Hillsdale College

How a visitor-focused headline affects conversion

Experiment ID: #986

Hillsdale College

Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College is an independent liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. Hillsdale’s educational mission rests upon two principles: academic excellence and institutional independence. The College does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 03/03/2015 - 03/16/2015

Headlines are one of the most critical elements of landing pages.  They are the first thing most visitors see and their job is to put the entire offer into context for the reader.  Each word carries a measure of influence on the readers ultimate decision.

Hillsdale was launching a free online class to acquire more emails addresses for their file.  We wanted to test language that had historically been used internally at the college when talking about classes (“enroll”) versus one that, in our minds, carried less friction (“activate”).

Research Question

What language inspires more people to sign up?


C: "Enroll" sub-headline
T1: "Activate" sub-headline


 Treatment NameConv. RateRelative DifferenceConfidence
C: "Enroll" sub-headline 26.5%
T1: "Activate" sub-headline 34.9%31.5% 99.9%

This experiment has a required sample size of 235 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 1,235, and the level of confidence is above 95% the experiment results are valid.

Flux Metrics Affected

The Flux Metrics analyze the three primary metrics that affect revenue (traffic, conversion rate, and average gift). This experiment produced the following results:

    0% increase in traffic
× 31.5% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

Changing just one word in the sub-headline of the page led to a 31.5% increase in the number of emails acquired. The word “enroll” carried a high amount of cognitive friction since it is often associated with both the time and effort of enrolling in something.  Alternatively, “activate” is a quick action which carried far less friction.

Experiment Documented by Jeff Giddens
Jeff Giddens is President of NextAfter.

Question about experiment #986

If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.