Beyond Benefits: How to Concoct a KILLER “Call to Action” Using the Psychological Power of Interruption
“You’ve got two ears and one mouth.”
You’ve heard that line before, right?
The logic is that if you want to be effective in sales and marketing, you should always be listening!
But what if that wasn’t actually true?
Sure, you should listen to the pain points of your prospects and understand what keeps them up at night—that’s a great way to figure out what makes your audience tick.
But, is that the best way to…
Get your prospects to listen to YOU?
Instead, what if you should actually capture your their undivided interest and attention by doing just the opposite, and…
Because, here’s the deal: if you want your prospects to pay attention to you and ONLY you…
You need to stop them in their tracks, figure out how to throw a wrench in their way of thinking, and make them perk up their ears and go, “Wait, what?”
And when used correctly…
The power of interruption will have your prospects hanging on your every word.
Now, there are tons of interruption tactics you can incorporate into your blog posts, videos, emails, ads, and even one-on-one conversations that will turn heads and dramatically increase your conversions.
In fact, you’re about to learn all about what effective marketing via interruption looks like.
But before we get into that, you need to understand something called…
“The Zeigarnik Effect”: the hidden power of interruption
Okay, so let’s break down the Zeigarnik effect.
Funny name; simple concept.
The Zeigarnik Effect is the name of a psychological phenomenon that applies brilliantly to direct response marketing and sales.
And once you see it in action, you can immediately start using it in your campaigns and initiatives.
Here’s a kitchen table definition:
People tend to remember uncompleted tasks better than completed tasks.
The Zeigarnik effect was first observed nearly 100 years ago by psychologists casually observing the behavior of waiters and waitresses at a restaurant.
You see, the psychologists noted the waitstaff could rattle off the details of their tables’ orders, without fail, prior to the food showing up—they could tell who ordered which dish, who ordered their steak rare, who ordered red or white wine, etc.
However, once the orders were delivered to their guests, it was like the waiters’ memories had been wiped.
They couldn’t tell you anything about the orders after the guests had paid.
Additional studies were conducted to further affirm the Zeigarnik effect.
In fact, Dr. Zeigarnik conducted an experiment where she took two groups of studying students.
One group was intentionally interrupted while the other group wasn’t disturbed; turns out the interrupted group performed significantly better at retaining their material.
Some of the greatest authors of all time applied the Zeigarnik effect to their creative process, too.
Hemingway was a big believer in the idea that writers should stop working mid-sentence.
Actually, he has a pretty fascinating quote about it:
“Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”
Interesting thought, right?
Okay, so how exactly does this all apply to your copy, conversions, and conversations?
Patience, we’re getting there!
The psychology of completion
The Zeigarnik effect reminds us of the link between marketing and psychology.
Think about it:
The human brain craves completion.
I crave it. You crave it.
Your prospects crave it, too.
When you’re in the middle of an awesome article or YouTube video and your browser crashes or your screen freezes, what do you do?
You furiously scramble to pick up where you left off, right?
Your reaction isn’t irrational: it’s the result of a primal need.
We’re always hungry for what happens next.
The same rules apply to your prospects.
They’re trying to get from Point A to Point B with their businesses, and it’s your job to show them how to bridge the gap.
Yet so many marketers screw up when it comes time to lead (key word there) their prospects to convert.
They just don’t understand how to “tee up” Point B, if you will.
That’s where the Zeigarnik effect comes in handy.
Once you learn how to interrupt your prospects’ line of thinking, they’re hooked.
They have no choice but to click, sign-up, or take whatever action you want them to take next.
The cliffhanger approach to modern marketing
Ever use cliffhangers in your blog posts or emails?
If not, you absolutely should.
Marketers could learn a thing or two from the world of entertainment when it comes to “abusing” their audiences.
Television shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and Lost regularly cause viewers to squirm in their seats and throw tantrums, all thanks to their relentless cliffhangers.
What’s going to happen next?
Who’s going to die?
What’s lurking behind that certain?
…well, you’re going to have to wait until the next episode to find out.
And considering these shows in particular are among the highest rated and most buzzworthy TV shows of the last decade, we know that audiences are more than willing to wait, despite their protestations.
Cliffhangers aren’t just clever storytelling devices: they’re hardwired psychological “hooks.”
They keep audiences engaged and talking well after the show if over.
It’s all about withholding the payoff until next time.
So, how can we leverage this in our marketing?
How to open and close loops
For example, let’s say I write a blog post revealing my personal strategies for writing emails that convert.
And throughout the post I also mention some awesome templates I use for writing my emails.
As you read, you know that these templates exist, but you don’t know where to find them.
That is, until the end, when I ask for your email address in exchange for my “foolproof, fill-in-the-blank email templates, that work every time.”
This is opening a loop.
I open the door to these amazing email templates and you get to be invited inside.
And when you take the bait, the loop closes.
Boom! Competition. Satisfaction.
See how that works?
Another example are the “rags to riches” stories you see everywhere.
The author opens with their latest purchase of some extravagant supercar (“Here in my garage…”) but then talks about how they were dirt poor or living on the street before they discovered “a magic bullet” that turned things around and made them millions.
And guess what, you too can gain exclusive access to get that same “magic bullet” yourself…
…in exchange for your email address (…or $97/month, etc.)
These sorts of stories help get your audience invested in what you have to say.
When you write copy or deliver a message, it’s all about setting up for the big reveal and payoff.
Think about cliffhangers in movies and films: they always happen at the end.
In the case of online marketers, our show-stopping cliffhangers happen through our calls-to-action.
Want to see what happens next?
Then click to find out!
Making sure your marketing pays off
This may not always seem like the most elegant way to approach, but it works.
The key to making it work, though, is ensuring that there’s actually a payoff and you aren’t misleading your readers.
No one likes a bait-n’-switch.
Let’s go back to the cliffhanger example in entertainment.
In The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader is revealed to be Luke’s father within the last 15 minutes of the film, you could probably hear a pin drop in the theater back in 1980, because the audience was absolutely stunned.
It was unfathomable.
But imagine how outraged audiences would have been during Return of the Jedi if they learned the father-son storyline was just a big ruse?
Three years of waiting for a payoff just to be fooled.
You can’t afford to trick your audience.
If you promise your prospects something, you MUST deliver!
I mean, if you opt-in to my list expecting email templates, I better hook you up with some killer email templates, right?
Speaking of templates, here’s a simple three-point strategy for setting up your own blog post, emails, and videos to grab your reader’s attention…
- Begin with a benefit (more leads, more traffic, more whatever)
- Take a step back (tell a story or delve into a shocking anecdote)
- Bring your post full circle and wrap up with your cliffhanger CTA
It’s that simple, really.
But it’s the tricky CTA piece of the puzzle that trips so many people up and kills their conversions, sadly.
Want to know why?
How marketers sabotage their conversions
Most marketers have seemingly brilliant ideas when it comes to their material.
They have eye-popping titles, a hook, and a “big idea” that’s super valuable to their readers.
You get to their call-to-action and there’s a total breakdown.
It peters out and ends with a whimper, instead of a bang.
One (tacked-on) sentence is NOT enough for an effective call-to-action!
You need momentum, not an afterthought.
Again, you need to build that sense of an inevitable payoff.
This applies to your blog posts, emails, videos, etc.
One-sentence CTAs aren’t just ineffective…
They’re downright disappointing.
If your audience is spending their valuable time consuming your content and you don’t entice them to want more value from you, then, in all honesty, what’s the point?
Instead, strive to give your audience the “what” they need, but reserve the ever-so-valuable “how” for what’s on the other side of your call-to-action.
As an example…
Teach your audiences about “X” and “Y,” but set them up to need “Z.”
“Z” could be an email series, free e-Book, or video course.
Whatever you need it to be, really.
Most marketers pile benefits on top of benefits
That’s a mistake (and usually pretty boring).
Listing benefit after benefit will only get you so far.
Instead, by removing a piece of the overall puzzle your audience is looking to achieve, you give them no choice but to seek that ever-so-important sense of completion.
And that’s how interruption supercharges your conversion rate.
When your whet the appetite and pique the curiosity of your readers, they’re exponentially more likely to convert.
Okay, so now you know the nuts-and-bolts of leveraging the Zeigarnik effect to supercharge your conversions…
Now you need a steady stream of prospects and leads to convert into customers!
After all, you need an audience for your offer first (otherwise you’ve got nobody to convert!)
(See what I did there?)
Luckily, knowing how to convert puts you way ahead of the curve.
That’s because conversions are actually the hard part.
Traffic is easy.
Anyone can drive oodles of traffic all day long.
It’s converting that traffic and making your marketing campaign profitable that’s the hard part.
But don’t fret, we got you covered.
In fact, you can take an over-the-shoulder tour of…
Our highest-converting ads, landing pages, and offers?
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So if you haven’t registered yet, what are you waiting for?
Until next time,
Director of Content
Elite Marketing Pro