We face everyday thounsands of small decisions

Do we always think logically and make rational decisions? Nope, not really. We’ve got the ability to think logically, but our thinking is often messed up by things like biases, emotions, and shortcuts. These biases and emotions can lead us to make decisions that don’t make much sense when you really think about it.

Cognitive biases make us focus on things that confirm what we already believe, ignore important information, or get stuck on the first piece of information we come across. It’s like our brains take shortcuts instead of thinking things through.

Emotions can also seriously mess up our decision-making. When we’re scared or excited, we tend to act on impulse rather than thinking things through. Our feelings can cloud our judgment and lead us to make choices that aren’t necessarily the smartest.

On top of all that, we’re influenced by the people around us and the culture we live in. Peer pressure, social norms, and cultural beliefs can sway our decisions.

So, all that talk about biases and irrational thinking? It’s totally connected to website conversion rates. See, when people visit a website, their decisions are influenced by all these funky mental shortcuts and biases they have.

If you want to make sure visitors do what you want them to do, like buying something or signing up for a service, you should study these biases and use tricks to design A/B tests to guide people toward those actions.

Cognitive Biases

There’s a large number of cognitive biases that have been identified and studied by researches, usually divided into 4 parts: how we filter information, how we connect dots and fill in the gaps with what we think we know, how we make quick decisions based on new information, and what we deem relevant and, thus, worth remembering.

The Cognitivie Bias Codex – Design: John Manoogian III – Categories and descriptions: Buster Benson – Implementation: TilmannR –Wikimedia Commons.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is when a person looks for and interprets information (be it news stories, statistical data or the opinions of others) that backs up an assumption or theory they already have. For example, imagine a person who strongly believes that a particular diet is effective for weight loss. They may actively seek out and focus on success stories or positive testimonials that support their belief, while disregarding or dismissing evidence that contradicts their view, such as scientific studies showing mixed results.

Let’s say you suspect that customers tend to prefer products they already know and are less likely to explore or consider alternative options. If you’re trying to compensate for confirmation bias when selling to customers, you’ll have to make your prospects doubt the strength of their beliefs.

What type of A/B test can you try to overcome or take advantage of confirmation bias on your page? Try to create A/B tests presenting users diverse information, challenging pre-existing beliefs, and encouraging a more balanced evaluation of options.

For example, test out different versions of product descriptions that give a fair and balanced view. One version can focus on the good stuff, while the other throws in some potential downsides. Let users see both sides of the story.

Place testimonials in sneaky spots on your website to counter confirmation bias. Try putting testimonials from customers who were skeptical at first but ended up loving the product. It’ll challenge users’ beliefs by showing them some unexpected proof.

Create A/B versions of feature comparison tables. In one version, highlight the features that confirm what users already believe, but also throw in some extra features that might make them think twice. Get them considering a wider range of info.

Mix Love/Hate reviews. Show a combo of positive and negative reviews in one version, while the other only shows the good stuff.

Get Creative with Information. Play around with how you present information. Try layouts or formats that encourage users to actively seek out different perspectives. Provide links to alternative viewpoints, FAQs that tackle common concerns, or articles that explore both sides of the argument.

Availability Heuristic

When asked to estimate the likelihood of a specific event, people often rely on examples that readily come to mind. It leads users to the tendency to rely on information that is right there right now, potentially overlooking a broader range of information.

For example, imagine you’re shopping on an online store and you see a product with a lot of positive reviews. Because those reviews are easily accessible and stand out, you might think, “Wow, this must be the best choice!” and decide to buy it without looking into other options more thoroughly.

What type of A/B test can you create to optimize conversion and overcome or take advantage of availability heuristic?

You know those awesome customer testimonials? Create an A/B test putting them front and center on your website! Show off all the positive experiences and feedback from happy customers. When users see these glowing examples, it’ll stick in their minds and make your product or service seem even better.

Different display of testimonials
Different display of testimonials.

Availability heuristic means that people tends to love popular stuff. Test highlighting your most popular or bestselling items on your product listing page. When users see that these items are in high demand, it creates a sense of trust and desire. They’ll think “if everyone else loves it, it must be good.”

Also, test showing users that your website is buzzing with activity. Add some real-time notifications. Display pop-ups that announce recent purchases, sign-ups, or engagements by other users. It’ll make people more aware of the current action happening on your site, and it’ll show them your site is popular and reliable.

Create a sense of urgency with limited-time offers or scarcity messaging. Let users know that a product or offer is available for a short time or in limited quantities. This tricks their minds into thinking it’s more valuable and desirable because it’s exclusive or rare. They’ll be more motivated to snatch it up before it’s gone.

By using these tricks, you can tap into the availability heuristic and shape users’ perceptions on your website. It’s all about making things easily accessible and memorable, so they think your product or offer is the best thing out there.

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Anchoring Bias

Anchoring bias is when our brains get stuck on a particular piece of information and use it as a reference point when making decisions. This can happen when we’re shopping online and see a price or a number that sticks in our head and influences how we perceive the value of other options.

What A/B tests can be taken advantage of to deal with anchoring biases and design solutions to improve conversion rates?

Try different order of products on a pricing table. In one version of your website, display a higher-priced product as the first option in a comparison chart. This sets a higher anchor for users, making other options seem more reasonably priced and encouraging them to choose one of the lower-priced alternatives.

You can also test different pricing strategies by setting different anchor prices for your products or services. In one version, show the original price with a discounted price next to it, creating an anchor that emphasizes the perceived value users would be getting.

Create a test with one version offering a limited-time upgrade option with enhanced features or additional benefits. This creates an anchor by presenting users with an upgraded version that is temporarily available at a higher price. It can influence their perception of value and increase the likelihood of selecting a higher-priced option.

Test offering bundled packages that include multiple products or services at a higher overall price. By presenting users with a higher-priced bundle, you create an anchor that makes individual items or services seem like a better deal when compared separately.

Loss Aversion Bias

Loss aversion bias is when people feel the pain of a loss more strongly than the pleasure of a gain. In other words, they tend to avoid losses more than they seek out gains.

For example, when users consider canceling a subscription on a website, they may be hesitant due to the fear of losing out on the benefits or perks associated with the subscription. The thought of losing access to exclusive content, discounts, or membership privileges can make them hesitate and continue the subscription, even if they no longer find it extremely valuable.

For this type of bias, you can try to create A/B tests addressing the concerns of potential losses, scarcity, and the fear of missing out, to improve conversions and user engagement on your website. For example, test different messaging on product pages that highlight limited stock availability.

Offer a risk-free trial option for your products or services. In one version of your website, emphasize the option to try the product without any obligation and with a money-back guarantee. By removing the fear of losing money on an unsatisfactory purchase, you tap into users’ aversion to loss and make it easier for them to take the leap and try your offering.

Test different approaches to recovering abandoned shopping carts. One version of your website can your visitors of the items left in their cart and thus emphasize the potential loss of missing out on those products. By highlighting the loss of not completing the purchase, you can motivate users to come back and complete the transaction.

If you offer different subscription levels or service packages, test variations that provide an upgrade-protection feature. This can include options like “Upgrade anytime without losing your current benefits” or “Lock in this price for future upgrades.” By addressing users’ fear of losing their current benefits or paying more in the future, you alleviate their loss aversion and increase the likelihood of upgrading.

Test different renewal incentives for membership-based websites. For example, offer a discount or exclusive bonus for renewing membership before it expires. By highlighting the potential loss of losing membership benefits, you encourage users to renew and avoid missing out on the perks they enjoy.

To Sum Up

Remember, we don’t always see things as they really are, or remember things as they really were. As a result, we create our own subjective social reality that affects our judgment.

By taking into account the psychology of user behavior, different types of cognitive biases and decision making, you will be able to create more effective A/B tests. You can take advantage of these biases in a good way to establish trust with your users creating a better user experience and leading the user to the desired actions.

Featured image by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash.

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