Moving into my apartment two years ago was a horrible experience. In a building with 22 floors, one of the 3 elevators was out of service that day and one was earmarked for me. This left 22 floors of people 1 elevator.
When the day to move came, my friend and I would load up the dolly with my stuff. Being self-proclaimed manly men, we also made sure to lug a couple of boxes each trip in addition to the dolly.
Sweating and out of breath, our moving elevator would be gone every single time.
So one of us was forced to wait with my things and the other would have to take the next elevator to the first floor, run out and look up at the neon red sign above our moving elevator to locate which floor it was now stuck at, sprint back into the same elevator (pissing off the people inside), and press the button of the floor that our moving elevator was now stuck on. 20-30 minutes later, the elevator was now in the basement where it should have been all along and we were ready bring up another load.
It was obvious that the elevator was earmarked for somebody moving — in order to get it started one had to hold down the button of his or her floor until the door closed. Yet, people stole it anyway.
You Have to Tell People What You Want Them to Do
I learned two important lessons that day. They were:
- Don’t move onto a high floor in an overpopulated apartment building with elevators that are almost always broken.
- People need to be instructed what to do.
To add to the second point, people need to not only be instructed on what to do — they need to be given a reason as well.
Want people to share your Facebook post?
Want people to comment on your blog?
Want people to join your email list and buy your stuff? (If you say no, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.)
Your call to action is the most important part of your business but it’s hard to get people to do anything online and it’s only going to get harder as more competition sprouts up online..
The Most Powerful Word in the English Language Is…
In Robert Cialdini’s must-read book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he describes a study done by Langer et al. Langer would approach a stranger in line waiting to use the Xerox machine and say, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”. In this instance, 60% of people allowed Langer to bud the line. Not bad considering the abrasiveness and absurdity of the question.
There were two more trials though and what resulted from this study is both fascinating and powerful.
In trial 2, Langer asked, “May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”. Here, Langer gave a legitimate reason for needing to skip the line. While the reason doesn’t affect the other person, 94% complied and let her bud the line. This was probably due to the unconscious reciprocation that’s been instilled in all of us hoping that somebody would do the same if they were in a rush.
In trial 3 Langer asked, “May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” On paper my response would be, “no shit! We all have to make copies. Why would I let you skip ahead?” But what happened in actuality was that there was a 93% compliance rate. 93% of people let Langer bud ahead for absolutely no reason other than she used the word “because” to repeat the exact same reason that everybody was already in line to do.
The addition of the word “because” led to 33% more compliance!
It Was Time to Move Out of My Apartment
An elevator was down again, but this time I was smart. I took a piece of paper and wrote on it in red marker the following words:
“Please don’t take our moving elevator because we are moving.”
I then taped this notice on the inside of the elevator. The result? 1 person stole the elevator all day. The move took 6 hours less! All because of a request AND the word “because”.
Because You Want People to Take Action
Your call to action is the most important aspect of your blogging and social media strategy. In a split-second, a reader must decided whether to share your material or opt into your marketing funnel.
The word “because” is just the push you need to tip them over the edge. Give people a reason for taking action instead of simply asking them to do so.
Here are a couple examples:
“Share this Facebook post for daily workout advice, nutrition tips, and motivation”
“Want to share your passion of a healthy lifestyle with others? Share this post because that way your friends and family can also benefit from the fitness and nutrition tips.”
A note here: The second phrase is powerful for two reasons. The first is the usage of the word because in giving people a reason to help others. The second is the subconscious power of the statement to allow your audience to boast. Everybody wants to show off that they are healthy. Here, you’re telling them to share your message so that they can show off their healthy lifestyle.
“Please comment below and let me know what you think.”
“I’d love to hear your thoughts on subject X. Please comment below because it will add to the conversation.”
Enter your email and join our email list for free updates and my awesome free Ebook.”
“For premium, subscriber-only content, my Ebook, and updates enter your email in the box below and click submit because I want to send you this quality information — oh, and it’s also 100% free.
A note here: In the second phrase you are using the power of because in addition to pumping up your content and making the potential subscriber feel special that they have access to it. The short phrase is meant to build value and have them thinking, “how much am I going to have to pay?” Then, right at the end you hook them by telling them it’s free.
Don’t Take My Word For it Though
Try adding the most powerful word in the English language into your upcoming calls to action. Because, why not?
Langer, E., Blank, A., and Chanowitz, B. (1978). The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 635-642.