Some of the most effective marketing principles are rooted in basic psychology. KickHouse, a rapidly expanding modern kickboxing studio, used a simple psychological tactic on its booking pages to increase conversion rates: urgency. In this web optimization case study, we explore the thinking behind the conversion rate optimization test that increased conversion rates by nearly 15%.
How Did They Spot The Opportunity?
The KickHouse had run a number of limited time promotions and found that they were effective. As time went on, Angelsmith integrated countdown timers for these promotions which helped them perform even better. The team then posed the question: could the same tactic be applied while they weren’t running a promotion?
Why Employ Urgency?
The amount of time we have to influence a consumer's purchase decision is incredibly short. Consumers are pulled in a multitude of directions and their buying journey frequently includes multiple channels and devices. Urgency gives them a reason to buy now before they jump to another brand or stop their journey entirely because they simply got sidetracked. Unfortunately the buying journey isn't a straight line, it can look like a plate of spaghetti!
What is The Mere Urgency Effect?
The Journal of Consumer Research defines a mere urgency effect as the “tendency to pursue urgency over importance.” This was the basic psychological concept utilized to increase the booking conversion rate. In this case, we employed “spurious urgency” – an illusion of expiration – to increase bookings. Essentially, when a task is urgent, people are more likely to act on it. Interestingly, this is even the case when the sense of urgency is artificially-created.
What Did We Test?
In order to create a sense of urgency, Angelsmith constructed a simple A/B test. We had the control page, which was the standard free trial offer page. Then on the test page, we added a simple countdown timer to the page. We did not add any additional text to the page and we did not offer any type of limited time offer. This is what’s wild: the countdown timer did not actually count down to anything -- there was no “hurry or you’ll miss out” text, no limited time offer, not even any clear explanation of what the timer was counting down to. The urgency was completely arbitrary.
We used Google Optimize to power the experiment. The test was run over a 30 day period and included thousands of sessions.
What Were The Results?
We knew we were going to have a successful experiment when right out of the gate the raw conversion rate immediately jumped by more than 2.5%. Unsurprisingly, as the number of sessions in the experiment grew, a more 'normalized' improvement emerged.
In this case, we tracked conversion rates on both the national level and on individual franchise location pages. In both instances, the introduction of urgency in the form of this timer had a definite improvement on conversion rates even when normalized. The successful web optimization test results produced up to nearly a full percentage point improvement, or nearly 15% improvement in conversion rates for the page!
We believed the introduction of urgency would help, but we were surprised to see such clear-cut results, especially when we were using spurious urgency.
More conversion rate optimization! There’s always a full range of things we can test on these pages to improve conversions, from color and text experiments to more psychological experiments. We believe that web pages, especially conversion pages, should always be in a mode of experimentation to find web optimization strategies that work for your specific business and audience.
KickHouse uses Apogee3, Angelsmith's proprietary franchise web engine to power its franchise website.