Quick question for anyone with a lead-generation or e-commerce site…
Which is easier: Getting people to trust your website and complete its web form or checkout process, or getting them to literally donate their hearts and eyeballs?
Take your time.
Apparently, the answer depends on where they live. While 99.98% of Austrians agree to donate their organs upon death, only 12% of Germans do the same. Virtually all French citizens will donate a kidney to save a life, but the Brits? Only 17% of them seem willing. Meanwhile, your chances of having a heart (transplant) are nearly four times better if you’re having a triple bock in Antwerp than they are if you’ve already had a triple bypass in Amsterdam.
Seems odd, doesn’t it? Take a look at this graph from a recent Freakonomics article:
Here’s how Dan Ariely — Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, principal investigator of the MIT Media Lab’s eRationality group, and author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions — explains this bit of research (from colleagues Eric Johnson and Daniel Goldstein) in the Freakonomics post mentioned above:
…It turns out that it is the design of the form at the D.M.V. In countries where the form is set as “opt-in” (check this box if you want to participate in the organ donation program) people do not check the box and as a consequence they do not become a part of the program. In countries where the form is set as “opt-out” (check this box if you don’t want to participate in the organ donation program) people also do not check the box and are automatically enrolled in the program. In both cases large proportions of people simply adopt the default option.
You might think that people do this because they don’t care — that the decision about donating their organs is so trivial that they can’t be bothered to lift up the pencil and check the box. But in fact the opposite is true.
This is a hard emotional decision about what will happen to our bodies after we die and what effect it will have on those close to us. It is because of the difficulty and the emotionality of these decisions that they just don’t know what to do, so they adopt the default option (by the way this also happens to physicians making medical decisions, and also to people making investment and retirement decisions).
[...] The moment you realize that your intuition about your own behavior might be wrong it is clear that you need another, more objective input.
This is what experiments are all about. We could have never intuited the opt-in, opt-out effect, nor could we have intuited the magnitude of this effect, and this is why empiricism is so important.
If you know anyone who’s skeptical about testing content from the visitor’s perspective, please take a moment to share this with them.
[Image credit: Kistyn E]