8 Simple Online Copywriting Case Studies with Examples from Real A/B Tests

8 simple online copywriting case studies with examples from real A/B testsOver the last 4 years I’ve conducted more than 250 A/B tests focusing on copywriting, and how copy impacts conversions. The main lesson I’ve learned from all this research is that your copy has direct and measurable impact on conversion.

For this article, I’ve picked out 8 very simple case studies for you where minor copy changes resulted in significant conversion lifts. Check them out and get inspiration for low-hanging fruits in your own conversion funnel.

1.) 6.64% increase in downloads by changing the font color

Here’s an example from an experiment I recently ran on FreeMake.com’s landing page for their YouTube MP3 converter. In this case, simply changing the font color of the headline from orange to black was enough to increase downloads by 6.64%.

A simple squint test (squint your eyes, stand back and see which elements stand out) revealed that the orange font color made the headline fall in with the rest of the landing page design. I hypothesized that changing the font color to black would make the headline copy stand out and increase readability.

I put my hypothesis to the test and was pleased to see that it held water – the change in font color increased readability and made it easier for prospects to understand the value of the offer right away.

Now you may be thinking, “Hey man, this has more to do with design than copywriting!” But it’s important to remember that design and copy go hand in hand.

The layout of your copy has major impact on readability, and the only way for your copy to have full effect, is if your prospects can actually read it. This case study is a perfect example of how important it is to get the layout right.

6.64% increase in downloads by changing font color

2.) 23.88% higher open rate by adding 2 words to the subject line

Lately I’ve been experimenting with subject lines when I send out my newsletter. I decided to examine what would happen, if I added an interjection to the subject line.

I went for “Hell Yeah” and set up a A/B test on the subject line when I sent out the newsletter. The treatment with the interjection increased the open rate by 23.88%.

I’ve conducted a number of similar experiments, and the variations with interjections like “Hell Yeah” or “Check it Out” consistently have a positive impact on open rates. It seems that interjections effectively capture attention and help the subject line stand out in a crowded inbox environment.23.88% higher open rate by adding 2 words to the subject line

3.) 83.75% more newsletter sign-ups by adding 3 bullet points to the form

Here’s an example from the newsletter sign-up form here on ContentVerve.com. A while ago conducted an experiment where I tested completely generic form copy against a version where I added a few bullets to clarify what free updates from ContentVerve.com consist of.

This simple exercise in clarifying value and relevance resulted in an 83.75% increase in sign-ups.

In my experience, giving people a good and credible reason to say, “Yes” is one of the most effective ways of increasing conversions. In many cases, the easiest way of dong that is by answering the question, “What will I get in return for what I have to give you?”83.75% more newsletter sign-ups by adding 3 bullet points

4.) 18.70% drop in sign-ups by adding a privacy policy

I conducted a series of tests on the sign-up form on BettingExpert.com, experimenting with different privacy policies. Initially I was certain sure that simply adding a privacy policy would increase sign-ups. Boy was I wrong!

The first one I tested actually reduced sign-ups by 18.70%!18.70% drop in sign-ups by adding a privacy policy

The initial negative test result got me really fired up, and I went ahead and tested a number of different variations (See the full case study here >>). I won’t get into full detail here, but I ended up with a version that worked really well and increased sign-ups by 19.47%.

Here’s the winning treatment:

We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared. 19.47% lift in sign-ups by adding a privacy policy

The main thing I learned is that having the word spam in the policy hurt conversions. My hypothesis is that - although the messaging revolves around assuring prospects that they won’t be spammed – the word itself give rise to anxiety in the minds of the prospects.

Therefore, the word spam should be avoided in close proximity to the form. Check out the full case study with all the different variations here >>

5.) 17.18% increase in conversion by adding a text link CTA to product overview pages

This example is taken from a Danish e-commerce site that sells car care products. The site features bundles consisting of a variety of different products.

The product overview pages showing the bundle packages only feature an, “Add To Basket” button. This means that potential customers are being asked to add to product to the basket before they really know what the offer consists of

Here adding a text link CTA with the copy, “View Bundle” increased conversion to sales by 17.18%.17.18% increase in conversion by adding a text link CTA to product overview pages

It’s natural that prospects need to have a look at what the offer consists of, before they are ready to add it to the basket, and it makes sense to find out where in the decision-making process the prospect is, so you can ask for an action that’s timely rather than pushy.

6.) 14.79 increase in conversion by changing 1 word in the CTA

This is a test I ran on MatchOffice.com – an international commercial real estate portal through which businesses can find offices for rent.

Once a prospect finds a relevant office, they have to click to the main CTA in order to get more information on the office via e-mail. This means that clicking the CTA is the main conversion goal, and every extra click potentially means money in the bank.

By changing the the button copy from, “Order Information and Prices” to, “Get information and Prices” we increased conversions by 14.79%.

14.79% more conversions by adding 1 word to the CTA

The copy you use in your buttons has major impact on your prospects’ decisions. Button color and design are important visual cues that tell the prospect where to click. But in the last critical moment, the copy itself is what impacts the prospect’s final decision. In other words your CTA copy answers the question, “Why should I click this button?”

The more value you can convey via your button copy, the more conversions you’ll get. The word “Order” emphasizes what you have to do – instead of what you’re going to get. Whereas, “Get” conveys value as it emphasizes what you’re going to get – rather than what you have to do to get it.

Just in case you think this test is a fluke, here’s an example from a Danish sister website where exactly the same exercise resulted in a lift of 38.26%. 

38.26% more conversions by changing 1 word in the CTA

7.) 38.46% increase in memberships by tweaking the headline copy

Here’s an example from a test I conducted for one of my clients, Fitness World, a large Scandinavian chain of gyms. In this case I tested a headline variation on a PPC landing page that sells gym memberships.

I challenged the control headline, “You Work Out Smarter at Fitness World” (literal translation of the Danish original) with probably the most uncreative headline I’ve ever presented to a client, “Group Training & Fitness at Your Local Gym” (literal translation of the Danish original).

Most creative copywriters would probably laugh at my treatment and tell me to go back to marketing school. But the fact is that when we tested the two headlines against each other, my boring treatment outperformed the sexy version and sold 38.46% more memberships.

38.46% more conversions by tweaking a headline

My impression is that many marketers assume that the more creative or sexy messaging will by default be the best solution. But to be honest, I have never seen a split test where that assumption actually held water. And I have yet to see a creative message beat a clear, concrete value proposition in an A/B test.

8.) 5.04% more downloads by tweaking the sub-header

This is another test I ran on the FreeMake.com YouTube MP3 converter  landing page. In this case, a few simple tweaks to the sub-header was enough to increase downloads by 5.04%.

The role of your sub-header is to expand on, and add credibility to, the promise/value set forth in the headline, so you can get your prospects to stay on the page and interact with the rest of the content.

The changes here consisted of increasing the font size (in order to help readability) and tightening up the copy to make it more “to the point”.

5.04% more downloads by tweaking the sub-header

Main Take-Aways

We’ve looked at examples from case studies where simple tweaks like adding a single word or a few lines of copy had major impact on conversions. But does that mean that small changes always work? The answer is no, definitely not!

In order for the change to affect conversions, it has to have an impact in the mind of the prospect. All the examples in this article worked because they were applied to mission-critical elements that have direct impact on the decision-making process of the prospects.

You can’t expect to see major lifts for every single word you tweak. But mission-critical elements like headlines, sign-up forms, subject lines, and call-to-action buttons often represent low-hanging fruits that can give you dramatic lifts with very little effort. So keep that in mind next time you embark on a conversion optimization endeavour.

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  1. david @ growth hero says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing such specifics. In #4, it’s mind-blowing that you got such a huge drop because you *added* a privacy policy. Great insight that the word “spam” is the likely culprit.

    Can I ask what tool(s) you were using to run these tests?

  2. Great stuff as always. This really does help me in my suggested copy and content changes when consulting. Thank you for making my job just that much easier!

  3. Great article, Michael. Especially about font role – brilliant guess and statistical proof. Thanks from Freemake Team

  4. Magic stuff!

  5. All of the tips you share Michael are just fantastic and so detailed and to the point. Love it! As the other guy said my life is made easier by reading your helpful guides on boosting conversions and so forth.

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Trent – Thank you very much!

      I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’ll be publishing a free ebook on CRO within the next week ;-)

      – Michael

  6. Great content as always michael. Keep up the great work.

    Make your day great

  7. #3 is a really great tip – Emphasize the benefits to the user and they are more likely to take action. Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  8. Thanks. Sometimes it can be hard to imagine that a small change can make a significant difference but the examples really bring it to life for me.

  9. It’s amazing, MICHAEL
    You must spent alot of times and your patience to get incredible report like this. THank you for your fantastic Tips and so detailed.

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