The counter-productivity is a result of our natural inclination to shut down when confronted with too many options to process. You’ve probably heard of this referred to as analysis paralysis or the paradox of choice.
These phenomena are very real, and offering too many choices, even if they are presented in a visually compelling fashion, leads a higher percentage of your audience to opt for “Door No. 3” — doing nothing.
Offering fewer choice requires that you do the research and planning work before crafting your offer so that you know what will resonate with each of your audience segments. Once you’ve done the work to establish your audience’s needs, there’s no risk in offering a manageable number of options. You already know what they want.
Reducing that risk has the added benefit of eliminating even a whiff of the desperation that comes with trying to please everyone all the time.
Appealing a little to everyone isn’t the goal. The goal is to appeal strongly to those best suited to benefit from your product or service. This allows you to market from a position of strength. You’ve built a great offer around a product you know to be of value to your target audience. Now you know your marketing is much more helpful than intrusive. (Assuming you’re backing it up with great content.)
Don’t dilute your message with extraneous choices or choices designed to appeal to other segments. Those belong elsewhere, on separate landing pages or in emails targeted specifically to those segments. (You are segmenting your email list, right?)
The action you want your audience to take should be immediately clear, apparent, and transparent. This isn’t the Penn & Teller show. You’re not going to trick anyone into taking meaningful action. You can only convince them that what you’re offering is worth their time.
That isn’t to say that you want to offer your audience no choice. Frequently, a choice of options is appropriate for even a tightly segmented audience. But that choice should be limited to just a few options. As in two or three — tops.
And your CTAs should not be equally weighted. As I mentioned above, there should be a clear objective, with everything in the email or landing page pointing toward that desired action. The secondary action(s) should be just that — secondary. They should be an acknowledgement that our research and data and segmentation might not be perfect and that some members of our audience might be just slightly off the target you’ve created. That’s OK. Those secondary choices also serve to re-affirm the choice the bigger part of your bell curve is making.