The Rule of One: The Simplest Form of Conversion Optimization You Could Do for Your Business

rule of one (CRO)

Firstly, let’s get on the same page here.

What is conversion optimization?

Conversion Optimization – or Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – is the process of increasing the amount of desired action (conversion) you’re getting from an asset.

This could be increasing the number of visitors that convert to leads on your landing page; or increasing the number of checkouts (or sales) you get in your business online. It could be boosting the number of people that register for your webinar…heck, it could be the number of people that share your post, if that’s the goal of that post.

It’s all about getting more of that action you want people to take on your site.

Note that conversion optimization isn’t about increasing traffic to your site, or even about creating offers. Here it’s assumed you’re getting traffic to the page, and that the page contains an offer – or at least an action – created for the visitor to take.

What CRO does instead is optimizing the page and all its elements (offer, content, design, etc) in a way that makes more of the traffic you’re getting take that action you desire.

A basic example is putting a call-to-action (CTA) in a page where it was lacking. This page will definitely experience a better result from this change. There are more complex ones like changing button colours and text fonts. However, you want to make sure you don’t make ANY change to your site without testing.

Having said that, it suffices to say conversion optimization goes hand-in-hand with testing – and of course, analytics.

Common CRO Mistake

The aim of this post however is not to give you a deep insight on Conversion Optimization (sure that will come at a later time); the post is meant to address a very common mistake webmasters and business owners make online.

It’s a mistake almost nobody is immuned against, unless you’re careful to avoid it – as it’s easy to fall into.

It’s a mistake I made recently, which cost me some otherwise good business. And that’s why I’ve written this post; to make you learn from my mistakes.

In my years as a copywriter and website analyst (or auditor), many people have complained to me about their web copy or email not performing as well as expected. I’ve found various reasons for this, but one major and very common culprit is multiple choices.

Multiple Choice Problem

What do I mean by this?

Let me give you an example.

Have you read an email or blogpost that (towards the end) says “click here to learn more” (or download something), and in the next paragraph says “drop a comment” or “follow us on Facebook”?

Sure you’ve had a lot of them. They seem like the norm. Sometimes a single email can ask you to do 5 things: reply the mail; click to read a post; share with your connections; comment on the post you’re going to read; follow the business on social media, and then; add their email to your address book.

Unfortunately sometimes you don’t have a choice as a marketer or business owner, you can’t avoid including more than one CTA. However, try all you can to reduce the required actions as much as you can. And then, make sure there’s an overriding call-to-action that naturally seems like the asset (email or web)’s major and reasonable action to take.

Other CTAs (if necessary) should be subtle – e.g., placing share buttons below post instead of spelling it out within post.

It might be hard to believe, but it’s proven that the more choices you give to people, the less likely they are to take any action. It’s called The Paradox of Choice.

The Paradox of Choice v. Conversion

How does the paradox of choice relate to conversion optimization?

It’s simple: reduce the choices available on each asset to the most important ones. Let your marketing follow The Rule of One – which is the opposite of the Paradox of Choice.

The Rule of One helps you to get more action from your visitors or prospects by giving them just one major choice.

Let your blogpost be written around one major idea; your email should solicit just one action; your sales copy should be tied around one major promise or one major idea; let your call-to-action be just one, notwithstanding where; let your ads do just one thing: get the click to the landing page; etc.

One place this rule of one is followed so well, almost automatically and unanimously, is the landing page. The structure of a landing page allows for either of two things: the reader takes the required action, or the reader leaves. No other options.

Other assets might not follow the rule as strictly as landing pages do, but even if there’ll be other items; let them be mere subordinates to the major option.

For example, you can list 20 benefits of your products in your sales page, but all those benefits should never contradict the main overriding benefit; they should only support it and help make it more persuasive.

Rule of One in Designs + My Mistake

Is the Rule of One applicable to web design?

Yes. Other than CTAs and copy, your website design should also be done in a way that the elements on each page give more power to the main objective of each page, and not suppress it.

Other than the home page that’s supposed to be a map, sort of, that leads to all other pages on the site, every webpage should have one major pronounced objective.

(Note that the homepage itself must have a major objective, which should reasonably be the major objective of the website – and that is what should occupy the above-the-fold portion of your homepage).

A certain design flaw cost me some business few weeks ago, when I was promoting the free Social Selling Training.

The landing page was good and conversion rate was okay…until the final stage of opting in.

Most email solutions have made it compulsory that every single subscriber you get must go through something called “double opt-in”, that is, to really show you have their consent to enter your list and get emails from you, they need to first opt-in with your forms, and then later click on a button (or link), sent to them by email, to confirm that they really want to join.

After almost 2 days of sending traffic via Facebook ads, I noticed that more people were opting into the general RenegadeCommerce newsletter instead of the free training I was pushing, which was the main goal.

I was baffled and wondered what was wrong, because the landing page wasn’t displaying the general newsletter opt-in form at all. It was only displaying a “Sign Up” button.

My Findings

On analyzing data collected (which is one of the first steps in CRO), I found out that the page visitors are taken to after opting in was also getting traffic.

That meant people were actually subscribing. That page was unfortunately meant to direct them to go confirm their willingness to subscribe by clicking a link sent to their email. That was where they got stuck.

I came up with several hypotheses (next step in CRO). People were too lazy to go confirm their email as the steps were too long; the confirmation email was getting into their spam folders; etc.

But with more careful analysis, I discovered something.

Just like every other non-landing-page on my website, the confirmation page had my Lead Magnet (an eBook) and an opt-in form (that general newsletter opt-in form) to get the eBook. So it became obvious people were attracted by the lead magnet and ignoring the message on the page that directs them to their email.

The title of the page also said “Thank You” in big fonts, while the smaller fonts went ahead to say the subscriber had one more step to take, which was to go click the confirmation link in his/her email.

It was obvious that the big and bold “Thank You” made them feel they already completed the subscription, and the attractive lead magnet didn’t help too.

These were however still hypotheses. I had to confirm by changing the design and implementing the necessary corrections (the next steps in conversion optimization).

Steps I Took

Firstly, I removed the lead magnet from the page completely.

Then I changed the copy of the page. I changed the page title to “One Final Step, Please!”, and I outlined the steps to be taken to complete subscription, using visual elements like bold, underline, and numbered list.

conversion rate optimization (CRO)

Needless to say the result was drastic and immediate. The free training list started growing, later overtook the lead magnet list by a far distance, and also drastically reduced the number of people that failed to go confirm from their mail – because that was almost the only thing anyone could do on the page.

Giving them another option to get something else for free instead of completing the process for the one at hand broke the rule of one, and I didn’t like the consequences. In fact, many left without either confirming or opting into the lead magnet list. Paradox of choice!


Think in the “Rule of One” way for all your designs and copy/content and you’d stop missing out on a lot of the potential actions you really desire.

If any of your marketing assets isn’t working well, before you make any big change, first ensure it doesn’t break this rule of one by distracting your prospect from that major action you intend getting.

Over to you now: what do you think about this post? Is it something you can relate to? Have you made same mistakes or noticed others making them?

Or do you have any questions or objections? Drop them in the comments section so we can discuss further.



  • Seyi

    Reply Reply November 11, 2016

    Great post.

    Especially when you consider that you’ve worked really hard to generate traffic only for you to lose leads and customers by making it hard for them to make the choice you want them to make.

    Sort of like shooting yourself in the foot, after buying a really expensive pair of shoes 🙂

    • Oludami

      Reply Reply November 11, 2016

      Great point there, Seyi. Thanks for the comment!

  • Smithk981

    Reply Reply April 30, 2017

    Really informative article post.Thanks Again. Awesome!

    • Oludami

      Reply Reply June 1, 2017

      Thanks Smith 🙂

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