Landing Page Psychology: Zeigarnik Effect

How do you get more people to take action on your landing page? That’s a question I get asked all the time.

While we can talk about tools and tactics all day, sometimes we have to go back to the basics and look at what influences human behavior

Therefore, in this new blog series called Landing Page Psychology, I want to dive into different psychological principles that can be applied to the world of conversion optimization, A/B testing, and landing page design.

To kick things off, let’s revisit a topic that I covered on the Landing Page School Podcast, called the Zeigarnik effect.

What is the Zeigarnik effect?

If you’re not familiar with that term, the Zeigarnik effect basically states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

As Daniel Stefanovic states:

We like to tick things off that we gotten done. In the days before paper and pen, our memories had to perform the whole job. To keep track, our mind fixates on unfinished tasks – the so-called Zeigarnik effect. The psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik had noted that waiters could remember open orders more efficiently than those that had been delivered. Further experiments have proven that we can recall incomplete or interrupted things better than things we’ve finished.

How does this translate into more landing page conversions you ask? Great question!

In short, if you can get people to begin taking action on your page, they’ll be more likely to continue taking action.

Time for an example

If you want people to fill out a lead generation form on your page, you might put a simple form right on the page in the “hero” section above the fold. That’s probably the most common approach.

When people visit the page, they’ll see the form and fill it out… or will they?

You see, if a form is embedded directly on your landing page, it might look like “too much work” and the visitor might not even give it a chance.

On the flip side, what if you put the form in a lightbox so that it is out of sight at first? The visitor would have to click a button to see the form pop into view.

And chances are good that they would be more likely to fill it out in the lightbox.

Why? Because of the Zeigarnik effect of course!

Here’s a real example of what a lightbox form looks like:

Remember, people who initiate a task are more likely to finish that task. And in this case, getting the visitor to click the button to take the next step is the initiating event.

Putting the Zeigarnik effect into action

While there’s no one-size-fits-all advice for landing page success, the Zeigarnik effect has enough scientific backing that it should at least be strongly considered as something you test on your landing pages.

Try implementing an A/B test where one of your variants uses the standard approach of simply embedding the form directly on the page and the other variant uses the two-step approach of placing the form in a lightbox.

That would be an easy test to run and it could very well help you influence people to begin taking action, which ultimately could lead to higher conversions.

All thanks to a little-known psychological principle from 1927.

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