This article is originally published on Democrat & Chronicle, a USA Today network
Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/search/shop?photo=ycVFts5Ma4s
You ever have so much to do you decide to take a nap?
--Jim Gaffigan, comedian
My super-sized shampoo lasted for more than a year until it reached the bottom.
So I went to a store to get another one. My plan was to go in, grab a bottle, and get out, be done with it in 5 minutes.
But I hovered for an hour and went home empty handed.
There were just too many choices!
Staring at the two shelves filled with no less than 30 different kinds of shampoo, I didn’t know what to choose.
So I read the descriptions on the back of the bottle, sniffed it, held it, then put it back.
I had too much to choose from so I decided to choose nothing.
Having 3 different kinds of shampoo to choose from is good; having 30 to choose from is overwhelming and exhausting.
The Chaos of Complexity
We have a tendency to overcomplicate our life.
I have not yet made sense of a product called “hair conditioner”. When we use too much shampoo (or wash our hair more often than we should), we invented a thing called “hair conditioner” to make the problem go away.
So instead of using less of one product, we decide it’s much wiser to use two products on our hair. Don’t you just love that logic?
In business, one way companies compete with each other is by creating more and more product lines, sometimes to an extent that they end up competing with themselves.
When communicating with each other in an organization, we all look for people who can “explain complex things in a simple and easy-to-understand manner”.
Yet, when you look at most companies’ website’s, brochures or mission statements, they are doing the exact opposite. Reading some of these things makes you wonder if you are in the middle of a SAT reading test that’s filled with “God-knows-what-that-means” vocabulary.
If anyone is looking for a long, boring, this-makes-no-sense-at-all type of explanation, they’d be reading the interest rate statement from their credit card company now.
Having a few choices is good, but having unnecessary complexity creates a new set of problems. It drains your energy, it distracts you from your goal, it wastes your time, and it confuses your customers (who often end up not buying.)
The K.I.S.S Principle: Keep It Simple, Salesman
An interesting observation: Everyone likes to think their customers are smarter than anyone else’s. After all, it makes you feel good about yourself that you’re dealing with “better people”.
Nowadays, consumers like you and me search for more info to make an informed purchase decision. But making things more complicated (offering more choices, adding more features, etc.) doesn’t always lead to more sales.
According to researchers from Columbia Business School and University of Chicago Booth School of Business, too many options can impair a person’s ability to make reasoned choices. (Source: Study: Too Many Choices Impair 401(k) Decisions)
If you watch “Kitchen Nightmares”, you’d notice nine times of ten, the first thing chef Gordon Ramsay does to turn around a failing restaurant is to REDUCE the ridiculous amount of items listed on a menu.
In other words, a top chef like Ramsay knows from his experience that giving customers too many choices can overwhelm and lead to fewer sales.
A study conducted by Sheena Iyengar from Columbia University and Mark Lepper from Stanford University came to the same conclusion: Too many choices can be bad for sales. (Source: When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?)
How to K.I.S.S?
Have you noticed that Mark Zuckerberg wears the same grey shirt every day?
His logic: “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community”.
In other words, keeping things simple helps him focus on more important work.
What does it mean for you?
In email marketing, the clickthrough rate is NOT driven by having many call-to-actions.
MarketingSherpa shared a detailed case study on how Whirlpool boosted clickthrough rate by 42%.
Initially, Whirlpool thought having multiple CTAs (call-to-actions) would increase the clickthrough rate. So they designed their original marketing campaign this way:
(Image Source: http://content.marketingsherpa.com/heap/cs/whirlpool/1.htm)
Then they tested a different version of this campaign with one CTA, one photograph:
(Image Source: http://content.marketingsherpa.com/heap/cs/whirlpool/2.htm)
The result? The second version with the single, focused CTA achieved a 42% increase in clicks for Whirlpool.
In product design, adding more features doesn’t necessarily result in higher user satisfaction.
A research shows that having too many features could confuse customers and result in less sales.
What you could do instead is to “have a larger number of more specialized products, each with a limited number of features, rather than loading all possible features into one product.” (Source: Feature Fatigue: When Product Capabilities Become Too Much of a Good Thing)
In SaaS pricing, simplifying pricing options can increase free-trial signups.
Lyyt.com, an event management software company, did the following test.
Their original pricing page has four different pricing options:
(Image Source: https://vwo.com/blog/pricing-page-redesign-increases-clickthroughs/)
To find out if prominently displaying the features of all plans and having multiple CTA buttons would increase visits to the free trial signup page and consequently, increase signups, they redesigned the pricing page:
Over 5-month testing period, the second pricing page increased visits to the “free trial” page by 93.71%.
Sometimes less is more. So keep it simple, salesman.
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