Webinar Testing: Slight title change produces 45% increase in clickthrough rate


As with most A/B testing stories, it all started with an argument.

I’m presenting on an upcoming MarketingSherpa webinar about B2B social media marketing with Nichole Kelly, President, SME Digital, and Eddie Smith, Chief Revenue Officer, Topsy Labs (this webinar is free, thanks to a sponsorship by Marketo).

We presented a similar session at B2B Summit 2012, and I was pretty smitten with the title I came up with – “5 B2B Social Media Career Killers … And How to Overcome Them.”

But, William Duke, Marketing Specialist, MECLABS, had the audacity to question my title.

To the split testing machine … for a quick lesson on the power of testing webinar titles (and why you should never fall in love with your babies).

This was a single-factor split test, with the only difference between the two treatments being the title of the webinar … a high noon showdown between the title William wrote and my own.


Treatment A

Subject Line: 5 B2B Social Media Career Killers … And How to Overcome Them

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Treatment B

Subject Line: How to Overcome the 5 Most Common Social Media Mistakes in B2B Marketing

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William’s more straightforward subject line received only a small (but still significant) increase in opens. Below is a screenshot taken directly from the MECLABS Test Protocol:


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However, the difference in clickthrough rates was really quite impressive for such a small and easy change …


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(We receive questions about clickthrough rate every time we write about it. Here, we’re measuring CTR as unique clicks per email delivered. If we measured unique clicks per email opened, the clickthrough rates would be 8.34% and 11.7% respectively.)


What you need to understand

The small difference in open rate can likely be attributed to the already high motivation of this particular list of MarketingSherpa subscribers. In other words, they will open almost any email they see from someone at MarketingSherpa, regardless of the subject line.

However, the 45% relative difference in the clickthrough rate suggests William’s much clearer title was more appealing to the list once they actually opened the emails. Once again, I’ve learned that, as Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, always says … clarity trumps persuasion.

Perhaps a more important lesson for me (and I’m talking to all you writers out there) is that the biggest challenge to higher conversion rates is my own hubris. That title was my baby, and I was in love with it. It was just so darn clever.

William saw more clearly, and identified the most straightforward way to communicate the webinar to the audience.

And, as the test pointed out, William was right. So we’re changing the name of the webinar.

However, if William is reading, may I just point out … the Jaguars should have traded for Tebow, and I am still right about that.


Related Resources:

How to Overcome the 5 Most Common Social Media Mistakes in B2B Marketing – Thursday, October 11, 1 p.m. EDT

Customer Theory: How we learned from a previous test to drive a 40% increase in CTR

Social Media Microsite Test: 3 lessons based on a 154% increase in leads

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  1. John Hyde says

    Don’t feel bad about this. You’ve got to love your own baby right until the start of the test. Then you need to let go and trust the numbers. Maybe someone else’s baby is better-looking.

  2. Keith says

    K-I-S-S still reigns supreme, thanks for sharing the details. Although I usually opt for the more clever headlines myself, it’s clear over thinking it’s always best.

  3. Jason says

    There’s an old grammatical rule that says never to begin a sentence with an actual number. Better to spell it out. Reinforces your point about clarity. Numbers are best understood embedded in the context of a sentence.

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