Your landing pages are the most valuable real estate on your website. Not only do you spend thousands of dollars designing, optimizing, and advertising them, but you gain money through leads, clickthroughs, sales, and revenue.
All too often, though, we neglect some of the most powerful methods of persuasion known to mankind.
If you were to discover just three time-tested, proven, and overwhelmingly powerful persuasion techniques, would you use them on your landing page? I’m going to show you how you can do just that.
The world’s oldest and most effective methods of persuasion still work today, as long as we can incorporate the methods into our landing pages.
1. Show a picture of a real person
People relate to people. It’s one of the most obvious truths of our species. We gravitate towards people, relate to people, buy from people, trust people, and connect with people.
Scientists and anthropologists view this as one of the most elemental building blocks in the development of the human species.
John Birtchnell, in his book How Humans Relate: A New Interpersonal Theory (Psychology Press, 1993), began with the thesis, “At quite an early stage in the course of evolution, the interactions between organisms assume what would appear to be a sense of purpose…We are inclined to refer to them as relating.”
Thus, the emotive and irresistible power of relationships began. It’s transcribed into our DNA.
This is far from a theoretical evolutionary construct, however. You’ve personally experienced the power of relationships. Whether you’re falling in love, mesmerized by an athlete’s performance, spellbound by an outstanding speaker, or admiring an actress’s skill, you completely understand the deep effect that human interactions have upon human behavior.
How does this archetypal human reality translate into the landing page? With pictures of people.
Evidence clearly demonstrates that people tend to look at people on landing pages. Simply looking at the picture of another person is a way of establishing a human connection. An investigation led by the Nielsen Norman Group discovered that there are “3 design elements that are most effective at attracting eyeballs.” 1) plain text 2) faces, 3) bodies. Two out of the top three eye-catching design elements have to do with people, demonstrating a deep craving for visual human relatability, even on a landing page.
Paras Chopra, in an article for Visual Website Optimizer, studied several A/B tests on landing pages that tested the impact of human photos on conversions. Though he offered several disclaimers, his conclusion was that “human photos on a website definitely have a positive impact on a visitor’s first impression of trustworthiness.”
Peer-reviewed studies have come to the same conclusion, such as the one by Aldiri, Hobbs, et al., which concluded that “trust was found to be enhanced for Web sites employing [human] photographs and video clips compared to control Web sites lacking such images.”
Chances are, when you scrolled down in this article and saw the picture of a face, you dropped your eyes from the line of text you were reading, and looked at the picture.
Some of the most effective landing pages show pictures of people. The CRM Highrise uses a photo of a user to advance this form of persuasion.
Here’s an example from FluidSurveys.
Google uses it on their Analytics landing page.
What about the gender issue in photographs. Should you use pictures of men or pictures of women? Answer: It doesn’t matter. Gender, race, attractiveness, etc.—these are not the issue. Humanness is the issue.
It’s an elemental yet powerful technique, and so effective that you’ll probably notice an immediate uptick in user dwell time, reduced bounce rates, CTRs, and conversions. This is persuasion at its most basic yet most effective level.
2. Establish dominance
Dominance is often considered as a negative persuasion technique. It is generally associated with violence, tyranny, and malevolence. In many cases, the use of dominance as a persuasion tactic is indeed used inappropriately.
In the arena of ecommerce, however, the technique of dominance is perfectly legitimate.
Dominance as a persuasion method for your landing page is all about design. I’ll sketch out some of those design elements, but first, a little bit of the reasoning behind dominance.
When we’re talking about what makes people behave in certain ways, we are really investigating the two concepts of power and motivation. “The fundamental concept in social science is Power,” as Russel wrote in his book Power: A New Social Analysis (Norton, 1938).
That power is influence—“influence on interpersonal relationships and communication,” as described in Stefansson’s monograph, “The Effects of Perceived Dominance in Persuasion.”
Dominance in a landing page is accomplished through the two design elements of 1) Size and 2) Simplicity. The major design elements on your landing page should be made very large to establish dominance, and the key conversion factors should be made extremely simple to establish dominance. Bigness makes an impact.
Here are four ways to use dominance as a persuasive factor in your landing page:
1. Use big headlines
Nearly all landing pages use big headlines. The bigger an object, the greater percentage of one’s attention it will gain. If you want to create an even higher level of dominance, go ahead and make that heading just a few pixels bigger. In the examples pictured below, you’ll see the big headline technique used on every one of the landing pages.
2. Use big graphics.
If you create large graphics, you’ll also create a bigger dominating impact. Hero graphics overwhelm a user with a visual message that is impossible to ignore. When the user is affected by such a dominant element, they are more likely respond to the overall persuasive power of the landing page.
Squarespace consumes their entire landing page with a huge graphic. It’s dominating and compelling.
Hipstamatic does the same dominating thing, which is suitable, since their product is photography.
3. Use dominating language
Language is a dominating factor, too. Using assertive language that establishes your power or superiority is a key factor in establishing a position of dominance. Often, such language makes use of power words, superlatives, imperatives, and short words.
- Power words: “powerful,” “shocking,” “revolutionary,” “muscle”
- Superlatives: “extreme,” “better,” “more,” “highest,” “most,” “completely”
- Imperatives: Any sort of command that tells someone to do something.
- Short words: Any words that are five letters or less.
Here’s what this looks like in some effective landing pages:
The Everest app landing page uses imperatives and short words. Notice the two simple commands. This creates a sense of dominance, which compels conversions.
Image from creativebloq.com
Apple’s homepage—their landing page—employs virtually every persuasion technique known to ecommerce. This particular screenshot is an example of dominance in several forms: Big logo, big graphics, big claims, and simplicity. Notice the use of power words and superlatives.
4. Be simple
Dominance is closely related to the idea of simplicity. When you create a simplified conversion target, you are in effect overpowering/dominating the user with a single message. Pressing all your conversion efforts into a single, compelling, and overwhelming message is the way to dominate for persuasion power.
TinyLetter obviously wants you to watch their video. Whether this is an effective conversion action or not is up for debate, but it’s pretty clear what you’re supposed to do. There aren’t many distracting elements on this webpage, which creates a sense of dominance—and persuasion.
Domination is the name of the game with Contently. They use huge graphics, a huge headline, a command, and simplicity—all of which support the domination persuasion technique. Notice the A/B option which is the conversion action. They are eliminating anything irrelevant by forcing the user to make one of two choices. Either choice is a conversion action, and may lead to a sale.
The landing page for Quicksprout uses the simplicity technique to establish a sense of dominance. The dominating conversion action on this page is “Enter your URL.”
Dominance, as demonstrated in these landing pages and with these techniques, is an entirely positive and legitimate thing. You are trying to serve your target customer in the most straightforward and effective way possible. Dominant design will accomplish greater levels of persuasion.
3. Get a yes response
If you want users to say “yes” to your conversion offer, then you have to get them to say “yes” to other things. Getting small “yesses” from your customer is a sure way to get the bigger “yes” of conversions.
There’s an incredible amount of social evidence to prove this. It’s all about positivity. If you create a positive atmosphere—a proposition that is met with a positive response—then you’ll compel positive behavior for your conversion action. Getting a little yes response means getting a bigger yes response.
A CrazyEgg article by Jeremy Smith makes this point:
“The principle of the ‘yes, yes’ technique is built on the idea of positive mindset. If someone is in a positive state of mind, they are far more likely to respond positively to you. In this specific case, they are more likely to say, “yes” to your offer—to convert.”
A University of Kansas resource explains that the “yes response” is a means of making a commitment. When you make a single commitment, you increase the likelihood of making the second commitment.
“Obtain a commitment to take the step. If someone makes a commitment, effectively saying ‘Yes, I will do it,’ that increases the likelihood that the action step will indeed be taken.”
There’s a common technique that gym-goers use to encourage them to keep their commitment: “Lay out your clothes the night before.” As one motivational website puts it, “If you wake up and see your running shoes, sports bra, leggings, snack and water bottle all ready to go, you’ll feel like you’re too invested to change your mind.”
Again, this is the simple method of 1) saying a little yes or making a small commitment, and then more easily 2) making the big decision, purchase, or conversion action.
If you can get an initial “yes” early on in your landing page, you’ll improve the likelihood of a “yes” to your conversion action.
A paper on “Persuasion and Attitude Change” by Stanford and Ohio State researchers state that “The importance of one’s one thoughts [sic] in producing persuasion outcomes is highlighted in research showing that self-persuasion can occur even in the absence of an external message.”
They cited a study by Briñol & Petty in which two groups were asked to either nod their heads (yes), or shake their heads (no) while listening to a message. The yes-nodders reported that they were more persuaded by the message than the no-shakers.
The message is obvious, isn’t it? (See what I did there?) Creating a yes response creates more yes responses.
So, how do you do this on your website?
Think if it as if it were a one-two punch:
Punch 1: You get one simple yes from the user. This prepares the user for the second bigger yes.
Punch 2: Your conversion action is the second yes.
You can create the first yes with something as simple as a headline. Here are the types of declarative headlines that will get people saying “yes.”
- Status: You are beautiful, motivated, inspiring, overworked, tired, a parent, a student, etc.
- Intention or desire: You want more. You need a car. You deserve lower rates. You’re craving debt relief. You want to lose weight. You’re climbing the ladder. You want a beautiful home.
Earlier I cited the Everest app. In my opinion, they have one of the most compelling landing page designs. Let me show you how they accomplish the yes response technique:
It’s as simple as that—establishing a “yes” mindset through basic appeal. Their declarative statement elicits a “yes” from their target audience.”
Salesforce does this too, albeit with some reductionism.
Here’s how Intuit uses the yes technique with their two-stage headline and call to action.
The only way to compel the user to give you that first “yes” is to understand the kind of things that they’re unequivocally going to say “yes” to. That’s why I propose that you start with a solution.
Here’s how I explained it in my landing page article: “Every visitor who comes to your landing page has a problem. Naturally, you should tell them how you are going to solve their problem.”
Stating that problem as clearly as possible is the way to make them say yes. Here are the examples I provided:
- You are trying to lose weight. User: Why, yes, I am!
- You are trying to get a raise from your boss. User: You bet I am!
- You are trying to learn a second language. User: Yes, this is true!
When you gain that easy “yes,” you can gain the easy “yes” of conversion, too. It’s that simple.
We mistakenly view persuasion as something complicated, ethereal, or mysterious. I’m convinced that persuasion is simple and straightforward.
If you know people, then you can figure out how to persuade them. Even if you understand yourself—what makes you click, buy, and become convinced of things—then you can effectively persuade others.
These techniques are both extremely profound and absolutely simple. When applied to your landing page, it’s as simple as
- showing pictures of people
- dominating through bigness and simplicity
- getting agreement with basic headlines and messaging.
Using one or more of these techniques will definitely lead to more clickthroughs, more conversions, and more revenue.
What persuasion techniques do you use on your landing pages?
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