According to a television news programme, one of the major high street retailers is considering doing away with percentages when referring to reductions in pricing. It was not over the whole range; just about 50%. A quick perusal of their website shows that they haven’t yet entered wholeheartedly into a review of their price reductions.
There was research published a while ago which showed that customers are confused by percentage reductions and the suspicion was that this was one of the reasons they have been used so much, notably in email marketing. The headline figure, in bold, catches the attention. The thing is, such a figure conveys little or no specific information to a potential purchaser; after all, what was the original price?
There was one offer a few years ago which started with a 25% reduction on the original asking price and this was followed a month or so later with a further 25% reduction. It looks great on paper but some people were surprised to find the total reduction wasn’t 50%. They were not only surprised but irritated enough to complain to the regulators. Was it intended to be deceptive? Would a 56.5% reduction have caught the attention so well?
As a kid, I won a competition between schools for mental arithmetic. One of the tests that I shone in was adding up columns of seven figure numbers without notes, and indeed without pencil either. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy and I still practice mental arithmetic as a most boring hobby, yet if there is a percentage reduction headline in a marketing email together with the actual price reduction, normally in a smaller font, I will still look at the money.
The idea of the headline figure is to capture subscribers’ attention and it would appear that percentages are pretty good at that as so many email marketing companies dot them all over their email Subject Lines. This should be a sign that it is time for you to split test your email marketing lists to discover if showing the price reduction is a more effective way of ensuring high open rates. Received wisdom should always be challenged.
What to replace the percentage reduction with is easy enough to discover. Go for, perhaps, a variation according to how long the subscribers have been on your email marketing list. If one of your long-term subscribers has a Subject Line that says, simply, ‘The Biggest Reductions We’ve Ever Offered’, you can probably see the advantage over just the headline percentage.
Despite the increased use of credit and debit cards, many people think of money as notes and coins, so the actual amount saved might well grab them more than other methods, despite them paying by card. ‘You Save’ with a sum after it requires no calculation. Getting information over quickly and succinctly is one of our targets.
I’m with the company that is moving away from percentages. Don’t ignore them of course, but try other ways of getting your subscribers to open your marketing emails.