Our minds are very powerful, but simple at the same time. Or, perhaps, they are too powerful for their own good. Whatever the case may be, our “intuition” often leads to the wrong decision. So here are some conversion tips for the simple-minded (all of us).
It doesn’t take much for people to lose focus and, in turn, not take any action. And that’s an absolute killer for conversions.
It turns out that humans don’t do very well with processing information or making choices when we are faced with more than 3-4 items to choose from.
And that 3-4 range is the optimal number for basically anything you want someone to process without confusing them. That’s just how our brains work.
For example, when you memorize a phone number (do people do that any more?) you likely don’t remember all 7 digits at once (or 10 with the area code). The more likely scenario is that you group the numbers into sets of 3 and 4 numbers; remembering the first three and then the next four.
Sure, it has a certain rhythm to it, but that’s just how our brains work. 3-4 items to memorize or choose from is optimal.
Of course, less items to choose from makes things easier. But if you have to provide many choices, make sure to group them in sets of 3 to 4.
So how does that apply to content and marketing?
List posts are popular. They get shared. They attract a lot of traffic.
And…they don’t drive any action or result in any decisions. Turns out too much information is a bad thing.
Derek Halpern of Social Triggers has seen an absolutely meteoric rise to blog stardom. One of the things he attributes it to is sticking to one action item per blog post (of course there are plenty of other reasons).
When you have a single action item at a time, people are likely to act on it. When you have 10 in one post, people will skim through and stash the post away – never to act on the information.
But when people actually act on the advice, and see results, they become loyal fans.
So really, one action item is optimal…but absolutely limit it to 3 to 4 (our brains can’t handle any more than that).
One of the keys to getting people to take certain actions (like subscribing or buying) is to help visitors navigate through your site in a desired way.
That requires optimizing the user experience to make their decision (the decision you want them to make) easier. Over-cluttering your navigation does one, and one thing only, for user experience: makes it very unpleasant.
Once you cross that 3-4 items per navigation menu threshold, people don’t actually look at options. They just kind of scan them. And that usually doesn’t bode very well.
One way to get around this is to offer multiple navigation menus (i.e. a primary navigation menu and a secondary navigation menu) with only a few pages each. You can also break up the navigation into categories and offer further drop-down options (also trying to keep these 3-4 options per drop-down). Or, you can bring some of your navigation links into the sidebar (I have my product links in the sidebar, for example).
The key takeaway here is that offering too many options in on place only clutters both the navigation and the visitor’s mind.
You would think that offering customers a lot of choices would be a good thing…but you would be wrong. It turns that when faced with too many choices, most people will make the choice of not making a choice at all (i.e. bounce and don’t buy).
If you have an extensive list of offerings, in some cases you might actually be better off cutting some of them out. And in most cases, you would be better off not displaying them all in one place.
Again, categorize your offerings into smaller groups, and people will not feel overwhelmed in making the decision.
This also goes for pricing tables. Simplify and offer less.
Remember that the optimal number of choices is 3-4. When presented in a pricing table, you might be able to get away with a bit more (like five). But you probably aren’t doing yourself any favors by offering more choices.
The key takeaway here is that simplicity of choice improves your bottom line.
When you offer a visitor one choice: buy from me, or don’t…the decision is easy. They can make the purchase decision based on whether or not they want the product or service.
But providing too many options adds an extra ripple of confusion. Now they have to make a choice of which product to evaluate in the first place, and then evaluate whether they want to purchase it or not. This increases the chances of them leaving without considering the purchase.
We often look at increasing our bottom line through addition, when in reality subtraction and simplification is usually the easier, and often more effective, choice.
What do you think?
Have you experimented with cutting back?
Have you experimented with adding options?
Are we all simpletons?