Bob Walker, a frequent clinic attendee, recently emailed us a great question about Friction and Anxiety in the context of the MarketingExperiments Conversion Index, c = 4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a, where “f” stands for the element of Friction in the conversion process and “a” stands for Anxiety …
Here’s what Bob wrote us:
“I’ve attended a number of your free webinars and hope to enroll in some of your courses in the near future. But I have one question that is vital to something I’m working on right now. In the context of your Conversion Index, what’s the difference between Friction and Anxiety? I’m having trouble getting a sense of where one begins and the other ends. It seems to me like friction causes anxiety, rather than it being a separate entity. Thanks!”
Both have a psychological basis. As Dr. McGlaughlin would say, conversion takes place in the mind, not on the page.
For the purposes of the MarketingExperiments testing methodology, Friction is defined as a psychological resistance to a given element in the sales or sign-up process. Anxiety is a psychological concern stimulated by a given element in the sales or sign-up process.
First, Friction. The resistance.
Friction is “the aggravation factor.” One of the most effective ways to increase conversion is to decrease resistance and aggravation. In the most basic terms, we reduce options (but not too much). We reduce length (but not too much). We reduce difficulty (but not too much).
For example, we would usually start by testing a reduction in the number of fields a prospect has to fill out. We would recommend not asking for any more information than absolutely needed at any point in the process (whether that is sales, subscription, donation). We’d attempt to overcome any remaining Friction by offering the ideal Incentive—an appeal—to complete the conversion sequence.
Now, Anxiety. The concern.
Anxiety is “the security factor.” It can be more lethal to conversion than Friction, because while a highly motivated person will put up with a lot of aggravation to get what they want, concern about loss is almost always greater than the desire for gain.
Think about those emails saying you’ve won the UK lottery. What an ideal Incentive! All you have to do is give this official looking organization just a few details: your social security number, your bank details, etc. Virtually no Friction there, but lots and lots of Anxiety. If you don’t experience any Anxiety when giving strangers your vitals, you’re not a normal customer! One of my favorite quotes from Dr. McGlaughlin is, “Trust is the ultimate remedy for Anxiety.”
Which specific techniques have been shown to relieve Anxiety? We teach the Anxiety Relief formula in the Landing Page Optimization course, which is a great foundation for anyone truly interested in becoming a Landing Page Optimization expert, but meantime I would suggest reading this research brief specifically related to Anxiety: Optimizing Site Design: Eight Ways to Increase Site Conversion by Reducing Customer Anxiety.
Of course, there are myriad problems with most Web sites that aggravate both Friction and Anxiety, and we’ll continue testing both our current techniques and new ones in our efforts to overcome these twin value inhibitors.