By Joe Rawlinson
Senior e-Commerce Product Manager & Strategist, National Instruments
How to Use Defaults to Drive Results
We take recommendations all the time in our daily lives. You take the concierge’s recommendation when you go to the restaurant he mentions. You take your server’s recommendation at the restaurant when you order her suggested meal.
Likewise we take a website’s recommendation when we accept the default choice that has been presented to us.
A great example of this comes from Kiva.org. Kiva is a non-profit where you can provide a micro-loan to the working poor around the world. For example, you can loan money to Blanca in El Salvador so she can buy goods for her corner store. She sells those goods, repays the loan, and then you can loan the money to another entrepreneur.
Kiva really wants you to complete the loan to Blanca and other entrepreneurs like her. They don’t want distractions or roadblocks to get in the way of you completing that loan.
To help get you to complete the task at hand, Kiva uses the power of defaults.
Once you’ve decided to whom you will loan your money, Kiva shows you a defaulted amount that you can loan. In this case, it is $25.
This immediately answers the question: “how much should I loan to Blanca?”
The default sounds good so you move on to the next step.
Kiva also wants you to donate to their non-profit so they default an amount for that purpose as well.
All of these defaults are in place to propel you to finish and fund the loan.
By using defaults, the site eliminates the micro-decisions that you would otherwise have to think about.
Defaults not only push customers to complete a task, they can influence the direction you want them to take.
Caution: defaults are extremely powerful. People will take the default.
Carefully consider what you default when you present choices to customers. Are there any downstream consequences? Will you need to make more of the widget you default for purchase? Will there be more customer support issues for that particular product?
Map out the downstream consequences so that you can give customers a default that is good for both the company and the customer.
Try some defaults on your website, you’ll be amazed at the results.
Unfortunately, your defaults won’t work if your prospective customers never see them in the first place. To that end, you need to remove roadblocks on their way to conversion.
Remove Distractions to Increase Conversion
Removing distractions from your customer’s path is key to closing the sale.
Let’s look at an example from Dell.com. They segment their customers into several types. As the visitor to the website navigates down one of those paths, the website organizes the products and eliminates irrelevant options.
For example, the home customer isn’t distracted by the latest rack-mounted servers and the enterprise customer isn’t distracted by the home entertainment system.
To effectively get your customers to the point of sale, you need to clear the road of any obstacles.
These obstacles are choices and items that are distractions to the customer.
If your customer has made selections based on their navigation through your site, you should not show them products that no longer match those needs.
As you eliminate options which are not relevant to the customer, they can more quickly find what they are looking for and proceed to the point of sale.
Too often we try and show the customer all of our products and services all the time. We hope that will keep them around because every possibility is readily at hand.
However, this is not the case. Too many choices will confuse customers.
As we start to learn what the customer is looking for, help them laser focus down to the right product match for their needs.
Think about how you can organize your product offering and eliminate distractions based on what you know about your customer. This knowledge can come from past purchase history or even the last click they made on your website.
About the Author
Joe Rawlinson is a Senior e-Commerce Product Manager and Strategist at National Instruments, a technology company that equips engineers and scientists with tools that accelerate productivity, innovation and discovery. He defines the strategy of several key e-commerce applications critical to both company and customer success and specializes in improving online sales, leads, and efficiency through the e-commerce channel.
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