How third-party validation recency affects visitor motivation on an email acquisition page Experiment ID: #7827

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: 11/1/2017 - 11/7/2017

A few days ago, a 12-year old girl named Macy called into the Rush Limbaugh Show from Colorado. After thanking Rush for his show, she mentioned that her reason for calling was to thank Hillsdale College for producing and offering their online course ‘Constitution 101.’ After receiving word of this interaction, Hillsdale College wondered: Will adding Macy’s recent comments to the Constitution 101 course signup page increase visitor motivation and, consequently, the course signup rate? They launched a treatment version to find out.

Research Question

Will adding a recent 3rd party quote about a course increase email acquisition on that course’s signup page?

MECLABS Conversion Factors Targeted

C = 4m + 3v + 2( i - f) - 2a ©

Copyright 2015, MECLABS


C: Control
T1: Treatment 1


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Control 11.3%
T1: Treatment 1 13.7% 20.9% 98.5%

This experiment has a required sample size of 1,485 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 4,660, 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
× 20.9% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

Hillsdale College that the addition of Macy’s quote increased the course signup rate by 20%. This valid bump in email acquisition shows us that the nature of the 3rd party validation does play a factor in the mind of the page visitor. It’s likely that this more specific quote about ‘Constitution 101’ was more relevant to visitors than the control’s more general course-taker quotes. It’s also likely that the recency of the quote (the date of 10-27-2017) signaled to visitors that individuals are continuing to enjoy this content right now. 

Since there are a number of different factors at play in this experiment, Hillsdale College has isolated the varying elements of their 3rd party validation. Further testing will take into account more demographic information about the individual being quote (such as age), as well as the length of the 3rd party quote copy.

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Experiment Documented by...

Grant Klembara

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