Prime Your Prospects To Boost Opt-in Rates

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Psychology – and specifically consumer behaviour – is the backbone of great copywriting.

You could be the best writer in the world. But if you don’t understand why people act like they do (and often in seemingly irrational ways)…your copy won’t hit the right emotional “hot buttons.”

An example of a psychological effect that can improve your lead generation campaigns is priming.

A Primer on Priming

Priming is an “implicit memory effect.” It’s a fascinating topic with a lot of subtleties – but here’s the overview:

When our brain is exposed to a stimulus, it can influence how we respond to a future stimulus. In real terms, this means our decisions can be affected by what we’ve seen, smelt, heard or felt in the past – without us even realising.

This is best explained with an example (originally found on the excellent Farnham Street blog):

A study, back in 1997, found that consumers could be influenced to buy different wine by changing the background music in the store.

The researchers setup a display with German and French wines. The wines had similar prices and quality. Over the course of two weeks, the researchers played either traditional French or German music over the store’s stereo system.

Then, when a consumer bought one of the wines and paid at the checkout, a researcher was waiting to ask why they chose the German wine over French (or vice versa).

The research found that music had a big effect on consumer’s behaviour. When French music was playing, consumers bought French wine 77% of the time. A similar effect was observed with the German wine – 73% of buyers chose German wine when German music was playing.

But the really interesting part is that 86% of consumers denied that the music affected their decision. They were influenced by something as simple as music…yet had no idea that it had happened.

Another example comes from a study of how relevant advertising could affect the amount users were willing to bid in an online auction.

Researchers found that by displaying relevant ads on auction pages, they could increase the amount buyers were willing to bid for a product – even if the buyers didn’t consciously register the ad.

Impressive – although slightly scary.

So, how can we use priming to improve our lead generation campaigns?

How to Prime Prospects to Enter Their Email

I analyse a lot of lead generation campaigns on traffic sources such as Adwords and Facebook. Many businesses make a small but critical mistake:

Their ads don’t prime visitors to take action.

When a person is exposed to the first stimulus – in this case the ad – regions of his brain become activated. This makes it easier to access relevant or similar information.

Priming also, importantly, sets user expectations.

But if your prospect is primed for one thing (such as reading an article to get information)…and is presented with an offer he isn’t expecting (such as being asked to enter his email to access the content)…this can cause a small delay in understanding and also a loss of trust – which can be enough to make him click the dreaded back button.

In summary, it’s vital that your ad/landing page sequence is congruent.

Connect Your Ad And Landing Page With A Logical Flow

The easiest way to establish a logical flow is to tell the user exactly what they need to do on the next page.

Imagine you’re offering a cheat sheet about “how to grow the most beautiful roses” to gardeners on Facebook. The user just has to enter their email address to gain access.

With the concept of priming in mind, you should avoid using a basic CTA such as “click here” (you shouldn’t be using bland CTAs for numerous reasons anyway, but it’s a good example).

Instead, tell the user what to expect on the next page – so that he is already primed to enter his email.

You can also go one step further and prime the user with the benefits he’ll receive.

Here’s an example:

Original CTA: “Click Here”

Primed for action: “Click here and enter email for free access”

Primed for action and benefit: “Click here and enter email to discover how to grow stunningly beautiful roses (FREE)”

These CTAs are rough – they would certainly need some work. And you may need to compromise on the strength of the CTA to deal with restrictions on ad length.

But you can hopefully see how priming the prospect to take the desired action…and including a benefit (explicit or implied)…could dramatically boost the power of your lead generation campaigns.

– Alex

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