The two types of hyperlinks and why you need both.
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 visitors to engage with your Web site, your marketing, your brand and proceed down the path of your sales process.
Visitors arrive on a Web site with their own goals in mind. They're engaged in their own buying process. A persuasion architect's goal is to interweave your sales process with their buying process; to help the site convert more visitors and to assist those visitors with their goals.
I've always said your conversion rate is a measure of your ability to persuade visitors to take the action you want them to take. It's a reflection of the site's effectiveness and customer satisfaction. To achieve your goals, visitors must first achieve theirs.
You must help visitors take actions. Site actions include clicking links, and filling in and submitting forms. Clicks can, of course, be measured by Web analytics. Each click that propels visitors toward completing their goal is a microaction. The end goal is the macroaction.
Each time they click, they've made a decision to take that action.
Your job is to motivate and persuade them to take each action as they proceed through the sales process; to convert that click. But the visitor's buying process sometimes gets in the way.
How do we deal with that?
Two Types of Hyperlinks
It comes down to understanding the two different types of hyperlinks.
The type most people are familiar with are hyperlinks that deal with the sales process: calls to action.
The one most sites don't use often enough are links that help visitors in their own buying process. These are points of resolution.
Links that move visitors along the sales process are linear. They move people forward. Call-to-action hyperlinks are typically constructed by using an imperative verb with an implied benefit. Links visitors use as part of their own buying process we call "resolving doors."
The Resolving Door
These 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 quite methodical in his decision making. He likes to conduct lots of research and feel confident about any action he's going to take. 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. Leo Schachter is one of the largest branded diamond wholesaler in the world, selling through stores such as Kay Jewelers and Jarrod. Leo Schachter's goal for David is to run a search for a retailer. More than half of visitors searches for a retailer on the site, with an average conversion rate of 54.1 percent. (Before persuasion architecture was applied to the site, the conversion rate was 0.86 percent.)
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 four Cs, diamond certification, or diamond shapes.
None of these links are actually related to the sales process Leo Schachter wants David to engage 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.
Pages such as branded diamonds and what is a Leo Diamond? relate more to the sales process, not the buying process. They're carefully hyperlinked and interwoven into the copy on the point-of-resolution pages.
Many point-of-resolution pages seem circular, linking to one another, hence "resolving" door. If at anytime, 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 resolving-door links; they simply allow him to collect the data he needs and desires, while always providing him with an opportunity to convert.
As you can imagine, unless your site is only three or four pages, actually accounting for and designing with resolving-door hyperlinks in mind can be complex. Complexity is part and parcel of a persuasive Web site. It can't be avoided. A commerce site without them is nothing more than a linear PowerPoint presentation.
A Web site's strength is in its interactivity. Interactivity is best utilized when it provides visitors with both call-to-action and point-of-resolution hyperlinks.
Are you weaving a Web that helps customers meet their goals so you can achieve yours?
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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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