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?
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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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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