Saturday, July 18, 2009

Subliminal Website Text: Don't Hit 'em Over The Head

Plant the seeds. Orders will follow organically.

Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, advertisers and movie makers gave subliminal advertising a bad name. It worked like this. Standard movie film runs at 32 frames per second. So if very few minutes you replaced one frame, 1/32 of a second, with an advert for soda or popcorn, concession sales would increase. And subliminal advertising worked. The problem was, lawmakers thought it was intrusive and passed a bunch of legislation to prevent advertisers from using subliminal adverts.

That doesn’t make it a bad idea. Just an idea that you can’t use in films and TV. But what about web sites? Well, since no one had heard of a web site back when these anti-subliminal ad laws were enacted, web sites can use subliminal advertising – not for illicit or unethical selling campaigns, but to boost sales in subtle ways.

Subliminal Web Site Messaging

The key to any subliminal messaging is that the viewer or customer isn’t aware of it. Visitors don’t realize that they’re being persuaded. That’s the danger and the beauty of this kind of advertising. It’s effective and intrusive.

So, what are the subliminal responses visitors have to your web site? It’s usually the first response, the most natural response. The visitor isn’t aware of your site’s subliminal messaging but it’s there on every page of the site. It’s persuasion by instinct or intuition. Today, some people call it a gut feeling, but you can deliver persuasive, motivational messages and your visitors won’t even recognize you’re selling.

The Elements of Subliminal Web Site Messaging

Text and graphics. That’s the way it’s always been and always will be. You must have text that stimulates those subliminal urges. The words you choose should be exciting, captivating and written in everyday English. Words should also indicate action. Examples:

discover (the world of ocean sailing)

uncover (the wealth in your attic)

save (money, time, gasoline – just save something!)

enjoy (the benefits of working at home)

Upbeat, lively words lead to upbeat lively buyers.

Graphics are just as important, maybe even more so, when your graphic artist is also doing the layout of your web site. Some general rules on selecting graphics that deliver a subliminal message to the astute site visitor.

Color scheme should be neutral with a splash of color, especially on links. Text should be easy to read against its background and the type font shouldn’t be too fancy.

Links, Buttons and Other Navigation Tools

Which has more prominence in the mind of a visitor – a text link embedded in a long paragraph or a graphic “button” labeled “Click Here for More Information.” You might not think about it (or your graphic artist not think about it) but there’s a hierarchy of site conventions that provide subliminal clues as to which is the most important content and main pathway through the site.

For example, a small graphic link is more important than a mouseover link from a list. A large button with text is higher up in navigation hierarchy than a small button. And if the large button has a call to action like “Click Now & Save $654.32 on your automobile insurance costs” the click rate will improve accordingly.

Web Site Images and Positioning

The top half of your web-site’s home page is the single-most valuable space on your entire site. It’s what most people see when they first reach your site and if, for any reason, it doesn’t capture the visitor’s attention in six seconds, you’ll get a bounce, a visitor who never gets past the homepage, because something wasn’t right about it.

Another important point about image use and placement: images can’t be read by search engine spiders and that includes gifs, jpgs, bitmaps and Flash animation, so if you have key text tucked away in a spiffy, expensive Flash opening, not only do you slow download times (not a good subliminal message), you lose any search engine benefit from the text within the graphic.

Use the top half of the homepage to make your biggest, strongest pitch:

If you don’t use our Scratch Out scratch remover

You’re wasting thousands of $$$ when you resell your car.

This headline would appear in a simple 24 point, bolded text. That indicates a high level of importance when given such prominent display. And both visitors and spiders understand that. Larger text is given more importance than smaller text by humans and spiders.

Image Quality

And speaking of images, if you’re just starting up, chances are you’ll have to use some free clip art which, subliminally, many people recognize as a cost-cutting measure and consequently, subliminally diminishes the value of your service or product to some visitors.

If you can afford to take some nice product pictures (ask a neighbor or friend with some camera experience) your site makes a better, intuitive, subliminal first impression..

Using Subliminal Web Site Messaging For Good

There’s nothing illegal or immoral about using subliminal messaging – messaging that hides its intent between the lines and pictures of your web site. People may not be aware that they’re being influenced by the shape or color of a button graphic link, but they are. Buttons are more important than text links, at least at the subliminal level.

With this in mind, your main site arteries should be button links off the home page, or if that isn’t feasible, tabs at the top of the page – another indicator of importance and priority of navigational tools.

Direct your visitor with hierarchical links, with mouseover text links at the low end of the scale and a big banner across the home page at the top. Search engines won’t get it but visitors will.

If you saw a banner that said “Save $10,000 on the sale of your home” would you click on it – especially if you were thinking of selling. On the other hand, if you see a text link in a list of other text links promising the exact same savings, you’re much less likely to make that click because it’s just a text link.

Everything Counts

Everything! Color combinations, the type face you select, the pictures and images you choose and where they’re placed on a page, the size, shape and selection of navigation buttons, the ease of use of the navigation bar – all of these and more send subliminal messages to your visitors and if visitors don’t land on a page that looks and feels right (for that particular demographic) bounce, bounce, bounce. You have less than seven seconds to impress a first time visitor.

Subliminal messages to visitors may make or break your site. Give everything careful thought; don’t decide on a whim. Identify the needs of your target market and use words that have positive connotations: health, wealth building, family and about a million more connotative words that will keep first-time visitors interested.

It’s subtle (that’s good) and an effective means of keeping a low advertising profile so it doesn’t look or sound like you’re hawking your wares.

Hit your market’s subliminal hot buttons with the right words and the right pictures and you’ll achieve the site success you envision.

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