Latest statistics show that an average reader spends just 15 seconds on a website.
But have you ever noticed how entering some sites is like going into a portal where you just get sucked in deeper and deeper with every click? Happily consuming all the different content provided to you along the way? Then an accidental glance at the clock makes you realize how an entire hour has passed since you first landed on that site, but clicking that “X” still seems so hard to do.
All of us know of websites like that.
Majority of the time, we are part of that “15 seconds” statistic too, yet other times we find ourselves spending minutes and hours browsing through a site and still wanting more.
What exactly is the secret of making blog visitors want to spend more than a few seconds on your content? Are there tricks you can use to make them forget the clock, and keeping them from “X”ing out?
The answer is a giant YES!
In this article, we are going to look at 3 smart ways you can use human psychology to make your blog visitors want to extend their stay –
1. Use the Power of First Impressions
Have you ever heard of the Halo effect? It is a cognitive bias whereby the observer lets their overall (global) impression of another person, or product influence their judgement about its specific character traits. This phenomenon is widely accepted to be true in the realm of social psychology.
While it is wrong to judge a book by its cover, all of us still do it. We are conditioned to think of good as “beautiful”, and bad as “ugly”. From when we were young, fictional stories like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and such, has done its part in fostering these associations.
We attach positive traits, such as intelligence, trustworthiness, friendliness etc, to people and things we find “attractive”.
According to Malcolm Galdwell, the bestselling author of several books including Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,
“Snap judgements are, first of all, enormously quick, they rely on the thinnest slices of experience. They are also unconscious.”
This ability to make snap judgements might make us assume things that are terribly wrong, but at the same time, it gives us the power to make sense of novel situation, and identify fakes very quickly. It is a mental shortcut, or heuristic, that all of us use to make quick assessments without sacrificing ton of time and costly resources.
The point is that your reader’s first impression of your site matters, and it will dictate their subsequent interaction with your website. All you have is 50 milliseconds to help them form a favorable opinion of you.
In a study done by Missouri University of Science and Technology, researchers made 20 M&T students examine the main websites of 25 law schools. The results showed that the longer the students stayed on a website, the more favorable their impressions of it were. Upon analysis, study showed that the 7 most focused areas of the website were:
- Navigation menu
- Search box
- Social networking links
- Main image on the page
- Written content
- Bottom of the site
Analyze these 7 components of your blog. See if they can be improved. Make minor tweaks, and see if your visit duration increases.
2. Give them exactly what they want
Relevancy and discoverability are the two key components here.
A huge reason why web giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook are so successful is because of the insurmountable effort they put towards providing their users with a very personal and relevant experience, tailored to their specific needs. Additionally, they make the discoverability of the said relevant content very easy.
When it comes to a blog, the easiest way to provide your visitor content that is relevant to their current interest is by presenting them with a list of 6-7 related content (because too many choices can be overwhelming). This will help your readers discover more unique content, increase their engagement with your site by encouraging further exploration.
Many times, your readers land on your website through search engines. If that’s the case, then it’s important to remember that they landed there by performing a query for a specific keyword, which means most of them are on a focused mind frame, where they are looking for content about a very specific topic.
By showing them content that revolves around that topic, chances are your reader will like read what you have to offer, and they will start clicking on links, exploring more of the information on your blog.
According to Hoa Loranger, from Nielsen Normal Groups, here are some tips to keep in mind if you find an increased bounce rate despite there being an element displaying link to related content:-
- Make sure you are showing them related content when they are done reading the current content, because that’s when the users are most receptive to new options.
- Keep it relevant. The suggestions should adapt and change according to what the user is reading currently. If you show them the same bank of content, irrespective of their needs, they will feel unheard. It is important to tailor the choices, and show them specialized content based on what their interest is. The deeper they go, the more specific the options should become.
- Avoid displaying your related content bar in the midst of other promotional elements. For example, ads; people might ignore it, thanks to banner blindness
- Your links offerings should be immediately available at the bottom of the articles they are currently reading. The flow should not be broken by another element, like an author by-line, or a social media share widget.
- Title the links appropriately. Whether you choose “Most read articles”, “See also”, “Post Recommends”, or any other label, make sure it describes the links appropriately, so that the readers are aware of the category the links appear in, what they are in for by clicking on it. The most specific the title, the better.
- How hyperlinks are worded matters. People don’t read the entire link. So it is important to start the phrases with important keywords so it captures their attention.
Side note: It is important to be aware of the concept of information scent, which comes under the theory of information foraging. This concept refers to how people look for visual cues to predict whether they will be receiving answers on the current information platform if they were to start on the given path. As long as the scent is strong, the visitor will explore the area, when it becomes weak, and/or, the strong scent fails to provide strong results, they will leave for another area.
3. Keep the interaction cost to a minimum
The browsing of any website comes with a cost, and this cost doesn’t always have to be monetary, but cognitive effort is also an expensive cost to pay. Every action a user is required to do, from clicking a link, scrolling, applying knowledge they learned on one page on the next one, comprehending text, waiting for page to load, all of it adds up.
Thus, interaction cost is a culmination of physical and mental effort it takes for a visitor to find the relevant information they are looking for. The lesser the cost, the better.
Here is how you can use 5 of Jakob Nielsen’s usability heuristics to lower the users’ interaction cost, so that they will extend their stay on your site and have a good experience.
- Don’t make your users wait for too long, because chances are they won’t. Time is a scarce resource. In fact, waiting can feel torturous, and induce anxiety. Approximately, half of your visitors expect the website to load in 2 seconds or less.Afew years ago there was a little problem at a Houston airport, with the customers lodging high volume of complaints about the very long waiting time at the baggage claim section. The officials decided to increase the number of baggage handlers to reduce the waiting time. After all, it seems like such an obvious solution.
The wait time was cut to just 8 minutes, but the complaints still kept coming.The executives took a closer look at the situation, and realized that it was taking people just 1 minute to reach the baggage claim.So what did they do?
They moved the arrival gates, so the distance was 7 minutes away. The complaints almost stopped overnight.
As a website owner, if you find your pages are taking longer to load, you can use a page load progress bar to keep them in the loop about how much longer they would have to wait. Or even better, give them something to do so the waiting period seems shorter.
- Use language that are familiar to them. Not only will they comprehend the text better and faster, but they will also feel intelligent.When you are around people who make you feel intelligent and good about yourself, you tend to want to stay with them, and hang out with them more.Avoid using industry jargon if you can, so as not to intimidate your readers.In psychology there is a phenomenon called mirroring, in which a person, when placed in a group setting, unconsciously “mirrors” certain behaviors and actions of their counterparts. This mirroring helps form a connection between them.
When you produce a content for your blog, whether it be audio, video or text based, one of your aim should be to use that content to form a relationship with your audience. You can do this by using the tone of your audience. Try to empathize with them. To get a point across even more effectively, use examples and anecdotes they can identify with.
Lastly, ask them for advice, or input at the end of the piece on a topic you know they are familiar with.
- Give them the freedom and control to exit out of elements that interrupt their purpose on your website. This could include autoplay videos, or any form of pop ups. Sometimes sites have an additional dialogue box that pops up while a user tries to exit out of a page. Refrain from using those.
- Rather than making them recall a prior information, or encouraging them to rely on their memory to recognize an unfamiliar term, explain the complex concept yourself, or provide definitions wherever required.
Refrain from making them go looking for additional information, or explanation about specific keywords, on another website.
- Remove clutter. If the purpose of elements in whichever form, be it text, videos, images, is not relevant, remove them.Embrace a minimalistic design that offers a clean visual path, and reduce complexity.The core content should be highlighted with little to no distractions. An adoption of minimalistic presentation of the content, while still making it easy to discover additional content that will help them accomplish their primary goal, will hinder the possibility of information overload.Remember, less is more.
Keeping your visitors on your site is a science, and requires careful analysis of their behavior to identify why they are leaving on the first place. There are many platforms providing powerful visitor behavior tracking solutions that you can use for your research. But sometimes, a careful look at your website is enough to figure out the problem.
Please apply the 3 tips mentioned above, and let us know what difference you see on the visitor duration index.