Marketing Sherpa recently tested click-through rates for anchor text links in email. They found that “Click to continue” works far better than “Continue to article” or “Read more”. But why?
Copyblogger‘s Brian Clark concludes, “Not only should you use actionable anchor text if you really want someone to click, but you should also tell people to take the exact action you want them to perform in order to get the best response.”
Sure, but there’s more to this story than just telling people to “click here” all the time. Absolutely. Keep in mind, though, that just because “Click to continue” won this time, in this particular context, doesn’t necessarily mean using “Click [whatever]” works best in all cases. Clark’s point about using “the exact action you want them to perform” serves as a solid guideline — and a strong place to start when deciding which verbiage to test.
Here’s what Jared Spool, CEO and Founding Principal of User Interface Engineering (UIE), has to say about links:
UIE research showed that when a link and its associated text comprised seven to twelve words, people could successfully follow the links 50 to 60% of the time, with the optimal length being 9 to 10 words. Jared quipped, “One of the things you do in a usability test is you try to use your psychic powers to get people to do things.”
However, he said, “It’s not just the size of the link.” Links should include trigger words or “they’ll fail. …You have to be careful what words you choose. A one-word link is fine if you know it’s a trigger word.”
Whereas “click here” can work as a call to action — or anchor link, as it’s often used — these one-trigger-word links Spool’s referring to are called Points of Resolution (define), and the greater context has a lot to do with how effective they are. The context is what we call “scent,” and it’s up to you to provide your visitors with a scent trail worth following. As Spool explains, “when they are on the right track to finding their content—they follow the scent of information.”
Oh, and here’s a link to the Marketing Sherpa study, if you’re interested. (Just mind the persuasion gap with that extra free trial sign-up step they don’t warn you about if you’re not already a member.)
If the links on your website suffer from bad scent, don’t wait around as would-be customers politely excuse themselves. Test the verbiage, and see what converts best. We can help.
[P.S. -- Tim, does this answer your question?]