Thursday, September 29, 2011

Don't Trap Your Customers!

For some reason, for years traditional marketers were convinced that consumers need to be herded/forced into making the marketer's desired choice, rather than letting the consumer make an informed decision. As an obvious example, think of claustrophobic setting in pre-Bellagio Casino's, where you could look for miles and not see an exit door! For some reason, it was believed that the less the gamblers saw the possibility of an exit, the longer they would sit at the cramped gambling tables. Not sure how they may have A/B tested that hypothesis, but perhaps they were using sheep rather than people in their experiments?

And alas, this kind of thinking found its followers in the online marketing world as well. I am sure you have all had the unpleasant experience of visiting a website where the options you were looking for were more or less hidden and you felt tricked into blasting an invite to all your friends or doing something else that would evoke an "Oh-My-God-What-Did-I-Just-Do" reaction. But the days of such online shananigans disguised as intelligent marketing may soon be over.

Experiments are starting to reveal that creating a comfortable and pleasant environment for customers leads to higher expenditure by them! Jonah Lehrer recently covered one study in his aptly titled post, Why Being Relaxed Makes Us Spend More Money. I highly recommend that UI/UX designers read that post and the studies referenced therein before becoming too aggressive in creating restrictive funnels that force users to take certain online actions.

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