I think we can all agree that choice isn’t a bad thing. Being able to choose from multiple ice cream flavours, for example, can really make my day. It’s funny though how I tend to go back to the old favourites time and again without venturing into any of the other 20 flavours available. So what happens when we are confronted with too much choice?
What would you like?
During workshops when we talk about the buyer’s journey and tactics such as email, I like to do a little exercise. I ask the group:
“Would you like an apple, pear, orange, strawberry, blueberry or banana?”
6+ options here: choose from the fruit, say “I don’t know”, “nothing”, “I’m confused”
Then I ask:
“Would you like an apple or a pear?”
2+ options here: choose from the fruit, say “I don’t know”, “nothing”
Then I ask:
“Would you like an apple?”
2 options here: Yes or no
Choice is good, but too much choice leads to paralysis and not choosing at all.
The Paradox of Choice
If you haven’t heard of this before, check out the psychologist Barry Schwartz who wrote “The Paradox of Choice - Why More is Less”. For those who prefer video, here’s his Ted Talk:
Without going into too much detail, Schwartz believes that choice stresses us out and may lead to us not making a choice. It may also increase cognitive dissonance: “Did I make the right choice by buying A and not B?”
There is some criticism to Schwartz’ theory and I’m certainly not one to tell you whether his hypothesis and all its nuances are right or wrong. What I do know, and I think you’ll agree is that when we are faced with too much choice we get uncomfortable, choose the known option or nothing at all.
Conversion rate killer
When we agree on that it becomes harder to make a choice when we are overwhelmed by options, it becomes quite clear how conversion rates are influenced by the amount of choice available. It makes sense to really narrow it down and have a clear goal in mind for every inbound action we take. Here some examples:
When you are sending out a nurturing or promotional email ask yourself what the single goal of this email will be. Then create one CTA to match your goal and eliminate other options as much as possible. You may even consider writing two emails instead of one if you have multiple options to present.
A blog post should be an entry into exploring more content. It should lay out a clear conversion path. Imagine a blog post ending with “Check out our ebook or if that’s not for you we also have a webinar and there is a checklist. Hey, why don’t you just call us for a consultation?” It makes you seem unsure of the path you are providing. Go back to your buyer’s journey, decide where the blog post sits and choose the correct next step to add as a call-to-action (CTA) to your post.
Yes, site pages (like your home, about us, product pages) are likely to have more than one CTA. But that shouldn’t stop you from thinking about what the main goal of the page is and therefore which CTA you should focus on putting in the foreground.
On homepages clear sectioned design is helpful to break up the choice presented. Product pages generally focus on either a middle or bottom of the funnel offer depending on the buyer’s journey.
I’m going to spin the idea of choice and content a little further. I’d really like to hear other inbound marketers thoughts on this:
If we go back to focussing on goals and clear paths, will that move us away from creating content for the sake of it? Let’s face it, inbound marketing works, but the onslaught of mediocre content is making life difficult. Quality or evergreen content is really what wins when it comes to SEO and conversion rates. If we then focus not on providing a multitude of choice but rather a specific option, will we create better content?