Are Your Customers Risk-Takers? When And How To Use Risk Tactics To Improve Conversions

Do you know how risk is affecting your customers? Columnist Jeremy Smith reveals some ways to determine your users’ risk appetite and techniques for dealing with it.

Every customer who completes an act of conversion on your website does so in the face of risk.

Risk is part of every e-commerce transaction. It’s not the same type of risk or risk level of, say, jumping from your second-story window into the swimming pool, but there is a risk, nonetheless.

As a conversion optimizer, you must recognize that reducing this risk — no matter how seemingly small or insignificant — is your job.

How can you reduce risk and its close cousin, user anxiety? There are tactics, strategies and methodologies that are proven to push risk downward.

As a result, conversions rise.

If you want to really understand risk, you need to understand how risk affects your customers.

Here’s what you need to know:

Each Of Your Customers Has One Of Three Attitudes Toward Risk

Risk theory posits that there are three primary attitudes about risk. Each of your customers will fall under one of the following categories:

  • Risk-Averse: These people hate risk. They will do everything they can to avoid it. They want surety, confidence and zero risk.
  • Risk-Neutral: People in this middle-of-the-road group aren’t really sure whether they like or dislike risk, or they simply don’t think about it enough to worry.
  • Risk-Seeking: These are the life-on-the-edge people who love thrills and don’t mind taking edgy, electrifying and risky actions.


That’s a neat and tidy way to view the customers on your website. Reality, as is often the case, is a lot messier.

Different people respond to different types of risks in different ways. Let me explain this with an example:

One person may be extremely risk-averse when it comes to vehicle safety. He drives an ultra-safe car, drives extremely cautiously and does all he can to maintain car safety.

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