Jack is a trainer and has a lead-generating website. Jill is a veterinarian and has a local business website. And Mary heads up a group of concerned citizens who have an information-based website. It doesn’t matter what kind of website you have, you need your visitors to engage with it. You want them to read, understand, and absorb your message; but more than that, you want them to respond to your call to action (CTA). To do this, your message must not only convince their brain, but also reach them on an emotional level – you must get their heart involved as well. But this can be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. To make this happen requires getting several factors right.
We can think of visitor engagement the same way we think of starting a relationship, say a date or possibly a job interview. It goes through phases. When a visitor lands on your page, in less than three seconds, they’ve formed a first impression. Are you interesting? Are you professional? No one wants to waste time on something that’s boring or unprofessional and if your website is either, they’re out of there – gone forever. It’s like showing up to a first date (dinner and a movie) in a dirty, smelly t-shirt and grease-stained jeans. But if the design is interesting, appropriate, and professional, they’ll stick around long enough to see if you’re worth getting to know better.
This is where the Hero section comes in. The Hero section usually has an image background, a message, and a call to action. Its job is to convey, within five seconds, exactly what you do, how you make your visitor’s life better, and how they can get what you offer. This is like the first few minutes of a date or job interview: who are you and why should I want to get to know you better? These are just the essential beginnings; what you want next is for them to hear and engage with your message.
What do we mean when we say “engage” with your website? I’m sure you’ve watched movies or TV shows where you were totally inside the story. You’re not thinking about your shopping list, how uncomfortable your new shoes are, or even how they made the movie. You’re right there in the story, you feel what the characters feel – you see yourself as taking part in the story. This is called narrative transportation and is one of the most powerful tools available to get your message across to your visitors. Narrative transportation is the highest degree of engagement possible. This is why there is so much buzz among marketers about “story.” There is nothing more powerful than story to get people to engage with your message.
Does this mean we have to create websites that start out, “Once upon a time…?” Do we have to write traditional short stories in order to get visitors to engage? Sometimes that works, but usually this is not how we use story. Rather, our goal is to invite your visitors into narrative transportation; that is, to see themselves inside your message. We use story elements to accomplish this. If your website offers strength training, we use story elements in such a way that your visitors see themselves not only receiving the training, but also being transformed into a more physically fit version of themselves.
What do we mean by “using story elements” to present your message? When we develop the messaging, together with you, for your website, we create a hero character (your visitor), a guide character (you), present the problem, define the stakes, offer the plan, make the call to action, and reveal the transformation. These are all elements of every successful story you’ve ever heard. Used correctly, these elements invite your visitor to see themselves as benefiting from responding to your call to action.
Without using story to communicate your message, visitors are left to a strictly “just the facts” approach, which leaves them, the visitor, out of the picture. But when we use story to get your message across, visitors place themselves into the story that is your message. In fact, “according to cognitive scientists, story is the fundamental instrument of thought.” (Mark Turner – The Literary Mind)
You might be frustrated with your current website when visitors don’t engage or respond to your CTA. We understand, we’ve been there. And we also see it all the time as we look at other websites. But there is an answer:
Picture having your message presented through story elements. Visualize your visitors experiencing narrative transportation and becoming part of the story, being transformed by the solution you offer.
At Drake Web Development, we design for success. That means not only will you have a visually interesting and profession design, we also help develop your message using story elements so your visitor can see themselves within your message. We’d love to talk with you and help you in any way we can. It never cost anything to talk with us, so schedule a free consultation now. You’ll find us very friendly and helpful.