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Persuasive Web Design, Part 3: Look and Act Like Your Target Group


“You look like someone I can trust…”

We are more likely to respond positively to — and be persuaded by — people we like. And guess who we tend to like best: People who are similar to us!

There are a number of ways in which people can be similar to us, including:

  • Age group
  • Gender
  • Intelligence
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Personality type
  • Manner of dress
  • Things owned, products used
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Race/ethnicity/religion
  • Political beliefs
  • Social class
  • Behavior
  • Use of language
  • Personal style
  • Music listened to
  • Region lived in

Here are a few ways in which you can use this principle to make your web efforts more persuasive:

  • For images of people, it's best to use attractive people, as they are seen as more trustworthy. But avoid using models. Use “real people” that closely match your target group. (Age, sex, ethnicity, manner of dress, etc.)
  • Tailor your copy to match your target group. Don't use formal language when writing for teenagers, or slang when writing for business executives.
  • If you have several distinct target groups, develop customized landing pages for each.

To implement this technique effectively takes some homework. You have to develop a deep understanding of just who your customers really are and tailor your web pages to match them. But it's worth the effort, as it helps you connect with visitors on an emotional level… and makes them much more receptive to your offers.

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