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Progressive Disclosure, Relevant Disclosure, Choice Architecture, and Your Conditional Marketing Funnel

Progressive Disclosure, Relevant Disclosure, Choice Architecture, and Your Conditional Marketing Funnel

Progressive Disclosure is a psychological principle that states a user is less likely to be overwhelmed by information or a system if only a subset of choices is made available to them. Focused around the notion that approachability and ease of use must take precedence over overchoice in order to improve upon user engagement, progressive disclosure is a discursive psychological principle applied by drip-feeding relevant and selected information into the life of a user in order to improve their understanding of your product or services (i.e. "less is more").

You're probably already familiar with progressive disclosure in the real world. For example, amusement park rides will often have a long line obfuscated by a crammed grid pattern towards the ride itself, with the longer line shielded by fences and other means - the intent is to progressively disclose the ridiculous waiting times. In the finance world, mortgage brokers will usually introduce just three product options to clients but have a dozen other options tucked away if required, and each mortgage option opens up the discussion to a set of additional product features that requires exploration and further disclosure. Progressive disclosure is inherently human nature; we introduce what's important and build on that information over time (think of the first date dynamic: it takes time to develop trust, or simply establish an understanding of the other person). However, in the digital and funnel world the concept and application of progressive disclosure is seemingly ignored.

In a previous article we looked at "Hick’s Law and The Paradox of Choice", and how simplicity tends to win over complexity; this article details how that simplicity is maintained while still managing to escalate the funnel experience. We'll introduce how we use progressive disclosure as part of your marketing efforts, and how it can improve upon your conversions and opportunities. We'll also reintroduce how we've designed our standard website and marketing funnel to be simple enough that it's easy to navigate but complex enough to provide very clearly defined and extremely powerful funnel pathways for individual users. As we'll come to explain, progressive disclosure is managed by a proprietary 'choice architecture' that not only allows us to drip-feed a complex understanding or experience to a user, but the disclosure is also reciprocal in nature in that a user - by way of interacting with our marketing assets - progressively discloses more about them back to us.

What is Choice Architecture: Choice architecture is the design of different ways in which choices can be presented to consumers, and the impact of that presentation on consumer decision-making. The choice architecture term was originally coined by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Choice Architecture is also similar to the concept of "heuristics," or manipulation that changes outcomes without changing people's underlying experience. The manner in which we manage the architecture is by evaluating the consumer experiences after a choice has been made, and then returning an experience that presents a new subset of relevant options.
Progressive Disclosure Origin: The progressive disclosure technique gained the attention of user interface specialists through John M. Carroll and Mary Rosson’s early lab work at IBM. It was in 1983 that the pair found that hiding advanced functionality early on led to an increased success of its use later on. They hid advanced functions from a user that weren't necessary, or were likely to overwhelm.

While the term 'progressive disclosure' is normally reserved for UX design or the usability of software, we're going to introduce how we've modified the behaviour for application on your website or in your funnel... something we're only able to achieve because we apply conditional pressure points throughout the funnel journey. The enterprise experience we're about to describe is one that is only available through Belief, and it's one of the many reasons we're able to consistently deliver far more conversions than any competing 'lead generation' system in the market.

Progressive Disclosure in Design

You're probably more familiar with progressive disclosure as it relates to the User Experience or software design (the 'advanced options' tab in just about every piece of software is a good everyday example of progressive disclosure). In essence, we've bastardised re-imagined the progressive concepts in order to support the application of our conditional website and dynamic funnel features. While our methods are modeled on the principal of progressive disclosure, our application isn't strictly adhering to the more formal definition - while we do apply progressive disclosure in the funnel, the methods we employ might best be described as relevance disclosure since we focus on the relevance of the information in addition to the escalating nature of information disclosure.

To demonstrate how progressive and relevant disclosure overlap, consider the feature made available on our mortgage broker website that changes front page website content based on determined interest. While a user might start their journey with a default website font page, as that user starts to deliver us with a better understanding of their needs we're able to shape an experience around their primary borrowing objective and deliver more useful information (the choice architecture and conditional engine replaces content, renders new information, or completely alters the way in which your website is positioned). We always endeavour to provide the least amount of effort in order to arrive at a page that returns appropriate information (and in most cases we endeavour to provide relevant information on whatever entry page or path that delivered a user to our website).

Those primary front-page elements used on our mortgage broker website are used and positioned because they convert more than any other, so it stands to reason we'll make those page assets actually perform their desired function (we shouldn't make a user go looking for something if we know their borrowing objective... and navigation itself is a kind of roadblock that often limits ongoing page-views and engagement). So, what we've just described (the chameleon shape-shifting that changes what information or assets are presented to a user) is more of a relevance disclosure in that we endeavour to return relevance to a page. The second part of the experience - the progressive disclosure - is generally orientated around rendering blocks of content to a page based on the source of the traffic or determined borrowing objective (interest type) so we're able to vertically escalate the information on the page based within a siloed topic (a simple example of vertical escalation is the cycling of panels and forms). If you know how people think, or you know what they're looking to achieve, you can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what you want, and what is known to create more conversions.

Conditional Topics are Moderately Complicated

Confused yet? You shouldn't be - conditional features are actually quite simple. However, despite its simplicity, not all businesses will choose to use conditional tools. We've found that any business that fails to apply necessary TLC to their website prior to their engagement with Belief is just as unlikely to engage with their website after they've found us. That said, as your marketing matures and you develop more sophisticated marketing programs you will invariably be drawn to the amazing features Yabber Tag: yabber provides. Your marketing can be as powerful as you want it to be, and your website and funnel experience will always have the capacity to deliver a user experience that is more powerful than even large franchises with the deepest of marketing budgets.

This article was a necessity prior to an article introducing our mortgage broker website as it provides an understanding of the underlying website framework and conversion-based architecture our systems provide. An appreciation of the escalating methodology assigns the necessary value to an integrated website and funnel, and describes precisely why most lead generation systems made available to the market are objectively garbage.

Progressive Disclosure in Your Website Funnel

The website we provide mortgage brokers or any other client is 'simple' in nature, and it is designed to minimise options while always providing information that is most relevant (determined from various page interactions and a learned behaviour), and in many cases it is designed to remove content that isn't deemed relevant. We reduce clutter from each page and tend to replace large block of text with FAQs, and we create a clear patterned pathway that provides a user with very deliberate navigation options (we provide a user with an illusion of choice but in actuality we're forging a conditional path for them in real time).

It is perhaps the holy grail of digital User Experience (UX) to introduce introspection illusion into browsing habits, or introduce the illusion that a user has control over browsing habits or even call-to-action based behaviour when we are in fact paving out an escalation=based conversion pathway (we show the user what we want them to see). This behaviour isn't deception in any way - it's just that we're introducing relevance into their website pathway, and identified relevance will always convert better than generic.

What is a Website Funnel?: A website funnel is essentially the pathways created on your website to drive a user through your page assets, and ultimately into a subscription or conversion. If a website isn't designed with very clear pathways in mind then it cannot serve its intended purpose. The conditional website funnel is simply one in which we lay out a navigation pathway in real time based on their determined borrowing objective.
The Dark Side: The dark side of a conditional experience is that which causes a user to take pathways that are persuasive or manipulative in nature, and tend to force browsing patterns that go against the wishes of a user. The conditional experience we deliver is one that is always focused on education and relevance, and we never (and cannot) use lock-in techniques that shape deceptive pathways.
UX Versus Conversions: The experienced served to a user on a highly conditional website is not necessarily one that delivers a better user experience. We mitigate the conditional interruptions by removing friction (clicks, page views etc.).
Less is More: In our opening paragraph we used the aphorism "Less is More". The statement is often associated with 'Flat Design', a style of interface design or information delivery that emphasizing minimalist use of elements, typography and flat colors. It is also closely associated with 'Literary Minimalism', a method of communication that we've used in the marketing funnel to convey multiple meanings to text, allowing the reader to make clear subjective decisions with the translation always interpreted as an objective truth (i.e. the illusion of choice). In web design, we tend to focus on a Flat design but lean towards a skeuomorphic design on converting elements (essentially meaning that they're designed with clear call-to-action). The minimalist nature of design is one that is closely connected to progressive disclosure in that the disclosure of information is made in a minimalistic or progressive manner.
Dark Patterns: The experience our conditional engine provides will always focus on relevance and education - no trickery of any kind is ever involved. An example of trickery in design is the 'promoted ads' in Google's search results; the ads are almost indistinguishable from the organically ranked content making those that pay achieve the illusion of rank. Unlike the dark patterned features you experience on large retail websites, our progressive experience is designed to help a user through a relevant course of education, therefore improving upon the experience. We believe the ridiculous and intrusive 'quiz questions' used on many landing pages as a means of flawed client qualification are a dark pattern (referred to as "Trick Question", or even "Privacy Zuckering") because no report is delivered to a user (despite the ubiquitous and misleading claims in many broker Facebook ads). The "find out if you qualify for rates under 2%" style of nonsense is deception, meaning that the first interaction you have with a potential client is predicated on a lie (and we believe contrary to Best Interest Duty in every respect). The responses to the nonsense quiz questions are often used to filter an applicant into the garbage (in any other industry this behaviour would be shamed).

Belief's core conditional philosophy and the underlying escalation of commitment ideology underpins our entire digital funnel experience, and it is one that paves the way for relevance to be introduced to a user even before they've asked for it. In a data-driven environment we're often able to identify what a user is looking for before they know they need it - thus introducing relevance and the illusion of control into your funnel experience (Amazon are said to identify is a woman is pregnant before she knows herself, and it's this deep understanding we're looking to achieve ourselves... just maybe not the pregnancy part).

Belief is the only company in the finance space to incorporate machine learning into our marketing experience (and one of just a handful in the country). The BeNet system evaluates browsing patters in real time and matches the known interest of the user against the known pathways necessary for a conversion, so we're able to inject this altered pattern into your website or marketing funnel. For example, each link passes through BeNet, and if an altered pattern is deemed acceptable we'll redirect the user to a more suitable page, alter the page they're directed to, or completely alter the purpose of the website. At the lower end of the scale the always-important and vital 'second page' after a form subscription can often result in the user sent to a page that converts more than any other.

The progressive nature of the experience just described is formulated based on browsing habits and a determined understanding. We progressively introduce information into our website (and exclude others) based on the escalated understanding of a user.

Progressive Disclosure in Your Marketing Funnel

The disclosure of information in your marketing funnel is highly directed, information-rich, education-focused, and designed to qualify you as a broker. We've talked about the funnel at length in the past, and we've introduced how and why our experience is more effective than the generic nonsense peddled to the market, so we'll avoid introducing the specifics in this section. Instead, we'll simply talk about how the progressive nature of information is actioned.

We follow a very specific form with post-subscription email campaigns, with the campaigns always intended to share on-site education resources that help us shape an understanding of that client. Yabber evaluates all user interactions (such as website pathways, email engagement, downloads, and telecommunications) and applies a predictive analysis to resolve what the end user is interested in achieving. If we know the objective of our client we're able to shape an experience around their needs. Our proprietary methods ensures that your emails are being opened because we're responding to a user - not talking at them. The website experience served to the user obviously engages them in a heightened manner and is more likely to convert because we've crafted their pathways based on what we know (or predict) they're trying to achieve.

When a user first subscribes to an email campaign of any kind we have a very short window of opportunity to capture their attention and create that important early engagement, and we'll achieve better results if we drip-feed information to a user progressively, and we should avoid overwhelming them with the massive dump of information necessary to fully understand any topic. However, while we employed an education-based sequence of emails over the first seven to ten days (known as the "Sonata Sequence") we don't shy away from creating a pathway into a real-world conversion funnel (normally starting with a phone call). The 'sales' nature of later emails are still designed to escalate, but they remain predominantly education focused.

The first email in a broker's First Home Buyer education campaign is usually orientated around LVR and LMI since these two connected subjects allow us to gain a broader understanding of other buyer attributes, such as the suitability for grants, whether they're building or buying, and whether they'll be drawn towards a guarantor product (all can be determined in the first email interaction). Coupled with the Venus report we're fed with large amounts of information necessary to create an entirely new website experience, perhaps alter an email subscription, or send alternate emails with specific website resources that are most applicable their circumstances. Once we formulate a clearer and more definitive picture of borrowing objectives we might send a voicedrop or SMS with a relevant call-to-action or telephone invitation. The point? A funnel is a dynamic resource intrinsically linked to your website experience.

The Funnel Mind Map: A marketing funnel of any kind is not linear. The sales funnel, often introduced to the industry, is diametrically opposed to the marketing funnel because it is transactional in nature. The marketing funnel is a time-variable and multi-dimensional object that creates multiple condition-based pathways for a user (any paid marketing representation that introduces linear 'sales funnel' services such as Click Funnels or HighLevel is in our option professionally negligent).
The Funnel White Board: Any business serious about their marketing should invest in a whiteboard so they're able to visualise the various pathways created by way of their conditional funnel journey. While there's mindmap software that performs a similar function it's always better to have a prominent board somewhere in your office that keeps your experience in plain sight. As your marketing efforts mature you'll have a vast matrix of pathways that requires a big-picture understanding.
The Email Mind Map: Some time back we introduced nested email sequences to be more consistent with the conditional features made available on your website. The advanced nested sequences keeps the email component of our funnel journey on point, and creates the necessary pathways that are more likely to deliver conversions. The purpose of a nested sequences is to make the progressive disclosure of email-based information far more relevant. Each general sequence of email follows a Symphony model with the early disclosure managed via the Sonata model.

The progressive disclosure in the marketing funnel email campaign is driven by a cause-and-effect understanding based on user interactions. Clicking on a website link, or even visiting a page on your website, is enough to subscribe the user to a new list or create more targeted or direct triggers. Those same link clicks can even start to change the shape your website takes and create clearer website funnel pathways that'll make our conversion objects more visible (conversion objects are those that are designed to learn more about a user). When a video is rendered to a page we measure how much of that video was watched (thus gaining a clearer understanding of user objectives) and we may optionally use the amount of the video watched to action video triggers, or create new information pathways.

Video Triggers: Video triggers were previously a Platinum-only feature that we're now migrating to the standard experience. You can learn more about video triggers in a scheduled article (it'll be published when the feature is available to standard subscribers).

Bottom line: Progressive disclosure is a wasted principle when the information disclosed to a user isn't relevant, or doesn't provide appropriate funnel pathways. Nor is a funnel just an email campaign... and the email experience should never be disconnected from your website experience.

When we talk about full-stack and fully-integrated marketing, it's the funnel that tends to assign value to an understanding of what this means.


Sit anybody at a piano and just about everybody has the mental acuity to bang out a few notes; others will play Chopin, and some will struggle with chopsticks. We provide a tool that allows you to introduce the metaphorical Chopin-level marketing experience into your business, but you'll likely start as everybody does (and what the rest of the industry pays a premium to achieve). Creating a funnel can be an easy or as complex as you require. We routinely see experiences on the back-end of Facebook programs that deliver something that can be implemented without paid digital support (Facebook is seriously easy to implement into your business). In fact, even our free Funnels program returns at least three more conversions than some of the other programs floating around the market. Building a general conversion funnel is extremely simple to accomplish... but building something that sets you apart from industry mediocrity, and building an experience that provides an amazing conditional experience, is where the digital challenge lies. Attracting business into your Opportunity pipeline is no longer an effort - converting that traffic and optimising your experience is the new challenge, and the applied psychology we've introduced will help you achieve far better results.

Progressive disclosure is a means of escalating the understanding of a topic by drip-feeding information to them in a way that is relevant, direct, and applicable to purpose that attracted them to your website or into your funnel in the first place. Additionally, we've remastered the progressive disclosure in a way the creates additional engagement by way of relevance disclosure. In having a truly integrated data-driven marketing system we're able to learn browsing patterns and identify high-converting funnel pathways, and then deliver an experience to your website and funnel that is most relevant to a user, and most profitable for you.

Why is our website and lead-generation program so affordable? It would be wrong of us to charge a fee for a system that we know many businesses won't initially use. In fact, our entire marketing experience is intentionally priced in such a way that makes it accessible to anybody, and delivered in such a way that it immediately returns results.

  Featured Image: The Commonwealth Bank building on the corner of Brisbane and Nicholas Streets, Ipswich, early 1930s. The Commonwealth Bank was next to the Queensland Times building on Brisbane Street. The building is one of many Commbank buildings that were designed by architect Edwin Hubert Henderson. [ View Image ]

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