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Web Site Measurement Hacks by Eric T. Peterson

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Hack #56. Use Language to Drive Action

The use of language on your web site is a critical usability element, one that has a tremendous amount of control over whether or not your visitors are satisfied.

Roy H. Williams once said:

You study pivotal people and the events of history, searching for a common denominator. You hope to identify the recurrent elements of greatness, the keys to phenomenal success. You search for the secret of miracles. After several hundred hours of reading, you reach an utterly inescapable conclusion: Words are the most powerful force there has ever been.

So if words pack enough muscle to change something insignificant like world history, they are certainly powerful enough to motivate a visitor through your web site.

You have goals for your business. You want customers to come to your site and complete the action you want them to take. You want them to buy, register, or become a lead. You want your visitors to engage with your web site, your marketing, and your brand, and proceed down the path of your sales process.

However, visitors come to a web site with their own goals in mind. They are engaged in their own process—their buying process, regardless of whether the ultimate goal is making a purchase. To be successful in your conversion efforts, you must interweave the "sales" process with the "buying" process: to help the company convert more visitors while assisting those visitors to accomplish their goals.

Know Your Visitors Motivations and Create Scent Trails

Do the research to reveal and learn everything possible about your site's customers and their goals.

  • Study the topographics: the competitive environment as a whole and the users behavior within the environment

  • Study the psychographics: what do customers do psychologically as part of their buying processes?

  • Study demographics: what are the customer's attributes and how do they affect their buying processes?

  • Study your site's traffic patterns—specifically keyword referrals

    Now you are equipped with the tools needed to use this information to build information scent trails that will lead visitors down the road to conversion.

  • Prospect your visitor by using her language.

  • Build rapport by keeping copy relevant and addressing her issues.

  • Qualify your visitor by leading her down the path she's most interested in.

  • Present only the solution she's qualified herself as interested in.

  • Close for the action you want her to take only after demonstrating that you understand her problem and have her solution.

Put yourself in the shoes of one of those typical visitors. Can you imagine arriving at your landing page and clicking through your buying process's hyperlinks (which mirror your selling process)? Does every click feel completely relevant and made just for you? If you answered no, why should your visitor feel differently?

Each time visitors click and take an action, they make the decision to take that action. Your job is to motivate and persuade them to take each of those actions as they proceed down our sales process; to convert that click. But, again, the visitor's buying process sometimes gets in the way.

How do we deal with that? One thing you need to recognize is that successful visitors move through the buying process using two types of links.

Use Two Types of Hyperlinks

You must understand Internet linking and these two types of hyperlinks:

Calls to action

The links people are most familiar with, which deal with the sales process.

Points of resolution

The links most sites don't seem to use often enough—those that help visitors in their buying process.

Links that move visitors along the sales process are traditionally more linear, moving people forward to a close. Call to action hyperlinks are typically well constructed by using an imperative verb and an implied benefit, such as Buy Now, Add To Cart, Subscribe, and Contact Us.

Point-of-resolution links are often nouns. Imagine a young accountant, David Commonsense, who's fallen in love. He wants to propose marriage to his girlfriend. David is methodical in his decision making: he likes to conduct lots of research and feel confident about any action he takes. David is about to purchase an engagement ring, so he wants to understand everything he can about diamonds. He recognizes he needs to do an information search.

He heads to Google and lands on the "Learn About Diamonds" page of Leo Schachter's web site (Figure 4-2).

An informational web site about diamonds

Figure 4-2. An informational web site about diamonds

Leo Schachter's goal for David is to run a search for a retailer. David will spend time reading the page and getting an overview about diamonds. He needs all the facts and details. Notice there are quite a few links on the page. Most are points of resolution for David. He may want to dig deeper and learn about the 4 Cs of diamonds, diamond certification, or diamond shapes.

None of these links are actually related to the sales process Leo Schachter wants David to partake in. Yet these links, and the information on the pages, are intended to give David confidence and move him closer to a purchase decision in the buying process.

Many point-of-resolution pages seem circular, linking to one another. If at any time, on any of these pages, David's ready to exit, he'll find carefully worded hyperlinks that bring him to a call-to-action or sales-process page. These links have nothing to do with hierarchy. David is never required to enter point-of-resolution links; they simply allow him to collect the data he needs and desires, while always providing him with an opportunity to convert.

In this way, Leo Schachter is using language to drive action. He's allowing David to traverse a nonlinear path—conducting research, but ensuring at every point that the right call to action is present. The essence of this linguistic strategy, often referred to as persuasion architecture, is careful consideration of how words and links are used to create calls to action and points of resolution.

Put More Effort into Copy

If visitors arrive on your site and don't read what you've written or take a desired action, your marketing and web development dollars are wasted. Your copy can make a big difference. Here is how most copy on the web reads:

Bath & Body Oils

Pure natural oils blended with essential oil scents. Soothing for all skin types. These oils can be used in the shower or after your shower for all day fresh and supple skin that is softly scented.

Snooze. But check this copy from Philosophy.com

Amazing Grade Shampoo, Bath & Shower Gel

How you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you get down the mountain. And, so it is with life, which for many of us becomes one gigantic test followed by one gigantic lesson. In the end, it all comes down to one word. Grace. It's how you accept winning and losing, good luck and bad luck, the darkness and the light.

Amazing Grace shampoo, bath, and shower gel is our best-selling, uniquely feminine, moisturizing shower gel for gracious bodies.

Who do you think sells more bath and shower gel?

What Matters to People Matters to Search Engines.

Words and hyperlinks matter to people and search engines [Hack #43] , and who doesn't want to improve their organic search results? By using language to drive action and by leveraging well-formed hyperlinks and the use of keywords in your content, you can both drive search traffic and delight your visitors!

Here are a few very specific things you can and should do to use language to drive action on your web site:

  • Don't use single word or generic click here hyperlinks.

  • Link specific phrases that matter to your visitors; simply use the search referral keywords they used to get to your site.

  • Since keywords can reveal intent of your visitor, they should be used to create scent trails. What is a better hyperlink, "Click Here to Download" or "Get Your Diamond Buying Guide"?

Because search engines are always laboring to deliver the most relevant content to searchers, pages that actually deliver relevant content will always rank well. Pages on the Leo site typically rank well (some rank #1 in Google), because the content on each page is relevant and the internal links are keyword-rich.

—Bryan Eisenberg and Eric T. Peterson

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