Read ‘Em And Weep: How The Most Obnoxious Tactic Ever Improved Conversion Rates By 21.9%

Photo courtesy of Edwin.

First of all, I’m sorry. This wonderful series of tubes known as “the Internets” is about to get even worse.

If you’ve spent enough time ’round these parts, you’ve seen at least a few of those annoying pop-up ads that start talking at you before you can even get a handle on where that disembodied voice is coming from.

It’s called “autoplay” and it’s easily one of — if not THE — most obnoxious thing on the internet. Unfortunately for all of us, it works.

The Test: Can Autoplay Grab Attention & Keep It?

One of our clients relies almost exclusively on e-mail marketing to drive sales and their site is heavily focused on building their email audience.

In fact, not only is the opt-in form the most prominent element on the homepage, it lives alongside a promo video that promises some tantalizing, juicy, downloadable content in exchange for your e-mail address.

On a whim, we decided to see if making the video autoplay would grab more visitors’ attention and improve conversion rates.

Given the pretty much universal annoyance that autoplay causes coupled with the fact that the opt-in offer was already highly visible, I didn’t expect to see much of a change.

Sadly, I was wrong.

The Results: Amazing Return on a 5 Minute Test

[one_half centered_text=”true” animation=”Fade In” delay=””][milestone symbol_position=”after” color=”Accent-Color” number=”21.9″ subject=”Increase in Opt-In Rate” symbol=”%”][/one_half][one_half_last centered_text=”true” animation=”Fade In” delay=””][milestone symbol_position=”after” color=”Accent-Color” number=”98.4″ subject=”Statistical Confidence” symbol=”%”][/one_half_last]

The opt-in conversion rate increased by 21.9%! Pretty huge, given that the test only took about 5 minutes to set up. We even let the experiment run longer than necessary just to make sure it really was statistically significant, finally ending at a 98.4% level of confidence.

The Takeaway: Don’t Ignore Small, Easy Wins

So why did it work? Autoplay proved to be an effective engagement tactic. It prompted more people to watch the video, which, thanks to the client’s hard work, made a compelling offer that convinced them to opt-in. It’s an incredibly simple (albeit obnoxious) tactic, but it worked!

But the bigger lesson for me is that there are small, easy wins to be had in between the big ones. I usually advocate for basing tests on research to prioritize the biggest wins, but while we were in the process of developing something more radical, this off-the-cuff impulse made a significant impact on the CTA’s efficiency and the client’s bottom-line.

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