In the world of conversion optimization, more is not better.
Imagine yourself in a shoe store with so many options to choose from that you can’t make up your mind which pair of shoes to buy. You end up leaving the store with nothing because you didn't know which shoes you like best or which was the best choice.
The same applies to business websites. Giving visitors too many choices or asking them for too much information can scare them away. An opt-in form requiring visitors to provide at least six different pieces of information such as their first name, last name, email address, contact no. address and website URL can potentially decrease your website conversion.
If you want to increase your sales conversion, streamline your offerings and reduce the number count of the information you’re asking from your visitors.
Here’s a field test conducted by Columbia University Professor Sheena Iyengar:
On two consecutive Saturdays, Iyengar set up a free tasting booth in a known grocery store.
During the first Saturday, she put up 24 flavors of jam, and on the next Saturday she cut down the selection to only 6 flavors.
Which display do you think made the most conversion? Was it during the first Saturday with 24 jams or the second Saturday with only 6 jams available?
Given the “more is better” mindset, you would probably think that conversion was much higher on the first Saturday. But that’s not the case.
When 24 jams were on display, 60% of the customers stopped to taste the jams but only 3% of the tasters actually bought a jam. When only 6 jams were displayed, only 40% of the customers stopped for a taste and 30% of them bought a jam.
While the larger display attracted more customers, the smaller display sold more – 6x more.
This study doesn't apply to jams alone. It applies to every business industry out there. Check out the video above to find out where else the “less is more” theory has been applied.
How does this apply to your site?
Your main goal is to sell something to your visitors, may it be a product, service or information. If you present multiple options to your visitors, you’re not helping them make the decision making process easier. As a result of too many option, they experience analysis paralysis – a state of over-thinking that leads to inaction.
So if you want visitors to click something, cut down options on your site and make the option you want them to choose the most obvious.
How many options should you give your customers?
If you’re an online store, give them between 4 to 6 options. Online retail shoppers expect to see at least a few options, so this allows them to browse without giving them choice overload.
For software service providers – those who charge monthly fees in exchange for using software – the magic number’s between 4 and 5.
If you’re in the information business, focus on one product at a time. People want to buy information from experts and you won’t be able to focus your expertise if you have too many information offerings you’re trying to sell.