you’re young, but most adults quickly learn that being intelligent yields a much better life.

In fact, people value intelligence so much that they overestimate their own. A 1977 study revealed that 94% of college professors believe they are above average teachers. By definition, that’s impossible.

We like thinking about ourselves as having positive traits. So if you can align your product with a highly valued trait like intelligence, your conversion rates will explode.

In essence, here’s what you’re trying to convince your visitors of: Intelligent people buy our product, so if you’re intelligent, you should buy our product. If you’re not, go buy our competitor’s product.

The reaction you’re going for is: “I’m intelligent, so of course I’ll buy!”

In order to speak to the intelligence-oriented part of your prospect’s personality, you need to cite research and statistics about why your product is good, and why it’s important for their life or business.

In addition, compile case studies that show how well-known customers have had success with your product. Your case study subject will likely have some great things to say about your product or service. Hopefully it will also sport a quote saying something like, “Going with [your company] was the smart decision. We should have done so before.”

hubspot case studies

5. Integrity

No one’s perfect. But despite that, most of us try to be as good of a person as we can. One of the values that we correlate to being a good person is integrity. Put in other words: trying to do the right thing.

Appealing to integrity is crucial for any charitable organization. However, it’s also crucial for businesses selling “luxury” products, even though, at first thought, it might not seem like it.

A great example of appealing to integrity is TOMS. If you haven’t heard of TOMS, it’s a highly popular shoe brand, which also sells other fashion products and accessories.

While it’s not a concern to all their customers, many struggle with justifying spending $60+ on a flimsy pair of shoes when there are so many people who can’t afford basic clothes out there.

Here’s what TOMS says. It’s the first thing you see on their front page:

toms homepage

When you click to read more, you learn that TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need across the globe. In addition, they have started other charitable programs to improve medical care, access to clean water, and even birthing safety.

If I’m someone who wants to buy a pair of shoes without feeling like a horrible greedy person, guess where I’m buying from?

That’s right, TOMS. While I may still be spending a lot on a luxury item, at least I know some good will come out of it as well, so it’s not just a selfish purchase.


I can’t guarantee that your specific visitors have all these personalities coming to life when they visit your website or sales page.

To know for sure, you’ll need to develop and refine a buyer persona. Learn what your visitors care about, believe in, and want to see themselves as.

Once you do, find a way to appeal to those different dominant personalities. It may be through reviews, telling stories, copywriting, or even through making changes to your product itself.

We often talk about achieving resonance in conversion optimization. This is how you do it.

If you’ve thought about this before, do you mind leaving a comment below letting me know which personalities are the most important to your customers?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Dale Cudmore.

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Dale Cudmore

Dale Cudmore is a professional marketing writer. He focuses on actionable, exciting ideas and strategies that can be used to grow your business.


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  1. John says:
    March 12, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Interesting post! How would you craft copy if you wanted to target only one specific personality such as “optimism”?

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