We live in an abundant world of choice.
Choice, that - to most - would appear to be a good thing.
(And the marketing departments of some of the world's largest corporations seem to agree.)
After all, gone are the days of just a few choices of laundry detergent to compare. Or just a couple types of deodorants to sniff. Trash bags. Ice cream flavors. Smart phone case covers.
And as Steve Jobs would say, "you can't just ask customers what they want." In this case, most would "want" choices. I mean, who would "logically" argue for less?
But herein lies the problem with human behavior:
What we "think" is not always what we "do." This is the difference between emotion and logic, rational and irrational behavior, what we "say" vs how we "act."
So it makes sense for marketers to believe that more products for customers to choose from is better. Or that offering a plethora of options would increase the likelihood of conversion. It's pretty obvious --- the more options one has to choose from, the higher the probability they'll find something they like. Right?
As it turns out, things don't work quite that way and I want to prove it to you with real research. And then I want to take it beyond product choices and discuss the implications for hyperfocused sales funnels.
Enter Columbia University Professor Sheena Iyengar and her extensive research on choice.
Her team essentially set up shop outside of an upscale grocery store in Menlo Park, CA to observe the impact of more choices on sales.
Over two consecutive weekends, her research assistants dressed up as store employees and set up a table outside offering samples of either 6 or 24 flavors of Wilkin and Sons Jams to patrons.
Prior to this study, the common marketing theory was that more choices are better for customers. People like more options, so providing more flavors should lead to more sales, right?
As you might have guessed, the results of this research proved otherwise.
During the time periods when 24 flavors were offered, 60% of people stopped to sample the jams, compared to 40% when only 6 flavors were offered. This makes sense. As humans, we "think" we want more choice and so we're attracted by such.
I'm not surprised 50% more people stopped when 24 flavors were present. But as my grandma says, "if it doesn't make dollars, it doesn't make sense!" The real question is: which group bought more?
Of the customers who sampled 24 flavors, only 3% purchased. If this were a website, 3% would be awesome. But it's not.
Want to know what percentage of those who sampled the 6 flavors bought?
A whopping 30%!
We're talking about a factor of 10x. 1000% difference in response rate.
Let's make those numbers plain by comparing to every 100 people.
If 100 people passed by the table and saw 24 flavors, 60 would stop. That's fair.
The problem? Less than 2 would end up buying one of those 24 flavors.
If those 100 people passed by the table and saw only 6 flavors, only 40 would stop. But...
And this is a big but...
12 would purchase!
If the jams were priced at $5 a jar, that'd be $10 for every 100 people compared to $60. A "money in the bank" difference of 600%.
Which would you prefer?
How this relates to your website...
When it comes to your website, the desire to send paid traffic to your multi-page, beautifully-designed website or blog is tempting. After all, you probably paid some web designer to put that thing together and by golly, you're going to make sure people see it!
And don't get me wrong - there are reasons to send people to your blog. They just don't tend to be DIRECTLY correlated with making money.
I can go on and on listing the reasons some experts would give for sending people to your website or blog to do as they please. And like I said, not all of these reasons are bad.
But when you want decisions to be made, conversions to be high, and immediate ROI to be had, you better pay close attention to what Iyengar's studies (as well as countless others) reveal about choice and options.
(On another note, I've bought into the "wait for sales" or "sales will come later" ideologies until I discovered that, for every $1000 per day I spend on Facebook for one sales funnel, I'll typically immediately make back $3000 to $4000 in the SAME day. Goodbye home page and blog!)
But I digress.
Simply put, people become debilitated when given too many options.
Just ask legendary marketer Joe Sugarman (the genius behind Blublocker sunglasses) what he learned about offering too many choices when running ads in the Wall Street Journal for a swiss army watch offer.
Half of the readers saw an ad showing just one watch with just one style available while the other half saw an ad showing two styles and all nine options available for each.
Surely showing the reader more options would lead to more sales, right?
"Some will want one style, others will want another. And when you add up all those sales that are going to pour in among the 18 options, we're going to hate that we even spent time and money testing the single style ad!"
The ad showing just the single style outperformed the other by a three-to-one margin. 300%.
Sugarman summed it up: "Offering a customer too many choices is a dangerous thing."
That is why funnels are so effective.
Like a real funnel, there is nothing to do but flow through it.
(For those unfamiliar, an online sales funnel is simply a buying process that leads customers through a series of SPECIFIC steps meant to elicit the purchase of a product or service... or SOME action!).
One page. One action.
Next page. Next action.
Subsequent page. Subsequent action.
There typically isn't a navigation bar and dozens of pages to explore (like your home page or blog).
You won't find more than one option on each page --- either progress or leave.
Just as scary as going with 6 flavors and leaving the other 18 flavors in the box in lieu of 600% more sales right?
Or just as scary as spending globs of money on a Wall Street Journal ad and leaving out 8 of your 9 watch styles in lieu of 300% more sales?
Hyperfocused Sales Funnels
When you go with hyperfocused sales funnels and only give one option at every step, several things happen:
- You get incredibly clear on your numbers. Unlike your home page or blog, which is hard to quantify in any hardcore monetary ways, you'll know, for example, that 30% opt in by giving you an e-mail address; of those who watch the video on the next page, 25% click the order button; and out of those people, 20% buy. If those numbers work out and generate you more revenue than what you spend on advertising (you do have a REAL business that advertises right?), scale it!
- More people abandon but more people progress than would have if you left it up to them. Sure, more people in the study stopped for a sample when there were 24 options of jam compared to only 6. But if you're like me, you don't want to pay store employees to just talk to people. You want sales. If you can stomach 70 to 80 out of 100 people leaving your landing page because they don't want to give you their e-mail, it'll likely be well worth it in lieu of higher conversions in the backend. Don't trust me, though. Trust the research. Trust human behavior.
- You make more money while dealing with less people. Yup, less people watch your video (and if you pay for expensive business class video hosting like me, that might be a good thing!). Yup, you've scared off most people by limiting their choice. You're basically saying: "Here's some value but you'll have to give me your e-mail address first." Some will. Most won't. And that's ok! Because out of the ones that "stop for your sample," you'll end up converting a whole lot more and when all the chips fall where they may, this process could make all the difference (when it comes to getting positive ROI with paid media).
Want to see one of my highest converting sales funnels? Join me on my next webinar broadcast.
We think we want choice.
But too much choice often leads to inaction.
So smart marketers limit choice and control the sales process.
As simple as that.
Until next time,
P.S. - And you can still feel like you're getting your money's worth from your beautifully-designed, multi-page website by sending them there AFTER they buy from your sales funnel. 🙂
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