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Why Your Visitor’s Fears are Important to You

We’re told, by people who study such things, that we make between 20,000 and 30,000 decisions a day. I can’t help but wonder how many of those decisions are influenced by fear. I’m only guessing, but I’d be willing to bet fear plays a deciding role in the majority of them. We do know, when it comes to the messaging of websites, fear must be taken into consideration if we want visitors to respond to our calls to action.


Fear is a primary driver both as a positive force for action and a negative roadblock against action. This is because there are two kinds of fear as it relates to your website: 1) the fears inherent in the problem you are offering to solve, and 2) the fears your visitors have about responding to your call to action. The first one should be used to help your visitors understand what’s at stake if the problem isn’t solved. The second one must be eliminated or at least lessened to remove the fear and flight response.


One of the key characteristics of fear is that it’s designed to help us avoid unpleasant consequences. So, if you want to motivate your visitors away from a problem, enlarge the fearful consequences that surround it. This is done not only by the words used, but also the design and especially the images included along with the message. These images should depict the situation that surrounds what is feared. As an example, if you offer a solution to a health problem, as one of my clients does, it’s important to bring up the fearful consequences of ignoring the problem. What’s likely to happen to your visitor if they don’t deal with their condition: heart failure, kidney disease, blindness? None of us wants any of these things to happen to us; therefore, it’s a strong motivator to listen to the solution offered and even to respond to the call to action. We want to use our visitors fears to help them understand and avoid the problems.


Likewise, when you ask your visitors to take an action, there are often concerns your visitor may have about responding. You must identify what those fears might be and realize they act as a roadblock, keeping them from responding to you. Once identified, each of these fears should be addressed and removed if possible. Questions may be racing through your visitor’s thoughts: How much is this going to cost me? Are there hidden fees? Are they going to sell my contact information or fill my inbox with spam? Will this really work, or is this a waste of time? Empathy plays a major role in helping you identify the fears your visitors might have about responding to you. (See our article on empathy titled What’s Your Most Important Superpower.)


I know what happens when these two forms of fear are not addressed. I’ve experienced it myself, and you probably have also. When you visit a website that offers a solution to a pain point you’re experiencing, have you ever decided against submitting your email address or picking up the phone to make that call? If so, it was more than likely your pain point didn’t seem that bad. Or maybe there was something else that made you stop, something else with its roots in fear or unaddressed concern. That fear produced a roadblock preventing you from responding to their call to action.


Here’s a three-step plan to make sure your website covers your visitors fears to your best advantage:


First, identify the fears inherent in the problem you’re trying to help your visitors with. What are some of the worst (or at least negative) consequences one might experience if they don’t find a solution to the problem? What might they have not considered or be aware of?


Second, identify possible concerns (fears) a visitor might have that would prevent them from responding to your call to action. Could they have questions about the financial obligations involved in responding? Is it possible they’re afraid their privacy could be compromised? List all of the concerns a visitor might have.


Third, create your messaging to include the fears that surround the problem you have a solution for and eliminate or lessen the fear your visitors may have of responding to your call to action.


Yes, fear can work for you – not as a form of manipulation, but as part of what your visitors need to know about the problem you’d like to help them solve. And when you remove the roadblocks of the fear of responding you’ll see an improvement in visitor response.


At Drake Web Development we know about the role fear plays in how visitors respond to you. If you’d like to talk about how addressing your visitor’s fears could help your website, please schedule a free consultation now. We’d be happy to help you in any way we can.

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