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Experian Study Challenges Choice Adage

By Ken Magill
There is an old saying in marketing: Give people a choice and they’ll do nothing. Or, the more choices you give people the less likely they are to buy.
The idea is if you present people with too many buying options, it is easier for them to simply avoid making the purchase decision. Psychologists call the phenomenon choice overload.
A recent study by Experian Marketing Services challenges the idea of choice overload, at least when it comes to email marketing.
According to Experian, email campaigns that included the words “choose” or “choice” in their subject lines drove 22 percent higher revenue per email, a 46 percent increase in transaction rates and a 117 percent increase in transaction-to-click rates.
It is possible the results reflect a uniquely North American response, though. The brands in the study were all U.S. and Canadian.
According to Spencer Kollas, vice president of global deliverability services at Experian Marketing Services, the results may reflect the fact that over the last few decades consumers have become used to having much more information at their fingertips.
“We as a society have so much access to so much more information,” he said. “Anybody can ask a million of their friends what they think on Facebook. We expect to have all of our choices and we expect to have all of this information wherever and however we want it.
“I think it’s really changed the way people look at everything,” he said.
He added that Dell set the tone when it began allowing customers to build their own computers.
“Customers feel like we all own our own experience now and I think that is truly the big difference” between marketing in the Internet age and marketing decades ago, Kollas said. “We have so many choices and we know how easy it is to get these choices, we expect as customers to have these choices.”
Kollas cautioned that the study shouldn’t be interpreted as a call to toss the choice overload concept completely out the window and throw everything at customers.
“It all comes down to testing and understanding your customers,” he said. “As a brand, if I know you’re a loyal customer and I have the data behind it and I already know the types of things you like, I should be giving you choices based on the information that I already have about you.”
In other findings Experian reported that email volume rose by 16.1 percent in Q2 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, yet subscriber response rates remained steady.
Experian also reported that 52 percent of total email opens occurred on a mobile phone or tablet during Q2 2015, a slight increase from 51 percent in Q1.
Windows accounted for the largest percentage, with the iPhone receiving the second largest number of clicks, Experian reported. iPhone clicks were particularly strong for media and entertainment and multichannel retailers.
The results were reported in Experian’s 2012 Q2 Email Benchmark Report.

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