7 Types of Customers and How to Best Convert Each of Them

By Jon MacDonald
12 minute read | Last Updated: December 22, 2017

You can convert more visitors by understanding these 7 types of customers and how each of them typically engages online.

Are you getting way more traffic than sales on your ecommerce website? Have you tried everything you can think of, trying to reach more of the market you know is there, but you still can’t get more conversions?

I know exactly what you’re going through. At The Good, we work with digital marketing managers every day, helping them come up with ways to boost that metric that can make or break any online business: conversion rate.

Many times, we find one or more of these three conditions exist on the sites we evaluate:

  • The site is tailored to one type of user but ignores others
  • There’s no valid conversion rate optimization strategy in place – just hit or miss tactics
  • Content writers and designers are speaking to themselves, not to the desired audience

I can show you how to get out of that rut and begin making more sales – without having to completely rebuild your business to do it.

Many times, the problem is not with what you’re selling or even how you’re selling it. In this article, I’ll cover what the real obstacles might be and provide tips on how you can overcome them.

What Types of Customers Do You Serve?

Let’s say you own a retail store that anchors a well-trafficked mall. You spend a day standing at the main entrance to your business, greeting people as they enter. Your aim is to get to know your customers better, so you ask them, “Why did you come to my store today?”

Here’s what you discover:

Lookers

Some visitors are “just looking.” They’re not after anything in particular. They’re having fun shopping and want to see what you have that might catch their attention. They may even have been looking for a different store, but got lost in all the mall traffic.

Bargain Hunters

Some shoppers have heard you’re having a sale. They want to see if they can find a bargain.

Buyers

Some people are there on a mission. They know exactly what they want, and they’re there to get it.

Researchers

Some are researching. They have a general idea of what they’re after, but they want to compare options and prices.

New Customers

Some are relatively new customers. They enjoyed their last visit to your store, and they’re back to find out more about what you offer.

Dissatisfied Customers

Some are there to return something. For some reason, a previous purchase didn’t suit them. They want customer service.

Steady Customers

Some are your best customers. They come back often and love shopping with you.

Is that a fair assessment of what a local store owner might determine by greeting shoppers for a day? Wouldn’t this be valuable information – especially if it would allow you to cater more to the particular needs of each?

Guess what: the very same thing applies to your ecommerce store. If you can learn to identify your different types of customers and how to deal with them, your ability to convert those customers will grow.

If you can learn to identify your different types of customers and how to deal with them, your ability to convert those customers will grow. Click To Tweet

There’s often an unrealized blockage between an ecommerce website and higher conversion rates. Writers and site designers often fail to address the needs of more than one or two types of customers. The rest are neglected.

That’s why they quickly leave.

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Key Tactics for Identifying and Serving Different Types of Customers

There are many ways of grouping the different types of customers that visit a website. The strategy I’m laying out here is by no means the only paradigm. This is, however, a path that works.

Be careful of getting dragged into arguments over customer personas, position in the sales funnel, warm/hot/cold leads, and any other potential rabbit trail. Even when those discussions produce flow charts and photos of “Charlie the avid runner” along with Charlie’s demographics and preferences, they’re seldom put to good use.

Keep it simple.

You have visitors coming to your ecommerce site, you know most of them fit one of the seven types of customers described above, and it’s a given that the better you can serve each type the more sales you’re likely to make. You don’t need to think any deeper than that to get started.

Let’s move right on to considering what each type of customer needs. I’ll provide examples of how those needs can be filled, but you should look to your own resources and brand to come up with the tactics that best suit you.

How to Convert Site Visitors

We’re talking fundamental sales strategy here: find the need and fill it. Do that at every level in your business, and you’re well on the way to an ROI worth smiling about.

1. Don’t look down on lookers

Lookers are enjoying the moment. If you can catch their attention and get them to stop long enough to consider an offer, you may be able to convert them now. It may take several visits to make that first sale, though, so don’t be discouraged if they look around a bit and leave. That’s what lookers do.

For sure, you’ll want to encourage Lookers to get on your mailing list. If they enjoy the first visit, chances are good they’ll be back, and email is a great way to incentivize them to do so.

Primary conversion tactics for lookers: Make sure your ecommerce site is easy to navigate and search. Make it easy for lookers to browse around. Give them an excellent reason to give you their email addresses and/or other contact information, then build the relationship with a nurturing campaign.

2. Keep bargain hunters happy

I’m not suggesting you engage in a price-slashing battle with your competitors – not at all – and discounting certainly isn’t real conversion rate optimization. It’s wise for most businesses, however, to be keenly aware of the thrill people feel when they get a discount. Even a small price adjustment or other special benefits can be enough to turn a “No” into a sale. Consider the research findings on the importance of free shipping. All customers – even affluent customers – like to get a deal. Some need a deal before they’ll buy.

Primary conversion tactics for bargain hunters: Consider including a “coupons and discounts” page on your website; don’t make your customers desert at checkout and go elsewhere to find special codes, only to never return. Highlight sale items instead of making shoppers seek them out. Often, you can get the prospect’s attention with a discounted item, then address specific needs that require an upsell.

3. Give your buyers a straight route to the purchase

Buying from you should hassle-free. Clear every obstacle from your customers’ path and give them what they want. Buyers don’t need pop-up ads getting in their way or lengthy, friction-filled checkout procedures. They want to buy. They need to buy. Let them buy.

Buyers don’t need pop-up ads getting in their way or lengthy, friction-filled checkout procedures. Click To Tweet

Primary conversion tactics for buyers: I suggest you start with a free landing page assessment from The Good. It’s a unique assessment that shows you the bottlenecks in the path your customers must travel on the way to making a purchase.

Once that evaluation is completed, you’ll be better equipped to not only let buyers buy, but encourage them to buy even more.

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4. Help your researchers find what they seek

Do you ever do some basic research before deciding on a purchase? I sure do. Researchers need to feel they’ve adequately considered the options and they’re making the right decision.
Your job is to help them do that.

Primary conversion tactics for researchers: Provide plenty of dimensions, instructions, details, data, – anything and everything a prospective buyer might need to make an informed decision. Your job is to determine the kinds of things Researchers will need to know, then make it easy for them to access that information.

Many ecommerce researchers especially enjoy sizing guides, high-quality photography, and videos while B2B researchers often appreciate downloads and white papers.

5. Welcome new customers back and treat them like gold

Make me feel like a celebrity for buying from you, and I’m very likely to be back for more. Ignore me, don’t appreciate me, and that possibility sinks rapidly. New Customers need to feel they made a wise decision, that you stand behind your products, and that you’re glad they’re your customers. Brick and mortar teams do that by being available to answer questions, with no-hassle returns, and by genuinely expressing gratitude to those who shop with them.

You can do the same on your ecommerce website.

Primary conversion tactics for new customers: Build the relationship with a nurturing campaign – typically, that starts with a powerful post-purchase email campaign, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Greet returning customers to your site (that capability isn’t difficult to set up), extend special offers to them, acknowledge and thank them at every turn. People who feel valued will be back for more.

6. Listen closely to your dissatisfied customers

I admit that some people are difficult to deal with and impossible to please. Even though you can’t make everybody happy, though, you should try. Irate customers who realize you can’t magically make the garment fit them perfectly, but you’ll certainly go over that sizing chart to make sure it’s accurate, are often satisfied that you hear them and you’ll try.

Here’s something else to consider: your complaining customers are an excellent source of feedback. If you hear repeatedly that your packages are arriving damaged, stop blaming it on the carrier and take a close look at your fulfillment procedure. Dissatisfied Customers help you find problems and fix them.

Your dissatisfied customers are an excellent source of feedback. Click To Tweet

Primary conversion tactics for dissatisfied customers: Be quick to listen to complaints, and be absolutely sure you understand the complaint before responding. Few things can tick me off quicker than to take time writing about a problem to a vendor, then having them respond in a way that makes it clear they didn’t read my complaint closely and don’t have the first clue about why I’m not happy. When you can turn a Dissatisfied Customer into a Steady Customer, you’ve just done a great, great thing.

7. Be genuinely grateful for your steady customers

The 80/20 Rule says 20 percent of your customers tend to be responsible for about 80 percent of your business. This presents an interesting and valuable truth for many ecommerce operations: Your steady customers are the bread. The rest are the butter.

If most of your business comes from your Steady Customers, shouldn’t you know who they are and make sure they understand how grateful you are for their business?

I’ll never forget my first experience with a company that “got it” when it came to recognizing Steady Customers. I was traveling considerably at the time, and Marriott properties were among my top choices for lodging. Not long after joining the chain’s rewards program, I received a letter from Marriott with a special card inside. I had been elevated to Silver Elite level. I smiled, put the card in my wallet, and didn’t think anything else of it… until my next stay at a Marriott.

On check-in, the desk clerk cheerfully thanked me for being an Elite member. In my room, there was a bottle of water and a checklist of the special treatment I’d be receiving for my loyalty. There was also an explanation of what I’d need to do to make it to the Gold Elite and Platinum Elite levels.

That was a learning experience. Marriott didn’t just send me a letter, they followed it up with action that demonstrated their appreciation for my business. It worked. Marriott was no longer among my top choices; it became my number one choice for lodging.

Primary conversion tactics for steady customers: Establish a measuring stick for customer loyalty levels. Every customer is special, but those who come back to you regularly and trust you with their needs are the pillars that keep your business steadily afloat.

Find ways to recognize and reward your Steady Customers. You can give them special amenities, special pricing, special recognition, and more. Treat me like a VIP, and I’ll be back for more.

How Can You Serve the Needs of All Seven Types of Customers?

Those are the seven types of customers, their needs, and suggestions on how to serve those needs. Look carefully at your website from each customer’s perspective – heck, you’ve probably been each of the seven types yourself, so it’ll be easy to jump into that mindset.

Do each of the seven customer types get their needs met, or are some left out in the cold? How do you identify and gauge your Steady Customers? How do you flag and recognize your New Customers? Do you provide enough information to satisfy the Researchers?

Questions like those will uncover areas where you can step up to the challenge and help your visitors get exactly what they want.

Do that, and conversion rates will soar. Don’t do that, and they won’t.

Need help getting more sales, or would you like another set of eyes to take a look and provide feedback on how to increase your conversion rates? Get in touch with The Good. That’s exactly what we do best.

Resources

About the author: Jon MacDonald is founder and President of The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has achieved results for some of the largest online brands including Adobe, Nike, Xerox, Verizon, Intel and more. Jon regularly contributes content on conversion optimization to publications like Entrepreneur and Inc. He knows how to get visitors to take action.

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