Your web site visitors can be manipulated. Indeed, successful web sites do this with great care. They lure you in, almost hypnotically, and get you to do whatever it is they want, such as buy something from them.
Copywriting expert Joe Vitale is the pioneer of “hypnotic writing” in which he suggests the use of words to help “hypnotise” your readers into doing your bidding. Imagine that – being able to get your web site readers to do whatever it is you want.
True enough, the words are important, but the “whole package” you present to people also makes a difference as to whether or not they are going to be persuaded by your material. And make no mistake – your web site’s job is to persuade people. It might be an obvious bit of persuasion, as in getting them to buy something. Or it might be more subtle, such as convincing your readers you are an expert.
Recent research suggests that the pictures that accompany your text are also part of the persuasion package. This study looked at how people perceived popular media stories on psychology. When a picture of a brain scan accompanied the story, the information was given more credibility by the readers. In other words, they were more persuaded by what they read because of the “scientific” image that accompanied the text.
This suggests that people have an expectation of the kind of image that “accurately” portrays a subject. That expectation may be stereotypical, but it is there. So, if you own a web site and you try to sell from it, or persuade people of your views, how much attention do you pay to the choice of pictures and other images?
It may well be that by choosing images without much thought, you are having a negative impact on your likely sales. Once you know the kind of pictures that your audience will find more trustworthy and which add credibility to your subject matter, then the more likely it is that you will persuade your web site’s readers to accept your position.
Often, imagery is down to the design team – but how well do they know the images your audience expects? By choosing images that look good – but which don’t connect in the right way with your readers, you could actually be reducing your sales potential.
Joe Vitale is right that we can be almost hypnotically persuaded by words; it appears that pictures also play a part in our beliefs. That means if you spend lots of money on getting the copy right on your web site, you probably also need to spend similar amounts on getting the pictures right.
Oh, by the way, did you notice the “scientific” image at the start of this article? Subtly that has made it more likely that you will accept my point of view.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+