Hyperlink to Persuasion

  |  October 31, 2003   |  Comments

Separate superior conversion rates from mediocre ones. How to craft links that persuade.

The elements of persuasive architecture -- momentum, calls to action, credibility, trigger/keywords, AIDAS, WIIFM, and benefit-oriented copy -- depend on proper hyperlink use. Understanding what to hyperlink, when to do so, and why can turn mediocre conversion rates into superior ones.

What Links Do

Links affect momentum. Use embedded text links, so visitors never have to leave the active window. They should never wonder, "Where do I go next?" Good link usage propels visitors deeper into your site toward their desired goal and to the ultimate action you want them to take.

Does the link take visitors where they expect to go? Is the link's implied promise fulfilled? If so, visitors gains confidence in your site -- and you gain credibility. If not,your rapport with customers can suffer.

Search engine crawlers bounce to pages from links. Include keywords in links to improve your search engine rankings. If they're relevant and address the visitor's intent, links help with AIDAS. If the link leads to information visitors find interesting, it helps create desire and action.

Links can also address WIIFM. Provide links to information that's relevant and important to visitors, and they'll become engaged in the buying process. Links with an implied benefit give visitors a reason to click and to learn about that benefit.

Craft Links to Persuade

Whether your links fulfill persuasion architecture's key elements depends on what information they provide. We designed pages for specific personas on the Leo Diamond Web site. "David C." is more predisposed to carefully and logically analyze a buying decision than the other personas. On pages designed for him, we hyperlink to the 4Cs page.

On pages meant for "Kimberly R.," our less-logical, more romantic persona, the 4Cs weren't hyperlinked. The basic information is there; it's probably all she wants. She's not too interested in much detailed information, so a hyperlink to that page would send her on the wrong navigation path. The Web site is new, but we'll continually optimize scenarios for each persona.

How to Construct a Link

Do your links say what they need to? The clearer the explicit benefit of clicking on a hyperlink, the more likely a visitor will click.

Many sites use very short links, about three words, max. Our client experience (results measured in dollars) and solid research (scientifically gathered in a lab) indicate the best links (most likely to deliver what the reader expects) are usually 4 to 10 words long. It's not an exact science, but there are principles you can follow to ensure your links deliver the goods.

Links should be constructed with an imperative, an implied benefit of what visitors can expect when they click, and a clear sense of the information on the landing page. Which link best conveys what the visitor will find on the landing page?

  • Find out which after-school program is best for your child.

  • Find out which after-school program is best for your child.

  • Find out which after-school program is best for your child.

The first link implies the landing page lists programs. The second tells you the landing page probably lists after-school programs. The third tells you the landing page contains content that will help you decide which after-school program is best for your child.

Bear in mind that the third link works only if it fulfills its explicit promise. A list of programs doesn't fulfill the promise. Content designed to help parents choose the best program for their children does. A site's credibility is affected by link integrity. It impacts visitors' confidence in both the site itself and its offerings.

Be specific, include an imperative, and include an implied benefit in all links. You'll create relevance, credibility, desire, and sales momentum. Most important, you'll convert more visitors into customers.

Do your links do all that?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) of IdealSpot. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times best-selling books Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, and Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends. Bryan is a keynote speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as Gultaggen, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others for the past 10 years. Bryan was named a winner of the Marketing Edge's Rising Stars Awards, recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and has been recognized as most influential in PPC, Social Selling, OmniChannel Retail. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed companies such as Sightly, UserTesting, Monetate, ChatID, Nomi, and BazaarVoice. He works with his co-author and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.

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