The nonverbal side of online marketing – part 1
The 5 Invisible Forces Behind Effective Online Marketing
Inside this report, I’m going to explain to you how you can influence people on your website or webshop with what I call Nonverbal Website Intelligence. Before we get started, I want you to know that these tactics will work across the board – from professional blogging… to small local businesses… to Fortune 100 companies. How do I know these strategies work? Because I’ve spent the last 5 years studying how people react when they hit websites, and I’ve discovered these proven nonverbal methods that influence people online.Lo ng story short, by the time you’re done reading this report, you’ll know these 5 key elements and how to use them to improve your website instantly.
Now let’s dig in.
What is Nonverbal Website Intelligence?
You’re creating lots of content to communicate with your audience online. This is more-or-less the equivalent of verbal communication. But, as with person-to-person interaction, there’s another form of communication that takes place online. And as you probably guessed, it’s nonverbal communication. If you ignore this form of communication, you risk losing visitors, sales, and subscribers.
Every decision you make on your site communicates a message to your audience – even tiny seemingly trivial choices send a message.
For example, if you stumble on a minimalist tips website with a cluttered sidebar, how would you view their content? I’d probably say something like this: “Heck, they can’t keep their own stuff in check, how can they teach me anything? ”Or, as another example, what if you want to buy something from a website and you have to wait several minutes for it to load? What if you repeatedly have loading issues? How would you feel about that online store? Pretty negatively, right?
You may notice a trend here…I’m talking about how small details make big differences. It’s not just about your content or your brand, it’s about these details that can make or break your website. So, how do you learn how to control these small details?
Well, to master them, you must learn what I call Nonverbal Website Intelligence, which in reality, is a fancy way to say “learn how people think online.”
The Foundation of Nonverbal Website Intelligence
After reading tons of books, testing thousands of ideas, and learning from some of the best mentors, I’ve whittled down Nonverbal Website Intelligence into 5 key items:
- Enlightening Images on the website
- Effortless Navigation
- Soothing Typography
- Engagement Evidence
- Instant Access
In the remaining pages of this report, you’ll learn how you can get each item working on your website with my easy-to-implement tips. Sure, some of them may be more time intensive than others, but people who are serious about their website shouldn’t stress. It’s worth it. Oh, and don’t worry… Everything in this report will be easy-to-implement for new website owners and experienced web developers alike.
1 Enlightening Images on the website
Images are an essential element of engaging websites. They communicate feelings, fuel imagination, and immerse people in the story you’re sharing. Oh, and did I mention, aside from your headline, they’re one of the first things people see when they load your page?
You get it – images are powerful. But let’s face it, not all of us can afford the time or money to pay a photographer top dollar to take the perfect picture. So, what can we do?
First, you can find an image that’s good enough and then you can enhance it with Nonverbal Website Intelligence. Images act as a GPS device that guides your visitors in a specific direction. When you know how to one-tune this device, you can make even mediocre images into amazing beacons that shine on the path you want visitors to travel.
Before I tell you how to enhance your images, you may need help finding an image. Personally, I’m a big fan of IStockPhoto, but if you’re looking for free images, I suggest you try Flickr images.
So, let’s assume you have an image now. Here’s how you can enhance it:
A. Line of Sight
Imagine you’re walking down an empty city block and you spot someone curiously looking up at the sky. Would you quickly glance up to see what hastheir attention? Probably. People, almost innately, follow the gaze of other people. Now you’re wondering, what does this have to do with websites?
Let’s say you’re going to use a picture of a person on your website. Keeping line of sight in mind, you should direct their gaze the direction where you want your visitors to look. Guess what happens? People will follow the gaze of the person in the picture because a human gaze is like a big red arrow pointing in a specific direction.
I know this may seem silly, but these little things add up, so, make sure your pictures of people look where you want your visitors to look. Here’s an example:
You already know how much attention images get on your site. After the image, the next piece of content that grabs a lot of reader attention is the image caption. As a matter of fact, in
Ca$hvertising by Drew Eric Whitman, he said that captions often have 200% higher readership than any copy other than theall-powerful headline. For example, take a minute and think about how you read a newspaper. You pick it up, spot the headline, see the picture, and instantly read the caption. It’s how people read. The strange thing is, most people leave captions off of their images. This is a SIN. Why would you avoid using one of the most well-read pieces of contenton your website? So, you may not have a professional photographer taking pictures for you, but don’t let that hold you back. You can use the caption to help your readers instantly understand your idea. Or, from a sales perspective, you can use the caption to highlight one of the key benefits of your product. You know they’re going to read it, so take advantage of it.
2 Effortless Navigation
When people visit your site, they’re trying to find something. It could be content, contact information, or anything else your site may offer. And, how do people find what they want? Your website’s navigation.
You may think you have this in check, but there are vital pieces of Nonverbal Website Intelligence that help your visitors find what they want in a more natural, effortless way. Before I jump into the details, let me set the stage…
There are three types of people on the web: the searchers, the browsers, and the people who are a mixture of both. If you want your website to reach its full potential, you must cater to all three. Luckily, the searchers are easy. If you include a search form and return accurate results, they’ll be happy. The remaining two groups are where Nonverbal Website Intelligence helps you drastically. So, let’s dive in:
A. Active Commands
If you want to direct your Browsers to a specific page, you should use active commands because they work better than passive statements. Now, you may be thinking… doesn’t this qualify as verbal? Yes, but it’s not the substance of your primary communication. And the way you phrase your navigational text has a powerful “under-the-radar” psycho-logical effect. For example, let’s say you have a choice between one of the following options. Which one do you think attracts the most clicks?
- 1. I’m on Twitter
- 2. Follow me on Twitter
- 3. You should follow me on Twitter
- 4. You should follow me on Twitter here
If you guessed option 4, you’d be right. However, if you didn’t, let me explain. This example was a real-life case study. On Which Test Won, Anne Holland wrote about this split test performed by Dustin Curtis.
The funny thing is, Dustin’s audience is web savvy. You would think active commands like “click here” would be lost on them because they know what they’re doing, but that wasn’t the case. The active command drastically im-proved performance.
More specifically, option 4 came in with 12.81% click through, where as option 3 came in at 10.09% click through, or, in other words, option 4 outperformed option 3 by 27%. (The other two options on the other hand weren’t contenders. If you want tosee the complete results, check out Which Test Won here) Now, the question is, when should you use active commands? Well, for starters, you don’t want to overload your site with active commands because too many will come across as overly authoritarian and lose effectiveness. Instead, you should use focused active commands to promote what you really want your visitors to do on each page. For example, you may want to highlight your subscription box, Twitter profile, or product pages.
B. Editorial Cross-Links
When you write an article, you should link to other related pages throughout your content. Aside from being a search engine optimization best practiceand a smart way to annotate your articles with supporting evidence, it’s alsoa key way to get browsing visitors to stay on your site longer. Why do editorial links work? When you include links “inside” your content, it’s hard for browsers to miss.These editorial links help pique curiosity and gets them to click to more ar-ticles, which further builds your value and authority and prompt more sub-scriptions.
C. One Page, One Goal
If you want your Browsers / Searchers to take some form of action, you need a clearly defined goal for each of your pages. To accomplish this effectively, you should have one goal per page. Chances are, you’ve probably heard of analysis paralysis. That’s when people over think a decision and fail to take any action at all.
When you have more than one goal per page, you risk creating a paralyzed mindset for browsers. Instead of browsing, they’ll leave without making any clicks or taking any action. What goal should you have for each page? Well, there are three key website pages: Home Page, Interior Content, and Category/Archive pages. To maximize their usefulness, each one should have a different goal.
Number 1. Home Page
– People who hit your home page are generally trying to figure out what you’re all about. With a publishing model, it’s your freshest content. In e-commerce, it’s likely your products and information that supports a buying decision.
Number 2. Interior Content
– Since the majority of your traffic will hit interior content pages and posts (due to links and search results), the sole purpose is to turn random visitors into regular visitors. You do this by highlighting related content (editorial links) and by asking for email / rss signups. Note that one of the highest converting spots on interior pages is right before the article begins and right after it ends.
Number 3. Category / Archive / Tag Pages
– Like the home page, the sole pur-pose of these sections of your site should be to highlight the content within each category. Additionally, you may want to explain what each category is all about to help the browser understand what they’re browsing through.
D. Uncluttered Sidebars
Your sidebar is one of the most important sections on your website because people will see it throughout the entire site. The problem is too many people overload their sidebars with widgets, badges, tag clouds, tweet feeds, recent comments, and whatever else their heart desires. As you would guess, this creates visual clutter, which is both exhausting and stressful for Browsers, and contributes to analysis paralysis. To avoid this, you must declutter your sidebars. Ditch most of the widgets, badges, and other non-essential nonsense and focus on what truly matters to achieve your goals.
What’s essential? This varies based on your site, but the song remains the same. Once you get people to visit, you want to maintain their attention over time. You can do this by sending them to other pieces of content or by asking for a subscription. While I agree that Facebook and Twitter feeds add interaction to your site, why would you send your hard-earned traffic to someone else? You earned it, you should keep it.
Now I’m not telling you to skip Twitter or Facebook. For some people, these are massive sources of traffic. And that’s the point – the effective use of social networking is to primarily drive people to your site from Facebook and Twitter, not to them. Now you must be wondering, “What should I include in my sidebars?”
Like earlier, I’ll assume you’re a blogger, so here are three things you should focus on:
• Resource Pages
– If you’ve been blogging for an extended period of time, chances are you built up some resource pages. You should include links to them in your sidebar because your readers will find them valuable. Plus, this is great for SEO.
• Subscription Options
– Remember, you want to convert random browsing into extended attention. To accomplish this, you must give them a quick and easy way to get your content regularly. This can be email subscription, RSS, or even a Bookmark Me button.
• Popular Posts / Articles
– Testing shows that this section of the side- bar often gets a lot of click action by Browsers. And that makes sense. If it’s popular, it must be good. Plus, since they’re already popular, it will encourage people to continue to promote them because, well… they’re popular (more about that in section #5 – Engagement Evidence).
E. A Short Path to Important Content
From a website navigation perspective, you want your most important content to be easily accessible by visitors hitting almost any page of your site.If you create the resource pages and link them in your sidebar like I talked about earlier, you’ll accomplish this easily. What does this have to do with “Nonverbal Website Intelligence,” you ask. Well, let me tell you.
When you promote resource pages about specific topics, it allows you to send subconscious signals about your brand to your Browsers / Searchers. The accessibility to your core content will let new visitors, no matter what day they visit your site, know exactly what you stand for in an intuitive “at a glance” way that that reinforces perceived value in the mind. Remember… when it comes to Nonverbal Website Intelligence, perception is reality. The principles of effortless navigation are highly persuasive, so make sure your site benefits from them.
Read the rest of this article in The nonverbal side of online marketing – part 2