4 Signup Form A/B Tests DTC Brands Swear By and Why They Work

signup form ab testing

When considering the best way to optimize your website and improve conversions, many ecommerce marketers will tell you that A/B testing is one of the best places to start. Specifically, if you’re looking to grow your email list, testing your signup form can help improve your submission rate, or the number of users who provide and submit their contact information.

What’s just as true, but less often talked about, is that A/B testing takes time and creativity. Between setting up the different variations of a signup form, figuring out the exact wording you want to use, and devising alternate layouts or images, signup form A/B testing requires a strategic mindset.

But a large portion of the time and creativity comes a step before that when you’re figuring out what to test in the first place. There are many aspects of a signup form, from the way it appears on the screen to the overall design to the exact choices of wording, that can affect how it performs. It can be daunting to figure out which of these many options you should test in your limited free time.

Here are four types of signup form A/B tests that direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands swear by. If you’re looking for inspiration, this is a great place to start.

1 | Form type

There are several types of signup forms, which determine how it will appear to customers on your website. Some forms pop up in the center of the screen, while others slide in from one the margin. Others sit in place, embedded on the page. 

The basic type of the form and how it appears on your site is like the foundation of a house—and if I’ve learned one lesson from The Three Little Pigs, it’s that it can be costly to ignore your foundation. In fact, this is one of the form A/B tests that DTC brands test most often. 

The most common form type tests compare forms that pop up, or popup forms, against forms that slides in, or flyout forms, but trying out different locations for a form to slide in from is another way to experiment with this type of test.

Not only is testing different types of forms popular, it’s also effective. Based on data from Klaviyo users who’ve run this kind of test, the median improvement gained by picking the winner between popup and flyout forms is 34.5 percent. That’s a substantial increase in signup rate and the test is as simple as choosing a different option for how your form appears on your website.

It’s still important to test this for your unique brand, though. Based on the same data, popups beat flyouts 55 percent of the time. That’s a large enough trend to suggest that audiences prefer popup forms overall, but it’s not a large enough trend to assume your audience will prefer popups. Testing signup forms with your audience is the only way to know for sure which method performs better.

One tip for a form type test is to keep the design, copy, and timing exactly the same between the variations in your test—all you should change is whether the form pops up or slides in. That way, if you see one variation outperform the other, you can be confident the boost in performance actually comes from the way the form first appears to shoppers.

2 | Form timing

Similar to how your signup form should appear, when it should appear is also important to consider. 

There’s no simple answer when it comes to timing, either. There’s research that suggests a signup form’s success depends on the average time visitors spend on the page, but there’s no generic rule.

Alyssa Valera, performance marketing manager at JENNY BIRD, saw one distinct advantage in testing the timing delay for her signup form: She spent less time crafting a new form design. 

While this initially seemed like an “incredibly granular[…] detail you wouldn’t think would inform the submission rate” she tried out a time delay test anyway because she could test the timing without needing to change the design or imagery of the form.

Sure enough, testing your time delay can impact the form submission rate. In fact, it can lead to some eye-popping results—based on data from Klaviyo users, two of the top ten signup form A/B tests are time delay tests (in terms of how much the winning variation increased submission rate).

Similarly, Alyssa experienced incredible results, with one time delay clearly beating the others in her test. 

“My hypothesis going into the test was that users would like some familiarity with the brand before agreeing to receive marketing emails and that users wouldn’t be comfortable submitting their information if a popup appears instantaneously. But the engagement rate climbed higher as we shortened the time delay,” said Alyssa.

Display timing encompasses several aspects: There’s the number of seconds a form waits to show up on the site, the amount of the page that your visitors need to scroll in order for the form to pop up, and the ability to trigger a signup form only when a visitor signals their intent to leave your website. All of these are valid ways to test your form timing. 

When you’re testing display timing, try optimizing one aspect at a time similar to how you would with form type, since that makes it easier to track which changes lead to improvements in performance.

For example, you could try testing the number of seconds a form waits to appear on your website. Looking at data from Klaviyo users, forms with a shorter delay (at least five seconds long) perform better almost 72 percent of the time. Again, this is a sign that you should probably test this yourself. That’s a strong trend, but it’s far from a guarantee that your audience will prefer a shorter time delay—almost three out of every 10 DTC audiences prefer longer delays.

“I’d highly recommend conducting a display timing test because it provides a lot of insight into how familiar or engaged a customer has to be before acquiring enough trust to submit their email address. Also, it takes less than five minutes to implement,” said Alyssa.

3 | Discounts

Testing forms with discounts vs. forms without discounts, or testing different offers or discount amounts, is one of the most popular ways to A/B testing signup forms. 

The right offer might draw in more subscribers, but an offer that’s too generous may cut into your margins. Additionally, many DTC brands avoid discounting upfront so that their customers don’t come to expect more discounts or sales in the future. 

Still, an incentive can help entice shoppers to subscribe. Consider testing whether offering a discount on your signup form will make a difference. 

The offer you decide to test depends on your business, but some examples of this type of test include comparing 15 percent off vs. 10 percent off on a customer’s first purchase, a 10 percent off discount vs. a free gift with purchase, a 10 percent off discount vs. no discount, or 10 percent off vs. free shipping.

Chelsey Chambers, web manager at Mexicali Blues, tested offering a discount vs. no discount at all on the brand’s signup form “to see if there would be any clear difference with our customers compared to the DTC industry.”

She noted that conventional wisdom states a discount will lead to an increase in signups, but there are always a few exceptions to the rule, and she wanted to see for herself what her customers responded to.

Discount tests are more complex than the other tests on this list because they require you to do some cost-benefit analysis. If a bigger discount wins the test, you’ll want to carefully weigh how many signups you gain against how much more you spend on the discount.

For brands like Mexicali Blues, though, the tradeoff is clearly worth it. Based on data from Klaviyo users, four of the top ten signup form A/B tests involve discounts.

“I was thrilled with the results. For the most part, they didn’t really surprise me,” said Chelsey. One factor did surprise her, though: The winning submission rate was much higher than expected. “I have always felt that 10 percent off wasn’t that enticing of an offer, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it performed so well,” she said.

Chelsey urges brands to try this test out themselves, emphasizing that the testing mindset is key because trends are never universal.

“See if you’d get the same or different results. Clearly, our customers are more likely to sign up for email with a discount incentive, but your brand may not get the same results. I don’t think every solution is one-size-fits-all, so I always recommend A/B testing,” she said.

4 | Copy

Copy is one of the most important aspects of a signup form, so naturally, it’s one of the best places to test your signup forms. Copy is an extremely large category—large enough that it almost feels wrong to call it a single category, since you could easily run nothing but copy tests on your signup forms for months at a time.

Not to mention, data from Klaviyo users shows that almost 40 percent of all signup form A/B tests involve the copy on the form. It’s essential to optimize your form’s copywriting in order to effectively communicate with your customers, and brands who test copy have witnessed this first-hand.

When considering the copy on your form, minor changes can lead to large improvements. 

Jack Hutchinson, head of digital for Neal & Wolf, ran a signup form A/B test based on one key insight: Their email welcome flow.

“[Our welcome email] has one of the best revenues per recipient, so we were looking for more ways to increase our email sign-ups, and the obvious place to start was the sign-up form,” said Jack. 

The change he made was small: “We were already offering a discount for signing up, but it wasn’t the primary focus of the headline. We assumed that by making this the primary focus, we could increase the sign-up rate,” he said.

The strategy paid off—the form’s submission rate doubled after a single copy change. “While we always expected this version to win, but we were surprised by the actual increase in sign-ups,” said Jack.

He recommended DTC brands try out their own A/B tests with their signup form copy, noting that it’s “one of the best ways to showcase your brand.”

Every part of the copy on your signup form—from the headline that catches your visitors’ attention, to the wording of individual informational prompts, to the call to action—is valuable real estate that deserves time and attention.

Because you can test so many aspects of a signup form’s copy, it’ll pay off to take a systematic approach when you test. Consider testing on one part of the form’s copy at a time and recording what you’ve tried in the past. 

Being systematic allows you to know what changes drive higher engagement at each step of the process, which will give you confidence in your final product.

Final thoughts

With so many ways to A/B test your signup forms, it can be daunting to pick one test to start with. But it’s worth experimenting in order to increase the effectiveness of your forms—and DTC brands like JENNY BIRD, Mexicali Blues, and Neal & Wolf have already seen notable improvements in their submission rates from these tests.

By testing the way your form appears on your ecommerce website, the time it takes to show up on your site, the discount you offer your customers, or the copy on your form can help you see quick results in your submission rates—but once you start A/B testing, you might find that you come up with A/B testing ideas of your own! 

Whether you use some of these ideas or your own methods, testing your signup forms can help you better engage with customers, build your email list, and grow your brand.

Looking to get started with A/B testing your signup forms? Find out how to get the right results every time.

Try Klaviyo Today

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