Get More Conversions by Giving Fewer Choices

by Xurxo Vidal

Too Many Options!I recently came across a fascinating lecture by psychologist Barry Schwartz on the “Paradox of Choice” where he explains how too much choice actually has the reverse effect of what was intended. People actually take less action not more! Ironic isn’t it? But it gets worse! When action is taken, people often experience regret or buyer’s remorse because they can’t help thinking that they chose the wrong option and might have gotten something better if they had made a different choice – even if the choice they made was an excellent one.

So knowing this, when it comes to landing pages why would you want to cram as much choice in there to confuse and paralyze people from taking action? Wouldn’t it be better to focus on one product, service or offer at a time?

Too Many Options on Your Landing Pages Gets You Less Conversions not More

Choice - ExitLet’s take the example of an ecommerce site that sells running shoes. Let’s say the site sells all the major brands and models. Now a great landing page would be one where one specific brand or model is listed and nothing else. But more often than not, we come across landing pages that prominently feature one model while also listing a variety of other models a visitor can choose from – supposedly in case they don’t like the main model shown on the page. If the owners of these landing pages would conduct a path analysis in their web analytics solution, I’m sure they’ll find that a significant amount of visitors will click on the other models and will go on browsing multiple models only to exit the site completely without buying anything. Why you ask?

What to Choose?Because now they have a choice to contemplate before buying. So instead of making it easy for them, landing pages with too many choices will cause them to hold off and “sleep on” their decision before committing to a purchase. They tell themselves “I’ll come back later when I have more time to go over all these options”. And of course most never do.

To make matters worse, among those that do buy, many will not be quite happy with their purchase because they have it at the back of their minds that maybe they didn’t make the right choice.

So now that it’s clear that more choice leads to fewer conversions and more buyer’s remorse, get out there and make your visitors happy by giving them fewer choices on your landing pages!

Your sales team will thank you.

Filed under: Tips & Strategies, Web Usability
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Older Comments (#37):

  1. Twitter Weekly Highlights for 2009-09-04 | TanveerNaseer.com says:

    [...] piece by @XurxoVidal “Get More Conversions by Giving Fewer Choices” http://bit.ly/wJN4g [...]

  2. Xurxo Vidal says:

    Mary,

    I would recommend using dedicated landing pages that focus on each type of item one by one and avoid cross promoting products on these pages until the potential customer has made a choice and added to cart, then during the checkout process you can experiment similar to what Amazon.com does – “people who bought the item you selected also purchased X,Y,Z (list a few more related products here). I know that it’s more work, but doing this usually increases sales since your conversion rates tend to go up as you are giving people exactly what they want without bombarding them with too many options. You can start with the items the either provide you with the highest profit margins or largest sales volumes to test and then expand down from there.

    If you’re talking about your home page, I would organize the items by the categories that make the most sense for your customers – Ie. how are your customers searching? Is it by item type, application or room? And then direct traffic to the above mentioned category or item specific landing pages.

    It’s difficult to visualize without seeing other examples so I recommend checking out other similar sites (competitors) as well as sites from other industries for inspiration. I also recommend having a look at Steve Krug’s book – Don’t Make Me Think. Steve give a lot of great examples and shares insights on what works and doesn’t on websites and landing pages.

    Also take a look at Jakob Neilsen’s books on web usability, they’re full of great visual examples of both good and bad websites and elements.

    And last but not least, don’t forget to keep an eye on your web analytics to monitor the effects that these changes have and so that you can see what works and what doesn’t and make adjustments.

    Keep me posted on how things go, I’d love to hear your experience with giving fewer choices to get more action.

  3. maryfreeland says:

    I would be interested in how you would suggest applying this to home decor where you have several types of items (ie. wall decor, furniture, lamps, etc). Would I focus on one category of items and rotate the category that is displayed weekly?

  4. Christian Nkurunziza says:

    This is true and it's so easy to forget too.

    Here's a product I built two different landing pages for. One a typical *ugly* – I mean reeally ugly – sales letter and the other is the same text only this time I used a beautiful wordpress template.

    (should I share the urls?? what the heck…) <– me thinkin to myself

    Here's the ugly one:
    http://tamingthegreenbug.com/

    Here's the cute one:
    http://tamingthegreenbug.com/BuyBook/

    Which one do you think converts better? Reply to this comment and tell me what you think converts better and why…

    (There are two main reasons why one converts better. I'll give candy to whoever gets them right or maybe ice cream… :)

  5. Xurxo Vidal says:

    Debbie,

    Thanks for sharing your experience – no one can argue with hard factual data!

    It's especially good to have when faced with those that like to “go with their gut”.

  6. Xurxo Vidal says:

    Tell me about it, today the most simple of buying decisions have become challenging because of the vast amounts of choice.

    Sometime you almost have to close your eyes and pick something without looking back to keep your sanity. :)

  7. Xurxo Vidal says:

    Tanveer,

    You raise an interesting point where advertisers should better segment their audience before inundating them with all the possible options in hope that they'll be interested in one of them.

    Takes a bit of initial effort, but the value of this strategy will pay off. I'm with you, the lobster trap approach makes so much more sense!

  8. Debbie says:

    This is 100% true though it is not always easy to convince the marketing department that this is the case. In order to prove that this works I just ran various A/B tests and always the version with fewer choices collected more conversions. No-one can argue with statistics :-)

  9. Xurxo,

    This is a great point that many companies should take note of, especially as they look for solutions to reducing their expenditures under the current economic dark cloud. Certainly, there's been several visible examples of how offering too many choices to the customer can lead to brand confusion (remember the whole fiasco over the different versions of Vista?).

    I think the problem is that most businesses tend to follow the notion that to ensure a large catch, they should use a bigger net. However, the real key to successfully landing customers is to think more like a lobster fisherman, who places traps designed to catch only lobsters in places where they know the lobsters tend to congregate. Although their catch might be smaller than those who use those big nets, we all know how much more valuable lobsters are compared to most fish catches. In terms of earning traffic, site owners should focus less on catching the non-buying fish and look instead to land the lobsters who'll stick around and buy their product.

  10. Jacki Hollywood Brown says:

    This totally explains why it takes my children 3 years to choose a chocolate bar at the candy counter give up, then go and have an ice cream cone.

    I never had a problem when I was little; it was KitKat, Smarties, Caramilk or Hershey's.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Xurxo,nnThis is a great point that many companies should take note of, especially as they look for solutions to reducing their expenditures under the current economic dark cloud. Certainly, there’s been several visible examples of how offering too many choices to the customer can lead to brand confusion (remember the whole fiasco over the different versions of Vista?).nnI think the problem is that most businesses tend to follow the notion that to ensure a large catch, they should use a bigger net. However, the real key to successfully landing customers is to think more like a lobster fisherman, who places traps designed to catch only lobsters in places where they know the lobsters tend to congregate. Although their catch might be smaller than those who use those big nets, we all know how much more valuable lobsters are compared to most fish catches. In terms of earning traffic, site owners should focus less on catching the non-buying fish and look instead to land the lobsters who’ll stick around and buy their product.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This totally explains why it takes my children 3 years to choose a chocolate bar at the candy counter give up, then go and have an ice cream cone.nnI never had a problem when I was little; it was KitKat, Smarties, Caramilk or Hershey’s.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is 100% true though it is not always easy to convince the marketing department that this is the case. In order to prove that this works I just ran various A/B tests and always the version with fewer choices collected more conversions. No-one can argue with statistics :-)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Tanveer,nnYou raise an interesting point where advertisers should better segment their audience before inundating them with all the possible options in hope that they’ll be interested in one of them.nnTakes a bit of initial effort, but the value of this strategy will pay off. I’m with you, the lobster trap approach makes so much more sense!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Tell me about it, today the most simple of buying decisions have become challenging because of the vast amounts of choice.nnSometime you almost have to close your eyes and pick something without looking back to keep your sanity. :)

  16. Anonymous says:

    Debbie,nnThanks for sharing your experience – no one can argue with hard factual data!nnIt’s especially good to have when faced with those that like to “go with their gut”.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is true and it’s so easy to forget too.nnHere’s a product I built two different landing pages for. One a typical *ugly* – I mean reeally ugly – sales letter and the other is the same text only this time I used a beautiful wordpress template.nn(should I share the urls?? what the heck…) <– me thinkin to myselfnnHere’s the ugly one:nhttp://tamingthegreenbug.com/nnHere’s the cute one:nhttp://tamingthegreenbug.com/BuyBook/nnWhich one do you think converts better? Reply to this comment and tell me what you think converts better and why…nn(There are two main reasons why one converts better. I’ll give candy to whoever gets them right or maybe ice cream… :)nn

  18. Anonymous says:

    I would be interested in how you would suggest applying this to home decor where you have several types of items (ie. wall decor, furniture, lamps, etc). Would I focus on one category of items and rotate the category that is displayed weekly?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Mary,nnI would recommend using dedicated landing pages that focus on each type of item one by one and avoid cross promoting products on these pages until the potential customer has made a choice and added to cart, then during the checkout process you can experiment similar to what Amazon.com does u2013 u201cpeople who bought the item you selected also purchased X,Y,Z (list a few more related products here). I know that itu2019s more work, but doing this usually increases sales since your conversion rates tend to go up as you are giving people exactly what they want without bombarding them with too many options. You can start with the items the either provide you with the highest profit margins or largest sales volumes to test and then expand down from there.nnIf youu2019re talking about your home page, I would organize the items by the categories that make the most sense for your customers u2013 Ie. how are your customers searching? Is it by item type, application or room? And then direct traffic to the above mentioned category or item specific landing pages.nnItu2019s difficult to visualize without seeing other examples so I recommend checking out other similar sites (competitors) as well as sites from other industries for inspiration. I also recommend having a look at Steve Krugu2019s book u2013 Donu2019t Make Me Think. Steve give a lot of great examples and shares insights on what works and doesnu2019t on websites and landing pages.nnAlso take a look at Jakob Neilsenu2019s books on web usability, theyu2019re full of great visual examples of both good and bad websites and elements.nnAnd last but not least, donu2019t forget to keep an eye on your web analytics to monitor the effects that these changes have and so that you can see what works and what doesnu2019t and make adjustments.nnKeep me posted on how things go, Iu2019d love to hear your experience with giving fewer choices to get more action.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Xurxo,nnThis is a great point that many companies should take note of, especially as they look for solutions to reducing their expenditures under the current economic dark cloud. Certainly, there’s been several visible examples of how offering too many choices to the customer can lead to brand confusion (remember the whole fiasco over the different versions of Vista?).nnI think the problem is that most businesses tend to follow the notion that to ensure a large catch, they should use a bigger net. However, the real key to successfully landing customers is to think more like a lobster fisherman, who places traps designed to catch only lobsters in places where they know the lobsters tend to congregate. Although their catch might be smaller than those who use those big nets, we all know how much more valuable lobsters are compared to most fish catches. In terms of earning traffic, site owners should focus less on catching the non-buying fish and look instead to land the lobsters who’ll stick around and buy their product.

  21. Anonymous says:

    This totally explains why it takes my children 3 years to choose a chocolate bar at the candy counter give up, then go and have an ice cream cone.nnI never had a problem when I was little; it was KitKat, Smarties, Caramilk or Hershey’s.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This is 100% true though it is not always easy to convince the marketing department that this is the case. In order to prove that this works I just ran various A/B tests and always the version with fewer choices collected more conversions. No-one can argue with statistics :-)

  23. Anonymous says:

    Tanveer,nnYou raise an interesting point where advertisers should better segment their audience before inundating them with all the possible options in hope that they’ll be interested in one of them.nnTakes a bit of initial effort, but the value of this strategy will pay off. I’m with you, the lobster trap approach makes so much more sense!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Tell me about it, today the most simple of buying decisions have become challenging because of the vast amounts of choice.nnSometime you almost have to close your eyes and pick something without looking back to keep your sanity. :)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Debbie,nnThanks for sharing your experience – no one can argue with hard factual data!nnIt’s especially good to have when faced with those that like to “go with their gut”.

  26. Anonymous says:

    This is true and it’s so easy to forget too.nnHere’s a product I built two different landing pages for. One a typical *ugly* – I mean reeally ugly – sales letter and the other is the same text only this time I used a beautiful wordpress template.nn(should I share the urls?? what the heck…) <– me thinkin to myselfnnHere’s the ugly one:nhttp://tamingthegreenbug.com/nnHere’s the cute one:nhttp://tamingthegreenbug.com/BuyBook/nnWhich one do you think converts better? Reply to this comment and tell me what you think converts better and why…nn(There are two main reasons why one converts better. I’ll give candy to whoever gets them right or maybe ice cream… :)nn

  27. Anonymous says:

    I would be interested in how you would suggest applying this to home decor where you have several types of items (ie. wall decor, furniture, lamps, etc). Would I focus on one category of items and rotate the category that is displayed weekly?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Mary,nnI would recommend using dedicated landing pages that focus on each type of item one by one and avoid cross promoting products on these pages until the potential customer has made a choice and added to cart, then during the checkout process you can experiment similar to what Amazon.com does u2013 u201cpeople who bought the item you selected also purchased X,Y,Z (list a few more related products here). I know that itu2019s more work, but doing this usually increases sales since your conversion rates tend to go up as you are giving people exactly what they want without bombarding them with too many options. You can start with the items the either provide you with the highest profit margins or largest sales volumes to test and then expand down from there.nnIf youu2019re talking about your home page, I would organize the items by the categories that make the most sense for your customers u2013 Ie. how are your customers searching? Is it by item type, application or room? And then direct traffic to the above mentioned category or item specific landing pages.nnItu2019s difficult to visualize without seeing other examples so I recommend checking out other similar sites (competitors) as well as sites from other industries for inspiration. I also recommend having a look at Steve Krugu2019s book u2013 Donu2019t Make Me Think. Steve give a lot of great examples and shares insights on what works and doesnu2019t on websites and landing pages.nnAlso take a look at Jakob Neilsenu2019s books on web usability, theyu2019re full of great visual examples of both good and bad websites and elements.nnAnd last but not least, donu2019t forget to keep an eye on your web analytics to monitor the effects that these changes have and so that you can see what works and what doesnu2019t and make adjustments.nnKeep me posted on how things go, Iu2019d love to hear your experience with giving fewer choices to get more action.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Xurxo,nnThis is a great point that many companies should take note of, especially as they look for solutions to reducing their expenditures under the current economic dark cloud. Certainly, there’s been several visible examples of how offering too many choices to the customer can lead to brand confusion (remember the whole fiasco over the different versions of Vista?).nnI think the problem is that most businesses tend to follow the notion that to ensure a large catch, they should use a bigger net. However, the real key to successfully landing customers is to think more like a lobster fisherman, who places traps designed to catch only lobsters in places where they know the lobsters tend to congregate. Although their catch might be smaller than those who use those big nets, we all know how much more valuable lobsters are compared to most fish catches. In terms of earning traffic, site owners should focus less on catching the non-buying fish and look instead to land the lobsters who’ll stick around and buy their product.

  30. Anonymous says:

    This totally explains why it takes my children 3 years to choose a chocolate bar at the candy counter give up, then go and have an ice cream cone.nnI never had a problem when I was little; it was KitKat, Smarties, Caramilk or Hershey’s.

  31. Anonymous says:

    This is 100% true though it is not always easy to convince the marketing department that this is the case. In order to prove that this works I just ran various A/B tests and always the version with fewer choices collected more conversions. No-one can argue with statistics :-)

  32. Anonymous says:

    Tanveer,nnYou raise an interesting point where advertisers should better segment their audience before inundating them with all the possible options in hope that they’ll be interested in one of them.nnTakes a bit of initial effort, but the value of this strategy will pay off. I’m with you, the lobster trap approach makes so much more sense!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Tell me about it, today the most simple of buying decisions have become challenging because of the vast amounts of choice.nnSometime you almost have to close your eyes and pick something without looking back to keep your sanity. :)

  34. Anonymous says:

    Debbie,nnThanks for sharing your experience – no one can argue with hard factual data!nnIt’s especially good to have when faced with those that like to “go with their gut”.

  35. Anonymous says:

    This is true and it’s so easy to forget too.nnHere’s a product I built two different landing pages for. One a typical *ugly* – I mean reeally ugly – sales letter and the other is the same text only this time I used a beautiful wordpress template.nn(should I share the urls?? what the heck…) <– me thinkin to myselfnnHere’s the ugly one:nhttp://tamingthegreenbug.com/nnHere’s the cute one:nhttp://tamingthegreenbug.com/BuyBook/nnWhich one do you think converts better? Reply to this comment and tell me what you think converts better and why…nn(There are two main reasons why one converts better. I’ll give candy to whoever gets them right or maybe ice cream… :)nn

  36. Anonymous says:

    I would be interested in how you would suggest applying this to home decor where you have several types of items (ie. wall decor, furniture, lamps, etc). Would I focus on one category of items and rotate the category that is displayed weekly?

  37. Anonymous says:

    Mary,nnI would recommend using dedicated landing pages that focus on each type of item one by one and avoid cross promoting products on these pages until the potential customer has made a choice and added to cart, then during the checkout process you can experiment similar to what Amazon.com does u2013 u201cpeople who bought the item you selected also purchased X,Y,Z (list a few more related products here). I know that itu2019s more work, but doing this usually increases sales since your conversion rates tend to go up as you are giving people exactly what they want without bombarding them with too many options. You can start with the items the either provide you with the highest profit margins or largest sales volumes to test and then expand down from there.nnIf youu2019re talking about your home page, I would organize the items by the categories that make the most sense for your customers u2013 Ie. how are your customers searching? Is it by item type, application or room? And then direct traffic to the above mentioned category or item specific landing pages.nnItu2019s difficult to visualize without seeing other examples so I recommend checking out other similar sites (competitors) as well as sites from other industries for inspiration. I also recommend having a look at Steve Krugu2019s book u2013 Donu2019t Make Me Think. Steve give a lot of great examples and shares insights on what works and doesnu2019t on websites and landing pages.nnAlso take a look at Jakob Neilsenu2019s books on web usability, theyu2019re full of great visual examples of both good and bad websites and elements.nnAnd last but not least, donu2019t forget to keep an eye on your web analytics to monitor the effects that these changes have and so that you can see what works and what doesnu2019t and make adjustments.nnKeep me posted on how things go, Iu2019d love to hear your experience with giving fewer choices to get more action.