Researching Customer Fears

Using research to figure out what your customers are scared of and then altering your copy based on your findings isn’t evil. It’s incredibly effective.

Why it works

People are emotional creatures. Last year, I launched, which provides critiques of online dating profiles, and I foolishly had the Field of Dreams syndrome (believing “if you build it, they will come”) and thought people would just order because it’s such a good idea to get men or women to look at your dating profile and tell you how to improve it. I wrote the copy on the index page and explained how it worked. But I wasn’t seeing a lot of conversion. Why not? Because no one was connecting with it. I wasn’t addressing their issues and their fears. I was not giving them an emotional reason to keep going, as they didn’t know I would solve their problems.

The solution was to alter the copy, and to do so I needed to figure out what the biggest concerns about online dating really were. I could address those concerns in the copy, and then people were more likely to order. So I ran surveys on Mechanical Turk and learned the biggest fear with online dating for guys is wasting your time because you’ll never actually have success. I changed up the site based on my fear research and saw an 800% improvement in traffic to the order page. (Note, this article refers to the previous version of the site, before a current rebuild).

Customers don’t care about your solution. They care about their own problems. Everybody cares about themselves, and to actually get them to use your service or product, you have to convince them that you have not just a solution, but their solution.

This can work with any business. We’re all trying to sell something to somebody. I have a screen printing business, Vacord Screen Printing, and I wanted to know what people would worry about most when they are trying to order shirts. I simply did some research to figure it out, and learned that a lot of people are worried that they won’t end up getting quality shirts like they imagine, and that the ordering process will be difficult and confusing. Altering the site allows me to address these fears for people, putting them at ease quickly and perhaps subconsciously, which increases the chance they will reach out to us and then convert to a customer.

So do your own research (here’s a guide on how to run surveys on mechanical turk) and learn:

  • What people are worried about when it comes to using your service
  • What scares people about the problem you’re trying to solve
  • What has failed them in the past when they tried to solve the problem

Have you had success with fear research? Discuss in the comments.