Embedded links are the yellow brick road to persuasion. When deliberately designed, they allow visitors to persuade themselves in the manner most appealing to them. Encourage each persona to follow her own path. Visitors will take the actions you most desire.
Different visitors search your site in different ways. Some know exactly what they're looking for. Others know only approximately what they want. Still others may simply be curious about what you offer. Design for all of them.
Global, hierarchical, even local navigation helps visitors who know what they want get it faster. Most visitors read at least some copy. If they see an embedded link that interests them, they'll click it. If the link doesn't interest them, they'll ignore it. They may not be consciously aware of the action.
People aren't aware of something until it matters to them. The day I drove my Volvo off the lot, everyone suddenly seemed to have one. Visitors come to your Web site looking for relevant information. What they perceive as relevant pops out at them. What isn't relevant won't. Design and write copy so the right persona will be persuaded, via self-motivation, to click the most relevant link.
Put Them on the Path
Persuasion begins when visitors realize they arrived at the right place. Each page of a Web site should contain a link that proves to prospects this is the right place.
The challenge: Different people ask different questions. Build personas before you write copy. This helps find the "right" questions to answer.
Each Web site page must answer questions specific to the page and personality type of the visitor. Write copy with the point of resolution in mind. Each page's copy elicits microactions that lead to the end objective, the macroaction.
Link as early as possible. Certain personality types need only the big picture; an earlier link may provide all the relevance they need. Another type appreciates a great deal of detail. They read everything thoroughly before deciding where to click next. They need links closer to the end of the page. If a link leads a visitor to the information he wants, he'll be delighted to follow it.
Don't Worry About Distraction
Many copywriters worry too many links distract visitors from the text. A link only distracts if it leads in the wrong direction, or visitors can't find the relevance they sought. Contrary to popular belief, include redundant links. Prospects may seek for the same information, but ask the question differently. Different links can address different questions but still lead to the same page.
Will visitors come back to the page they came from? Not necessarily. That's the point. Get visitors to dig deeper into your site until they're so excited by your offer that the momentum is unstoppable. Visitors shouldn't need to go back. If they want to remind themselves of something they've read, fine. But overall, persuasive momentum is a forward process. Pogo-sticking often kills that momentum.
Understand a persona's buying process, and you'll understand exactly what she's looking for. Know what a persona seeks and you can design a presentation that perfectly fits expectations. Why would anyone presented with the perfect solution to a problem notbuy? Your business has the perfect solution to someone's problem. Pave the yellow brick road that leads visitors to persuade themselves you're the solution they seek.
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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.