Commercial websites are instruments of influence. Their success depends on their ability to convince visitors to take action.
According to Dr. Robert Cialidini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be More Persuasive, influencers should employ each of these 6 principles when trying to persuade:
- Reciprocation. Give an unexpected gift and people will be far more likely to feel indebted and give something in return.
- Social Proof. Knowing what everyone else is doing – and especially what respected people are doing – can reduce anxiety about a decision.
- Commitment and Consistency. People are more likely to do things once they have agreed to do so verbally or in writing.
- Liking. People are more likely to say yes if they like you.
- Authority. Giving the appearance of authority, having impressive titles or expertise, can increase compliance.
- Scarcity. The less there is of something, the more valuable people perceive it to be.
The merits of the six principles are clear, but also clearly often used to tacky ends. Before we start emblazoning our websites with “OFFER ENDS SOON!!!” banners, we should step back and check our content for its clarity. Some simple rules for clarity are:
- Know what you’re selling. No matter how technical your solution, how sophisticated your platform, you must be able to state it in clear, simple language.
- Know your customer. Make sure your message looks and sounds wonderful to your audience without patronizing them.
- Make an irresistible offer. Beyond succinctly stating what you do, you’ll also want to make it a zero-risk proposition to use the service.
It’s possible that your site will be persuasive enough if you just apply the rules of clarity. Testing messages takes trial and error in the form of A/B testing on various landing pages, but you will eventually figure it out. If you feel that your site ranks low on persuasion, clarity, or both, I suggest you step away from your computer right now, go for a walk, and sort that out before doing anything else today.