Autonomy Bias Gives Your Customers More Control

April 29, 2020

All human beings exhibit a behavior known as Autonomy Bias in their everyday decisions. In a 2011 study involving an exercise program, study participants who had the ability to choose their exercise regimen reported a higher satisfaction level than those who were randomly assigned.

This pattern echoes throughout many studies in which people are generally happier and more satisfied when they have control over their surroundings. No matter what is being decided, the mere existence of a choice increases a person’s satisfaction. The existence of a choice means a person has autonomy, and the existence of autonomy gives a person confidence that they are in control.

Research shows that people experience Autonomy Bias more when making discretionary purchases versus practical purchases. For example, consumers will exercise their rights to customize a new car more readily than they will spend time on what types of pens are stocked in their office.

How To Apply The Autonomy Bias Neuro-Tactic To Your Company

Marketing Strategy: Delayed Change Management

In 2019, the note-taking application Evernote overhauled its user interface (the way their app looks and feels). When they started to release it, they gave their customers the ability to choose if and when they’d like to use it. For people who preferred the old version, the new user interface could be delayed by a few weeks or months. For Evernote’s early adopter customers, the update could be made instantly.

This autonomous step in choosing to use or delay Evernote’s new user interface avoided the common problems that other platforms like Facebook encounter when releasing a new user experience. By allowing each customer to individually opt-in, at their discretion, to the new look and feel of the app, Evernote gave control to their customers and ended with a smoother transition to the new system.

Giving control to your customers during a transition is a good way to leverage Autonomy Bias, resulting in higher levels of overall customer satisfaction.

Marketing Strategy: Multiple Product Options

When purchasing a new computer from Apple’s website, customers can choose from a variety of options that allow them to customize their new computers. This feature of Apple’s website places more control in the hands of their prospective customers, which leads to a higher level of satisfaction in the buying process.

Autonomy Bias in Apple's computer checkout process
Apple’s computer customization process leverages the power of Autonomy Bias to boost the perceived control that customers have in their purchasing decision.

Adding multiple product variations from which your customers can choose will increase sales conversions. Try adding variants, to the extent your operations permit, to your available product suite. Autonomy bias will do the rest, increasing the conversion rate of sales for your products or services.

Marketing Strategy: Bundle Builder

When signing up for the CRM software Hubspot, you’ll find multiple ways to bundle various packages and save money along the way. Hubspot nailed this strategy by not only placing more control in the hands of prospective customers, but they incentivized this behavior by adding in discounts when customers used the bundle feature.

If you have a product or service that can be mixed and matched, try adding in bundle options that your customers can customize to their liking. The marketing research institute MECLABS does this as well; while purchasing a training program from their website, customers can add more training programs at a discount.

Get Team Vivid’s Help Implementing Autonomy Bias Into Your Marketing

If you’d like to discuss creative ways to incorporate Autonomy Bias into your company’s marketing strategy, jump in one of our weekly Office Hours calls to get instant, free feedback straight from our team. We’d love to help you find out-of-the-box and unexpected strategies that can help improve your marketing.

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About Vivid Labs

Vivid Labs is a science-based marketing agency. We focus on conversion optimization, which is the science of improving the performance of a sales or marketing system. We publish our findings and strategies for you to explore and try in your own organization.

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