Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post about the importance of carefully selecting your positive and negative keywords, I’ve some remarkable online test insights to share from ContentVerve.com’s Michael Aargaard.
Michael wanted to find out what impact adding a privacy statement alongside a registration form would have on sign-up rates. I think you’ll agree, the results are far from obvious!
Using a registration form on a high traffic online betting site, he started by adding a simple statement “100% privacy – we will never spam you!” just above the Sign Up link. This simple change resulted in an 18.7% drop in sign ups compared to a control cell:
That’s a huge drop in sign ups through the addition of statement that is regularly used to increase conversion!
Suspecting the ‘spam’ word to be a possible cause of this drop, Michael ran another test, this time with a privacy statement that read “100% privacy. We keep all your personal information secret”:
This time there was no significant difference between the two cells. The privacy statement was neither helping nor impairing conversion to sign up.
Time for another test, this time with a subtly more reassuring statement “We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared.” The results were remarkable:
That’s almost 20% more sign-ups from a simple, reassuring promise. Michael’s hypothesis is that the word ‘guarantee’ serves as a much more credible and authoritative commitment to fair play than the previous statements.
There was just time for one more test, this time reintroducing the ‘spam’ word to see if it would have the same negative impact as seen previously:
Incredibly, all of the good provided by the ‘guarantee’ word appears to have been undone by the reintroduction of that toxic ’spam’ word.
I’m indebted to Michael for sharing his test findings with us. But what can we learn from this exercise?
Firstly, as I’ve reported before, the little changes sometimes make all the difference. Without careful testing, the impact of inadvertently giving visitors reasons to be fearful through a mention of ‘spam’ might never have been spotted. And neither would we have been able to quantify the powerful reassurance felt by offering a ‘guarantee’.
As a result of this testing, we now know that for this particular website the word ‘spam’ (and all related synonyms) should be treated as strict negatives in future. As will be any other terms that could fuel alarm amongst potential customers. And more work can now be done to verify the reassuring power of a ‘guarantee’ and further testing carried out to see where else this keyword can be used to good effect across the site and on other marketing materials.
Remember, your mileage may vary. You should never treat the findings from one website as certain proof for your own site. But you can take heart from these results and embark on your own testing programme to establish if your site visitors will react the same way.
Sometimes the most obvious things in life are far from self-evident. The inquisitive marketer can learn a great deal from Michael’s methodical testing process. Perhaps your website will be the next proving ground for some remarkable marketing insights.
ContentVerve.com’s Testing Summary:
The longer you work in any specialist field the more susceptible you become to placing trust in tried-and-tested rules and principles.
Take the well-known fact that content placed on a website above the fold (that is in the top portion of the screen, visible to all when the page loads) performs better than stuff below the fold. Everybody knows that, right? Yes, but it’s not entirely true.
What used to work in the days of PCs and Internet Explorer sometimes doesn’t apply in the era of tablets, smartphones and personalised apps. Today’s web users are well-versed in scrolling up and down pages; it’s a completely natural gesture on a touchscreen device and nearly every modern mouse features a handy scrolling wheel or touchpad.
But beyond the technology changes, savvy surfers simply no longer behave as predictably as in the past. What many would consider a textbook position to put a call-to-action, high on the page, above the fold, may sometimes deliver substantially better results if placed lower down the page or after additional information to motivate a click has appeared first.
To understand this you need to appreciate the context of the decision you are asking your site visitors to take. If the buying decision is complex or needs to be carefully considered, today’s surfers are extremely tolerant of supporting information like comparison charts, videos and customer references. And so it really doesn’t matter where the final call-to-action sits, as long as the right amount of supporting information can be accessed easily and quickly to enable a decision to be made. Requiring a visitors to make a few downwards swipes or to hunt briefly for the buying button is no longer automatically a barrier to success. In UI design context is king…
Add to this the added complexity that comes from people viewing pages on a multitude of different screens and devices, anything from a 2 inch phone to an 84inch 3D TV, and the rich variety of delivery platforms from internet browsers to niche applications, and you have the perfect recipe for some very confused, sore-brained web designers.
One solution now in widespread use is to feature small, floating content boxes that remain on screen and slide as the reader scrolls through the page. These moving panels can ensure key navigation components or calls to action remain easily accessible. But they also carry a distraction overhead so test them carefully to verify that the navigation benefits outweigh any attention interference they may create.
As I explained in a recent post, the facilities we have for testing different design hypotheses are better than ever. Simply ramming a primary call-to-action down your visitors’ throats as soon as they land on your site may not give the best results today. Of course, your call-to-action needs to be visible, distinctive and worded to elicit action, but never assume there’s only one best place for it to live. That’s old school thinking, a dangerous path to tread in a world of constant change,
So have some fun, think differently and explore some alternatives. With a little intelligent testing and creativity you could open up a whole new world of engagement in our scroll-happy world!