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THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND YOUR CALL-TO-ACTION

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 16:30:39 GMT

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​When you look at a web page with a call-to-action, the last thing you’re thinking about is the psychology that went into creating it. However, there’s more psychology powering an effective call-to-action than you’re aware of. Knowing something about this psychology can help you create the types of calls-to-action that convert browsers into buyers.
For example, you read about an online tool that can increase your business productivity. You go to the website to check it out. Before you know it, you’re clicking the “Buy Now” button. What persuaded you to go to that website and buy the product? It was a series of effective calls-to-action that moved you forward through the buying process.
The call-to-action represents the critical difference between a bounce and a conversion. You can have strong page content and the best product or service, but if you don’t present a clear and well-designed call-to-action, you will lose sales.

Call-To-Action Definition

Simply stated, a call-to-action is designed to motivate your readers to take some kind of action.
​The call-to-action can take various forms, from text to an image to a button to a video. The action that the user takes can be varied as well: making a purchase, downloading software, subscribing to a newsletter, signing up for a free trial, liking your page, or asking for more information.
What psychological principles can you apply to your calls-to-action to get people to take the action you want them to take? The following are some of them.

Expectation

When prospects visit your website or landing page, they are expecting to see a call-to-action. Based on their previous experiences with landing pages, they know you will ask them to take some action.When prospects visit your website or landing page, they are expecting to see a call-to-action. Based on their previous experiences with landing pages, they know you will ask them to take some action.
This doesn’t mean they are going to take the action you want them to take. It simply means their minds are prepared for the experience of being asked to act.

Curiosity | Satisfaction

We as humans are naturally curious. It’s how we learn, and it’s a powerful driver. The urge to find out what happens after clicking on the call-to-action is the perfect example of curious activity. And after we click on that call-to-action, we’re promised satisfaction. We’re curious, but what we’re really after is the satisfaction we get after clicking through.
How can you trigger that curiosity to your advantage? 
Offer a teaser of what your site visitors will get for joining or provide a bit of the content they’ll find inside the download. Give them just enough information to pique their curiosity. 
The copy on your call-to-action should promise a discovery. Use terms like “secrets” and “tips & tricks.” Ideally, the desire to reveal those “secrets” will drive them to click through. 

Anticipation

We humans are wired for anticipation. We anticipate positive experiences because our minds retain positive experiences more than negative ones. And, surprisingly, the anticipation can be more pleasurable than the actual experience. 
To create anticipation, consider that you’re telling a story, with the landing page providing the introduction and plot development. The call-to-action acts as the climax of the story and creates the cliff hanger.  Your prospects will have to click on the call-to-action to find out the ending to your story; otherwise, they’re left hanging.
If your website isn’t getting you as many conversions as you want, the story you’re telling isn’t reaching your prospects on the emotional level necessary to create anticipation. 

Reward

Many of our actions are based on what we think the reward for that action will be. Calls-to-action reinforce this behavior. If we sign up for this email list, we’ll get the thing we really want for free. Each time we get a reward like that, the idea is reinforced.
We do it so many times that it’s almost like a habit. When we see a landing page, we are conditioned to respond in a certain way. We’ve learned, through conditioning, to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli. Remember Pavlov’s dog?
When it comes to the call-to-action, we have the same type of experience. We have a conditioned response to the reward that comes after we click. Our mental history has taught us that clicking or signing up brings a feeling of reward. 

Repetition

Our brains automatically process things we read and see, looking for patterns that help us  understand information faster. Your call-to-action can take advantage of this predisposition to look for repetition by using a phrase repeatedly to “prime” your user for the call-to-action.
As an example, if you want people to buy something, work the phrase “save money” throughout the page. Use that phrase in the header, body, and final call-to-action button. By the time the user reaches the call-to-action, his brain has already correlated the action of “click to purchase” with saving money.

Sense of Urgency | FOMO

Retailers discovered long ago that certain words prompt people to act faster. That’s why their ads say “amazing limited-time offers”. We’re more likely to buy now if we’re afraid that we can’t buy tomorrow.
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) plays into this sense of urgency as well. If we don’t act fast, other people will get something that we won’t. No one wants to miss out on a good deal.
Improve your conversion rate by creating the same sense of urgency. Use phrases like “last chance,” “offer expires,” or “going fast.” These phrases highlight the scarcity of your product and prompt the user to click your call-to-action before the deal is gone. 

Exclusivity

Exclusivity is a powerful motivator. Nothing feels more exclusive than being one of the first to have the insider scoop.  Don’t simply ask your user to “subscribe here;” prompt them to “become an insider”, “be the first to hear about it” or “get it before everyone else.”
The rarer something is, the more people want it, and the more valuable it becomes. 

Benefits

Psychologically, users aren’t really interested in product features. They’re interested in how those features can help them solve problems. Higher conversions happen when you answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Think about how your product saves time, money, or hassle for the searcher, then incorporate that value into your call-to-action.
A call-to-action button that says “never be late again” creates more of an impact than one that says “get our time management app.”

No Risk

Minimizing risk eases your propsect’s fears and hesitations during the buying process and encourages them to buy or sign up.
Make it clear in your calls-to-action that your free trial is “no-obligation” Or, that your service includes a “money-back guarantee”.

Tap into the power of the word “free.” It can be one of the most persuasive words in the English language, and it’ll help you get more click-throughs.

Ultimately, you want your visitors to think, “There’s no harm in giving this a try.”

Color

colors automatically evoke emotion in us and send information on a subconscious level.

The psychological impact of color is a complex subject all to itself. For our purposes here, we’ll just say that colors automatically evoke emotion in us and send information on a subconscious level. Thus, color plays a role in influencing how people respond to your call-to-action. Some marketers believe that a specific color is better than another, saying blue (for example) will work better than red in getting people to click.

The reality is that everyone responds differently and there’s no “magic” color that converts best. Just make sure your call-to-action stands out on the page. 

K.I.S.S.

Prevent decision paralysis by keeping your message simple

A good practice is to follow up your primary call-to-action with a secondary one, such as “Follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook”. Be aware, however, that the more options you give your prospects, the less likely they are to choose one, and the more likely they are to bounce.

​This phenomenon is called Decision Paralysis and preventing your visitors from experiencing it can help you get higher conversions.


Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior. By applying the principles of psychology when creating your calls-to-action, you’ll be tapping into the power of the psychological forces that drive your prospects to click through and go from browsers to buyers.
For additional reading on this fascinating subject, try these sources:

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