Graeme Benge

How To Use Customer Modalities For Conversion Rate Optimisation

18th Oct 2013 Analytics 4 minutes to read

Groups of PeopleThe move by Google to secure 100% of its users searches and thus remove keyword data entirely from Google Analytics caused headaches for the digital marketing world. The writing had been on the wall for some time though. But rather than join in the vitriol against Google for taking this crutch/drug away (unless you want to pay them for it), it’s been an ideal time for digital marketers to reassess what they measure and how they measure. Despite the outpouring of grief, there is still plenty of data left….

I wrote last month about the benefits of incorporating conversion attribution modelling  into your marketing analysis. This is just one approach analysts or marketers can take towards understanding a site’s audience. Eric Fettman wrote an eye opening piece on his excellent blog that introduced the concept of ‘Customer Modality’ and its place in Conversion Rate Optimisation.

What Is A Modality?

Customer Modality essentially segregates audiences into four overarching customer segments using the approach outlined by a book cited by Eric written by Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg and Lisa Davis. The four groups are defined by the intersection of decision speed (fast vs. slow) and decision driver (logic vs. emotion).

The groups break down as follows:

  • Competitive: defined by fast and logical decision making.
  • Methodical: defined by slow and logical decision making
  • Spontaneous: defined by fast and emotional decision making
  • Humanistic: defined by slow and emotional decision making

This gives us a highly effective way to profile our target customers.

How To Use Customer Modality?

Looking closely at these definitions reveals some commonalities. Do these groups split neatly into two based on their speed characteristics or decision drivers? i.e Competitive and Methodical vs. Spontaneous and Humanistic. Potentially, however as with most posts I’ll ever write, you need to make this decision based on the data set you have.

The insights this type of analysis can provide will inform not only a web strategy (content type, site architecture, design and messaging etc) but the rest of the marketing plan, on and offline.

In order to set ourselves up to analyse these audience sub sets, we should define some typical on site behaviours. We can then assign metrics to better track how a site meets or doesn’t meet the needs of these customer segments.


The first two groups are pretty straight forward to profile.

Competitive: defined by fast and logical decision making

  • Low average time on site
  • Low average pages per visit – Path length on one page
  • Conversions time lag is low such as 0-3 days long (consider how many conversions resulted from conversion paths that were 0, 1, 2, 3 days long.)
  • Path steps to convert is low (consider how many conversions resulted from conversion paths that were 0, 1, 2, 3 steps long)
  • Typical traffic channels – organic & PPC; they are actively searching for your product or service so are using product or brand terms

Typical behaviour of a ‘Competitive’ customer sees them looking to get in, find what they’re after and get out again. Marketing priorities for these people need to be landing pages with clear call to actions that are optimised for keyword themes (SEO & PPC). They need to be geared up with the most telling information and a means to convert these people.

Methodical: defined by slow and logical decision making

Almost the inverse is true for the more methodical internet users:

  • High average time on site – no time constraints
  • High average pages per visit
  • Path length prior to conversion sees multiple pages visited
  • Conversions time lag is low
  • Typical converting traffic channels – organic, referral, PPC and remarketing

Content Marketing comes into play when converting the more Methodical customer type. On top of needing to be found in the SERPs with organic and paid listings, these people are likely to visit several sites prior to transacting so being referenced on authoritative domains becomes essential.

Spontaneous: defined by fast and emotional decision making

  • Similar behavioural characteristics to ‘Competitives’ as they’re not likely to hang around but…
  • Less likely to respond to clinical messaging however.

On site features may need to include; lifestyle imagery and trust signals such as live chat, reviews and industry accreditation.

Humanistic: defined by slow and emotional decision making

  • Like ‘Methodicals’ this crowd won’t be rushed
  • Like a ‘Spontaneous’ customer you’re going to need to reassure them that you are the right person for them give money to.

You will need further or expanded content such as related posts or a string of content that keeps their interest other time. Social proof can also play a key part in convincing them to commit to your website.

Future Ideas

With this profiling you’ll now be able to apply further segmentation:

  • Location
  • Technology
  • Device

Soon Google Analytics will roll out further demographic segmentation to give you further insight:

  • Geo (location and language)
  • Demographic (age and gender)
  • Interests

This will provide a pretty powerful basis to inform site structure and content in order to maximise site conversions and make you more money. For now I’d recommend you consider the best ways to use conversion rate optimisation on your website to reach each of the four types of customers as they are all good markets to consider.

For more segmentation goodness check out Anna’s #measurefest presentation “The Power Of Segmentation In Web Analytics”.

Image Credit

Composition of diverse people smiling via BigStock
Groups of people via BigStock

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Graeme Benge

Graeme is a self-confessed chocolate addict and his carefully curated physique reflects this. His beard is better than yours and if you ever want to see such a majestic creature you can find him in the ‘room of doom’ listening to rock and heavy metal.

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