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PHOTO: Sutha Kamal

You have an awesome product. You’re marketing everywhere you can. But you’re pulling your hair out because people still aren’t clicking.

Why is that? You’ve optimized your site, and you’re clearly explaining your product. Logically, people should be converting like crazy on your site.

And therein lies the problem: you’ve been relying on logic. But getting people to click isn’t about logic, it’s about truly understanding your audience.

So, how do you learn what makes your audience tick? (Or should I say click?)

First, you have to know who your audience is.

I’ve spoken at marketing conferences around the country, and I often ask the audience: “How many of you have documented audience segments and personas that you could pull up on your computer right now and show me?”

The answer? Crickets.

In fact, typically less than 10 percent of the audience has documented segments and personas. If you’re one of the other 90 percent, ask yourself: how can you speak to your personas if you don’t know who they are?

Who Are You Talking To?

Many marketers recommend you know every detail about your audience — from the type of pet they own to what clothing brands they wear. (I’m not kidding.) Trust me: you don't need to worry about any of that, because whether CMO Sally owns a cat named Sam or a dog named Spike does not tell you why she needs your offering. 

Do I care that Sally is 35 or 45 or 55 years old? No. Do I care about the fact she’s stressed because she’s trying to meet growth objectives but is struggling because she can’t keep up with all the technology changes in the market? Yes.

All I care about is what her problems are. That’s it. As a result, it’s important that personas are focused on the problems your target audience is trying to solve. CMO Sally’s problems shouldn’t just be a part of her persona, they should make up the majority of the persona.

Related Article: When Personas Go Wrong, or, The Search for 'Fluffy'

What Question Are They Asking?

Let’s say you’re trying to sell marketing automation software to midsized B2B companies. To learn why a person is visiting your site, you have to know what questions they’re asking. They don’t just show up on your site. Something in their minds drove them there.

A CEO, for example, is typically concerned with revenue and profit. They’re asking how your software is going to make them money (or save them money).

The CMO is typically interested in leads and growth. They want to understand how others have used your software to be successful.

The Marketing Operations Manager is eager to put together the highest-producing marketing stack possible. They want to understand if your software is easy to use, has whiz-bang features, and is scalable.

The VP of Technology fears that your software could break their systems, eat up their time, and leave everyone frustrated. They want to know why they shouldn’t say “No.”

Regardless of who you are selling to, you must know what question they are asking, and then ...

Related Article: Why Personas Matter in B2B Customer Journey Mapping

Guide Them to the Solution

Alfred L. Yarbus, a Russian psychologist, conducted a study on eye movements. Participants were asked to look at paintings. Yarbus asked a certain question, and then tracked the eye movements of the participant.

What he found was that participants looked at different parts of the painting depending on the question they were asked beforehand. If they were asked to guess the ages of the subjects in the painting, for example, their eyes focused on the faces in the painting.

Rather than exploring parts of a painting they hadn’t looked at before, participants reviewed the same locations over and over again until they found the answer.

Essentially, our brains are hardwired to find solutions to questions.

Your audience is the same. They seek solutions to their specific questions, and this will dictate the experience they have on your site and their recall of the content they consume. Your audience is not conscious of most things along their journey, unless and until they ask themselves specific questions about such things. They may notice certain aspects of your web pages, but be oblivious to others.

So, instead of showing them your company history (yawn …), identify the burning questions they will likely have when they arrive on your site and make it clear from the get-go that you have the solution to their problems.

Related Article: To Understand Your Customer Data, Try Thinking Like a Psychologist

How Do You Do That?

To guide them to the solution, map the customer journey and understand the implicit, underlying motivations along the way.

The customer journey starts the second CMO Sally or marketing operations manager Mackenzie realizes she has a problem. When Sally or Mackenzie nears her breaking point, that’s when she starts searching for solutions and ends up on your website.

When Sally lands on your site, what specifically should she do to have the ideal site experience? How about Mackenzie?

Even non-converting clicks can reveal the underlying psychology of Sally and Mackenzie. For example, with the use of IP detection software, our agency saw that a certain company visited our website 24 times with no conversions (that’s right, 24!). In the end, we wound up having a conversation. We closed the business, and they became a valuable client.

Because we looked at the behavioral analytics rather than the conversion rate, we were able to understand what was happening with each visit, each click, what they were trying to achieve, and therefore what they were thinking. They didn’t need a white paper or a webinar. They needed a long-term relationship. Correspondingly, we understood how to best engage with them.

So, be sure to define your audience personas based on the problems they are striving to eliminate. Architect a site that answers their burning questions in alignment with their underlying motivations. Determine the ideal site experience for each persona, and then build a website that delivers that type of experience as part of their customer journey.