How to Write a Web Page for the Four Primary Decision-Making Types

Presented live on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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When you look at the heatmap / scrollmap for a page, it’ll usually look a lot like this:

Crazy red heat at the top signalling tons of attention and interest.

Then a little cooler. Attention’s dropping.

Then a lot cooler.

Then ice cold. Like arctic tundra pre climate change cold.

And a very natural response to the icebath that is the bottom of the average page is to cut the copy at the bottom, make the page shorter, stop overwhelming people with a page they won’t even read.

Which is, um, fair enough.

Except for this tiny detail:

When you switch from the scroll-mapping view to the click-tracking view, you almost without fail see a good percentage of clicks on the CTAs in that sub-zero zone.

Because people make decisions and consume content differently.

This Tutorial Tuesdays is all about how to write a web page for the four primary decision-making types, each of whom use the same pages very differently.


Joanna Wiebe: So today we are talking about writing for more than one decision maker. So if you’re into 10x Web Copy. This is a refresher for you if you saw our presentation at the beginning, at the launch of Copy School this year, then you’ve seen a little bit about this. 

What to Expect in This Tutorial [00:29]

Okay. The four primary decision-making types, which some people call modalities, but I really hate that word. It’s such a consulting word. It makes me crazy when people say it like It’s a signal to me that you’re kind of full of shit.

So I’m not going to say it, I’m just gonna say types because that’s what we’re really talking about. Unless you’re like an extremely amazing UX researcher, in which case you probably use modalities and you don’t use it like a weirdo. But we’re gonna I’ve kind of been calling this scheme in my head. It’s like S-C-H-M, these are the four types.

And it can help you remember them in case you’re like wait, what’s the guy? And what does he do? S-C-H-M, scheme. Just remember that when you’re thinking of how people make decisions on a page, how they consume the content that you have on a page or on a website. 

Okay, so we’re going to walk you through what these are. And if you read today’s email you already know this is to better help you understand who you’re really writing for so that we’re not just writing for those people who demand the most attention, those visitors who they click at the top of your, like when you’re doing click tracking or scroll mapping all of the attention seems to be happening up at the top of the page.

And we tend to all think, oh, that’s the most important part. And yes, it’s a very important part, because every single visitor to your page will see that, whereas the bottom of the page will not be seen by every single visitor, but that does not make the bottom of the page less of an opportunity.

There are people who need to read the whole page and we want to make sure that we’re helping those people out to not just focusing on the people who are demanding attention at the top of the page, but also still solving for those people. So our job as conversion copywriters is not just to sit there and say, Oh, here’s a page written with problem agitation solution on it, go forth. 

We need to also be thinking about, this is what this type of decision maker is looking for, and this is what this person is, and this is why we put this section here because we know x type of decision maker is typically going to look at this. So we’re writing the section just for them. And this is an important conversation to have with your clients, with your team when it comes time to strategize on a page or a web experience, or when it’s time to review your copy. 

If you’re not talking through this stuff, you won’t quite look like you get what’s going on. And this is a great opportunity to teach your team as well, which only makes them love you more, unless you do it like a jerk. Don’t do it that way. Just be really nice as if you’re teaching, like, oh, here are the four decision-making types like, I think we talked about this before, let me quickly talk to you about it. 

Heatmap / Scrollmap Overview [03:13]

Okay. So this is like what we’re talking about here. The bright red at the top is where most digital marketers, when they put HotJar, or FullStory, or whatever on a page. They’re like, holy man. The red area. Everyone sees it. Yep, everyone sees it. It’s true, everyone will see that page or that part of the page. And so we want to do our best to solve for everybody there. It is a difficult part of a page to write. That doesn’t mean the rest of the page isn’t also difficult. It’s just that you’re writing for four different decision-making types, at the top of the page. 

And then as we move down you’re writing for different people at different points. So I just wanted to show you the side by side. So we talked about this a bit in the email today. So just to get a reference for you with what we’re talking about with better understanding how people are moving through your content. And what it means when a section on your scroll mapping, on your scroll map, when it’s yellow.

What do we do with that? That doesn’t mean, nobody cares anymore. It means fewer people are reading and the question is, are they still clicking? Are they still interacting? Are they still doing something or is everybody sort of ignoring it? Which we can see over here, in the click map on the right, that there’s not a lot of engagement with the testimonials. And we’ve also seen and user testing that a lot of people are quite skeptical of testimonials. 

That’s a growing thing because there are a lot of fake testimonials out there. So we might want to do something with that, but the point here is not how do we go about optimizing a page based on where people are clicking or not clicking. It’s how are we solving for people based on how they need to consume our information.

So let’s talk about those four decision-making modalities right now. And in most cases, this means your page is going to need to be organized for all four types. And how they’re broken down is:

  • Fast decision makers 
  • Slow decision makers 
  • Emotional decision makers 
  • Logical decision makers 

So those are like the basic levers that we’re playing with we’re trying to understand who these people are and how they’re making decisions. 

S-C-H-M (Scheme) [05:14]

Okay, so when we think about scheme, S-C-H-M, scheme. Just say it. Just do it, use it. 

S – “Spontaneous” / Tool Dominant [05:23]

The first one in there is the S. That’s the spontaneous decision maker. This is the one who’s going to hang out in that red section at the top of your page. They are extremely unlikely to move down the page, very rare. If they do, they’re probably moving extremely quickly down that page.

Looking for something that will grab their eye, like a button, like a really strong image or something like that. But in most cases, we’re just solving for them at the top of the page. They’re going to be using search a lot, they’ll be using your global nav a lot. So when you’re optimizing the language and your global nav, you’ll typically do so with this spontaneous decision maker in mind. You know that they’re using tools a lot to help them get to the point where they think oh now I know what I want. Now I know what I need. I understand this. 

They’re not going to read a lot of copy. This person is, although they’re emotional, they believe strongly in their own ability to find what they need. And once they think they found it, they make decisions just a lot faster. So spontaneous person, you’re going to organize your page to better target that spontaneous person and speak to them in the hero section. And that’s often why we see calls to action, like actual buttons, in the hero section, knowing that a spontaneous person is looking for that.

The challenge is, that there’s all of these other decision makers that are not yet ready for that and some may click and that can be difficult for your conversion rate. But keep in mind that there is an argument to be made for putting a button in the hero section, simply because your spontaneous decision maker wants you to give them everything they need in the hero section. Okay, so they don’t want to have to scroll at all, they’re not going to be using their mouse to move down a page. They’re using it to click on things. Okay, that’s the S. 

H – “Humanistic” / Successful [07:15]

The next one up is humanistic. Oh, sorry, the CEO is supposed to go next. So we’re going to skip over to humanistic, And this is more emotional and slow pace. So like spontaneous, they’re driven by more emotional things. So they want to see people’s faces, they want to feel connected to you.

But they’re going to move more slowly through what you’ve got. Okay, so they’re more again, they’re just like, think humanistic, means they like people, put people images all over it. Influencer testimonials, reviews, word of mouth, images that showcase human emotion. So a lot of sass websites don’t have people on them, or they have illustrations that I can’t connect with as a humanistic decision maker.

So I’m going down a page and there’s screenshots of something, but I’m not seeing any humans and the only testimonials I’m seeing may not have pictures attached to them, or they might be logos of companies. And so as a humanistic decision maker, an opportunity there is for you as a SaaS company, if you were writing a SaaS website, is to start adding in, peppering in more human pictures, video testimonials with an actual person showing on the screen. Where the thumbnail is of a human.

They’re also likely to use your contact and about us pages, where the spontaneous are unlikely to use those unless they’re just trying to contact you right now. So think more about this decision maker on those types of pages. But just to be clear, as I’m talking about these decision makers, you can anticipate that every page you write will have people from all of these four categories we’re talking about today, on the page. 

Not necessarily 25% like a quarter split across all of them, but you can expect that you will have people from all of these modalities on a page you’re writing. Why did I do C last?. 

M – “Methodical” / Navigation Dominant [09:08]

Okay, the next up, the one we’re going to talk about. This is the M this is methodical. They’re more logical. They’re not going to be as emotional. So this is somebody who’s looking for facts, figures, charts, data.

Not a lot of like testimonials, they’re not that concerned about those sorts of things. They want you to front load with clear “what” focused messages. So when you’re like, always lead with the benefit, a logical slow paced decision maker. The methodical decision maker actually is more likely to want you to lead with the feature name. 

They’ve got a checklist in mind, these are spreadsheet oriented people. And so, you often want to front load with clear “what” focused messages over emotional benefits. And because this methodical person is also moving down the entire page in most cases, when you’re writing 50% of the way down and further, you should be focusing more on humanistic and methodical at that point. 

So people who are actually going to be further down the page. That means once you are 50% and over on the page, you can hypothesize that the bottom half of the page can be more feature focused and not as benefit focused. Which often works actually really well when you think about moving people through stages of awareness.

Where once they get to the bottom of the page, they’re more likely to be in high product aware, and you are more likely to talk about features. So it’s a good match. You’re not really breaking any of the copywriting principles. You’re taking everything you already do but better understanding why it’s likely to work like that. So, as you move further down the page, know that your methodical decision maker is there with you. When you’re writing the second half of the page, write it for methodical and humanistic. 

C – “Competitive” / Search Dominant [10:50]

That brings us to competitive. Now, how it should work is S-C-H-M, It doesn’t matter, but it can help you, with the acronym, just remembering S-C-H-M. Okay, we’re finishing off with that logical fast paced decision makers. So just like spontaneous, they’re moving quickly, but they’re very logical not emotional. They’re not just like randomly clicking. Which is no offense to the spontaneous decision maker.

But they’re more likely to be looking for features. They’re looking for the same things methodical is looking for. But they want it faster. So you have to still front load with the “what” on the bullet list, on your crossheads. They’re going to focus more further up on the page. And they’re more of a scanner. So if they make it down the page, that’s where your crossheads, if you have crossheads further down the page, that open with the ones that are more about the “what.”

Then that’s good for this scanning person, the competitive person. But you also want to make sure that further down the page are solving for humanistic, who doesn’t care as much about the “what,” they want to feel something good. So that’s the balance that you have to have as a copywriter, thinking through those things as you go through and write your copy. 

Okay. Those are the four S-C-H-M. Think about emotion vs logic, fast vs slow, when you’re working through writing a page. And now I invite you to go to whatever site, you might be working on.

I’m cool. Oh, Todd. Todd. Hi. I’m cool. Yeah, we do have to catch up soon I’m, I’m sorry, I get so distracted. I am a squirrel, if you ever met one. Like anything shiny that suddenly catches my eye,and I am off and I actually think that, look at me, I’m squirreling right now. But I think that’s actually a benefit for writing web copy. Yeah, Todd. I blame you. I blame you definitely.

Applying S-C-H-M to a Site [12:44]

Okay so great. So we’ve got that understood. Now when you go through and you look at a site again, S-C-H-M thinking, through that S-C-H-M, go through and you can look at a lot of pages and see, are they solving for that? And which parts of the page are solving for that? So keeping in mind, we’d want to focus the hero section of a page is for, I’m testing you. It’s for everybody. 

But who is this most written for? Who is the primary person you’re thinking about when you’re writing a hero section? If you know who it is, chat it to me. Okay, we have a couple answers coming in. People are scared. I don’t blame you. Cool emo fast. That’s awesome. Yeah, everybody’s saying the same thing, spontaneous. Good.

Spontaneous [13:34]

That’s the person who is going to do the most work up here but know that, even when you’re writing this for them, we are very likely to click over here on search and just start moving through search. Sarah on our team is completely this person, although she seems methodical, she jumps straight to the tools when she’s working through a website.

So yeah, you’re going to think about the thought or the, sorry, the spontaneous person here. But know also that that’s a good reason to make your search bigger. If you’re like okay, we don’t know how many spontaneous decision makers are coming here, and I don’t want to quote/unquote waste our hero section on someone who’s just trying to not read a thing. So what you might want to do in that case then is draw more attention to search, so that that spontaneous decision maker at the top of the page can quickly access the tools. Make sure that the global nav is going to work for them as well. 

Okay, so we’re really once we’re done with the hero section,we’re not thinking about spontaneous much more at all. If they make it further down the page, they’re going to be looking for big juicy buttons, big pictures they can click. That’s spontaneous. 

Competitive [14:43]

Now we’re moving on to, let’s do competitive next. They’re also moving quickly through it. You’re going to write your crossheads largely to worry about them. So what are they looking for? They want data, they want numbers, they want actual specific things, not a lot of soft messages. 

So great, Copyhackers has been featured by 100 plus tech leaders. This is great for them humanistic isn’t really solved at the top of the page yet, outside of my picture or whatever picture, being there at the top. So humanistic can at least feel grounded here on the page. 

But as we move down we can see like, oh, anything that’s good for a more competitive decision maker, this is going to be great for a competitive decision maker. And they’re going to work all the way down, so work through your crossheads. Even if it’s like, okay, this crosshead sucks from a copywriting perspective. Like, it’s okay, from an SEO perspective, it’s not like it’s going to do anything here. 

However, for your competitive decision maker, who’s looking for crossheads, and wants the “what,” this is a very good crosshead for them. For most direct response copywriters they’d be like, you mailed that in. We didn’t mail it in. That’s actually something that’s really meant there for the competitive decision maker. This is also a fact something like a number, they can look at it and say like, Oh, fantastic. Great. 

Humanistic [15:59]

And now we’re moving further down the page. We’re seeing more of the stuff that the humanistic, who’s going to be a slow paced reader, decision maker. They’re going down the page slowly and they’re looking at the faces. So the humanistic person’s feeling good here. They didn’t feel bad earlier; we still had other people on the page. But now we’re like, okay, this is going to make them feel like they’re at home or in a really good place. More human pictures for them as well. 

Methodical [16:25]

And solving for the methodical as we go down the page. So methodical is slow moving and logical too. That crosshead is going to work for them, they’re likely to read all of these testimonials, word for word, even if they don’t care about the human side of it as much. 

They’re still going to read through and see, like, hmm, okay. Are you sure? Is this the right thing for me? And that’s really going to lead us to the end of a page, when we’re just thinking more about like bottom of the page, more methodical and more humanistic, and everything else. 

Just make sure you’re moving through your page when you’re writing it and thinking about those for decision-making types. Make crossheads specific to the type of person you are trying to target with it. Do what it takes to help your different decision makers out on page. 

And talk to your team and your clients about this too, when you’re reviewing copy. So that they’re not like, no one’s going to read any of this. Look at our heat map. No one even touched the bottom of the page. Help them understand so that you can actually put really good copy out there. 

Alright, thanks everybody for attending. Thanks,  Ange for handling everything and we will see you next week for our freelancer focused tutorial. Have a good one, everyone. Stay safe. Bye.

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