Posts Tagged ‘incentive’

E-commerce: Does your website appeal to hunter-gatherer instincts?

March 7th, 2014

For thousands of years prior to the advent of agriculture in 8,000 BCE, our ancestors survived as hunter-gatherers. I would say we are still, at our core, hunter-gatherers.

This idea becomes really interesting when we stop and consider some of our shopping behaviors.

Think about the last time you went shopping – where did you go?

My favorite place to shop, for example, is about 20 minutes from my house. After I park my car and walk into the store, I’ve committed maybe 30 minutes of my time to the shopping experience.

Once inside, I generally walk around the store counterclockwise. I look high and low, feeling fabrics, examining products and “hunting” for the items I want to buy. If I go without a specific need in mind, I generally end up buying the coolest, newest item that catches my eye. I also see many people wandering around just looking to buy something.

They have a perceived need; it’s just not clearly defined.


Hunter-gatherer instincts go beyond the bounds of brick-and-mortar

For an example, I need a new pair of jeans. As I walk over to the men’s department, I scan up and down. Retailers have a knack for placing impulse buying items where people will normally look. By the time I get to the jeans area, I may have invested 45 minutes in my quest to buy a pair of Levi 550 jeans.

When I arrive at my goal, I find out they have one pair of 550s that are the correct size, but they are perhaps too faded, or too dark or otherwise not quite right.

Now I have a decision to make and a few options: go to another store and search there, go home without any jeans, or buy the jeans that are there.

In this case, I buy the jeans and head home happy, having spent a total of about 90 minutes in total.

Now, what happens when I go hunting online?

My trip is likely going to begin with a search engine, where I enter “Levi’s 550 jeans” in the search bar and 324,000 listings are shown in to me in about 0.45 seconds – a little faster than my trip to the store.

As I scan the different listings, I see Levi’s, Amazon, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s.

So I click on Levi’s first, and it has my 550s front and center. But for some reason, before I can shop with the  company, it wants my email address first. 


Now don’t get me wrong here, Levi’s is taking some interesting and creative approaches to engage customers, as one of my colleagues recently shared.

But in this particular instance, the experience is not so welcoming as the perceived cost for hunting here is rather high right off the bat, so I immediately back out and search elsewhere.


When the hunt is overwhelming, choice becomes paralyzing

Amazon is next. Now I must admit, I am not a regular shopper on Amazon, so I’m a little overwhelmed by all of my choices. All I want is a pair of jeans.


One more click and I am back out again.

Although my lack of Amazon savvy is no fault of the company, I like this example because it highlights the paradox of consumer choice: While consumers want choices, having too many options can lead to indecision.

So the challenge in building a fantastic customer experience is in finding the right balance of options to make consumer choices easier whilst plentiful.


When you’re loaded for bear, nothing else will do

My next stop was J.C. Penney and although the hunting here is a little less overwhelming, there was one interesting thing I noticed.


In this shopping experience, I was offered alternatives to the Levi’s I wanted first, which made me a little confused and uncomfortable.

To play the devil’s advocate here, the research manager in me think’s it’s absolutely plausible that J.C. Penney’s could be doing some testing, you just never really know.

Ultimately, the distraction I experienced here prevented me from moving towards the ultimate “yes” and here’s why.

The psychological investment required to discern between my perceived need for Levi’s and the alternatives offered was much higher than I expected.

So I backed out and continued hunting.

Read more…

Nonprofit Marketing: What you can learn from B2B and consumer marketing

November 4th, 2011

At B2B Summit in Boston, I was having dinner with MarketingSherpa Research Analyst Jeff Rice, and I asked him, “What question did you receive most often on the LEAPS Certification Email Workshop tour?” I was expecting it would be about relevance or deliverability, list building or list segmentation. What he said really caught me off guard. …

“Our biggest question is from nonprofit marketers. They want to know what B2B and B2C tactics are effective for them.”

Excellent question. Here are a few tactics that B2B and consumer marketers use regularly that can work especially well for nonprofits. …

Read more…

Online Marketing Conversion: “Free” is a Pretty Strong Incentive

November 18th, 2010

I recently ran across a somewhat informal, but interesting none-the-less, study on the power of “free” to drive a conversion. Behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, heard that a New York nightclub was promoting an event featuring “free tattoos,” so he sent a research assistant to see if this incentive led to a conversion in the form of a tattoo.

The power of “free”

The resulting research isn’t scientifically or statistically rigorous, but it does offer a little insight into the command that the simple incentive of “free” adds to an offer.

  • The average age of “participants,” that is club-goers at that establishment on that night, was 26
  • Of the people in line to get a free tattoo, 68 percent said they would not be getting the tattoo if it wasn’t free
  • 90 percent of those in line were aware of the free tattoo promotion
  • Only 15 percent made the decision to get a tattoo after arriving at the nightclub
  • 85 percent arrived that night planning on getting the free ink

The results of this informal test:

The results indicate that the power of “free” is surprisingly influential.  When we face a decision about a tattoo, one would hope that the long term permanency of the decision, coupled with the risks of getting different types of infections would cause people to pay little attention to price, and certainly not to be swayed one way or another by the power of free.  But sadly, the reality (at list in the nightclub scene in New York) suggests that the power of free can get us to make many foolish decisions.


The big incentivized picture

Okay, not scientific. And plenty of test subjects were likely fairly impaired by chemicals in the decision process, but the raw numbers show that 68 percent of the people made their conversion decision (getting a tattoo) based on the incentive alone.

Where does that fit in the larger world of marketing? In the Landing Page Optimization training course found at our sister company, MarketingExperiments, incentive is defined as an appealing element you introduce to stimulate a desired action. That action might be a clickthrough, or to fill out an online form, or even an actual sale.

And the incentive has a key objective – to “tip the balance” of emotional forces from negative friction elements to positive to achieve conversion.

Here’s a chart from the MarketingExperiments Landing Page Optimization course illustrating that concept:

Here’s the thing with incentives, even if they are free – some are better than others. Depending on the goal of the offer, the incentive might be a free webinar, or a free computer mouse, or $100 off of a training session. The possibilities are practically limitless, so the key is to test incentives. All too often companies will try one incentive offer then quit. For any offer, an “ideal incentive” probably exists – you just need to keep testing until you find it.

Related Resources

Become a Certified Professional in Landing Page Optimization

Dances with Science: Are you better off not A/B testing?

Landing Page Optimization: Clean air or a free backpack? (Which is the bigger incentive for Sierra Club members?)

Internet Marketing: Landing page optimization for beginners

Great Idea for Tracking Organic Search Results

April 23rd, 2009

When speaking with Erick Barney, VP of Marketing, at Motorcycle Superstore, about how his team saves precious marketing dollars for the company I couldn’t help overhearing a really innovative way they track organic search rankings.

The team creates thousands of web pages for key search terms to improve the site’s SEO. To make sure SEO efforts are effective they produce a monthly “Keyword Visibility Report.” It’s basically a report of how well the company’s top 100 keywords are performing.

“We have a scoring system to assign any movement,” Barney says. “Anything that’s 30 or above we just put an N/A. We track anything that’s got a position from 1 to 30 and we’ll plot it each month and as it moves around we’ll assign a new rank.”

The report makes it easy for them to see if their SEO efforts are paying off. In addition, Barney has an incentive program tied to the report, giving the team a reason to push the bar even further. How cool is that?