Redefining the customer: People are cats, never dogs

It’s the first day of SES New York and I’ve just attended a session about redefining the customer that compared humans to cats, pointed to the absence of beautiful women on conversion pages and gave some ideas how to make a site stink.

The quote that really summed up Jeffry Eisenberg’s presentation for me was this:

“When online, people are like cats, not dogs.”

The reason they are not like dogs, is that dogs have masters. Cats on the other hand have staff – they are only concerned with doing what they want, not what other people want them to do. (Eisenberg is also the author of Waiting For Your Cat to Bark).

As marketers we really need to grasp that knowledge and apply it to the way we design our pages, our sites and the interaction with have with customers. We can tell customers to do what we want them to do as much as we like, but the customer is entirely in control and they decide when to communicate with us and how (just like cats). Eisenberg helped clarify this with four definitions.

Jeffry Eisenberg’s four customer behaviour definitions:
Customers want to communicate faster than ever before and everyone is connected.
Customers control the conversation. Not us.
Customers desire meaningful and relevant experiences. Your actions matter, your words less so.
Customers are in control of their buying process.

Another way that people being like cats relates to websites and marketers is scent – not scent as in how the site smells, but scent as in the what the user follows through a site – it could be text, an image, but whatever it is that scent needs to be continuous so it guides a customer from one page to another, or from an advert to the site and on to conversion.

Jeffry Eisenberg’s example of scent (or lack of scent to begin with) was a SuperBowl XL campaign. In a nutshell GoDaddy spent heaps of money on a successful tv campaign that included a beautiful woman. However, if you visited the site this beautiful woman was nowhere to be seen, and the site looked nothing like the tv campaign. By rectifying this lack of scent the site saw a huge increase in conversions.

A useful model that Eisenberg presented was Eisenberg’s Hierarchy of Optimisation

Persuasive (top of triangle)
Functional (bottom of triangle)

What works well about this model is that it shows that functionality, accessibility and usability are key – if people can’t use your site then they might find it and bounce straight off. Once you’ve got these foundations in place then you need to keep the site intuitive and make it persuasive so that you coax customers to do what you want them to do. Being persuasive might be using better images, improving your headlines or including reviews. The best way of finding out what persuasion tactics are going to work is to make sure you know what your customers want and what they hope to achieve.

You may or may not agree with these types, but Eisenberg outlined four key personality types that all people fall into:

If you are not getting the conversions you want then you could double check that your site enables each of these four personality types to get what they want, and in the way that they want it. Is there is logical display of information for the methodical type? Is the copy written in a warm and informal way for the humanistic type?

To finish Jeffry Eisenberg finished with these key questions that should be answered in order to increase conversion rates:
Who are you talking to?
What do you want them to do?
Why would they do what you want them to do?

2 Comments on “Redefining the customer: People are cats, never dogs

  1. Good debut Kate – You realise I am now going to have to change the profile of my blog :).

    Interesting stuff that Eisenberg has to say on the subject. It really is about getting to understand your users and working out why they want to visit your site.

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