Does a pretty opt-in form matter?One of the most valuable steps you can take to building a successful blog is to start an email newsletter. One of the best ways to get subscribers to your newsletter is to use a lightbox popup inviting them to join.
What if I told you that having a well-designed lightbox is as important as whatever offer you have inside of it? That an ugly lightbox with a free offer so severely underperforms a pretty lightbox with no offer, that you’re better off working on making the lightbox pretty than creating a freebie?
One of my other sites is ScotchAddict.com, a site where I write about scotch whisky. It’s a fun little hobby site that I enjoy testing some ideas on, including Aweber lightboxes.
A short time ago, I put up an ugly lightbox. I took one of Aweber’s lightboxes, edited some text, and threw it up in about twenty minutes (lightbox, followups, the whole deal). My goal was to just capture emails, conversion rate and all that was not a concern. I wanted fast. Eventually, I came up with a giveaway (a gift guide) and edited the text to include it.
To the left you see the ugly lightbox. It’s dark, it has no images, it’s pretty barebones.
On 54,772 displays, it captured 106 submission for an abysmal conversion rate of 0.193%.
You’d almost expect people to accidentally enter in their email at a higher rate. 🙂
Of course, I didn’t spend any time on this lightbox and I shouldn’t be surprised that the performance was horrible. Garbage in, garbage out.
I knew that I could do better and, honestly, I had to. I couldn’t look at the list, see the 0.193%, and have any sort of pride in what I was doing.
Two New “Pretty” Lightboxes
If you’ve seen the opt-in lightbox on Microblogger, then the new one on Scotch Addict should look somewhat familiar (they’re from OptinMonster).
I’ve been split testing two versions, one with no bonus and one with a free scotch gift guide offer (these are not to scale relative to the earlier one):
Both out perform the old ugly lightbox.
On ~3,500 impressions each, the gift guide offer converts at a little under 1% and the no-gift offer converts at around 0.45%. Both beat the pants off the old lightbox at the 95% confidence level.
The prettier lightbox with no incentive beat the ugly lightbox with a gift guide offer.
(also, the gift guide offer beat the no gift guide offer at the 95% confidence level, no surprise there)
This should come as no surprise – a well designed opt-in lightbox with a relevant image and copy that matches the reader beats out an ugly black popup (who even cares what it offers?). Hold the presses!
Why bother testing?
By all accounts, a 0.193% conversion rate is terrible.
Why even test this? Technically I didn’t. I didn’t run the ugly lightbox against the two OptinMonster designed lightboxes. I simply replaced them and use their conversion numbers to compare against the ugly lightbox so it’s not a 100% true comparison, but it’s close enough.
If you want to do this 100% by the book, you would run each box 1/3 of the time and then compare the numbers. You never know how traffic might change, different people behave differently, and the people visiting in August are different than those visiting in December. Still, at 0.193% I felt anything could be better.
That said, in most cases I would’ve tested it by the book. You never want to make assumptions, even obvious ones like this, because you can always be surprised. It only takes a few extra steps to test, so you might as well (plus, you might discover something new and unexpected… which is always exciting!).
Can we really conclude pretty is better?
No, so many things changed between the ugly lightbox and the two prettier ones you can’t point to “prettiness” as the reason (plus pretty is subjective). The lightbox was bigger, it had a picture of a bottle of scotch, it wasn’t black, it had a blue button with an action verb, etc.
What we can conclude is that the new way is better than the old way. 🙂
If you are using a generic looking lightbox, you’re missing out on subscribers.
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