As a marketer chances are you’re very familiar with the concept of click-through-rate (CTR), and you have probably done a lot of work to try to increase your own. But just in case, let’s do a quick recap of what CTR is and why it’s so important.
Click-through rate is the number of views your link received divided by the number of clicks it received expressed as a percentage. For example, if your link gets 100 views and ten clicks your CTR is 10%.
As a content creator, there’s nothing more frustrating than working really hard on a piece of content or landing page, sharing it with the world and having no one click the link to view it. Throughout this post, I want to give you some actionable steps you can take to increase the click-through rate of your links and explain the factors that contribute to someone making that decision to click your link. But first, let’s talk about link trust.
What is link trust?
Link trust is the idea that the person viewing your link trusts that clicking this link will bring them to relevant, top quality content and not something that’s irrelevant — or worse, to a spam phishing site!
Some factors can affect link trust other than just how the link itself looks. When you consider the journey that someone experiences to get to your content or landing page, it all starts with a link click. Whether you send out a social media post, a paid advertisement on Google or an email, the relationship with the recipient continuing is entirely dependent on them clicking your link. The ball is essentially in their court. As a thoughtful content strategist, you should minimize the entry barriers to your content by making sure your links are clicked as much as possible.
The best way to secure the click from this person is by ensuring that you gain their trust. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that affect that trust: things you can optimize to increase your overall click-through rate.
How to gain link trust
There are a lot of different steps you can take, depending on where you’re sharing your links, to gain the viewer’s trust. You may share links on social media, via email, in online forums, through chatbots, paid advertisements like Google Ads, and the list is growing every day. Each link distribution channel has its nuances, some can include images, some just text, and others are entirely unique.
No matter where you’re sharing your link, compelling copy is an essential step to paint a picture of where this link leads. Make sure that the content behind your link matches what you’ve described in the social post or email. Avoid grandiose promises like ‘Our article teaches you everything you need to know about Google Ads” if the article is just a basic overview. Match content to the expectations you’ve set with something more like: ‘New to GoogleAds? Learn the basics!’
When it comes to psychological triggers, humans are suckers for a visual cue. As someone who creates a lot of content, I find myself quickly spotting stock photos on marketing materials. While these are a quick fix and may even look good, they can make your post seem cheap to a lot of viewers. I would recommend creating a style guide for your team to stick to, as well as creating your graphics that follow this guide to reflect your brand. For us less artistically talented individuals, luckily it’s easy to make really visually appealing images for free with tools like Canva and Snappa.
One aspect of link trust that people often overlook is the link itself. You’ll notice that most businesses now use a link shortening tool to create generic create short URLs, but the problem with these links is that they’re anonymous, making them harder to trust. Instead of using a branded link (also known as a vanity URL) lets you showcase your brand name and increase the trust your reader has in the link’s legitimacy.
If you follow the practices of people will begin to trust not only your links but your brand itself. For example, I read every Moz article I can get my hands on because I know that they’re industry experts and always teach me something new. If I see an article is from Moz, I’ll click it without hesitation because their links have unequivocally earned my trust.
How else can I gain my visitors’ trust?
Putting proper consideration into each of the elements above should help you to drive visitors to your site. However, let’s consider for a moment a visitor that is already on your site that you’re trying to direct to a landing page. To do this, you need to build trust with this visitor. How do we do this? One way is through social proof.
Social proof is essentially proof from other people that this company’s, website, page, and link can be trusted. This can take the form of online reviews or testimonials from other people who have already viewed this content.
The same as when choosing a restaurant or movie: reviews and testimonials can help make that decision much simpler. I always check RottenTomatoes for reviews before going to see a movie. In fact, I had planned on going to see ‘The Dark Tower’ but changed my mind after checking the website and finding that they gave the movie only 16%. (Ouch!)
To this same effect, adding a testimonial section to your site and asking customers to review your service can help to establish trust and thus increase your click-through-rate in the long term.
Adding customer logos is a great way to develop trust with potential clients. This shows them that big brands use your service and if it’s good enough for these brands, why not for them too? Number counters work to a similar effect, showing some people who are getting value out of your service. Here’s an example from the Instapage homepage:
Finally, you can build trust by exploring basic psychology techniques such as writing in the second person to break down the trust wall. By using the word ‘you,’ it helps the reader to relate more to what they’re reading and develop that trust early on. (Looking back through this post now you may notice that I use this tip a lot!)
How to increase your CTR? Establishing trust.
Trust is the key to increasing your click-through-rate. You first need to build trust with readers to click your link and then ensure that your website is optimized to maintain that trust. Make sure that the content behind your links always matches the expectations you’ve set, and you’ll bring that trust far beyond link trust, into overall brand trust.
Ian is a content and analytics marketing manager at Rebrandly who runs a blog about entrepreneurship in his spare time.