While classic psychoanalytic psychology usually doesn’t get mentioned too much in regards to modern marketing, there are certain principles that were present in earlier versions of psychoanalytic theory that still resonate when it comes to selling stuff online today.
One of these theories is the theory of archetypes. If anything, archetypes give us some sort of map as to how people react on cultural as well as individual level to certain things that they see and read online. You have to remember, if you’re tying to sell stuff online, you are dealing with human beings. Human beings are not just rational. We’d all like to think that all our decisions are based on logic. We’d all like to think that we use our brains all the time. In reality, we’re actually driven more by our hearts. We’re driven more by our emotions.
There are many cases where perfectly reasonable people often do irrational things because of those emotional triggers. Instead of running away from this fact, we should embrace it. This is, after all, makes us human. One key archetype that you should employ in your landing page and page conversion optimization efforts is the hero cycle. The hero cycle is a classic mythical motif that resonated with cultures thousands of years ago and cultures today. As much as we’d like to think that we’re all modern, as much as we’d like to think that they’re all driven by facts and evidence and reasoning, deep down, we’re still human beings. Deep down, the hero cycle still works. Keep the following discussion in mind if you’d like to incorporate some of this psychoanalytic marketing theory into your page conversion strategies.
The Hero Cycle, Buyers’ Psychology and your Landing Page
Your landing page should be where the magic happens. Your landing page should be the culmination of all your hard work publishing content online, trying to establish authority and trying to drive traffic. In other words, your landing page should be the place where all that hard work pays off. Unfortunately, if you are like most other online publishers, your landing page is not doing as well as you’d like. In fact, if you are like most online publishers, your landing page is not doing well at all. Part of the reason for this is if you are like most publishers, you are just copying somebody else’s template. You are just basically copying and pasting somebody else’s work. There is no thinking involved in this process and there is definitely no analysis.
There is no skepticism as to whether the stuff that you are copying actually works. You only trust other people’s word that their material woks. Well, if you do things this way, you deserve the results that you get. You should never take anything at face value. You should test everything. Even if you were to cut and paste somebody else’s landing page design, you should make it your own. You should tweak it based on your traffic and based on your content. One key way you can tweak your existing landing pages is to use the hero cycle and buyers’ psychology to your advantage. By using psychological theory and a narrative theory, you at least have some sort of guidance into how you will compose your landing page and how you would engineer the signals that you are sending to the person reading your page. In other words, you won’t be taking shots in the dark. This is exactly what you’d be doing if you’re just copying and pasting somebody else’s work.
Everyone Identifies with a Hero
The reason why the hero cycle works time after time and age after age is that everybody identifies with a hero. If you look throughout all human cultures, mythology and legends, it all begins and ends with the heroes. Everybody can identify with a hero. Why? That hero is within us. The heroes that we talk about, the heroes that we share, they have certain traits and characteristics that deep down inside we identify with. That is the reason why we even tell those stories in the first place because there is something about those stories that resonate with us on a deep emotional level. The fact that these hero cycle stories get recycled again and again and reflected in all aspects of our culture just shows the power of the hero narrative. It’s never going to go away. The essence is still there. The form might change, but the spirit will always be there. Why? Because the human heart doesn’t really change after thousands of years of cultural adaptation. That’s just who we are. Deep down, reasoning follows emotion. Let me repeat that again: Reasoning follows emotion. As we’d like to think that we’re educated and that we have a high degree of culture, all that goes out of the window. Once the hero cycle triggers certain kinds of emotion, our reasoning will make excuses for how we feel.
The Hero Narrative and the Know-Like-Trust-Buy Cycle
The hero narrative is very basic. Take all the heroes that you know of, from the Bible, from Greek mythology, from the American-Indian mythology, Chinese mythology, it doesn’t matter. If you take all these hero narratives and reduce them to an archetype, the narrative pretty much plays out the same. The narrative can be stripped down into its basic parts. The first part is the hero is just doing his thing, he’s just in many cases a normal person. The next stage is there is a situation that challenges the hero. He has to take a journey, either internally, within himself and go through emotional changes, or physically where he has to actually go to a new territory and do something. This is where the conflict arises, the challenge appears. The hero responds by going through a journey. Once the hero completes the journey, there is a confrontation. This is the moment of truth. At this stage, the hero is very courageous, the hero does what he needs to do. Finally, the hero comes back home. Regardless of who you analyze, whether it’s the Buddha, Mohammad, Hercules, and any other figure throughout history or mythology, they follow this cycle. This is ingrained in how human beings tell stories. This is ingrained in how human beings organize emotions and history. This is why it’s so powerful.
The narrative steps of original state-conflict-heroics-resolution resonates with cultures from all four corners of the globe. It doesn’t really change. This is why you need to incorporate narrative functions into your landing page. You have to tell a story. It’s a key part of the know-like-trust-buy cycle. People are not going to buy from you if they don’t trust you. A key part of getting them to trust you is for them to like you. A key part of them to like you is for them to know you. You can speed up the process by using the hero cycle narrative because it is so familiar and it’s so recognizable that people can easily feel that they know you. They could easily feel just by looking at the first few lines of your text that they already know where you’re coming from. Now, your job is to make them like you. By testing your text and making sure that your traffic has built enough confidence in you, they should be able to like you once they get to your landing page.
The hero cycle narrative is strong enough for readers to develop a sense of trust once you go through the paces of establishing credibility through your other pages or though your traffic sources. Your hero narrative access a shorthand for the know-like-trust-buy cycle. Once they see these certain motifs, once they see these certain patterns, the chances of you closing the sale are much higher than if you didn’t use the hero narrative. If you use a flat page where you just say click here or sign up now, chances are, your sign up page will be just like most other sign up pages. It would be a failure.
Reason isn’t as Emotionless as you Think
The main reason why effective story telling in landing pages works so well is that reason isn’t as emotional as most people think. People would like to think that they are always in control, that they do things based on reason. A lot of these are just emotional play acting. You’re just deceiving yourself. You’re saying to yourself “Well, I’m actually being very rational.” while in reality, your emotional buttons got pushed and your mind then raises to justify what you’re doing. Your mind isn’t dumb. Deep down you know yourself, you know what you are doing. If you strip away all that denial, you know what you are doing, so your mind is basically coming up with these reasons to justify your emotions. As mentioned above, reasoning follows emotion. This is the power of having the right narrative on your landing pages because you hit those emotional and psychological buttons and then the reasoning kicks in to not defeat the emotional rush but to actually justify. That’s how powerful the hero narrative is.
Hit those Psychological Buttons
The reason the hero narrative is so effective is that it speaks to our greatest dreams, it speaks to our greatest desires. The conflict it raises also speaks to our deepest fears that’s why the hero narrative is universal and very recognizable. Conflict is the same here as in Canada, as in Europe, as in Japan and in Africa. The whole concept of conflict that challenges the human ability to overcome those challenges is very attractive. It is so appealing that it draws an emotional connection between the reader and the text. This is what you need to do with your conversion pages. It really is a form of seduction. By hitting the right psychological buttons, you are manipulating the reader. You are trying to lead the reader towards a certain path that ends with you closing the sale. Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight. This doesn’t happen to your first 10 tries or maybe even your first 100 tries. However, it is worth trying again and again and again because the more you try, the more you test, the more you experiment, the closer you get to getting the formula right.
Be Heroic in Both Graphics and Narratives
Keep in mind that the hero cycle should be implemented not just in the text of your landing page. Your layout, whatever videos you put on the page, the colors, the font, the spacing and the images all must work together to trigger psychological buttons that the hero cycle unleashes. You have to tell the story in the right way. You have to tell the story based on your audience’s preferences. How do you do this? Well, you do this on a trial and error basis. There are all sorts of e-books and webinars that claim otherwise, but you can safely dismiss those. The reality is if you want to master the hero cycle in your landing pages, you have to do it based on your specific traffic and you have to do it over an extended period of time. It doesn’t happen overnight. The magic formula doesn’t appear overnight. In fact, there is no magic. It’s all science. It’s all about figuring out what works by looking at your site statistics.
If you really want to take your landing pages to a whole other level, you need to apply marketing psychology to your text, your graphics, and your presentation. Your landing page is not just a flat tool that you used to filter your traffic. If you have a landing page that is already working, applying the hero cycle principle for it can take it to a whole other level. On the other hand, if your landing page is flat on its back, applying the hero cycle to it can definitely put you on the road to eventual profitability. You just have to give it enough time and effort.