Successful Squeeze Page Videos Part Five The Zeigarnik Effect

Let’s talk about how to get your viewers to watch your entire video.

NOTE: The first four articles in this series (see links to previous article at the end) discussed the four main components of a squeeze page video that should always be included, and how to deliver them effectively. This article, and the next two, are more general squeeze page video strategy. They can be employed as an overall theme of your video, or used to spice up any individual section.

So it doesn’t matter whether it’s emails, sales page copy, or marketing videos – they’re all useless if your prospect doesn’t consume all of it.

That’s why we like to pore over our analytics and obsess over bounce rates.

Because the better we get at keeping our audience’s attention, from beginning to end, the more people will see and appreciate our ENTIRE message and feel compelled to take action.

A squeeze page video, depending on the complexity of the eventual call-to-action, may only be a couple of minutes in length, but its efficacy is still tied up in whether or not we can convince people to consume the entire presentation.

And one of the methods we’ve found to be effective is related to something called The Zeigarnik Effect.

Must… Reduce… Suspense

In psychology, the Zeigarnik Effect is used to describe intrusive thoughts that occur when someone leaves a task incomplete. In some cases, this can have a severely detrimental effect on people’s lives.

But for the most people it manifests itself in a moderate compulsion to finish what was started.

For example, have you ever channel surfed your way into a showing of Back to the Future that’s already an hour in? It’s that scene with the skateboard so you decide to watch for a few seconds… and then a few minutes…

And now you have to watch it until the end.

Zeigarnik Effect Makes Viewers Watch Until The End

It doesn’t matter that you’ve seen it a hundred times and can pretty much recite the whole damn movie (“Roads? Where we’re going… we don’t need roads”), once you get yourself invested in watching the movie, you’re locked in.

Or maybe, for you, it’s finishing the last 20% of that bag of Doritos, even though you’re no longer hungry and you know that ploughing on is going to leave you feeling queasy.

Then again, it could be Township (or Farmville, or Mafia Wars…) which, by the way, NEVER ends, so until you find the guts to pull the plug, you’re never going to stop tapping and swiping.

The truth is, to a greater or lesser degree, we’re all affected in some way by this phenomenon. Being in suspense can be entertaining, but eventually we need that suspense to end so we can gain some kind of closure.

That’s the bad side of Zeigarnik. Flip the script, however, and you can use this same effect to pull off some neat retention tricks.

Pay Attention

Zeigarnik Effect Makes Viewers Watch Until The EndThere’s an old British sitcom from the 80s called Brush Strokes, about the romantic misadventures of a house painter. It’s pretty forgettable stuff, but what can’t fail to stick in the mind is the closing sequence.
Alongside the rolling credits, a man on a ladder is using a roller to apply the final few brush strokes to a large wall. It’s totally meaningless but it’s virtually impossible not to stay tuned until the last patch of red on the wall yields to the final streak of glossy, cream emulsion.

I’m not sure it makes the viewer any more likely to actually read the credits, but it nicely illustrates the power of showing an unfinished task being completed. It doesn’t matter that the sequence, and the end result, is the same every time. Once you start watching that painter working, you HAVE to see him finish.

You can use this effect in all sorts of simple but interesting ways to grab and then hold your viewer’s attention.

Tip: You can also use this effect to improve your productivity. Writers, for example, usually find it helpful to conclude a day’s work midway through a chapter, rather than at the end. That way, the next day, it’s easier to jump back into work than if they were starting with a fresh chapter and a blank page.

Think of this as a simplified, or subtler, version of the cliffhanger technique we discussed in the third article of this series (Successful Squeeze Page Videos: Part Three – The Cliffhanger). Used judiciously, at key moments, this can encourage your viewer to keep watching.

Introduction: The “slice of life” technique described in the first article in this series ( Successful Squeeze Page Videos: Part One – The Hook) is very much based on the Zeigarnik effect. Showing something starting and finishing during your opening sequence is powerful, even if it’s unrelated to your subject matter.

A bomb fuse burning down, a Thunderbirds-style countdown sequence, a short Rube Goldberg machine, the last couple of sections of a picture being coloured in… anything along these lines can be effective at grabbing and keeping your viewers’ attention.

Content: In the main sections of your video (highlighting a problem and presenting a solution), the Zeigarnik can also be used in subtle ways. If, for example, you’re making a number of main points, have them written on a whiteboard, and physically tick them off (or strike them through) as you finish discussing each one.

Another great technique, if you can afford the production costs, is a whiteboard animation sequence. Done well, this style of presentation is INCREDIBLY compelling because each piece of animation segues into the next and you’re not done until the artist puts his pen down.

Come up with visual methods of presenting your material and you’ll easily find ways to slip in sequences that, once started, demand to be completed.

Call-to-Action: The Zeigarnik Effect should happen automatically if you’ve followed the guidance in this article series. The cliffhanger you’ve engineered should leave the viewer compelled to hand over their email address so they can scratch the itch you’ve just created.

When reviewing your squeeze page video, pay careful attention to the ending and ask yourself whether Zeigarnik is present. If not, you need to ramp up the cliffhanger.


Zeigarnik can be used in your squeeze page video in a very transparent fashion, but I encourage you to also try subtle manifestations of this technique. Don’t just hammer one into your opener and then forget all about it.

Salt your video with Zeigarnik by engineering brief moments of suspense that you quickly complete. Each instance will make your video feel more satisfying to the viewer and will increase the likelihood that they’ll stay to the end.

In the next article, I’m going to throw you off your game. Don’t worry… it’ll all work out in the end.

LINK: Successful Squeeze Page Videos: Part One – The Hook

LINK: Successful Squeeze Page Videos: Part Two – Vicarious Adventures

LINK: Successful Squeeze Page Videos: Part Three – The Cliffhanger

LINK: Successful Squeeze Page Videos: Part Four – Destroying Expectations

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