Marketers are eager to convert shoppers. We just want to dazzle them and get the sale.
But this isn’t how the shoppers’ minds work.
The moment the brain of a new site visitor encounters something, anything, it starts firing questions. A chaotic soup of questions.
My quick questions video
Why questions matter
If the visitor thinks of a question that isn’t answered, they’ll assume the worst and abandon the purchase. This is doubly bad because it means 1. you will not get the sale and 2. your competitor who successfully addresses this question will acquire a new customer. Your loss is their gain.
Psychologically speaking, making a purchase with lingering questions can cause a huge mental burden for the shoppers. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance. Basically, your shopper is torn: on one hand, they want to buy this product, and on the other, they have this nagging unanswered question.
And even if they suppress this nagging question and place the order, this could backfire because now they have a weird negative feeling about the purchase (often shoppers don’t even remember what their question was, but they do remember the feeling it left them with). When they receive it the negative feeling might prompt them to return the order.
Can’t the buyer just contact us?
Your site has chat, it a prominent phone number, it displays your customer service email ID. If the shopper simply made contact they would have the answer immediately.
Here’s the thing, most shoppers aren’t that motivated. They want to converse energy. It’s easier (for them) to assume the reason you don’t answer this question is because your product doesn’t have the feature.
We think the marketer’s job is taking the megaphone and screaming our marketing message to passers by:
This is wrong. The job of a good marketer is to get into the head of their potential audience and anticipate the types of questions they may have.
Types of questions
Shoppers have 2 types of questions. Questions that are universal and could apply to any site and questions that are specific to your site.
No matter what type of product you sell, there is a class of questions that apply to any site:
- Do I trust this retailer?
- Is this good value for money?
- Should I continue looking at other sites?
Then there are questions that appear based on the product category you are selling. The example below is helpful.
Let’s do a little thought experiment. Imagine you make and sell your own jerky. Your store is called Jerky.com.
Now imagine a shopper Googles “spicy premium jerky” and lands on your site.
This visitor has never heard of Jerky.com and has never bought jerky online (though they have had plenty of overpriced, crappy, store-bought jerky). In fact, they’re online because they’re looking for a better solution for their jerky cravings.
What kinds of questions could the visitor have 4 minutes into your site? They could have thousands of questions, but here are some of the more important ones:
— This is the first time I’m buying jerky online. Normally, I just pick something from my local grocery store. I’ve had a lot of Krave (the #1 jerky brand). How is Jerky.com jerky different? How are you able to do something the #1 national brand can’t?
— What makes you better than the 5 other brands that are showing me their ads?
— Your site carries a crazy number of varieties. I’m having a really hard time choosing (everything sounds yummy). How can I narrow my list?
— Love spicy jerky. I’m sure a lot of other people do too, especially since you have a “Heat Scale” filter on your collections pages. However, heat levels like 1, 2, 3, etc. are not very descriptive. How hot is level 3?
These are just 4 questions, you need to generate a list of 100 such questions. And then, only then, start building your marketing strategy.
How many questions do I plan for?
At some point, the marketer needs to decide how many questions is enough. We can’t possibly think of every possible question. Not only is that impossible, it’ll also make the site unusable because it’ll have so much stuff that 80% of site visitors simply don’t care about. I’d argue that if you go crazy mapping out all question you’ll end up hurting overall conversions, so please don’t do that.
My advice is to only focus on 10 important questions that aren’t being currently answered. You can always improve your content 10 questions at a time. This way you can see how the strategy is driving results before investing more time into it.
Now that you see the power of questions you are ready to put your Sherlock Holmes hat on.
A little about us
Thank you for reading this article about the paradox of choice. We are Frictionless Commerce and over the last 11 years, we’ve thought about just one thing: how do we get online shoppers to convert? We’re fascinated by buyer psychology. And once we understand how your site visitor thinks we use our 9 point copywriting process to convince and convert them.
If you’re on LinkedIn much you
can should definitely connect with me. On LinkedIn, I post ecommerce conversion ideas every day, multiple times a day.