Top 21 Ways to Ruin Your Business

A split test of mine recently finished and the conversion rate increased from 2.21% to 3.92% by changing JUST the headline -- but not even the words on the headline... the COLORS!

Imagine that, an additional 14 signups to a "$47 every 2 weeks" membership site -- an extra $1400 monthly passive income -- from such a small change.

Why does this happen?  Why does split testing even work?

I'll tell you why... it's because:

Most People Are Confused About Which Way to Go!

It's the same reason why parking lots have signs that say "lock your doors."  Why airports have signs everywhere you look.  Why you have to put the silly red arrow on squeeze pages and literally TELL them to enter their name and e-mail address.

People are easily distracted, and it's up to you to explain what you want from them.

Think about how many times you see this on the internet in a single day.  When you go to YouTube, it recommends about a billion videos all around you... and you end up clicking on video after video without even realizing.  You end up with a bunch of open tabs... and you end up watching some other YouTuber's video.

Split Call-to-Action!

The days of "putting AdSense ads next to the order button" are gone (good grief), but now "multiple order buttons with payment plans" are all the rage.  Or even worse, "the P.S. with a different URL at the end of the e-mail."

Come on guys, don't give me a choice between four payment buttons.  Don't let me choose between paying it all up front or doing a payment plan -- most of the complaints and refunds come from the payment plan crowd anyway.

But with most people, the craziness doesn't stop after I buy from you.  Even after I paid you money... you're confusing me with the WORST two-letter word ever invented:


You could do this... OR you could do this... more choices.  Don't give me so many choices!

  • You've setup your squeeze page, so you can promote it using AdWords... OR you can post on forums... OR you can get joint ventures
  • You want a membership site, so you can use aMember for it... OR you can use Wishlist
  • Choose one of these three methods of writing a sales letter
  • Learn Windows and open up your favorite programs in one of six ways

Are you kidding me?  I have to choose?  Just give me the best way possible!

Even if you HAVE to tell people multiple ways to do something, like with a multi-part course, just give me the easy solution first.  Then tell me what's the "slightly tougher" solution to complete after I've finished the first one.

Do me a favor and stay away from giving me the "top 21 ways" in your training calls.  Instead, reduce it down to 4 or 5 things... you probably struggled coming up with all 21 anyway.

And then position those 4 ways as step 1, step 2, step 3, and step 4... remove the choice.

Today's Question: Are you guilty of the "top 21" syndrome?  How are you going to fix it?  Comment below and tell me... I'm not going to give you a choice, just comment.

Filed in: CopywritingMindsetProduct Creation

Comments (100)

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  1. Chris says:

    Hey Rob

    Another excellent post, and something we can all be guilty of on occasion. Although there is an argument for offering several “Buy Now” buttons throughout your squeeze page if it a long one, just make sure there is one at the bottom! Personally I always go straight to the bottom and scroll up until I find the price ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Given the newly popular approach of short, video based squeeze pages, having only one button certainly makes more sense though.

  2. Ray says:

    Hi Rob,

    It does get kind of confusing with all the choices people give you to sift through and all the e-mails that constantly say “you need this right now!” or some other variation.

    The way I avoid the top 21 syndrome is by focusing all my attention and efforts on one thing at a time. Once I get what I’m working on done then I’ll move on to the next thing, otherwise I never get anything accomplished.

    Information overload is probably the number one reason why most people fail at internet marketing. Learning to focus is a skill and once you master it you will be miles ahead of most people.

  3. Trevor Baret says:

    Hi from the forgotten timezone, Robert,

    As usual, your post is excellent and full of useful advice.


    Your blog post today is OK and the advice is alright too.


    Nice to see you blogging again – it has been a while since your last post.

    But which of my website addresses should I give you in the box above. And then there is the choice of email addresses…

    What should I do?????

    PLEASE just give me some guidance and let me know what I should do.


    Thanks Robert – right on the money again…


  4. JulesMac says:

    I am currently just setting up my internet business. But as a newbie, I must agree that it is extremally confusing working out exactly what I should be doing and when I should be doing it.So many courses to choose from/webhosts/newsletters the list is endless (spot the pun lol).

    Very insightfull post thanks

  5. I look forward to your blog posts – but I also dread them. Because invariably you nail me! And I KNOW you were looking over my shoulder this week when I gave you an option of a one-pay or three-pay to sign up for my course. Or the option of interview or content audio for the first assignment.

    I think the issue comes from two things:
    – we don’t like to think we’re TELLING people what to do. We want them to feel like they have a choice.
    – we don’t like being TOLD what to do – we like to feel WE have a choice.

    It may be a “kinder, gentler” way of offering, rather than telling.

    What am I going to do differently? I’m not sure I’m going to change. I have already narrowed down the 21 ways to a choice of 2 or a process of 5. I pride myself on my step-by-step. But I still like having a choice myself – and I think my readers and customers do, too.

    So with this one, Robert, I’ll have to respectfully disagree. I’ll continue to give them a choice here and there without overwhelming them with a lot of “nice to know” but not critical information.


  6. Robert Plank says:


    As long as you’re not giving them anywhere close to 21 choices then I’m okay with it…

    But wouldn’t your students need to know BOTH how to record an audio on their own and do an interview? Takes an extra 20 minutes. Heck, I’d do one and then the other just to have you critique me.

    And I’ve seen you pitch from the stage… you don’t give them a choice at the end.

  7. Amin says:

    “People are easily distracted”

    Actually, people are just..

    gotta go, I got a marketing email in my inbox

  8. AMEN! I learned this lesson the hard way…but I’m still working on implementing it. My next round of programs will have ONLY ONE payment option! And all my future membership sites will have a one time fee. And an expiration date. I’m not maintaining them forever : )

  9. I noticed that when I have to make choices I often put off taking action. Then have time to find something else to buy.

    I am not guilty of “21” but I am guilty of putting too many choices in blog posts and emails (my worst offenses).

    I have already started my new auto responder series. There will be only one link in each email and the emails will be more focused on one subject and one solution.

    I don’t like emails that promote something new every time. I usually opt out.

  10. Mike Hays says:

    Great post…solution is to use checklist. There are a lot of linear thinkers out there. So set up a very easy flow and follow it!

  11. Robert Plank says:

    Very good way of putting it Mike… turn it into a checklist, that way it’s very clear what they should do next… and there’s only ONE thing they can start with, and only ONE choice of what they should do at any given time… #2, #3, and so on.

  12. Robert,

    I agree that a confused mind does not buy or try. I used to give people 20 or more ways to do whatever I was trying to teach them. Now I just show them 2 or 3 different ways and then tell them the one way I would do it. This has simplified everything – both for me and for my students.


  13. Very good advice. Also helps them take action if you give them 4-5 tips as opposed to overwhelming them with 21…

    I think the art is to break down complex things into small, short and easily digestible pieces of content. Quite a challenge in certain regards but definitely helps your customers take action and get results which in turn motivates them to consume even more content.

  14. Dave Fobare says:

    Hahahaha! You know what my brother-in-law calls me? “Mr Qualifier”. He says I can’t explain *anything* in 35 words or less. Yes, I’m intimately familiar with the dangers of “or”.

  15. Trevor Baret says:

    Jules – just pick one teacher (or partnership) that you trust, and follow their advice.

    Do this for a couple of months and forget all of the other “gurus” who are hammering your inbox trying to get you to buy.

    You could do a lot worse than Robert and Lance…


  16. Sherm Cohen says:

    Best advice I ever got about creating a squeeze page: Give them only one thing to do…opt-in or leave.

  17. Robert Plank says:

    True dat Sherm… although some of us are going to have to wuss out and create special Google AdWords squeeze pages with multiple pages because of their new rules… ONLY for AdWords traffic though.

    BTW, I mentioned you on a 1-hour webinar I gave for Armand’s people today, buddy.

  18. Brad says:

    Hey…I am definitely guilty although I’m improving this with my new products I’ve been launching rapid fire. In fact, I talk about this in terms of getting 1-2 traffic sources down pat.

    The problem with most people is that they want the 21 ways type info because they are trained to consume information rather than “learn then earn”…they keep learning learning learning and then make no money…

    Thanks for this article because the “Or” is definitely an issue I’ve had in recent past!



  19. Greg Russell says:

    I agree people are so easily distracted, I too find it challenging to stay focused. That’s why for this year my main goal above anything else is to get way more done in less time.

    To do that I focus on creating good habits… One bad habit like letting your self get distracted waist so much time. Tell me I’m the only one that has ever started looking for something and 4-5 min later forget what I’m looking for.

    I hope I”m not the only one… but in any case I’ve been focusing on staying focused and using my time productively by planning out my day in advance. I’ve also started using a GTD system, which has been working wonders for me.

  20. Joe Gilder says:

    I don’t bring a ton of experience to the table, but my launches have gone half and half between people paying up front and people making payments.

    It’s nice to have that up-front money, and several people have said they prefer to pay up-front…but then others say they can only afford the payments.

    Have you split-tested one option vs. two? Hey…that’s a good idea.

  21. Robert Plank says:


    I also used to get half of the people buy upfront, half buy on the payment plan (even if there was tons of interest on the payment plan). But now that I’ve price trained them to buy at a high price, I’ve had some promotions where NO ONE takes the payment plan.

    For a while I kept a payment plan link in my back pocket in case the ONLY thing holding them back from buying was a payment plan, but now I don’t even do that.

  22. andreea says:

    Hey Robert,

    Excellent post again ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think the fewer choices the more chance of people to act. Don’t make them think, and wonder what is the right option for them, or they will end up opting out, or postpone their action. Convey in a simple, clear way why your offer is the best for them now, so that they just click and buy it regardless of the price.


  23. Dave Doolin says:

    I’m feeling what Brad wrote, definitely guilty on too much learning not enough doing. Probably a result of too much education.

    I tend to do what Chris does too: go straight down to the bottom, then scroll up to find the price.

  24. Yeah, distraction is one of the biggest problems for us as marketers. Keeping people engaged and directing them to what we want them to do is the most important thing we need to get them to do.

    All marketing has direct people to where you want them to go, and what you want them to do. Never underestimate that people can get distracted and that you don’t have to direct people.


  25. wal gifford says:

    Hi Robert,

    blunt and to the point as always, you remind us that the confused mind does not buy or take action. Like a deer in the headlights, the KISS principle always applies.
    Don’t give them 21 ways or choices, just narrow it down to 7,5 or just one, when an action is required by them.
    Split test everything, as small incremental changes make huge differences, even to the colorblind!

    cheers wal

  26. Dan Martin says:

    I’ve got it! Let’s make it a game and only activate one of the links. Give them a bonus for finding the right one. Make ’em work for it. Butรขโ‚ฌยฆ how do you keep them playing the game?? Wait, we don’t want to be like everyone else, do we??

  27. Robert Plank says:


    I’m not sure why you would want to make a game out of anything… why not keep it simple and give them just ONE thing to do on the page…

  28. Graeme Thom says:

    Great points Robert.

    Lots of people suffer from overwhelm and try to do too many things at once (including me), probably out of an idyllic sense that you have to do a lot, or have to “be seen” to be doing a lot, in order to impress others.

    The problem is that more often than not, you end up completing nothing, which is the worst result.

    Like your other KISS (shippable) post, the often heard but sage advice is to “keep it simple.” It is funny how people tend to make simple things more complex, instead of the other way around. “Over-thinking” things is also often a recipe for disaster.

    Breaking things down into smaller digestible 4-5 part “steps” (without calling them “tasks” which sounds like “work”) makes them seem easier to accomplish. Motivation often stems from being able to envision the end goal, and standing in front of a 5-step hill is not as intimidating as facing a 21-step or higher mountain!

  29. William says:

    Fantastic post as always Robert!

    A few months ago, you said pretty much the same thing in an email about sigfile links in your email.

    I had over three in mine and now I have one, my blog address.

    I also tested shorter blog posts VS. the Long blog post…
    I found more people commenting on the shorter blog posts.

    The only reason I can think this maybe, is the shorter posting has to be more clear cut on and topic. I think most people get to feeling overwhelmed by to much information.

    So what do you think?

    Hve you tested this methode?

    As alway excellent post and one for the books!

  30. Hmm I’ve been thinking about this issue recently actually – this is good incentive to act on it.

    I currently offer a digital option as well as a DVD option (which includes the digital access too). I’m now going to setup a split test dropping the digital option (which is cheaper, but causes me more grief with computer illiteracy-related customer service issues).

    Incidentally (and irrelevant to the current post, but interesting nonetheless), based on your last post about pricing, I added a bonus the same day, raised my prices from 27 to 37, did a 3 part mailing to the list promoting the ‘free’ bonus for 5 days prior to the price increase.

    Result? 50 odd new sales and $1300 in profit.

    And yes, sales slowed to a trickle for the few days after that, because the funnel had been pretty well cleaned out, but now the conversions are just as strong as before at the new price.

    Thanks Robert!

  31. Rodney Daut says:


    I’ve actually helped one client make more money by offering three choices instead of two. I used a little-known psychological trick that makes one of the choices seem like a super deal. This single change increased the conversion rate by 30% and the revenue by %20 (one of the choices was for a cheaper option).

    It just goes to show that sometimes more choice is a good thing if the choice is structured properly.


  32. Robert Plank says:


    I believe it. It seems like almost every split test that finishes, I think, “The STUPIDEST version won.” My only question was did you let the test run long enough to be statistically relevant?

  33. Robert, you are on top of your game. Thanks for the insightfulness, may we all learn from you and succeed.

  34. John Counsel says:

    Hmmm… makes you wonder…

    Do all those sneaky opt-out users know something we don’t?

    “Click here if you DON’T want to buy/subscribe”?

    People avoid making decisions of any kind. Does this mean we should only give them a choice to NOT buy or subscribe and they’ll automatically avoid making that choice?

    All we need to do now is find a way to get their credit card details and we can make a fortune! *lol*

  35. Judah says:

    Hello, Robert, just got to reading your blog yesterday. Great stuff!

    I have a really short attention span and a problem making up my mind. I used to think I was just defective until I realized I wasn’t the only one.

    I don’t like giving people too many options, if I can help it– early on in my career I practically starved to death while my bosses debated ways to go, approaches to use and even where to go and what to eat in meetings that lasted over lunch and through dinner. So when it got to be my turn I’d wait maybe fifteen seconds after asking a question then if no one answered, I’d go, “Right. This is what.”

    Nobody ever complained, if I did I’d say it wasn’t a democracy, it’s always about who wants what the most.

    Trying to get people to buy into something’s the same, you’ll starve while people try to make up their minds, unless you get them to make a commitment first before asking “Would you like fries with that?”

    Sure, I understand the value of no-pressure sales, but hey– no pressure is an approach, not a structure, I think. Besides, it’s already a lot of effort building a case about why one thing is good, I’d rather concentrate on that.

    Thanks for this post!

  36. Marcel says:

    I’m not tempted to offer too many options. I’m tempted to give lots of related bonuses for one reasonable price.

  37. Robert Plank says:


    As long as you don’t offer too many bonuses to confuse the offer, I’ve done that. On one sales letter I’m testing the offer with bonuses vs. no bonuses. Even if I take a hit on the conversion rate… if the visitor value goes up, I still win.

  38. Ron Barrett says:


    Interesting stuff.

    I am definitely guilty as charged! I have a few websites that have more than one payment button on a couple of my sites. These will be coming off and I will split test the results.

  39. Dave Aron says:

    If you’ve read the book “Predictably Irrational”, about behavioral economics, they had an interesting study about giving people choices. They had very good results with giving customers 3 choices, when the middle choice was intentionally not a good option.

    The example given was (ironically) The Economist magazine subscriptions. They had an online-only edition that was $69 for 12 months, a physical magazine subscription that was $125 for 12 months, and a magazine PLUS online access that was $125. That’s right, the SAME price as the magazine alone. This messes with your head, since the blatantly apparent value choice is the third option (and in fact they hardly ever sold the middle option!)

    To put it into an internet marketing example: $27 for the basic “Silver” PDF, $47 for the “Gold” Audio edition, or $47 for a Platinum plan, including the Audio Edition plus a bunch of extras like a membership site, over-the-shoulder screen capture videos, support access to the author, etc.

    It would definitely be worthwhile to split test this type of choice (you could split it with JUST the platinum edition for $47) and see the results.

    Just my .02.

  40. Robert Plank says:


    Have you split tested this yourself? Since you seem to like the idea, you might as well try it.

  41. Deb LaQua says:

    Hey Robert,

    Once again, your post anticipated a discussion we were having about pricing our new course. You must have read our minds – we were talking about payment & delivery options, and wondering if they would just confuse everyone and reduce our orders.

    Guess so, huh?

    Thanks, as always, for your spot-on observations.

  42. Exactly! I find myself doing this so often. I want to explain EVERYTHING, but folks only want the first few steps or the simplest steps. Actually, that’s what I want,too. Give me the simplest, straight path between point A and point B.

  43. re: “Blog Post is Live, Go There and Comment Now”
    and :”Go Here Now”.

    OK, responding as ordered, SIR!

    ( Sometimes the NLP “Orders to Action” don’t really give the results that are intended)

    Eric G.

  44. Robert Plank says:


    You are here… so I guess it worked.

  45. Jeff Bode says:

    Hey Robert,

    I’m guilty… I sometimes give people too many options because I don’t know what will work best for them, I’m going to have to stop doing that and instead tell them what option I would choose

    you’ve made a good point – as always!

    are you always right? it seems like it, lol

  46. Payment button? what button? what am I paying for?
    does it have a guarantee? just what am I doing here?
    I’m leaving–well–maybe just one more comment,

  47. Robert, I just came off a webinar where I did just that… not 21 ways, but quite a few… and I felt a sense of drowning… maybe next time when I do something like this I can catch it early.

    Was it my stupid sales page with the two payment buttons that gave you the idea for this post?

    Thank you for dishing it out straight. We all need it.


  48. Dan Brock says:

    I totally agree with you.

    I think a lot of it has to do with the product creator giving away tips that he or she hasn’t really tried out.

    ‘Let me just flood them with ideas so they will think they got their monies worth’.

    That is a major problem with a lot of the info products out there.

    You could say that with virtually all advice given online.

    The proper way to do it would be:

    Go set up your squeeze page, add an offer, and then start marketing on forums.

    Once you master the forum traffic and are getting a steady flow of traffic, THEN add in some adwords traffic.

    Once you master adwords traffic, THEN go work on finding JVs, all the while keeping up with your 2 original traffic sources.

    Just my two cents.

    -Dan Brock

  49. Robin says:

    Great post, again, Robert!

    BTW, what headline color outperformed what other color?

  50. Nice post Robert,

    I myself can’t stand long winded sales pages, training videos… even payment processes.

    Keep it short and sweet and watch your profits soar.

    By the way, what was the headline color change you made to increase your conversion rate?

  51. Lloyd Hester says:

    If the best sale process on a website is a funnell system then by the time you get to the order there should always be just ONE option..

    the thing that gets on my wick these days is the mutliple offers once I choose not to buy.

    They cut 50% of the price which really ticks me off and I lose ALL interest. The credibility is all gone. One minute the product is wroth $xxx dollars now I can get it for half price.. !!

  52. Sam England says:

    Again a great post with useful information, you always give way more information than expected…

    And like Robin asked, what color did better?

  53. Robert Plank says:

    Sam, Robin, and Kenneth…

    I’ll reveal which color won on this coming Monday’s webinar, how’s that sound?

  54. You really hit the nail on the head with the BIG “OR”.

    That’s why I like the centered website or squeeze page model as well, but it keeps your readers eyes exactly where you want them to be… on your content.

    I think the best way to give folks the “OR” options is after they have done exactly what you wanted them to do in the 1st place (i.e. Opt-In, initial purchase, etc.).

    Have you split tested the most effective “after the sale” Up Sell/Down Sell?

    Would be interested in learning your results knowing that changing the color on the initial sales page make the increase you list above.

    “Expand Your Reality to Fit Your Dreams”

  55. Rowena says:

    Choices, choices there are just too many of them.

    Have you ever put the TV on and there were over 200 channels but nothing to watch?

    I feel the same way about getting internet marketing to work for me.

    Too many Gurus too many ways to make money – so why am I having such a problem.

  56. Exito Smith says:

    You are right again or should I said this is a really good blog post or well you give me too many options so I do not know what to choose.
    Best wishes…

  57. Robert Plank says:


    Which choices have I given you? The choice to either comment or not to comment… you commented… so you obviously made the right choice.

  58. Audrey Green says:

    I have a 6-month old offer that gives two options. The 2nd option is basically a ‘deluxe’ version of the 1st option, priced slightly higher.

    So far, 100% of the sales have been for the 2nd higher priced option. I thought about removing the 1st option since no one bought it, then I realized it was making the 2nd option look like a really good deal. So I think I’ll keep that one.

    BUT, I have another offer where I’ve got 6 different versions, and I’m getting more “Can I do this instead…?” emails than sales. So I think I’m going to follow your advice and cut that one w-a-a-y down.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Robert ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. Donna Maher says:

    Hi Robert,

    You drove the point home… I’ve long known the importance of split-testing, just keep saying to myself, now I need to find the time.

    Sounds like it would be well worth the time to set that up, because marketing in the dark is not a viable option if one is to make some serious money online.

    Thank you AGAIN, for your wisdom & expertise so freely shared!

    Warm regards,


  60. Robert Plank says:


    All I have to say is: Google Website Optimizer.

    You type in the URLs for your original page, variation page, and conversion page. Then it says: split test these 4 pieces of code into your pages. Then it checks to make sure you’ve made the changes. Then you send traffic and wait a few weeks or months for it to finish.

    It takes 5 minutes tops. The sooner you set it up, the sooner you can start seeing split test results… and the sooner you can start winning a lot more arguments.

  61. Phil says:

    I think we all have an inclination to oversell and it is related to our human nature. We’re all a bit self conscious about what we do and sell and we are always trying to put a better face on it or make it more valuable. All the time we are losing our customers attention.

    I try to pick the top two or three things that it will do and go with that even if I feel it is not finished…

    And split testing is the real cure if you do it well and pay attention to the results…

    Thanks for the great post,


  62. Judy Jones says:


    I’m so new at Internet Marketing. I’m still stuck on finding the right keywords. So testing and conversion is over my head. Your post made me realize how important testing is for a website. So, you made me realize I need to starting learning about testing my webstie in order to develope a profitable online business. Thanks

  63. Sabri says:

    Hi Robert,

    Last week I found something.

    Have you tried to split test an exactly the same page?

    Last week I tried and I found exactly the same page give me a difference of 25%. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Try it to see what is your site’s margin of error. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Best Regards


  64. Robert Plank says:


    I haven’t split tested the exact same page BUT I have had many split tests that have run for thousands of conversions and still never finished… that started off drastically different but the two lines come together.

    In that last split test I ran with the different color headline, the winning test had a margin of error of 1.0% and the loser 0.7%.

    The loser in the split test has a 2.42% chance of beating the winner… so I think I’m pretty safe.

  65. Noah says:

    Okay, I know when I started out I offered an alternative choice to people, and I know that I left money on the table because of it. Payment plans are a pain in the drain too, since then you have to manage that in addition to all the other stuff you have to contend with. But if people are so completely incapable of maintaining their concentration long enough to follow through on even the simplest of instructions, how do you get them to read an entire sales letter in the first place??


  66. Hey Robert,

    Again, I thoroughly enjoy how you make each post on your blog an event!

    Regarding choices, I agree that the confused mind says no. But I also don’t like being told what to do (unless I fully trust the person doing the telling).

    That being said, I think there’s a balance. In my own business, I just started to test offering a full-pay and a multi-pay option, and it actually went quite well. I think more than two payment options is too much. But in this economy, I do think people appreciate the multi-pay option on a higher ticket product.

    Similarly, on my training webinars (I teach QuickBooks software) there are often many ways to do the same function. I usually show them the way I think is best. Only AFTER they’ve learned that, I might mention very briefly their other options. Maybe.

    So my conclusion is, keep it simple. But I honestly don’t want customers or students who can’t handle making a simple choice. If they can’t think for themselves and need me to make all the decisions for them, they don’t qualify. It helps me to find higher quality (and more easily satisfied) customers.

    At least that’s my take on it.

  67. Robert Plank says:


    If you like the blog launch idea then why don’t you use it on your own blog?

    The thing about full pay vs. multi pay is maybe your list is trained to be cheapskates. I can think of a handful of marketers whose subscribers NEVER pay anything in full, they always finance it.

    I do the same thing in my PHP stuff that you do in your QuickBooks. Tell them the easy way is the only way to do it, at first, then show them the shortcuts later. That happened because one time years and years ago, I think it was Dave Wooding, told me: “Don’t tell me multiple ways to do it. It confuses the hell out of me.” I haven’t looked back since then.

    More people than you think can’t make a simple choice… or they get distracted. For example, right now I’m seeing six people who have been hovering on this blog post for over an hour. Ever since I put live monitoring software on all my sales letters, I keep seeing the same people click from the sales letter to the checkout page, then back, then forward… it’s crazy.

  68. Clyde Reid says:

    This is a battle I have been fighting for some time. Most of us do not like to be told what to do but you can generate a lot more return if you ask them to do what you want them to do than by giving them a choice. I have been fighting the same battle with things like let me teach you or you need to learn this. If we are not told we need to make a change most of us will not. Given a choice most of us will not make one, except not to take any action. Tell them why they need to do it and then ask them to do it. Ask them to take action but do not give them a choice of which action to take or most of them will leave without doing anything.

    As always you are “spot on” as the lady said. Can’t figure out how we agree so much and you are making all the money. Must be Lance.

    Have blessed day,

  69. Dr. Debra says:

    Got it!

    I had 2 different ideas for the webinar I recently did but knew you had already hammered in about 1 CTA! So I stuck with one promotion, 1 URL, 1 price, 1 offer.

    Your rants are great! I love them as you are venting and teaching at the same time.

    Keep up the good content.

    Dr. Debra

  70. Donna Melton says:

    Just getting to the point of springing forth with the first website. Reading your posts helps alot on good stuff to keep in mind. Spilt testing, Keep it simple, consider membership sites, Explain clearly what you want your customers to do. Remove choices and don’t use the word……..”or”………smile:) Donna

  71. I thought that offering a payment plan and a fully paid option would increase conversions? Because it’s either buy or buy.

  72. Robert Plank says:

    It’s buy #1, buy #2, or leave. I’d rather it just be buy or leave.

  73. Nithiyaah says:

    Hi Robert,
    What you have said is 100% right. This is the same problem I faced when I was starting out in IM. But, this is NOT I’m going to do it with my customers. I’ll give them two options, that is if you want, just stay in my list, if not, just opt-out. Again, this is where the problem comes in. If one start losing more subscribers, then they should rethink about what they can do about this. Any comment regarding this most welcome.

  74. Jake says:

    Good post.. I think we are all in this boat as we lose our focus and attempt to do more. I do not split test enough but I am going to commit to doing it more over the next 30 days and make it a habit.

    Thanks and keep up the great work.

    “The King”

  75. Robert Plank says:


    How soon are you going to split test? It takes 30 seconds to setup with google website optimizer.

  76. Hi Robert,

    Great insights and I totally agree.

    Maybe we should always use the Keep It Simple Stupid philosophy and only give people one option.

    I know I find it confusing with all the buttons and options and it seems every time there is a payment plan
    you end up paying almost $100 more for the product or course.

    Keep it coming your posts are always educational and a big help.


  77. Dave Aron says:


    I am going to split test it with a physical product that I have exclusive rights to, which is a 250-page book of reproducible activities for a certain medical/therapy field (sort of like PLR, but you can reproduce them for your patients or their caregivers– this really boosts the perceived/actual value of the product). Price points are:

    $39 for CD version of the book
    $69 for just the Book
    $69 for the Book plus the Digital Download edition and an exclusive bonus eBook

    Doesn’t that pricing structure just mess with your head? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Once they decide on one of the above, then I have an upsell/downsell tree that offers them one time offers on the other options (for instance, if you get the CD for $39, wouldn’t you like an immediate download for another $9, instead of waiting for the mail?) Plus a Virtual Sales Agent popup when they leave for a $29 download only edition.

    Cool thing is that the book’s already been published, and has been selling at $79.95 retail price, so the online offer should be very attractive.

    I think for the split test, I will take your advice have ONE BIG BUTTON for the $69 Hardcopy+Digital Download edition, to see if the psychology really works (or not).

    I’ll keep you guys posted to the results (I’m traveling for a few weeks, so it will have to be later this month).


  78. Robert Plank says:


    How soon will the split test be setup?

    All that upsell and downsell business seems like it will be a lot of work to get going… but I do want to know those results.

  79. Thanks Robert. Its nice to have confirmation that my very first sales page does not offer too many choices. In fact, this crummy sales page would not exist if it had not been for some of your other posts that discouraged perfectionism, but encouraged Progress!

    Now that the first one is out there, the only way to go is up! Testing and tweaking.


  80. Robert Plank says:

    Nice going Marshall. Now all you have to do is get it critiqued, and once that’s done, start sending traffic to that page.

  81. Choices are not bad. Too many choices are.

    Psychologists generally agree that 3 is a good number of choices to offer. And it has been proven by many (including Dr. Robert Cialdini) that when you offer a higher price choice, your 2nd highest offer gets gets chosen more often).

    We should agree to disagree, Robert. I had no choice ๐Ÿ˜›


  82. Robert Plank says:


    That’s what Cialdini has to say… but what does Agrawal have to say? Why don’t you split test it?

    And he and the psychologists weren’t talking about sales letters and squeeze pages, or even infoproduct training…

  83. Bob Molton says:

    Hey “Super Robert”,

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve heard Armand talk about this too, give them only one choice and show them exactly how to do it. The more choices involved usually leads to the end result of no choice being made at all.

    I totally agree with what you said “Just give me the best way possible” I think that says it all!

    As always,
    Thanks again!

    Bob Molton – (Rock n Roll)

  84. Robert,

    I agree that to give choice to people often leads to a confused mind and a confused mind does nothing because they have choice and are thus confused or unsure which is the best choice for them! :o)

    But I have some questions about this post, and the universe in general.

    Do you count OTOs as choices that confuse people? Or are you just talking about the squeeze or sales page action?

    Does the OTO fit into your criteria of one decision because you’re leading the prospect through the sales process one step at a time?

    Why is my son always nearly late for school (or would be if superdad didn’t get him there on time)?

    Do you count links to terms of service, privacy or the many other “mandatory” links required by Google for adwords campaigns landing pages as “choice”? If so, what do you suggest we do to minimise the risk of the confused (or enquiring) mind clicking away and then never returning to your squeeze page or your sales page?

    Do your response comments reduce the available comments you allow against this blog post or do you take into account your comments and thus allow 150 comments, of which 100 are from original authors and the other 50 are your responses to those original authors?

    Why am I commenting now when I should be downstairs with the family getting breakfast and getting ready for work?

    Ah… the universe holds many mysteries for me and I have many unanswered questions. For a list of them go to and contribute. :o)

  85. Roger says:

    Great post Robert,

    You are completely right about “too many choices.” You must have been reading my mind!

    We’re setting up a photo site (photos for others to use in their websites & newsletters).We’ve tried to eliminate all the choices about “how long do you want to use this photo?” and “what size photo should I get?”

    We’ve done this by making all photos the same DPI, making the long edge on all photos the same size, all photos are truly PLR (Royalty Free if you prefer) and they are all one price! Now I need to work on the squeeze page a little and get many more photos loaded onto the site. That’s an ongoing process and happens day by day.

    Can’t wait for your next insightful blog post and bit of advice. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge with us.


  86. Ron says:

    Thanks Robert,

    I keep having to explain the same thing to some of my customers that a squeeze page is not a place to have a Navigation bar or a sidebar with a ton of links. It is opt-in or leave, but they are afraid the visitor WILL leave without doing anything.

    Heck if you want all that on your page just make a regular blog post not a squeeze page, because that is what you just turned it into.

  87. Tim S says:

    I would think that small of a % would be with in the error range, test are ok but people buy for all kinds of reasons, meaning you need to target your sales page, for the people that would want your wares.

    Then you have to sell them on buying your wares, as well as trusting they will get what is being claimed they will get, then keeping it simple and real, the better you do this stuff the more sales you’ll get.

    You should ask your self a few things, who would be your target group to buy your wares, how much value are you offering them at what price, how can you gain their trust, and what can you do to keep it simple and easy.

    You should know who your target group is, and look at it from their point of view, and think about what would work for you, remember you should know what gets you to buy stuff, use that and keep it with in your target group.

  88. Marian says:

    I love it… I saw 101 ways of doing something… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Do you think 2 choices one for digital download and the second for physical CD/DVD is a simple to make decision choice?? ๐Ÿ™‚


  89. Richard says:

    Great post Robert.

    Not putting options on pages should be easier than getting out of the sandbox. (yeah I’m still half scratching around in there, but at least I’ve got something outside of it now ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

    On the other hand, I get the feeling that what I want to do with my site is give people a lot of options. So that means having a balancing act and being very careful about how I focus people past the ‘free’ stuff and get them into the paying stuff, without losing them along the way.

    My thinking is that people who are likely to complain should be given the option to buggar off at an early stage. Those that don’t have any money should be given the option of low priced or freebies stuff until they can afford to buy real products.

    That leaves the people who don’t complain unless there really is a problem, and have money. The next step is to determine what they think they want, what they need, and what they really need to get to where they want to go. At that point, I want to be able to present them with the best possible solution for their core needs. If I’ve done my job well, then price shouldn’t be a barrier for them.

    In effect, I give them no choice at all, but create an illusion of choice. Each person has already decided on what they want before they get to my site. They want help, or advice. They can either afford things, or they can’t.

    So, my take-away from your lesson is: less choices, better choices, less options, better options, a streamlined process taking them to where I want them to go, with appropriate exits, each exit leading to a ‘sale’ of sorts, even if its a freebie… Kinda like a flowchart? All options lead to one box at the end. The one that says Buy Now…

    Richard ๐Ÿ™‚

    ps. anybody know of a script that would allow a person to add to favorites when they close out of a page?

  90. John says:

    Your not kidding, I have been planning a membership site and for the last two weeks I have literally done nothing on it due to all the choices and options. Listening to different Gurus tearing my body apart by tugging me in every direction with TOO MANY CHOICES. I decided to listen to myself and im actually doing something now!

    I will ensure I apply what Robert says in the membership site. A one way funnel that leads straight to the goal with no exits.

    Another great blog post Robert, Thanks!


  91. Jason Johns says:

    Hi Robert,

    Great post as always and I think you are spot on with this. This is the biggest problem with Internet Marketing and why so many people fail is the sheer amount of choice.

    There are many different ways to make money online with the people who are using each method busy extolling the virtues of it whilst selling products.

    This means the new marketer comes in and is faced with a wealth of distraction – all of which works but because there is so much they lose focus, jump from technique to technique and end up doing nothing.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this one ๐Ÿ™‚


  92. Kathy Dobson says:

    Hi Robert…
    No beating around the bush here! What you say is right on! I even hate restaurants that have those huge menu’s because then I can’t make up my mind!
    Too many choices…not enough choices…it must be kept simple.
    Thanks for the heads up.
    I need to get a lot more familiar/better at testing things out so I know how/where to tweak them!

  93. Dave Gale says:

    I guess it just comes down to being able to focus on one thing – something I find hard to do! So I agree – if you give people too many choices they will probably end up choosing none of them!



  94. Robert, You’re right… no need to contribute any extra confusion to the process! We can miss the button we’re looking for sometimes, when it’s right in front of us. In between can be harrowing! How do you feel about that? Why so much information, it’s really not necessary and I often go the other way because! When it comes to buying things, give me one button and get to it.

  95. Rob Metras says:

    Only ever give one choice on your communications Yes or No. If you want to give multiple choices split test the page. Do not try to give the customer options until they have bought.

    My motto is “believe in your own b.s. act at your own peril”
    Use the free tools either A/B or multivariate but always be testing

  96. Todd Royer says:


    It’s your firmness of voice that cuts through all the indiciveness. That firmness grabs people’s attention and they listen for awhile just because they like the comfort of being directed. As long as you give good directions, are intelligent without being tedious and provide some comic relief, all is good. You’ve got it going on, which means you don’t have to do the trendy stuff. In fact you can sit on the sidelines and snipe at the trendy stuff. We all get a kick out of that.


  97. Nancy Boyd says:

    Hi Robert,

    Here is a question pertinent to this topic. When you have multiple options for payment, or multiple offers, how do you do this? Do you give them a choice on the sales page? Or do each option or offer on a different sales page and split test them? (Or both?) — Sorry, I couldn’t resist adding that last one.

    Also just want to comment that giving a long list of things that are “possible” to do is different than explaining what an actual process is. In other words, if there are 21 steps in learning how to make a video (I’m making this up, but it’s a good example) — then you really do need to identify everything that must happen in order for the process to work.

    I think you mean not offering a list of potential paths for an outcome, rather than critical steps. Is this right?

    One thing that seems important is to know which part of the puzzle you’re working on. What you do on a squeeze page is not the same thing you do on a sales page, and it’s still different again for an informational web page. What works on one will not work on another.

    Oh and one final thought. When I think of all the variables that *could* be tested, it feels overwhelming. And it can literally take forever to test every single element, since you can only change one thing at a time. How do you pick which elements to test? Do you have to test every single one? And how do you pick the order in which to test them?

    I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks again for a very useful thread.


  98. Does anyone know of, or have, or run, a course or class on split-testing, google analytics, understanding Cpanel traffic analysis on sites and so on (oops, choices again… too many!) ๐Ÿ™‚

    This is a big area which alot of people mention in their courses, but there’s nothing that I know of right now that goes into any serious nerdy detail in this area and gives suggestions for improvement.

    I’ve heard all the stuff about changing the headline, the colours, the copy, one word at a time etc, and I use Google analytics on one or two sites, but really don’t have a good, clear roadmap or step by step process on how to track, test, monitor changes.


  99. Looks like I am not unique. Most of all I find that the thousand some programs I pounced on are not as easily implemented as suggested. I have a few drawbacks, such as an exessively slow internet connection that I cannot change. Forget videos, surf programs, or anything else that takes hours to load.

    I don’t mind recurring payments if they are really small, like the $5 I pay monthly for a huge pile of material to sell at the Dreamtean Gold Club site. But I think upsells are are most often a decidedly crooked way to market. There is no indication, except sometimes, that the adulated program is limited. Then you get hit with an even bigger fee to actually get the real program on an oto page that says this is a deal.

    Because I looked at the price on the front and looked at my card and I estimated that I could just handle that, I get downright furious when I find out I can’t handle more and I am being railroaded. With me oto pages and upsells are really out. I think they are unfair. This does not give me a choice but to forget about the item.

    I have been ignoring your programs because I have a couple of good ones but I am already too swamped with other programs that are supposed to help me sell those two good programs I have. Nothing is working too well….. yet. and I am not buying any more.

    Robert, I have not unsubscribed because I like your blogposts. If they don’t hit me over the head they make me smile. I need that.

    P.S. I unticked the webinar thing. I cannot get webinars to load. Got stuttering sound, no mic. Even if you had just a conference number to call into, I could not do it on the 8th. Got another appointment.

  100. Robert,

    I am sometimes guilty of offering too many choices.

    I can see that in most situations, more than one choice is unnecessary.

    Some situations require more than once choice, such as when offering services. As others have mentioned, this can also be useful for price anchoring – having a premium, expensive option makes the “middle / adequate” option seem like a much better deal.

    But even in situations that call for more than one choice, they can usually be reduced to as few choices as are necessary.

    Back in the day, we sold Shaved Ice in the summer at County Fairs. We started out with 25 flavors. Can you imagine how long it took customers to decide what to order? Especially when we let them have up to 3 flavors at a time. Lines got long; people got tired of waiting and would leave.

    We eventually ended up with 3 flavors… and we made it as simple as possible: RED, BLUE and YELLOW. (Not, “Cherry, Blue Coconut, and Lemon.”) Guess what? No complaints. Much faster service. Happy customers, less hassle, more profit.

    I don’t think we could have successfully offered just 1 flavor, but cutting it down from 25 to just a necessary 3 made a world of difference to our success.

    OMIT NEEDLESS CHOICES. (Hat-tip to Strunk & White).

    Thanks for the reminder, Robert! ๐Ÿ™‚

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