16 Ways to Simplify Your Prospects' Decision-Making Process

by Ellie Mirman

Date

July 10, 2012 at 4:30 PM

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In an effort to break through the clutter and get the attention of more potential customers, are marketers going too far? A recent article from Forbes reported that decision simplicity was the number one driver of likelihood to buy , and the impact of simplifying purchase decisions for consumers is 4x stronger than the favored marketing strategy of engagement .

In fact, research company Corporate Executive Board (CEB) also found that a 20% increase in decision simplicity results in a 96% increase in customer loyalty, 86% increase in likelihood to purchase, and 115% increase in likelihood to recommend.

CEB is not the first organization to tout simplicity as a key driver in increasing conversions and sales. MarketingExperiments also advocates for limiting "unsupervised thinking" among your prospects in order to effectively guide more people to conversion. As it relates to landing pages , many marketers have adopted a lot of best practices based on this principle -- removing navigation and distracting calls-to-action, keeping forms short, and clearly advertising the value of the offer. But this principle is applicable to all areas of our marketing -- by simplifying our marketing, we can illuminate the path to conversion to drive better results.

Here are 16 ways you can simplify your marketing to make your prospects' decision-making process easier.

16 Ways to Simplify Your Prospects' Decision-Making Process

1) Add Calls-to-Action

The first place to start is to add a call-to-action (CTA) to your website. On any given web page, you should be able to answer, "What do I want people to do here?" Then, make it clear to your visitor that exact path. Do you want them to call you? Download an ebook and become a lead? Follow you in social media? Tell people exactly what you want, and it's more likely they'll end up doing it. Effective calls-to-action use actionable language (e.g. "Download Now"), numbers, a sense of urgency, and stand out among the rest of the page.

2) Limit Distracting Calls-to-Action

On the flip side, you don't want to overwhelm your prospects with too many calls-to-action. From the visitors' perspective, suddenly they're in Times Square with ads all around, and they don't know where to look or what to do. Rather, you want to create a one-way street -- not a 10-way intersection that paralyzes your prospects or helps them tune out your calls-to-action. If you do have multiple CTAs on a page or in a piece of content, make one primary by featuring it more prominently, and when your prospect clicks through to its actual landing page, remove any additional navigation links or CTAs on that page to focus their attention on completing the conversion you want them to.

3) Deliver What's Advertised

Some sneaky marketers used to do a bait and switch -- advertise a raffle for a free iPad, but when someone clicked through, they'd display an ad to buy a car. Any time you deliver on something different from what's advertised, you not only confuse your leads, but you also generate unqualified leads. If someone's signing up because they're interested in iPads, it's very possible they're not going to be interested in whatever you deliver that is not an iPad.

4) Tell People What They're Getting

Any time you're offering something to your prospects, be clear about exactly what it is. The point of the offer is to give your prospects a reason to engage with you -- if they don't know what it is, why would they bother? Is it an ebook, a webinar, a slide deck? What is the topic covered in your offer?

5) Tell People WIIFM?

Not only do you need to tell people what they're getting, but you also need to explain why they should care -- the value of your offer. In other words, 'What's In It For Me?' (WIIFM?). Any transaction should be an equal (or better) exchange between you and your prospect; for example, they give you their email address in exchange for a free ebook.

6) Don't Hide Your Pricing Information

Any time I come across a website with no pricing information, I start to think that something is fishy. Either they customize their pricing for every deal individually (in which case, I worry I'm going to get tricked into a worse deal), or the price will be so high it's out of my range. Either way, I'm not interested in engaging with your company. Don't withhold your pricing information. Instead, make it easy to navigate to within the products section of your website.

 

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7) Provide Product Guides (About Your Product and Your Industry)

I (as a prospect) have a decision to make: whether or not to buy your product, or possibly opt for another competing product. I'll take any information you or anyone else can provide to help me with that decision. Providing product guides -- either about your own product or an analysis of the industry and the competing products available -- is a great help in supporting your prospects' evaluation process.

8) Share Recommendations/Testimonials From Customers and Experts

While it's great to provide your own take on your product and the industry, you are of course biased, so providing any third-party recommendations -- from users or experts -- is a great way to ease a prospects' decision to go with your company. At HubSpot, for example, we curate social media threads, blog articles, and case studies from customers and experts and feature them on our website -- even on our homepage .

 

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9) Let People Know How They Can Get in Touch

How can prospects get in touch with you? By phone, through email, via online chat? Make it clear on your website how people can get in touch with you, so those hottest prospects can reach out when they most want to talk with you. At HubSpot, this was a big piece of feedback we heard from our prospects -- a lot of people wanted to talk with someone and didn't know how. As a result, we added our phone number and a way to contact sales in the footer of every web page on our site.

10) Align Navigation With What Your Buyers Are Looking For

As marketers, we can sometimes get lost in our own work and how we discuss things internally, and if this translates into our marketing, it can cause a lot of confusion for your website visitors and prospects. For the content on your website, think about how your buyers speak, think, and what they might be looking for -- and align your content and navigation around those revelations .

11) Surface Top-Searched or Top-Visited Content

Aside from surfacing the key sections of your website that your prospects want to navigate to, take a look at the most popular content on your site , and surface that as well. By looking at your most popular content (top-searched, top-visited, etc.) you can understand more about what your prospects are looking for and make it even easier for new prospects to find it. Two great ways to do this is to feature your top-performing offer on your homepage, and list the most popular articles on the homepage of your blog.

 

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12) Don't Ignore Questions or Feedback

Sometimes we marketers get tough questions and critical feedback -- especially considering prospects' ease of commenting on blog articles or speaking up in social media. Oftentimes, ignoring these comments can worsen the situation, leaving a prospect unhappy or inciting them to post even more critical comments. Every time a prospect asks a question or provides feedback, you're given a great opportunity to engage with them and address any questions or issues they have. Be sure to monitor and respond to any blog or social media comments to catch these opportunities to lead more prospects to conversion. There are plenty of free and paid tools available to help you monitor conversations in social media. And if you're both a HootSuite and HubSpot customer, you can use our closed-loop social integration to directly monitor your leads on Twitter! 

13) Categorize Your Content by Skill Level, Role, Etc.

It's very likely that you're already targeting different types of potential customers -- various roles, backgrounds, and needs among your buyer personas. Help these personas to self-identify what content and which products are best suited for their particular needs by categorizing and labeling your content. At HubSpot, we label our content by skill level (introductory, intermediate, and advanced -- just check out the top of this very article!) and by industry and role (small business vs. marketing teams, non-profit vs. ecommerce , etc.). This helps your prospects find the best content for them more quickly, rather than giving up, getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content we provide, or getting lost on your website.

14) Assign a DRI/Owner for Each Channel/Asset

A DRI is a Directly Responsible Person -- an owner for a particular asset. Having an owner for each marketing channel or asset allows you to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. You'll be more able to evaluate the potential conversion paths, respond to questions from prospects stuck at different stages of the conversion path, and make sure you're getting the best results from each channel and asset. Here are a few more ideas for structuring an effective marketing team .

15) Pick a Campaign, and Focus All Channels on It

It can be overwhelming to juggle a lot of different offers, channels, and campaigns all at once -- both for you as a marketer, and for your prospect as someone following your company. Look for opportunities to combine marketing efforts and focus multiple channels on a single campaign. Not only will you rest a little easier, but you'll also get better (compounding) results and help focus your prospects on your top campaign.

16) Focus on the 1-3 Metrics That Are Most Important to Your Business

Not only do you want to simplify your prospects' experience with your company, but you also want to simplify your marketing efforts. This helps you focus your efforts for better results. A key part of that is focusing on a few metrics that are most important to your business, as this will influence your strategy and where you focus your time, your calls-to-action, and other efforts mentioned above. To determine which metrics should drive your strategy, spend some time determining your marketing team's specific goals , and then identify the top metrics that will indicate success or failure to achieve those goals.

What results have you seen from focusing and simplifying your marketing efforts? More time, more leads, more customers? Let us know!

Image Credit: tshein

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