Boost online purchase by triggering an intuitive response

We’re at that time of year where millions of frantic shoppers are busy stampeding for the last minute Holiday gifts. And naturally, much of that hunting occurs online. In fact, e-Commerce sales account for about 25% of all sales in the six-week period from mid-November to January 1st.

If you’re an online retailer, you’re probably at this very moment imploring Santa to send you the perfect online strategy to ensure you reach your annual online sales targets!
Well, while Santa’s busy scratching his beard, you’ll be pleased to know that Clicktale has already done the leg work for you, as the following research will show.

Impulse vs Considered Purchase

When developing e-commerce retail offering, it is quite common to assume that 'more' works better than 'less' when it comes to triggering a customer purchase: More customer reviews. More technical specs. More information. More.
However, research recently conducted by Clicktale into the online sales of a very popular retail gadget found the opposite to be true - the more details that visitors were provided, the less likely they were to purchase the gadget!
The reason has something to do with our thought process when purchasing different things. If we’re purchasing an insurance or finance product, yes certainly, more information will encourage a purchase. That’s because we use the logical sides of our brains when making purchases of such products. with such considered purchase it’s only natural to carefully think it over. And the more information the website provides, all the better in helping us make a decision!

However, the retail buying process is very different. It’s here that our choices are governed far more by what we call hunches, gut feelings, and a somewhat automatic reaction that is partly subconscious. Although we like to refer to this feeling as intuition, which immediately gives it an aura of mystique, the reality is that this “intuition” is an established part of Emotion-Based Learning.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Clicktale analysts studied the product page for a very popular electronic gadget to understand the behavioral differences between purchasers and non-purchasers.
The results were startling: Customers who purchased the product, whether on their first or fifth visit to the page, spent considerably less time on the page than visitors who did not purchase.

From the heatmap analysis below, it can be seen that purchasers did not scroll down very far before they hit the purchase button. On the other hand, visitors who scrolled down the page and paid more attention to the technical specifications reviews and product descriptions were far less likely to add the product to the cart.

Clicktale Scroll Reach Heatmap side-by-side comparison of purchasers (right) vs. non-purchasers (left) – show that purchasers scrolled far less than non-purchasers

Less is More!

Our brains use two different strategies to make sense of a situation.
The first is the intuitive response, or System 1. This operates below the surface of consciousness, transfers messages through biological channels such as skin conductivity and sweat glands, and automatically makes many of our decisions.

The second strategy we use is the logical and rational response, or System 2.
Although slower due to requiring a lot of information, this system often overrules system 1 in the final decision.

Research shows that our emotional state – or System 1 response, plays a large part in our decision to purchase a retail product. So, visitors are more likely to add a product to their cart and complete the purchase process while they are in their emotional or intuitive mode. Captivating keywords and attractive images or smiling product owners/models will often work to enhance the triggering of the system 1 response and seal the decision.

Example for triggering intuitive purchase.
Example ad triggering intuitive purchase.

However, the more we are exposed to additional information, the more our brains will abandon our intuitive response in favor of the more rational, System 2 response. Once the rational system is involved, the purchase process becomes far more complicated; the visitors now feel the need to conduct research on the product and weigh its pros and cons versus others on the market. Moreover, they may completely second-guess their initial ‘emotional’ interest in the product with more ‘logical’ thoughts regarding whether they really need the product in question. Once out of their ‘intuitive’ mode, the answer is more often ‘no’.

Optimizing for Intuitive Response Can Improve Conversion x3

As seen from the above example, a purchaser’s initial intent to buy a product can be turned around if your website forces them from thinking in ‘intuitive’ mode to ‘rational’ mode.
The secret of the impulse purchase is therefore to trigger your visitors’ intuitive and emotional response, encouraging them to buy because of how it makes them feel – not for what they really need it for or how well it performs against other similar products.

A Home Depot ad
An example from Home Depot targeting emotional response rather than a rational one

In that research we conducted here at Clicktale we found that once a retail website is suitably optimized for intuitive response, it improves online conversion and sales three-fold!

Follow these four simple guidelines to ensure your retail website delivers the goods this Holiday Season:
1 - Avoid heavy technical specification data that tends to encourage rational analysis of product vs. price.
2 - Cut down on long paragraphs and heavy feature descriptions that force visitors away from fast, intuitive-based decision making.
3 - Avoid comparison tables with advanced technical language that requires deep concentration and attention to detail.
4 - Use tabs to hide heavy data. This makes the information available on-demand rather than imposing it on visitors coercively.

A great example of where the more for less principle really works!

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