I can see them now, a bunch of smug content-marketing ‘experts’ patting themselves on the back for coming up with such a deviously cunning strategy.
People are afraid of missing out, you see. They won’t be able to NOT click on the green button, because the red one represents a clearly negative statement about oneself, and who wants that?
They’ll even loosely bandy about terms like ‘evidence shows …’ when it comes to selling their ideas to us. They’ll tell us that as soon as someone has been reading your page for 10.8 seconds it means they’re 64% hooked. Now’s the time to pounce. We’ll pop up a ‘sign up now’ box, and bingo! We’ve got em. No-one will escape, and they'll thank us for it.
The whole gig is part of a ‘conversion’ strategy. Convert your casual readers into customers. Convert page views into sales. Convert, convert, convert.
Did you know that people who operate online shopping websites can access an ‘abandoned checkout’ feature? It enables the shop owner to see who got, say, half way through a purchase then opted out. Don’t let em get away! Send em a message, hey, we noticed you nearly bought something and we’re here to let you know how much you’ll be missing out if you don’t come back.
These 'social trigger' advocates, these middle-men of marketing, have convinced us that we need this kind of badgering in order to maximise views/sales/conversions. But they aren’t selling anything except their own advice. They’ll convince you that you can’t do without their mystical insights into buyer psychology. That only they know the true secrets of promotion and marketing in the digital world.
Evidence? I’m sure there are data out there that show some bunch of suckers falling for this stuff. (84% of testers clicked the ‘I don’t want leprosy’ button.) It’d be a pretty easy dataset to compile. I bet that for some businesses it works, too. Probably on the sort of people who buy an extended warranty on their new microwave.
I suspect a true test, however – one that included a real cross-section of the community doing real usability testing – would reveal some deeper issues at play. Namely, that these tricks give the majority of said users the complete shits and they run a mile.
Just like click-bait headlines (You won’t believe what Brad Pitt just did with a pineapple), content-marketing tricks are shallow, annoying and downright patronising to most of us.
So stop hijacking us. If your content is good enough to stand on its own as interesting or valuable in some way, people will read it. They might even sign up for your newsletter.
Serious stories about communication
told in a silly voice.
Me: Bruce Ransley
I dig a little deeper than most comms folk. From science at university, to a cold-and-wet career as a commercial diver, to working underground, and for the past 13 years as a communicator-at-large, I've had my fair share of weird experiences in all sorts of situations. It's given me a fair-to-middling grounding in all things explanatory.