by Tino Triste
Digital Services Director at SLG Agency
In this article, we’ll discuss the idea that offering more choices to users can lead to poorer conversion rates. We’ll explore the psychological reasons behind this, and offer some practical tips on how you as a marketer can limit choices to improve your chances of making a sale.
This is important because, as we’ll see, the more choices we have, the more likely we are to second-guess our decision, and even regret buying decisions altogether.
Read on to discover how to increase conversions by creating well-defined and focused conversion paths.
Now, let’s dive in.
The Paradox Of Choice
The “Jam Experiment” was one of the most famous experiments in the field of consumer psychology. The experiment explored how choices affect our purchasing decisions.
Participants faced with 24 choices of jam flavours were less likely to buy jam than those who were presented with 6 choices.
When Barry Schwartz wrote the book “The Paradox of Choice”, he put forth the idea that having too many choices can lead to anxiety and dissatisfaction.
He argued that the availability of choice has grown exponentially, but humans’ ability to process information has remained static, so humans rely on heuristics and cognitive biases to make decisions.
The good news is that as digital marketers we can help users navigate through choices by discarding all items non-essential to the conversion path. For example, social share buttons and links to non-essential pages should be removed to eliminate distraction.
Analysis paralysis is a state of inaction caused by the fear of making the wrong decision. When people are faced with too many choices, they often become overwhelmed and unable to make a decision.
This online review of a well-known fitness equipment retailer illustrates the problem of analysis paralysis:
“I was researching home gym equipment. I had so many choices to choose from and I couldn’t make a decision. I weighed the pros and cons of each choice, but in the end, I just couldn’t decide. I needed help making a decision, but I didn’t know where to turn. I ended up not purchasing anything.”
There are a few ways you can avoid or reduce analysis paralysis on your website:
1. Make sure you offer options that are relevant to the user’s current needs.
2. Use progressive disclosure to break down complex decisions into smaller, more manageable steps.
3. Help users compare and contrast their options.
4. Use visual cues to help users scan options quickly.
Applying one or more of these techniques will help you reduce friction and increase conversions.
The Power Of Defaults
Defaults are pre-selected options presented to the user. They are useful in situations where there is a clear best option, commonly chosenoptions, or as a way to nudge the user towards a particular path.
We can use defaults to reduce cognitive load, save users time, and reduce the hassle of completing forms.
Travel sites often have good “default” design. Cabin class and traveller fields are automatically filled in by Skyscanner based on what most users usually choose.
The power of defaults was demonstrated in a study by Uri Simonsohn. The study found that when people were asked to choose between two investment options, they were more likely to choose the option with the higher risk (the less desirable option) if it was pre-selected as the default.
You can start by implementing defaults on your website in situations where there is a clear best outcome. Just be sure that the defaults you choose are truly in the best interests of the user.
Doing so can help increase conversions by reducing the amount of effort required to make a decision.
Inertia refers to the tendency to remain inactive or unchanged. When it comes to decision-making, it refers to our inclination to stick with the status quo.
Some users may not progress down the conversion path because they don’t believe they need to change their current situation. Most people prefer taking no action unless presented with clear reasons to consider new options.
Some of the most effective tools for reducing inertia are before-and-after comparisons and urgency.
One of the jobs of marketing messages is to present the benefits of taking action, as well as the consequences of not taking action. Before-and-after comparisons, for example, can help show your prospects what they have to gain from taking the desired action.
Creating a sense of urgency can also be effective at reducing inertia. It is more likely that people will take action if they feel that they need to act quickly. It’s just human nature.
Of course, you need to be careful with urgency. You could damage your relationship with the user if you create a false sense of urgency. Make sure it is only used when there is a genuine reason to act quickly.
Reducing Indecision By Increasing Clarity
As a consumer browsing websites to assess your options, whether in a B2C or B2B market, you are looking for reasons to say “no” or “yes” to a particular offer.
If something doesn’t add up, you’re more likely to say “no” and move on. On the other hand, if everything falls into place and makes sense, you are much more likely to say “yes.”
When it comes to pricing, for example, make sure the pricing structure is easy to understand and that there are no hidden costs. You should also avoid using jargon or technical terms unless you’re confident that the user will understand them.
Be sure your messages are consistent across all touchpoints. Inconsistent messages create confusion and can lead to indecision.
To reduce friction and increase conversions, focus on increasing clarity in your messaging. Doing so will help prospects move more quickly through the buyer’s journey and make it easier for them to decide whether to do business with you.
Creating a persuasive customer experience isn’t easy. It requires an understanding of how people make decisions and what motivates them to take action.
One way to do this is by reducing the number of choices the customer has to make. You can do this by limiting choice, using defaults, decreasing inertia, and increasing clarity.
Consider the prospect’s mindset at the different stages of the buyer’s journey and find ways to reduce friction. And you’ll be well on your way to increasing conversions and closing more deals.