Thursday, October 11, 2012

How to get what you want

A wise man once told me, "An excuse only satisfies the man who makes it."  He was right, but as it turns out, (almost) everyone wants an explanation.  Maybe its our curious nature, or our need to make sense of the world, but when something falls outside of "normal" we NEED an explanation.

Numerous studies have been performed on the use of explanations to aid in line jumping.  The results are simply, the bigger the favor it is to cut in line, the better the explanation needs to be.  To cut in line for the copy machine, you only need to be in a hurry.  To cut in line at Starbucks, your wife better be in labor with twins.  This concept scales to almost all things that exist outside of normal.  The more abnormal something is, the better the explanation needs to be.

What does this mean for web conversions?  When you're collecting non-standard information or asking a favor of your visitors, offer a reason why.  If your product is 50% cheaper/more expensive/faster/better than any competitor, be explicit in why yours is/can be different.  These things can seem obvious making it hard to recognize when you need to offer an explanation.  

If you share your reasoning, people can consciously decide if you deserve your morning coffee before they do, otherwise, your just the jerk that tried to cut in line.