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Conversion Rates are More than Clicks

Roy Bendor Cohen
April 20, 2021

When was the last time it took you less than four seconds to make an impactful decision?

Data shows that 1 in 4 people will leave a webpage if it takes more than four seconds to load. In a digitally-focused world where most businesses are operating online, this metric alone can wreak havoc on your conversion rates (the number of visitors to your site/app that take your desired action over the total number of visitors). Conversion rates are one of the most highly tracked key performance indicators (KPIs) for businesses, so there’s good reason why you’ll come across long lists of best practices for how to optimize them.

But, do you know what all conversion rates undoubtedly have in common? The people behind them, on both sides of the equation - the people designing the user/customer experience and the users/customers who undergo the experience and behave in response.

In application, this means that understanding human behavior and motivations (subconscious and conscious) behind what drives their action (or inaction) will have the greatest impact on conversion rates. Behaviors are multi-faceted and depend on one’s expectations, biases, perception, beliefs, past experiences and importantly, the context in which they take place.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for optimizing conversion rates, let’s see how behavioral science models and practices can be of use.

Models and Frameworks from Behavioral Science

By looking at models of behavior from the field of behavioral science, businesses can apply this knowledge to their strategy and practices. Consider the following:

Fogg Behavior Model

The Fogg model creates an equation for behavior that is based on three factors, namely motivation, ability and trigger (or prompt).

B=MAT (Behavior = Motivation * Ability * Trigger)

For a behavior to take place, the aforementioned three elements must take place simultaneously. If the action does not take place, then the model concludes that one of the three factors was missing.

From this model, we can extrapolate three very interesting points:

  1. The easier a task is to do (lower ability), the less motivation it requires for the action to take place.
  2. The ability curve basically represents the level of friction. Friction is a measurement of effort, which can be in the form of: mental effort, physical effort, time, money, routine, etc.
  3. If the audience has a high motivation, but the barrier is their ability, then adding motivation will cause frustration (example: someone wants to start jogging. Instead of telling them to do it, buy them shoes or connect them with a trainer or go on a short jog with them to begin - make the task easier to do). And, vice versa, if someone is capable (has high ability) to take an action, but they have no interest in doing so (low motivation), then focusing on its simplicity could backfire and lead to frustration.

COM-B Model

The COM-B model was born from 19 frameworks of behavioral change. The COM-B model is a wheel that depicts how behavior is a result of capability, opportunity, and motivation. In order to direct a specific behavior and make it consistent, then interventions must take place to change one or more of the components.

Choice Architecture (Nudge Theory)

Nudge theory is concerned with the design of choice and how it can be applied to influence decision-making. The theory, which derives from Behavioral Economics research (specifically around cognitive biases) is focused on designing choices according to how people think and act. People operate at an unconscious level (Kahneman’s System 1), so the design addresses the way this mode of thinking operates, not merely the reflective-conscious level (System 2). When it comes to conversion rates, there are different ways to enact nudge theory to accomplish results. Some examples include:

  • Social proof - using the actions of others to prompt a behavior. I.e. displaying how many people bought a product (popularity) or sharing reviews to add a sense of confidence in your product
  • Friction - the ease or effort required to come to an outcome. I.e. Amazon’s 1-click ordering button which allows users to skip the shopping cart and check-out process and automatically processes payment
  • Framing - how a choice is presented (negatively or positively) without changing the meaning. I.e. stating your yogurt to be “100% fat free” versus “non-fat”

All Lit Up: A Q Case Study

Our team at Q helped a startup achieve a 400% increase in conversion rates by examining the human behavior/psychology behind the low response rates on their site.

The company’s goal is to provide users with information on the current market price of raw materials. They utilize a “give information, get information” model to crowdsource the data. However, only 4% of website visitors were providing information despite the seemingly motivating factor of being able to gain valuable information.

Q’s interdisciplinary approach involved creating initial hypotheses and testing their validity. The hypotheses were:

1. Users were reluctant to share the information because they viewed it as sensitive, or

2. They felt too much pressure to get the data 100% right. Given the form’s open-ended value, they were dissuaded from submitting anything at all.

After conducting A/B testing and impact evaluation, Q advised that the company change the form design from having an input field to a slider for price. The seemingly small change increased the company’s conversion rate by 400%!  

What we glean from this example alone is that human behavior is immensely determined by small, yet significant unconscious behaviors. These behaviors, when understood, can sometimes be influenced by small contextual changes [that] create big impact.

Want another example? Check out how we helped Finder, an online platform aimed at connecting investors with startup founders, to achieve a 30% increase in sign-ups year-over-year.  

Converting Conversions

While you may be able to grab attention and achieve high click-through rates (number of clicks on an ad over how many people see the ad), the real metric of success often comes down to conversion rates (the user fulfills your business’ desired action).

There are so many reasons why users will leave a webpage, procrastinate making a decision, continue deliberating and never fulfill the desired conversion. Every behavior is persuaded within its respective context, including an individual’s own expectations, motivations and beliefs. By studying and understanding human behavior within context, Q Behavioral Thinking can design interventions and prescribe adjustments to help increase your business’ conversion rates.

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