Direct orders are an obvious tactic – but they work

call to actionOver at Copyblogger, Brian Clark has an interesting article about ‘actionable anchor text’ for links. It means that the link tells people what to do. So instead of writing: Know your audience You write: Know your audience: Click here to read. Simply telling people to click makes them click. It runs contrary to all best practices in web design and search-engine optimisation. A link that says ‘Click here’ is a wasted link they say. But it’s not. Clickthrough rates are much higher when you tell people to click. It’s hardly surprising. If you’re cruising along in your car on the open road and you see a sign that says Slow down, you’ll probably check your speed. The same applies to Now wash your hands or Don’t walk on the grass. Nobody’s forcing you to do it and nobody’s watching. But that little voice inside your head is telling you to do what the sign says. Dates are another powerful way to reinforce a call to action. Offer ends 23 September! is guaranteed to provoke a response, especially if coupled with Buy now or Order while stocks last. Negative orders can also be effective, but you have to be careful. Don’t buy in Spain! doesn’t work unless you see, in a smaller font (until you read this FREE report). And sometimes, negative orders don’t work at all. Recently, I received a big white envelope – unaddressed, but delivered with my regular mail. Don’t open if you don’t care about the environment it said. I hesitated, unsure what they wanted me to do, and what I should do. And then I found the perfect solution for the unopened letter. The recycle bin.
  • And here’s the acid test. Brian Clark’s blog entry Does Telling Someone to “Click Here” Actually Matter?: Click here to read.