Self-selection tools allow users to filter their options or select their needs to create a selection of results better suited to their wants instead of sifting through all of your product pages and thereby optimising the user experience.
While customers who are further down the buying funnel may take a deeper dive into your content, those just getting started won’t. Make the process easier so they can filter in or out the options that are relevant to them.
What different self-selection tools are there?
There are many great examples of self-selection tools out there, some tried-and-tested that have been around for years, and some that are more modern and innovative. They don’t need to be complicated; the most successful self-selection tools are the ones that focus on creating a simple and easy-to-use experience for your visitors.
The classic filter bar
If you’ve ever shopped on websites like ASOS, then you probably take for granted the ability to filter products by things like colour, size or material. Still, this kind of filtering was one of the earliest forms of self-selection and is now one of the most established. It’s hard to think of shopping online without being able to do this. Suffice to say, regardless of whether you’re an online shop or a B2B service business, if your content could be filterable, it probably should be.
The step-by-step tool
Unlike traditional filtering, where you start with everything and reduce your options down. The step-by-step tool takes the opposite approach by starting with nothing but a simple question and then building a series of results based on the user’s choice at each step, as seen in our Pod Point example below. Both are very similar; they both work by filtering out the options that aren’t relevant to the user; the difference is all in the delivery.
The predictive search tool
This self-selection tool is another example of a technology that isn’t new but still delivers powerful results. Google pioneered this years ago, but it’s now standard on many websites where users need to search a large volume of content. The premise, as always, is straightforward: the user starts typing, and the search bar predicts results in real-time. This tool is beneficial if you have a lot of ‘how-to’ content like guides or information, like this example we created for Hopes Grove Nurseries.
The product configurator
If you’ve ever needed to ‘build’ a product that you were interested in buying, then chances are you’ve used a product configurator. For example, with Audi’s online car configurator, you go through a specified process, choosing from a wide range of product options or configurations to arrive at your final product, ready for purchase. This tool type is perfect for high ticket items where there are risks involved when the incorrect options are selected or where products have many options.
Understanding the impact
To give you an idea of just how powerful self-selection tools can be, our Creative Director, Rich Dean, shares his experience searching for an electric charging point.
“We’ve just purchased our first fully electric car, a Volkswagen e-Golf, so we needed to get an electric charging point installed at our house. Our electricity company, Ecotricity, recommended a company called Rolec, but Volkswagen suggested Pod Point. I hadn’t heard of either company before then, and my experience of the two brands was very different…
“My first point of call was Rolec, but first impressions were less than great. Greeted with a dated, information-heavy website, it was very overwhelming. There was no real focus, and I had no clue what my journey should be. I eventually found the home EV charging points, but it was more of the same and nothing to help me understand the best option.
“I’d class myself as more tech-savvy than most, but even I was having trouble. Bearing in mind that electric vehicle charging is a relatively new concept, the Rolec website did nothing to make the buying process easy. It was more geared towards making me work hard to find out the information for myself. Suffice to say, I didn’t bother.”
“My experience of Pod Point was night and day compared to Rolec. I was greeted by a modern, clean and bright website with a clear message and a call-to-action that directed me right where I needed to be – home charging. But it’s what happened when I got there that made all the difference.
“Instead of information overload, there was a simple white page with one option – the make and model of my electric car. The next step was to choose ‘universal or ‘tethered,’ including a straightforward explanation of their differences. Again, once I’d selected, I was given the next series of options; this process continued until just one choice remained.
“Pod Point drip-fed only the relevant information, making the process effortless. As a result, they demystified what was initially a complex decision into a simple process. No doubt the core information was very similar on both sites, but Pod Point had made an effort to understand the buying process and leveraged a great user experience to win my business, and it worked.”
A trend that isn’t going away
This personal way of enhancing the buying process will only become more and more common as other companies try to find an edge over their competitors. In his seminal book on content marketing and inbound sales, They Ask, You Answer, author Marcus Sheridan discusses this trend in detail:
“…a very interesting buyer trend has continued to revolutionise… the very sale itself.
“In the digital age, buyers have certain expectations:
They want it fast.
They want it personalised.
They want it to be easy.”
Regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C, your consumers want to do their research. So arm them with the details and give them the confidence to make their choice, even if they still need to speak to a member of your team to conclude the final sale.