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Choice Paradox: How Removing Choices Increases Online Sales

Successful marketers influence the market to take action. If you are driving sales online, you need to help your target audience make choices. This is marketing. But when marketers focus on this, we are choice architects.

Let’s pretend we handle the marketing for a direct-to-consumer electronics brand. The holiday shopping season is upon us, and we need to increase quarterly website sales by 25%.

What do you do?

Growth marketers look at the entire funnel to determine the most profitable course of action. I will address this using a hypothetical situation:

1. Your website receives a healthy amount of daily traffic from high quality sources
2. The traffic engages with the website content on desktop and mobile
3. Purchase conversion rates are less than desirable

Stop. There is a bottle neck. Where is the traffic getting held up?

After studying the Behavior Flow, you determine that 10% of visitors who make it to the Plans page select a Plan. Why is this happening? How can we improve this metric? We need to think like a choice architect.

Choice paradox tells us that too much choice could be driving people away.

In a study of jam, consumers were more likely to buy when offered 6 jams (40%) instead of 24 jams (3%). Consumers also reported greater buying satisfaction. (Cognitive Lode)

The biggest barrier between browsing and buying is our brains. Just because the market is capable and compelled to buy the product does not mean they will. Giving your customers fewer options, and making it easier to make a decision, can lead to more sales. I have seen this first-hand.

A Facebook advertisement with compelling creative and copy will drive traffic, but the choice architecture turn the momentum into purchases.

I take note of my own purchasing behavior. I am about to buy a Mevo camera. Their purchase funnel begins with offering two options. The same is true for Google’s G Suite and the latest phones from Apple and Samsung.

Recommended Reading: Marketers Are Choice Architects

Choice architecture, a term coined by Thaler and Sunstein (2008), reflects the fact that there are many ways to present a choice to the decision-maker, and that what is chosen often depends upon how the choice is presented. Choice architects have significant, if perhaps underappreciated, influence, much like the architect of a building who affects the behaviors of the building’s inhabitants through the placement of doors, hallways, staircases, and bathrooms. Similarly, choice architects can influence choice in many ways: by varying the presentation order of choice alternatives, the order attributes and their ease of use, and the selection of defaults, to name just a few of the design options available. (Beyond nudges: Tools of a choice architecture)