We Hate Spam (and our optin rate) As Much As You Do…


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As I often do, I posted one of my “Conversion Tips” to Twitter today, and the response was fantastic and I got a ton of re-tweets!

This was the tip:

Conversion Tip: The words “We Hate Spam” near your optin button actually HURTS optin rates in most tests.

Several people asked me to expand on the tip, so here it goes…

I’m not sure who started it, but it’s everywhere. (I probably still have it on a few of my own sites.)

“We Hate Spam as Much As You Do!”

That’s the statement near the submit button on websites all over the net.

In fact, according to Google, the phrase “we hate spam as much as you do” is found on over 2,000,000 pages.

People see other websites using the phrase, assume it must work and paste it on their own site.

But guess what?

Who ever came up with that stamen probably didn’t bother to test it!

How do I know this?

Because I HAVE tested it. Over a dozen times in different niches and markets and in nearly every test it lowered response rates.

In fact it even lowered response rates when tested against no privacy statement whatsoever!

Of course, as with anyone’s test results I always recommend doing your own test to verify if this holds true with YOUR particular audience.

But, here’s a sampling of what I found in my own testing…

TEST 1: (Multivariate Test)

Control: “We respect your privacy.” (Short, sweet and simple…)

Variation 1: “We hate spam as much as you do.”

Variation 2: “We respect your privacy. We hate spam as much as you do.” (Hybrid of the 2…)

Results:

Control: 42.6% optin rate – WINNER

Variation 1: 38.1% optin rate

Variation 2: 40.2% optin rate

Summary: While the hybrid version did beat “We hate spam” by itself, leaving the hate/spam phrase out entirely beat both variations.

TEST 2: (Straight A/B test)

Control: “We respect your privacy. We will NEVER sell, rent or share your email address.”

Variation 1: “We hate spam as much as you do. We will NEVER sell, rent or share your email address.” (One of the more common “We hate spam” usages.)

Results:

Control: 43.9% optin rate.

Variation 1:
41.3% optin rate

Summary: Telling visitors what you are FOR, or what you RESPECT, seems to be more effective than telling them what you are AGAINST or HATE.

Test 3: (Straight A/B test)

Control: BLANK… (This is what I call “testing the null dataset. And you should do it from time to time in your tests. Test your control against NOTHING. Sometimes nothing wins!)

Variation 1: “We hate spam as much as you do.”

Result:

Control: 40.7%

Variation 1: 38.6%

Summary: This one surprised me a bit. I figured that SOME mention of privacy, even a “hate based” one would boost response. But I was wrong.

So WHY Does “We hate spam” seem to hurt response rates?

Well… One thing I’ve learned over the course of over 7,000 split and multivariate tests is, to not try too hard to guess WHY a particular test goes the way it does, because usually you will be wrong.

But if I had to venture an educated guess, I’d say there are 2 main reasons the “we hate spam” phrase is a conversion killer.

1. The word “hate”. The word itself has a strong negative emotional charge.

Now don’t get me wrong… Using powerful (even negative) emotionally charged words in your copy can be a big conversion BOOSTER when done right. (Particularly in headlines, when trying to grab reader’s attention.)

But in this case we are using the strong/negative word right near a critical point of action, and that may be a psychological (even sub-conscious) turn off.

2. The word SPAM. Here we are bringing up an objection or fear that they may not have been thinking about.

If you did a good enough job on selling them on the value of giving you their name and email address, then you are actually breaking the persuasive momentum making them think about spam, when all you want them to think about is getting whatever valuable bribe is on the other side of your optin offer.

Again… In your copywriting, often raising and overcoming objections can be a big conversion booster. But this needs to be done in the body copy, not right near the main call to action.

This is why in many tests (for SOME markets), not even addressing privacy at the point of optin actually converts better than having ANY mention of privacy near the button.

And here is one final test that I did on one of my coaching clients websites that is a real eye opener:

Test 4:
(Multivariate test.)

Control: “Don’t Worry! We hate SPAM as much as you do!”

Variation 1: “We respect your privacy. We will NEVER sell, rent or share your email address.”

Variation 2: “We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time.”

Variation 3: BLANK (Null dataset)

Results:

Control: 29.9% optin rate

Variation 1: 32.4% optin rate

Variation 2: 33.1% optin rate – Winner

Variation 3: 30.7% optin rate

Summary: The control in this example had an additional element that I believe was hurting response. The words “Don’t worry!”

You see… If you’ve studied NLP or hypnosis, you know that the unconscious mind cannot process negatives.

So by using “Don’t worry”, in effect they were giving visitors an embedded command to WORRY. (And worry about spam, and how much they hate it.)

But the real surprise in this test (that has been confirmed in countless other tests I’ve run), is the phrase “You can unsubscribe at any time”.

This disarming statement has boosted optin rates in many, many tests I’ve run. It depends a bit on the niche or market, but it is a phrase to put into your testing mix.

The reason I believe this phrase often helps boosts response rates is because it actually lowers the level of commitment people need to feel before making the decision.

Test it in your market… You may be pleasantly surprised.

So in the dozens and dozens of tests I’ve done on privacy statements near the submit button, what converted the best for me?

Take a look at the optin box below this post (or on the top right of my blog) and you’ll see the answer.

“I respect your privacy. I will NEVER sell, rent or share your email address. That’s more than a policy, it’s my personal guarantee!”

This statement has been my control for quite some time.

And it plays into another one of my tests results about privacy…

Calling your “Privacy Policy”, a “Privacy Guarantee”.

(But I’ll save THAT for another blog post!)

Happy Testing!

Eric

PS – If you want to get even more test results like this, simply subscribe to my notification list.

Don’t worry! I hate spa… er… ahem… I mean… I respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time! ;-)

About the Author

Eric Graham is a serial entrepreneur, author, speaker, copywriter and consultant. Enter your name and email address below to get notified when new response boosting tips, tested conversion strategies, updates, articles and videos are posted.

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