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Lessons in Paid Search




I must admit that when it comes to research that talks about how big to make the “buy button” or what color to make it, I’m a complete nerd. MarketingSherpa just published a case study on how to Increase conversions. The software company Smartsheet involved says they increased the number of people who signed up for a free trial 280%. That’s enough to make me look twice.

Prospects who sign up for free trials are more likely to become paying customers. Smartsheet was getting 5%-7% of their visitors who click on a ad to sign up for a free trial. They tried multivariate testing – because as they point out, usually “your gut tells you one thing and the data tells you another,” according to Maria Colacurcio, VP Marketing, at Smartsheet.com. That increased conversions to very high levels – 12 to 14 percent. I’ve been in heated debates about the best course of action but testing works best – assuming you’re humble enough to go with the data over your ego.

Smartsheet’s landing pages were basically signup page. Starting off, Colacurico wanted to make the process clear and easy to use. First, they removed any distractions. For a landing page (the page people get when they click on your ad) you usually only have one goal. Define it. Then take out everything else. In this case, they took out the newsletter signup because they wanted to promote the free trial signup.

They used Widemile Inc. to help with the multivariate testing. Here’s an example of a landing page (which I can’t guarantee will stay).

As far as button text – it matters what that button says. They tested these options:

  • “Sign Up Now”
  • “Start Sharing”
  • “Organize Me”
  • “Start Now”

They also experimented with testimonials (important for a landing page), how to word their offering, and the steps of their registration process. Surprisingly, taking out a step in their registration process didn’t help conversions, so they kept it to 4 steps.As far as button text, “Start Sharing” won by a long shot, to which Colacurcio said: “It blew the other three out of the water. I was surprised because I thought it was kind of hokey.” Note: it seems like the most hokey colors and words often end up winning more business than more conventional colors that blend with your web page and the usual “sign up now” button.

You may get better results after a round of testing but Colacurcio said, “marketers should expect to face organizational barriers when they start their second round of testing.” Expect resistance. Also, keep testing because as the article says, changes in seasons and other factors will affect your results.

  • Pingback: Doubling conversion rates: MarketingSherpa case study « Billy’s Blog()

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    Interesting how subtle changes in the wording of the buttons can make a difference.

  • http://www.herbalexcel.com Steve Rosenbaum

    “Start Sharing” eh? This is a great read. Thanks Janet.

  • http://www.hotproductsplus.com Mike Montague

    Promoting with free trials always seems to do the trick.