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Are you constantly removing “conversion friction”?

You can’t underestimate the difficulty of actually persuading someone to do something. We all walk through our days being bombarded by pitches to buy things and we develop a king of “default no” for everything that comes our way. Studies show that each person has only a certain amount of energy for making decisions each day, and once that energy is depleted, we each tend to retreat to minimalist, low-risk responses, which for a buying decision usually means “NO.” So, your job as marketers is to constantly take the friction out of the conversion.

What exactly is “conversion friction”? It’s any part of the experience that can be removed to reduce decision fatigue. Some people think of it as reducing clicks–reasoning that every extra step is actually a chance for the prospect to abandon your site.  There is some truth to this, but it is actually too simplistic. I’ve tested experiences where we added steps (and clicks) and raised the conversion rate. How did we do that? We paid attention to the difficulty of each decision as well as the number of decisions.

indecision dice
indecision dice (Photo credit: snigl3t)

Think of it this way. Would you rather answer a series of simple questions one by one, or get a long scrolling page with many questions on it? Most experiences do better with the one by one questions, with much higher abandon rates when faced with an overwhelming long complex page. Usability types tie this feeling of being overwhelmed to “cognitive load”–a description of the difficulty of the decisions being required. Basically, the more thinking we make them do, the fewer customers we get.

But sometimes the conversion experience can be made simpler with fewer steps. Robin McCarthy, a colleague at Converseon, showed me something that Google seems to be testing:

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Talk about removing friction! Google has been playing with these so-called ad extensions for some time, but think about how much easier it is to sign up for something on the search results page than having to click through to the web site and figure out what to do.

Google and every good marketing company is constantly trying to remove friction–what are you doing with your marketing?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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