Features To Withhold For A Better Conversion Rate

June 24, 2006

I recently had three interesting experiences, all in the area of product features that one might make an argument for withholding.

Experience One: This product is Brand New. We have a customer who writes, on some of his product detail pages, that the product is “Brand New.” So I asked, does that mean that the products without the “Brand New” descriptor are second-hand? Refurbished? In fact, he pointed out, all of their products are brand new, but some of their less trustworthy competitors sell reused products without informing the customer. So I suggested to him that he either write, “Brand New” on all products, or if he felt compelled to highlight a few, write, “Brand New, like all our products.”

Experience Two: This hotel room is air-conditioned. I was booking a hotel room in Florence, Italy and as I reviewed my options, I realized that some of the rooms included air conditioning. At first, I thought that was a mistake (wouldn’t all the rooms be air-conditioned?) but I am thinking it is not an error. Just because every Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Marriott etc has air conditioning doesn’t mean that all rooms in a quaint little Tuscan B&B are electronically cooled. So this wasn’t a bad idea for the web site, it just proves that when you note an “expected” feature on only some of the products (or in this case, some of the rooms), you make the customer wonder about that feature’s availability where it’s not noted.

Experience Three: This software includes a graphical user interface. In this case, the website owner didn’t want to include the feature, and explained it like this: “Look,” he said, “When you buy a car, you expect it to come with four tires and a steering wheel. If the tires aren’t there, it’s a deal breaker, but it’s not a selling feature.”

All three situations were variations of the same problem. “Brand New” accidentally called into question how new the other products were. “Air Conditioned” deliberately showed off how un-air conditioned all the other rooms were. And “Includes a GUI” would have called into question how valuable all the other features were if they had to include a feature that everyone expected.