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Conversion Tip: Be Nice :-)

I thought I’d share the results of this little A/B split-test I’m running for one of my clients.

A little background first. We’re in the “low-hanging-fruit” phase right now, where I tend to start a bunch of quick tests, looking to fix small leaks.

(At the same time, I’m undertaking a significant re-design of their major “how do I choose the product that’s right for me?” flow, but that will have to wait for another post.)

This is a very small change, which has had a measurable positive impact, and brings with it a helpful lesson.

Here’s the lesson: Be nice. If you look around, and see your competition is buttoned-down and formal, try being a little less formal.

Take this phone number. This is found at the top-right (the correct conventional position) of my client’s site template, so it’s shown site-wide.

Phone number, original

So far, so familiar. It’s all conventional, nothing to object against, right?

Well, here’s something I’ve learned in my 5-or-so years of split-testing.

  1. If you have a call to action, something you want someone to do, it helps to give them a reason why.
  2. Also, if you can find a way to be human and friendly, it’s always worth testing.

So I tried this…

Phone number, alternative

Can you spot the difference? It simply says, “Any Questions?” before the phone number.

Now, we’re not tracking the number of phone calls as a goal on this test. But I am tracking a lot of other goals. The major one is, how many people register on the site so that they can download a free trial? (That’s something the client really cares about.)

Results

This test isn’t quite conclusive, but it has an almost 92% probability of beating the default.

Phone number test results

You can see the sample sizes are quite large: 42,000 visitors have seen each variation.

And the result is quite interesting: People are almost 10% more likely to register on the site when that tiny bit of text all the way up there in the top-right says, “Any Questions? (Call)” than when it just shows the phone number.

Why?

Well, for the reasons I gave before.

  1. It’s giving me permission to phone that number if I have any questions. So it’s telling me that number is there for me, whatever I want to know. It doesn’t just go through to the company switchboard. It will go through to someone who wants to help. That will make me a lot more likely to phone the number. But, for some reason, it’s also making it much more likely that people will go ahead and register on the site!
  2. And that’s because it’s NICE! It’s being friendly, and that’s giving the brand more of a glow of approachability, trustworthiness, and affinity with other human beings.

You see, we’re all humans. That’s one of the few things you know for sure about the website visitors you care about.

They’re human, like you and me. And they have feelings, like anxiety, like self-doubt.

Even though this site sells relatively high-ticket software aimed at business managers (and it’s extremely good too!), you need to remember that all kinds of visitors can still feel nervous or doubtful.

So anything we can do to make our websites NICER can help!

To take this to another level, we might even show a photo of a friendly face alongside the phone number. (We know that faces draw the eye.) However, that’s a test for another day.

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben is the creator of Web Design From Scratch. He started writing articles about web design to kill time on a long train commute, and is now one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written three books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally.