Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Usability

Motivation will beat incentive and and value every time

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Usability

I have written plenty of clinical blogs about the science of 'website 'conversion'; the important, optimisable and functional on-page elements/components that make a web page and a website lubricate a user from A to B and ultimately… to convert.

In other words, define your website's sales funnel, understand its leakage, close leakage, deal with leakage and drive the user to the end-game.

In discussing ‘website conversion’ and improving ‘website performance’, I have a few mantras I loosely throw around in this regard such as 'Push In. Pull Out' and 'More Faster'.

Essentially, not only get the user into the website funnel and pull them out, though get more commitment from the user and get the commitment faster.

Give the user motivation, give them incentive and show them value in moving to the end of your website funnel; all with a bigger cart size than they might otherwise have had and returning to shop again with you, faster than they might have otherwise have done.

This approach and thinking is not limited to eCommerce and selling widgets; whatever the goal you have for your users, drive them to it and out of it. No excuses.

Reflecting back on my many blogs on this energetic ‘website conversion’ science and huff puff, I haven't really focused on the equally important requirement around the 'pitch' and the 'narrative' of the website.

Essentially, the 'what's in it for me' that a website needs to sell the user in order for them to start and continue the journey.

Your BUY RIGHT NOW button can be as glowing green as your web designer can make it, though why should I BUY RIGHT NOW?


The power of Brand and Narrative

The enemies of a web designer trying to drive customers to ‘buy’ are twofold:

  • The first is the customer’s anxiety or trust, both real and perceived.
  • The second is the friction you need those customers to tolerate in order to complete the sale and ‘buy’.


Friction is the easiest dealt with and essentially refers to the effort the user/customers need to endure through to 'converting'.

If your website doesn’t absolutely need a user to login in order to purchase, don't ask the user to struggle with to login; that is unnecessary friction.

After all, think about how many times you’ve thrown logging in to a website, into the too hard basket?

Equally, if you don’t need the user’s company name (because realistically) and can live without their prefix (Sir, Ms and Master etc.), do so; unnecessary friction.

If you need to get their date of birth (DOB), at the very least tell them why you need it and what is in it for them – incentivise them to give you the data if you really do need to collect it.

The sale is more important than collecting unnecessary data or making them login or forcing them to read your indecipherable captcha… as illustrated below:

You have their cash after all.

Anxiety is much harder to deal with however.

Anxiety is also driven by so many more complex and often difficult to define factors than friction; that is why anxiety is generally where the most focus should go in planning, designing and writing your website.

Where friction is a real and functional roadblock for the user to deal with, anxiety is an emotional road-black.

Let me explain.



Nobody likes to be anxious.

You're trying on a pair of jeans.

And then out of nowhere, you become anxious.

Do the jeans look good? Can I afford them? Do I need more jeans than I already have? What day is it?

Anxiety destroys all. Anxiety is hard to undo once it has started.

Unless of course, you stop the anxiety it before it happens.

Imagine you're on a website trying out virtual jeans.

The website makes it damn clear and repeatedly that no matter what, if they don't fit when delivered, the website will take them back at no cost, without question and refund your money.

Putting aside the commercial implications to the merchant in making this offer, your anxiety about buying the jeans and making the right choice is dissipated. That whole set of worry is gone.

If the website clearly and repeatedly offers FREE SHIPPING, your mind will never wander to this area of anxiety either.

Indeed, if the website offers BEST PRICE GUARANTEED, you’re feeling pretty confident at this point and feeling much better about moving forward to the cart. You have little reason not to proceed… right?


Or maybe not.

All these are incentives and value, designed to deal with anxiety, though are they motivation?

On one hand, incentive and value create motivation, though the motivation is only skin-deep.

Indeed, FREE SHIPPING and all that, you as a user start to wonder if maybe you can get even a better deal; you’re sold on the website’s FREE SHIPPING policy, though why these jeans, why on this website?

That is where real motivation comes in – as irrational as it can be.

Motivation makes us do things and it is far more powerful than any inventive.

And it is website narrative – the offer, the pitch and ‘why you simply can’t turn this offer down’ – that creates and fuels the motivation.

Get it right and motivation can be the most powerful weapon you have when it comes to website conversion.

Users will pay more freight and put up with a terrible cart experience if they’re motivated; think about it, because you’ve likely lumbered through a terrible cart process… when you’ve wanted/needed to get that something.

Now think about this proposition on a website, the proposition combining value, incentive and the all-powerful motivation:

This isn't just an inexpensive bag.

This isn't just a bag with a FREE strap. 

This is the bag that will make getting through security at the airport, much, much faster: twice as fast as any other bag on the market. 


If you're like me and you hate lining up for security at airports, then this is a different concept all-together.

This is a bag I need. I didn’t need your extra value. I didn’t need any incentive.

Indeed, I’ll pay RRP and I’ll pay you to ship the bag to me. I am motivated to get that bag.


The Power of Motivation

Tell me you can make security check-ins at airports half as painful and twice as good and we have a deal.

And that is where narrative on a website comes in - even if you don't quite have the miracle bag; it's just the pitch and spin that matters.

Whereas people will still price-hunt and look for the best offer, however good your incentive and value is, motivation changes this impulse.

Now the user has to deal with their motivation and that can be tricky, because motivation makes us do silly things sometimes.

You’ve found the travelling bag you need.

Are you going to try and find a better bag? A better offer?

What price do you place on this miracle bag?

Is the lack of FREE SHIPPING really going to change how you think about this must-have bag?

The narrative does not need to be about the product you’re selling. It can be about you and why you are the vendor they should by from.

'Our Customer Service WILL not be beaten'.

The website is addressing a pain point or emotional benefit in the user’s mind; that incentive and motivation can’t address.

What do you have to lose? You have everything to gain.

Website narrative is critical to telling users who you are, what you do, why you do it and why they need it.

The world's biggest green button is no match to a website that smooths the user by telling them that 'Sleep like you’ve never slept before…’

Game over people. Write your websites like it is the pitch of your life.

And tell users while you are the only place they ever need shop again.

Remember… no leakage.