Unit bias

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda and written by Andrew B. Geier, Paul Rozin, and Gheorghe Doros

Unit bias is a tendency of human psychology that creates an urge within ourselves to complete a unit of action without stopping it in the middle. According to this bias, we are inclined to finish whatever a unit or portion that we started regardless of the size, because it is the perception of completion that we all are longing for. This desire to complete an initiated task or a unit of something brings the ultimate satisfaction at the very end. That is why many of us fall for the Trap of the unit bias.

Think of it this way. As a result of this tendency, a bottle of 1 liter of soda seems similar to a bottle of 500ml of soda as both are perceived as a single unit individually. Therefore when in consumption, you don't bother about the quantity that you consume but to finish the entire unit, either the bottle of 1 liter of soda or the bottle of 500ml of soda. So as we can see, unit bias can shape up our decisions. There are situations in which digital marketers can take the advantage of the unit bias to their favor for conversion rate optimization (CRO). Of course, here are some top tips on how to do it.

Unit Bias and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Refine your website design

To get the maximum advantage of the unit bias to your favor, as the first and foremost step, you should create the impressions of units. Refine the design of your website in such a way that the user engagement processes seem to be individual units. Do not embed too many details into units. Instead, break them logically creating components which are easy to understand and cope up with. That is why in modern web designing, we see that signing up is made up as a separate and very straightforward unit where the payment details are no longer embedded to be submitted.

If a user is asked for payment information at the moment of signing up, without giving him/her the authority to explore your products or services beforehand, most of the users will have no pleasure to complete that unit of action. Therefore, it’s not a great unit that encourages consumer engagement. Instead, you can make signing up and payment registration as two separate units. That way even users who don't want to buy from you right at the moment will sign up, giving you their information which will come in handy for future Conversions.

Eliminate unnecessary form fields from your web forms

It is true that according to the unit bias we tend to complete a task initiated. But it will be discouraged if the task is too complicated or excessively time consumed then expected. Also, presenting instructions with simple language is important in order to avoid any ambiguities. This is why refining form fields are absolutely vital in order to eliminate any blockages in the process. How would you feel if you had to repeat data unnecessarily in the process of a checkout?

Break the tasks into easily achievable sub units/ stages

Think about the way that LinkedIn has crafted their process of profile creation. The site requires us to submit a quite comprehensive and massive amount of data in order to create a successful profile. As the initial step, we're supposed to sign up quite straightforwardly by providing our user name, email and password. Any person who wishes to create an account can accomplish their need that easily.

As the second stage we're supposed to add our residential and work information. We simply complete that stage and move on to the next stage. Just like that we complete the entire profile creation moving from stage to stage quite smoothly. If we are required to fill up every detail in a long single form, most of us will be stopped somewhere in the middle because it may seem too complicated and quite a lot of work. This is why the concept of units is important. Just like LinkedIn has done, you can also break your processes into small and relevant units to simplify consumer engagement as it can ultimately help you a great deal for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Embed a progress bar for the processes

A progress bar keeps the users informed about the progress of user engagement while completing a task. This heightens the advantage that unit bias has to offer you. Enabling a user to complete a task giving them an understanding about the progress, works better towards user engagement than just letting a user complete the same task without a proper idea on how long they should proceed. The remaining percentage of completion acts as the motivation for the users to complete the task. More the user engagement is, the more the opportunities you get towards the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

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References

The references contain experiments and studies that prove this bias is there.

1. Unit Bias A New Heuristic That Helps Explain the Effect of Portion Size on Food Intake
2. Unit Bias A New Heuristic That Helps Explain the Effect of Portion Size on Food Intake
3. Unit bias. A new heuristic that helps explain the effect of portion size on food intake

Sources

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