2 Online Marketing Segments: Insecure Focused, Secure Unfocused

Back in 2001 I met up with Vince Gerlormine at the Association for Internet Professionals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A few months later he asked if I could build a speed dating website for him that could run events in multiple cities, run by multiple event hosts. By mid-2002 we were in 15 cities and growing fast. Pre-Dating.com went on to be the largest speed dating business in the US, in over 80 markets and was sold in 2004 to Cupid.com.

One issue that I observed working with Vince was is he would often overload the home page with tons of details and he went on to write an enormous FAQs page. He was concerned about the customer not having enough information to make a decision to sign up. He had questions in there like “What should I Wear To The Event?”, “Where Should I Go Afterwards”, “What Happens If It Snows?”, etc., etc. And we also had several clicks till a person could actually purchase the speed dating event.

I told Vince that my preference would be to have the registration form right on the home page and to not have all this cluttered text and information and links on that home page, so that it would be clear to me how to buy.

So a few years later I realized that he and I had two differing ways of surfing a website and that is why we had a different opinion of the checkout process. In 2009 I was certified by Marketing Experiments with a Landing Page Optimization Certification and went through their quite amazing training on optimizing web forms and step by step usability methods. So, I do have a background in this area now. Back in 2001 I was simply the web developer. We can actually take our two ways of thinking and segment the market of surfers into Insecure Focused and Secure Unfocused. If you are going to segment and don’t know what they are, this is one way of segment and serving these two audiences. Years ago at another large ecommerce company we segmented on new vs. existing, which is another common way to go. But the Insecure Focused, Secure Unfocused is a psychographic we discovered, making it a good way to segment.

Insecure Focused

Insecure Focused are people that surf a website and have a lot of concerns about buying and need to have these issues overcome by selling the customer and providing enough information to get them to be “secure” about their feelings of buying. These are people who are concerned about the site being a rip off and not providing or living up to the standard that they are reading about. These people sometimes go as far as reading the terms on a website and they will read all the fine print. I am not sure of the % who fit this segment, because each site will be different. Though that would be an interesting number to figure out. Let’s just say that the Insecure Focused person most likely has to leave the website and think about buying before checking out the competition sites, the better business bureau and mulling over it in their bed overnight…

Secure Unfocused

Secure Unfocused people are just that. They are confident in taking a risk on a website, and generally have arrived at that website for a purpose that they knew in advance they would jump at. Basically think of these people as having tunnel vision. Their eyes lock on to an actionable part of the website page and if it makes sense they take action. People like me don’t read everything and if we do, we often miss some of the details. It is like the whole page on the site other than the actionable items gets fuzzy. Some people have laughed at me when I say to put an email box saying “get on our list” on their website, even if there is no reason to get on the list. These secure unfocused folks will jump on the list. I had been working on Websites.com for Verio/NTT corp and put a box on it like this and several months later we had a couple thousand emails. I am a secure unfocused person. I will basically not want to take the time to read everything. I am a sign up kind of guy. I don’t believe its worth my time to read all those terms and if the deal looks decent enough, I just jump in and get it. Thus, we end up with sites for Secure Unfocused people like Woot.com. One of my favorites.

So, as a web manager you have to say to yourself, where do my beliefs lie. If you are Insecure Focused, then you have to not just design a site you would use, you have to solve the problem for quickies like me who don’t want to read everything. If you are Secure Unfocused type of person, you have to understand that there are people who look at a big form box with fear and trepidation and will never put their email in… unless you coax them. You need to create a path for success for both types of visitors.

There are two mantras for site visitors to consider here, Insecure Focused and Secure Unfocused, in addition to a many other ways to segment. But overall this way is a very actionable way to design for both types of individuals and solve both paths towards successful conversion.