Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is often considered a method of updating the digital assets structure. While the outcome of a CRO process may be the reorganisation of a page, you’ll soon reach a point where you can’t change much any more. A process of experimentation goes beyond structure (the ‘what’) and helps define customer motivations (the ‘why’), which leads us to better understand customer behaviours.
Once you’ve discerned the why, you can design an experience that answers to the
motivational and cognitive process of the customer and create a more effective site.
Consumers make a choice at the point where the external influence aligns to their
internal motivation. While all purchase decisions are formed rationally, they are made emotionally, and largely subconsciously. Understanding motivation is the key that unlocks an experience.
A lot of traditional UX is superficial, focusing on what has happened and how certain
changes might fix it. By using experimentation to tune into motivation drivers, however, we can begin to understand why the user has done what they have done. In our experience, experimentation that starts with discerning motivation is three to four times more effective than purely structural experiments.
Psychological studies suggest that there are dozens of cognitive biases that help us navigate the world every day. Understanding what they are and how they might affect the decision-making of your site’s visitors is just the first step to becoming a better experience designer.
Here are five of the most influential biases that drive customer motivation and how,
at New Republique, we have used our understanding of them in our personalisation and CRO experiments.
1. Choice architecture
In 2004, US psychologist Barry Schwartz released a book called The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less, which he then summarised in a TED Talk that now has more than 11 million views. Schwartz explains that in Western industrial societies the concept of ‘freedom’ corresponds to the concept of ‘choice’. The paradox is that
excessive choice is actually paralysing for people rather than liberating and that even if you do end up picking something, you’re less satisfied with your selection.
Enter choice architecture, which is the process of configuring choice to make it
simpler for customers to select something. When employing choice architecture, the first thing you should do is reduce the number of decisions the customer needs to make. That usually entails presenting a smaller group of choices.
One of our clients is a well-known car brand. It has several vehicle series and a few cars within each series. Visitors were not only overwhelmed by all the models, they couldn’t easily see the differences between them. By using labels such as ‘Best for city’ and ‘Best for family’, it gave customers fewer but clearer choices, which led to increased conversions.
Choice architecture should be your number one weapon if you have a lot of products
to select from or a complex product suite – there’s a reason bundling is popular with tech products and services.
Anchoring is the process of focusing on the identified motivational driver of a customer. For example, when a customer applies for a personal loan to buy a car, the anchor is the car, not the loan. A lot of brands miss this one because they are fixated on how great their product or service is, without understanding what drives their customer to them.
The key here is to understand the visitor’s intent and focus them on it and remind them of it throughout the funnel. This strengthens the bond between your product or service and the customer’s internal motivation. It’s often used to sell the benefit with the link that your product or service clearly provides that benefit.
3. Distinction bias
Distinction bias is a concept that describes the empowerment a customer feels when they invest time in comparing items for sale. When a customer is empowered by knowledge, they value their decision more.
We have a banking client and found that when customers could compare three loans, one of which was on promotion, they could see what great value the promotional loan was and were therefore more confident choosing it.
Designing to leverage distinction bias is great for organisations that promote or sell more than one comparable product, especially software companies.
4. Decoy effect
The decoy effect also relies on customers comparing offers but is manipulated to
present one option as far superior to another by introducing a third ‘decoy’ offer.
In the case of our banking client, when we showed the three loans in comparison, the promotional loan was the one we wanted customers to pick. One of the other loans was a real contender and the third was really there to show what a great deal the promotional one was because it had a much larger interest saving compared to both the decoy and the contender.
Customers regard three as a basic number for comparison, so if you only really have two contending offers, a decoy will help drive people towards your preferred option, especially if it’s the centre offer and other design elements – larger font, images, more distinctive colours – enhance it favourably.
Framing allows you to give context to an offer and can be used to emphasise more
positive features as well as tap into customers’ internal drivers. A very simple framing example is the question of whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. It is a powerful bias that can be used in conjunction with others like loss aversion, where people are more afraid to lose than they are happy to gain.
We have a foreign exchange service as a client and tested two homepages: the control page stated that customers could ‘save now’ on money transfers; the variation described the offer as ‘bank beating rates’ and achieved an 18% better conversion rate.
Framing is a highly effective method to use when selling any type of benefit or time-based incentive, which is why the urgency of phrases such as ‘last tickets’ or ‘this week only’ still work.
It’s not enough just to know these cognitive biases exist, what they do and how you can employ them for your business. Simply triggering a bias as a blunt instrument won’t guarantee a result; the key is to use these effectively by building a picture of your customers’ psychology and how they make decisions. Only then can you identify the motivations that need to be tested to understand their impact within a page, a
journey and an experience.