Can You Offer Customers Too Many Options?

Decisions are tough things to make sometimes. Most people like black and white, do this, do that, and done situations. So as marketers, we’re faced with a dilemma of whether we’re making it easier or harder on customers when we give them a lot of choices. Your intention may be to make the most out of potentials, but can you offer customers too many options?

A case in point was when my partner and I decided to add a 12 month option to purchasing Article Submitter Pro. We already had a 3 month payment plan that many had taken advantage of, but there were still some people who found that to be beyond their budget.

Now you’d probably expect a lot of customers would jump on the opportunity to grab the software on a 12 month plan, but what actually happened was, sales declined over all, and very few opted to go an entire year paying for it.

When we removed the 12 month option, sales increased again and now we’re seeing far more 3 month plan opt ins. In fact, one time payers also doubled once the extra option was removed.

The conclusion was, our potential customers had too much to think about with all the options available, and so they put off their decision for later. And naturally, when customers put off making a decision on the spot, they rarely ever come back. So by giving too many options, we lost buyers.

Another case study could be formed around marketers who constantly send out email offers to their lists for many different products over short periods of time.

While the intention might be to keep their lists abreast of all the new products available, this type of marketing runs the risk of annoying potentials by pulling them in too many directions, and we all know annoyed and/or confused customers don’t buy.

On the same note, when monetizing a blog, could your visitors be getting too many banner ads, or too many different types of product ads shoved in their faces? Most visitors won’t even notice banner ads in the sidebar, but for those that do, having too many choices can cause them to mentally block them out.

When you think about it, offering customers too many options can be like sticking a small child in a candy store, giving him a penny, and telling him to decide quickly. It just ain’t gonna happen! The more choices one has to decide from, the easier it is to get overwhelmed.

Logically then, it would seem prudent to narrow down the choices you offer your customers. You may not be getting a chance to promote everything coming down the pike, but by focusing your customers’ minds on less choice with more value to them or to the purpose of their visit (i.e. the theme of a blog post), the products you do show them will have a better chance of bringing in sales.

For example, if you’re emailing your lists with offers, only promote products relevant to the reason those people opted in to the list in the first place. Most marketers who create lists through product offers or giveaways usually can easily keep them separate.

For your blog, find some promotional banner ads on Clickbank or some other affiliate product site relevant to the topic you’re presenting each day and rotate them in as you post your article. If you have the HTML code all set up and saved in Notepad, it’d just be a matter of grabbing the code and pasting it in your sidebar via the theme editor.

This way your visitors get just one or two banner ads to view, and they’ll always be relevant to the article you want them to read. Sure it’s more work, but once you get in the routine, it won’t take you much more time than posting your latest article.

And definitely, if you’re going to offer additional options for your products like we did, split testing always proves to be a good barometer. By showing only a percentage of your visitors the extra option, you’ll be able to tell if its going to be well received or not.

Unfortunately, it’s a common practice to throw everything at customers in the hopes some of it will stick. But with a little extra planning, you can avoid offering customers too many options, and instead funnel their choices to more relevant products they’ll more than likely appreciate and be ready to buy from you.

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