This is particularly true online where the #1 most often used button on most people’s Internet browser is the back button (easy to believe if you pay attention to your own web browsing for just an hour or two). The most common way you might see this used online is with a line of links for sections of a site that you have navigated to get to a particular point … for example on a retail site, it might be:
Apparel > Shoes > Mens > Outdoor > Sandals > Brown
Not only does having a list of links like this help you return to the higher level where you came from, it also provides context for the page that you’re on. Breadcrumbing isn’t just an online technique though.
IKEA has huge complicated warehouses that are easy to get lost in – but they do their best to make sure you have indicators to see where you came from, and signs on how to make a quick exit. Another form of this idea can be seen in tests such as the SAT and Driving Knowledge tests that include progress indicators to let you see how far you have come and how much is left.
Letting people see where they came from is all about comfort. It’s the retail equivalent of leaving the door open behind you when you walk into a scary room. Having the door there for an easy exit makes it a lot less scary. Done right, breadcrumbing can make your customers more comfortable and add context to your customer’s experience. The end result is, you’ll – avoid frustrating customers and increase your conversion rate.
Rohit is a founding member of the 360 Digital Influence group at Ogilvy, one of the largest agencies in the world. He is author of the best selling new marketing book Personality Not Included, a guide for small business on how to be more authentic, keep your customers and inspire your employees, which has been published globally in 8 languages.>