It’s no secret. Higher conversion rates translate into bigger profits. You’re catching the attention of the right people using the right tactics. You’ve figured out how to best speak to your audience – and that’s no easy feat. True online persuasion goes far beyond just a fancy website. Words can maximize conversions if you know your audience.
Once you know who you are targeting, you can begin to implement conscious language – using your words mindfully AND deliberately. Words are the most powerful tools for persuasion, and conscious language allows you to effectively use that tool.
How Conscious Language Impacts Conversion Rates
If you’ve even glanced at any study or article relating to linguistics or communication, you know that there is a correlation between our language and our thoughts. The language we use about a certain topic or product influences how we think about it, and if we plan on returning to it.
Conscious language means being fully aware of what words you are using and the impact they have on conveying your message. For instance, an elevator pitch must be carefully thought out because, in essence, you only have the time on that elevator ride to hook the other person into whatever it is you are selling or promoting. Your website is that elevator ride. People stop by, scan briefly, and then decide whether to stay or go.
How does this relate to conversion rates? You have to make sure that the language you use convinces the reader to engage in whatever call to action (CTA) you have. Concise, direct, and easily understood language places your CTA at the forefront of your visitor’s mind. And by implementing the RIGHT word choices, aka, conscious language, your elevator pitch will yield far more results.
Don’t Waste Time with Ineffective Language
Words are our most powerful tools of persuasion regardless of the medium. We must be specific, clear, and concise in order to evoke feeling. Feelings lead to action and the RIGHT feelings lead to bigger profits.
Take a look at this Airbnb page:
If we look at the page above, visitors have one of two directions to pursue, and that’s fantastic.
“Choice overload” is a real phenomenon: the overwhelming feeling people experience when they are faced with a multitude of options and are unable to make a confident decision, usually resulting in no decision at all. Sheena Iyengar, a business professor and psycho-economist, has conducted several studies on how to make choosing easier and her conclusion is to give your clients fewer options.
Airbnb nailed concise communication because they only provide two options. A potential client lands on this site, and the above-the-fold immediately presents them with only TWO choices – book a home and host your home – outlined in just four sentences. Additionally, much of the navigation bar reinforces the two obvious calls to action. There’s minimal to no danger of choice overload being the reason for low conversion rates.
Let’s dissect another example from wholefoodsmarket.com.
The language in this blog post works for a few reasons, and here’s why:
- Title is enticing and pertinent to a large portion of their audience.
- Contains headers and lists throughout, making it easier for the reader to navigate.
- Addresses a problem (needing meals for specific dietary needs), and provides clear solutions using naturally occurring links to recipes, which allows them to add ingredients to their shopping lists.
This and many of their other posts allow readers to skim the content, find and save their favorite recipes, and add the ingredients they need to a shopping list, ultimately bringing them into the store.
Simple, yet effective, language makes content scannable and easier to digest. And when you find that balance, conversion rates improve and customers enjoy a vastly improved experience.
It’s not only content that’s king, but buttons, and the words on them, have an enormous impact on conversion rates. Michael Aagaard of Content Verve performed an A/B test on a set of buttons, and found that by changing ONE small detail that he was able to increase button-clicks by 90 percent. How did he do it? It’s simple really…
… he changed the language from the second-person “your” to the first-person “my.” People prefer to be addressed directly. Figure out how to align your content with your readership, make those subtle tweaks and bam! You just might see an increase. Effective language isn’t always complicated, but it does require thought and planning.
Words That Make a Difference
There’s an old proverb that goes “it’s not what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it.” Sometimes, it is what you’re saying. Here’s how:
Cut the jargon!
- Don’t make it hard on your readers. Keep it simple using real, unabbreviated words.
- Limit technical jargon. It’s overwhelming and can easily turn off an uninterested reader.
Get to the point.
- People are impatient. Remember, your website is the equivalent of an elevator ride. Make content scannable with headings that stand out.
- Use lists and bullet points. They are concise, direct, and easy to scan.
Increase trust and communicate value.
- Avoid hyperbole. Yes, you may in fact be selling something, but people are more responsive to language that is, again, direct and uncluttered with adjectives your greatness.
- Feature reviews and/or endorsements. People also trust sites/companies that have been verified or certified by a reputable organization.
- While being direct, it is important that you highlight how your website is unique. People tend to stick with what they know, unless you can offer them something that you competitor that they are with doesn’t offer. Your value is your uniqueness.
Provide examples and be an authority.
- Examples help clarify ideas. People absorb information in different ways and examples provide support and backup your claims.
- Do your research. Including phrases like “experts say” or “according to one study” demonstrate your authority. And don’t forget to link to your sources for added credibility.
The Importance of Testing
Is your content doing its job? Is it doing the heavy lifting needed to maximize conversions? Let’s find out.
The most tried-and-true method of analyzing conversion rates is A/B testing (or split testing). A/B testing compares different versions of the same web page to see which one performs better. You can test just about anything, from headlines and body copy to images and calls to action. Testing helps you define your offerings, develop a distinctive voice, and rethink the words you use to set yourself apart.
Conscious language forces you to interrogate EVERY SINGLE word you use, and testing forces you to rethink and rewrite. If your words are vague, your goals are vague. The example below illustrates how language, layout, and message order all come into play and can vary widely in how your approach your site. As you can see, the writer 1) tightened and simplified the language, 2) refocused their message BACK TO THE USER, 3) ditched the big words, 4) added testimonials, and 5) did their homework:
The Bottom line
The end goal is to provide valuable, and profitable, content – and testing helps you learn, improve, and grow. That’s what business is all about!
The Internet is saturated with millions of businesses competing for attention – most with mediocre content that’s just plain bad. If you want to break through to your target audience, do your homework and ask for help if you need it. A great product or service is only half the equation. The survival of your business is highly dependent on a website that’s consistently updated with interesting and useful content.
About the Author: Josh Weikel is the editor and admin of The Web Hosting Database (WHdb.com). He’s developed hundreds of web sites over the last decade and is passionate about web design, hosting, and blogging. When he actually steps away from the computer, he enjoys playing bass guitar and going to concerts in Chicago, where he resides.
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