Persuasion is a critical aspect of successful web-based marketing, in part because you and the site visitor aren’t actually conversing face-to-face. So, your site text has to be pretty convincing and targeted to persuade that visitor to:
- Stay on site
- Perform the most desired action (MDA)
Here are some tips that’ll persuade the most reluctant site visitor to convert. Use them on your site and watch your bounce rate plummet (a good thing) and your conversion rate soar (an even better thing).
Money, family and health
There are 3 topics about which people want to know more: Money, Family & Themselves
How can I make more money, save more money, get more for the money I have?
How can I create a happy family life? How can I improve my relations with my kids or my spouse? How can I plan a fun family vacation?
How can I make myself feel better? How do I cure a wart? Why do I feel dizzy when I stand up quickly?
People want answers to these questions and a million other questions related to their finances, family and to their health and the health of their loved ones. Even better if you can combine two or more of these topics in your site text, i.e. How can I get my family to eat healthier food while I’m on a budget?
Regardless of what products or services you provide, slot them into one of these three categories to keep visitors on site longer. Consider this: the longer you keep a visitor on site, the more opportunity you have to persuade them to purchase your nutritional supplements, your guide to investing for college or how to prevent substance abuse from ruining your marriage.
Create compelling headlines
You never know where a visitor is going to enter your site. It may be through the front door – the home page – or it may be through a side door – a landing page. Regardless, a compelling headline should spark curiosity or provide an answer to a specific question.
If you provide the answers in the headline, visitors are more likely to read further and, ultimately, be persuaded to make a purchase.
Information is persuasive
Even a well-trained chimp can identify hype. That’s why those long-form sales letters are so 2002. Even a novice web surfer can smell this kind of hype a mile away.
Instead of selling a steaming pile of hype, provide good, useful information – something the prospect will appreciate. However, don’t give away the store. Craft your informational content in such a way that the reader understands the problem and maybe even the solution. However, provide just enough useful information for readers to realize that they need the solutions you provide.
For example, if you’re a certified financial planner, provide information on the importance of diversification in any financial portfolio. It’s good, accurate, conventional wisdom. Diversify assets. Just don’t tell them where to put their assets. They need your consultation to design the perfect portfolio to meet their financial objectives.
Stop selling. Start teaching. But teach just enough that the reader sees the value of your products or services.
Use action words
Would you rather “Learn All About Anti-Oxidants” or “Discover the Power of Anti-Oxidants?”
Action words compel action on the part of the reader. Learning is boring – something you did when you were in school. Discovering has the hint of adventure, something new, something that’s been hidden away and you’re going to provide the road map to this wonderful new product, service or information.
Use these words to persuade site visitors that what you have to say is “state-of-the-art” or “ahead of the curve.”
The Call to Action
The call to action comes at the end of your sell pages and it serves two critical purposes.
First, an example of a good call to action:
Discover the secrets of debt reduction. You’re just a click away from financial freedom. Learn more.
Now, the first purpose of a call to action is to motivate or persuade a site visitor to perform the most desired action. In the example of above, the call to action is short and sweet. It uses an action word (Discover rather than Learn) and it motivates the needs-driven buyer to take action to get out of debt.
The second purpose of a good call to action is to provide the reader with directions on how to perform the action. In this case, the “Learn more,” in blue text indicates a link to additional information – something regular computer users recognize immediately.
So, by clicking on the blue “learn more” link, you actually provide directions for the reader to follow, telling him or her how to perform the MDA. This is a critical piece of information that’s often missing from the call to action. It’s not enough to persuade a site visitor, you also have to tell that visitor how to do what you want them to do – engage your services, read your message or buy something.
We all like to save money. Place items on your home page and landing pages that are discounted. In some cases, sell the product at cost or even below your wholesale cost. These “sales” are called loss leaders and they have one purpose – to persuade the buyer to make the purchase.
Loss leaders also keep visitors shopping so you, the site owner, hope that buyers search your site for other good deals, but deals on which you make a profit. Give it away to keep visitors on site and make it up with additional sales.
Customer or client testimonials
If a buyer is happy with your products or services, and they’re kind enough to send you an email thanking you for your prompt service or the quality of your goods, use these testimonials to persuade others to buy the same product or service.
Amazon.com, everybody’s favorite on-line shopping destination, encourages customer reviews of products. That takes guts. You’ll often see products that reviewers hate. They slam the product and actually push away potential buyers.
Conversely, these buyer reviews point out benefits of the product and the satisfaction of the buyer. Nothing persuades more strongly than a referral from a buyer who’s happy with his or her purchase. (Side note: Some Amazon reviewers actually have followings on the site. Simply by clicking on “Read All My Reviews” you can see the two hundred other reviews that buyer has posted to the site. If they’re all negative, the value of the review you just read should be taken with a grain of salt. Also, Intel’s employees were caught red-handed posting positive reviews for Intel products. Oops.)
Customer testimonials from John H., Las Vegas are pretty much worthless as far as persuading a buyer to perform the MDA. Who is John H.? How do you know the testimonial wasn’t written by a paid copy writer? That’s why the reviews posted on Amazon carry more weight. You read reviews from good folks, unhappy buyers and trolls, (a.k.a. haters) who post negative reviews on everything from your blog to Amazon’s buyer reviews.
Solve a problem – FREE
Offer something that solves a problem for the site visitor and give it away. Think of an e-book download on how to “Ask for a Raise and Get It” positioned on your job board home page as bait. Visitors will thank you for the advice and may become loyal followers simply because you helped them with a problem.
Of course, be sure to point site visitors to the additional tools – the premium-priced tier – to recoup the cost of developing that free e-book download. The key to persuading a visitor to perform the MDA is to be helpful. That builds trust AND a stable customer base.
You may even get a few bookmarks for your free give-away. It may be bait, but it works.
The most effective means of doing this is to offer a money-back guarantee. “If you aren’t satisfied, we refund your full purchase price, including shipping and handling, no questions asked.” This “no-hassle” guarantee has made LL Bean a household name.
A money-back guarantee is one of the most persuasive tools the web site owner has in his or her arsenal. And it’s a pretty safe bet that most buyers will never return an item. Too much trouble. So, a money-back guarantee persuades the buyer to make the purchase, but even if that buyer isn’t 100% satisfied, chances are s/he won’t take the time to return the product. It just isn’t worth the time.
Provide customer/client support
Tech support, billing support, order support – all of this information should appear throughout the site in prominent positions, i.e. above the fold on all product pages, on each page of the check-out sequence, on the home page.
Customers want to know that there are human beings behind the site’s presentation layer. Customer or client support – especially with a toll-free number – is extremely persuasive.
And, when customers use this support and get the satisfaction or reassurance they’re looking for, they remain loyal, repeat buyers.
The art of persuasion depends on several factors: honesty, transparency, truthfulness, quality service and constant reassurance. Build these persuasive features in to your site text and site architecture and you’ll see sales increase, customer care costs decrease and you might just might give Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder) a run for his money.
Persuasion is nothing more than meeting client or customer expectations. Do that and you’ll enjoy site success and profitability.