One of my favorite math-nerd jokes goes like this: There are
10 kinds of people in the world – those who understand binary and those who don’t.
I’m not sure the divisions between customer types are so
clearly delineated, but I thought I would try to identify some of the groups.
Some of your visitors are Readers. Readers love to read.
They read everything. Readers read your Homepage and your About Us page. They go
through each of your tabs seeing how much stuff you have to read and then they
read some of it. If you have more documentation to read, they may even be
prepared to give you their email just so they can get something more to read.
Readers like certain kinds of products. Books, for example. Back in the day
when Amazon was a struggling bookseller, they had one key advantage over bricks
and mortar retailers that wasn’t just about inventory. Amazon was a place where
you could go to read all about a product that was made for specifically for Readers.
If your target audience is Readers, you had better make sure
you have something good for them to read when they get to your site.
Then there are Clickers. Clickers like to click things.
Remember when you went to the Science Museum for your 4th grade
outing? The Clickers were the ones who ran from exhibit to exhibit pulling levers
and flipping switches. If there’s a button, they’ll push it. Then they’ll push
it again. They’ll click and click until there’s nothing left to click.
If you want to sell something to Clickers, it’s best to make
them reach it by clicking, probably more than once.
In pedagogical circles, they call Readers and Clickers “active
learners”. Teachers are trained to help students become active learners so they can go out into the world and discover things for themselves.
The corollary is, of course, “passive learners”.
Passive learners are Watchers and Listeners. Watchers and
Listeners watch and listen for as long as there is something engrossing enough
to keep them. They’re in no hurry to move on as long as they are engaged. But,
make no mistake about passive learners, they’re still great learners. Passive
learners allow themselves the time to get the information they need to make
good decisions. If you deliver a compelling argument to a passive learner he
may just stick around long enough to be persuaded.
The reality is that none of us are solely one thing or the
other. We all have periods when we prefer to be active learners and other times
when we need to watch and listen. Getting the balance right to convert your visitors
means being open to testing different options and being smart enough not to
rely on a single medium to get the job done.