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Rethinking Upsells & The Psychology of Opt-Ins vs. Opt-Outs

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Rethinking Upsells & The Psychology of Opt-Ins vs. Opt-Outs


Opt-in or opt-out?

Do sales increase if you present customers with a list of upsells to choose from?

If you make customers opt-out or deselect items, will you decrease buyer satisfaction?

Marketers will often tell you to always use opt-ins because opt-outs just upset customers.

But that isn’t always the case.

Psychology research suggests there’s a lot more nuance to these decisions. And the difference could be huge for customer loyalty, the customer lifecycle, and your bottom line.

Presenting Upsells To Buyers

While there are plenty of variations, ecommerce generally uses one of two methods:

Opt-In (Choosing Strategy):

Customers can choose what they’d like to buy from a list of upsells.

Screenshots from Amazon.ca, Domino’s, and UberEats, November 2021

Opt-Out (Rejection Strategy):

Customers must remove or reject unwanted items from their cart before purchasing.

Opt-Out (Rejection Strategy) Shopping Cart Upsell ExamplesScreenshots from Amazon.ca, iRobot, and Domino’s, November 2021

On the surface, these two tactics don’t seem all that different or complex, but research suggests the thought processes behind them are.

For example:

Question 1.

You’re building a petting zoo for your favorite hypothetical 5-year-old daughter to play in. Which animal baby will you put in it first?
a) Lambs
b) Kids (The baby goat kind.)
c) Chicks

Question 2.

You’re building a petting zoo for your favorite hypothetical 5-year-old daughter. Which one are you picking?
a) Poisonous Cobra snake
b) Black widow spiders
c) Piranhas

Question 3.

Your hypothetical daughter wants to turn the petting zoo into a Halloween zoo. Which animal are you replacing the cute animal with?
a) Poisonous Cobra snake
b) Black widow spiders
c) Piranhas

If the research holds (and I structured the questions right), you’ll likely find the first and third questions easier, faster, and a little more satisfying to answer than the second question.

Why?

The second question asks you to choose(+) a negative(-) option. There’s a mismatch.

In more dry language, researchers found that users (on a general population basis) make decisions faster and have less indecision when choosing (a positive action) desirable options (positive items) in a positive situation.

In a negative situation, we prefer to reject (a negative action) undesirable things (negative items).

Why?

Less indecision and interruption in the decision-making flow increases decision confidence.

Positive options or items require a choosing strategy while negative options require a rejection strategy.Chart/Angie Nikoleychuk

Why Action-Option Mismatch Matters

In the second question, there was a mismatch between the action and the item or result that threw you off guard. You were choosing(+) a negative(-) option in a relatively positive situation(+).

Just like your website.

And the effects can be long-lasting.

Research finds we’re usually more deliberate and careful when rejecting items. We pay more attention to our biases and attempt to be consistent.

It’s also important to note that when we reject a choice, we focus on the negative aspects of a product, service, brand, or individual rather than positive details that we would otherwise focus on when using a choosing strategy.

We also tend to engage in a bit of lying to ourselves. After we make a decision, we can reaffirm our choice and build our confidence in our decision by focusing on the negative traits.

“I’m delighted I didn’t choose the car that I originally wanted. The one I chose may not have all the features I wanted, but it’s much more affordable. It was a better choice.”

(In fun terms, this cognitive habit is sometimes referred to as our brains “synthesizing happiness.”)

Getting More Upsells

When we’re more satisfied with a purchase, we tend to be more loyal to that brand.

We’re more likely to buy again from the company, and we’re less likely to complain. (I know you know this but keep it in mind.)

Some research has argued that a pleasurable decision-making process, combined with achieving a goal (purchase), is independent of the consequences of a decision (the experience process).

So, even if a product ends up not being that great, it was still a positive experience. The user is more likely to return for other purchases.

If this is confusing, think of the buying process this way:

  1. Information gathering and discovery process: Top portion of the sales funnel.
  2. Shopping process: Includes browsing and information collecting.
  3. Decision process: Assessing, rejecting, or choosing an item or service.
  4. Buying process: From the shopping cart to the order confirmation.
  5. Experience process: Receiving and using the product or service itself.

The more congruency between these steps, the better the last step is, and the more likely your customer will return.

This concept has a considerable impact on ecommerce. Consider comparative websites, for example.

The Psychology Behind Gift-Giving Decisions

Research finds our decision-making preference may change when we’re selecting an item for someone else.

For example, we get more creative, rely on fewer biases, focus more on quality, and are more desirability-oriented when buying for others.

At the very least, we want to minimize the possibility of negative outcomes.

So, it makes sense that, when we’re buying for ourselves, we prefer rejection strategies (opt-out). We’re arming ourselves with information we need to feel better about our choices. We’re avoiding an undesirable outcome.

But when we buy for others, we prefer choosing strategies (opt-in).

Why? We focus on the positive attributes, the value we’re giving the other person, and reaping the most benefit from the situation.

In other words, we want to do good and look good.

What Does This Mean For Websites?

As mentioned earlier, this aspect of decision-making can be a big help when offering competitor comparisons.

Your site is hopefully a pleasant experience. Will you offer positive options to choose from or reject negatives? Opt-in to upsells or opt-out?

If you’re a retailer mainly offering holiday gifts, it may be more effective to present items or upsells consumers can add to their cart. However, if your customers mainly buy for themselves, you may want to test and opt-out or “remove” approach.

While these are general theories and they may not work for every audience, there is certainly enough research to justify a test.

They may even answer why you’re struggling to increase your Average Basket Size (ABS) or finding it difficult to convert when offering upsells.

More resources:


Featured Image: VectorMine/Shutterstock.com

Related And Referenced Research:

Higgins, E. T. (2000). Making a good decision: Value from fit. American Psychologist, 55(11), 1217–1230.

Heller, D., Levin, I. P., & Goransson, M. (2002). Selection of strategies for narrowing choice options: Antecedents and consequences. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 89(2), 1194–1213.

Lu, J., Chen, Y., & Fang, Q. (2022). Promoting decision satisfaction: The effect of the decision target and strategy on process satisfaction. Journal of Business Research, 139, 1231–1239.

Higgins, E. T. (2002). How Self-Regulation Creates Distinct Values: The Case of Promotion and Prevention Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Psychology 12(3), 177–191.





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Flash Dressed Crocodile Toy On Google’s John Mueller’s Desk

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Flash Dressed Crocodile On John Mueller Desk


John Mueller posted this photo on Twitter saying he found this Flash dressed crocodile toy by his desk when he was in the office the other day.

I am not sure if there is an inside joke here, hence the joke being inside… But is funny either way.

This post is part of our daily Search Photo of the Day column, where we find fun and interesting photos related to the search industry and share them with our readers.





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Google Dedicated Local Ad Pack

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Google Dedicated Local Ad Pack


Google seems to be testing adding a local pack for ads along with a normal organic local pack, I believe. Here is a screenshot showing a local pack labeled as “Ads” that show a list of stores that have shoes near you.

You can click “more places” that will load more local ads. Below that is the local pack map, showing you organic nearby stores that have that product nearby.

Here is a screenshot I took from a Twitter video from Saad AK:

Here are more examples of this in action from Saad AK:

I think this is new but I can be wrong?

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Update: Supposedly this is not a new thing, according to Google.





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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape


There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!

As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

More resources:


Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock





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