ImageWorks Creative Blog

Decisions, Decisions: How Offering Too Many Choices Can Drive Your Customers Away

Posted by Scott February 9, 2016
Simplify your marketing to get better results.

Are you giving your customers too many choices?

More is better, right? More oatmeal flavors, more types of Gatorade, more programs to watch on television. We often hear from companies with a promise of more, more, more!

Not so fast. Sometimes the only thing that results from more choices is more confusion.

Laser focused services and organized products that have clear benefits are what works. Here’s an example from a famous Columbia University marketing study that illustrates our point.

Marketing student Sheena Iyengar set up a table in front of a prestigious grocery store in southern California. At that table, she had her staff offer jam samples to visiting customers. The first week, they offered a sampling of six flavors. The second weekend, they offered a sampling of 24.

Iyengar and others predicted that customers would respond best to a larger selection. “More is better” was the clear expectation.

The outcome, however, indicated a conflicting adage instead: “Less is more.”

While 60% of the grocery store’s customers stopped at the table when they were giving away 24 samples of jam, only 3% of those made a purchase after their taste-test. In comparison, 40% stopped by to taste the selection of six jams, but 30% of those made a purchase when they were through.

The lesson? Having a large selection may attract customers to your business, but too many of those customers will walk away confused or overwhelmed by a plethora of options.

This study is an excellent reminder for those of us in digital marketing. Keep it simple, and reap the rewards.

Here are some ways digital marketers can offer fewer choices – and get better results:

Limit Social Sharing:There’s nothing we like better than seeing others share our hard work. When we write a blog post that gets shared on Twitter, posted on Facebook, or talked about on Reddit, our week is made. BUT, offering too many social sharing options on a blog post can prevent people from sharing at all.

Instead, do some A/B testing and target only the social networks that convert for your business.

Simplify Your Homepage:People visit your website because they’re looking for something specific. Make sure that they can find it right away; too many unclear options on your homepage will lead to confused customers and a high bounce rate.

Make sure your product and service offerings are clear and direct. Test homepage variations to see what works best, but always make sure that your navigation is clean.

Tighten Up Your Email Campaigns:People love a good email offer, but once again, too many choices can overwhelm. Stick to offering just one thing in each email campaign, and make sure your messaging is coherent and centered around a unique deal or event.

Once again, A/B testing is your friend. Most email marketing programs allow users to test variants on the same email, so make sure that your company is taking advantage of this option when creating your messages. Find out what works and remember to keep it simple to increase your sales.


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