Yesterday I attended a session at a conference where the speaker gave the audience precise instructions on completing a task. He told them “do not talk to each other, do this alone”. Dutifully, everyone sat in silence trying to answer the question on the screen. The point he was making was that people do as they are told. Simply because he told them not to talk to each other, they did not. And that meant that people could not produce as many answers as they might have done to his conundrum.
Human beings are generally polite and rule-bound. If you are driving down the road and someone is in the middle of it with their arm outstretched, palm towards you, then you take that as a signal to stop – even if the individual is not a police officer. It could be a mime artist practicing, but you follow the rules and stop. Similarly if someone in a shop says “please queue this side” you form a queue where they tell you to, even if they don’t even work there…!
A famous study from Milgram found that people respond to figures of authority and generally do as they are told.
I was reminded of this at the end of a workshop I was giving here in Estonia this morning. I was asked how to get people to click on links more; how can we get people to click on the links in our emails?
The answer is simple. Just say “click here”. It is an instruction and if people recognise the authority of your website or you email, they will do as you tell them and dutifully click.
Of course, search engine optimisation experts will tell you that using “click here” is useless. They will often tell you that this is called “anchor text” and it needs to be based on your keywords.
That may well be true if you are trying to use links to give you some extra Google juice. But you don’t really want Google to use the links – you want people to click on them. And research confirms that people will click on “click here” more than they will click on keyword-based links.