Email marketing is a critical skill for any online business to build a strong and real relationship with their potential clients. This eventually leads to increased sales.

Before you can build a relationship with your customers using your email funnel, you need to get them on your list using effective lead-generation tactics.

The “Join our Newsletter” widget is no longer effective.

In order to build your email list effectively, you will need to constantly test and iterate your opt-in forms to optimize your conversions.

Quick refresher: What is A/B split testing?

Before moving on to testing different ways to grow your list, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

A/B split testing is a powerful technique that allows you to compare two different ideas to each other to determine which one is more effective.

Let’s do a quick example:

You want to test the headline of your opt-in, so you (smartly!) decide to run an A/B split test for your two best ideas:

  • Headline A: Get My Free Report To Decluttering Your Home in 30 Minutes!
  • Headline B: Messy Home? Sign Up Below to Fix It Today!

There is potential for either headline to result in more email subscribers, and it could be debated which one would be more effective. We will test our hypothesis by setting up an experiment.

The next 1,000 visitors to our site will see different headlines. We will measure how many people saw each headline and calculate how many sign-ups we got from each.

Some sample results might look like this:

  • Headline A: 547 views, 22 new subscribers, 4% conversion rate
  • In the past week, 453 people have viewed the blog and 41 of them have subscribed to it. This represents a conversion rate of 9%.

If you find that Headline B outperforms Headline A by a significant margin, you can end the test and declare Headline B the winner. You have improved the effectiveness of your lead-capturing system by eliminating guesswork.

Cool, right?

If generating leads is important for your business, then you should start a new test as soon as you finish an A/B test. By constantly improving the efficiency of your efforts, you are able to keep up with the latest trends.

Now that you understand what A/B Tests are and see the benefits they offer, we will give you 8 ideas for tests you can run to optimize your own results.

If you are using WordPress to create forms for pop-ups and blog posts, you can integrate with Thrive Leads. Thrive Leads is a plugin that can do analytics and tests to help build your lists quickly.

Test idea #1: A crystal clear headline

It’s what convinces your visitors to sign up for your email list. The headline of your email opt-in is one of the most important aspects in convincing your visitors to sign up for your email list. If your headline doesn’t make it clear what benefit the reader will get, they will likely move on to something else.

It’s a good idea to start all your A/B tests with headlines because it only takes a few seconds to create a new headline and test against the original. This can lead to big improvements in conversion rates.

The 1-second test is a good way to test your headlines. Ask a friend to read your headline and then tell you what they remember about it. The goal is to quickly show your friend the headline, and then pull the paper away.

Are you sure your friend understands what you’re offering? Does he trip over his words as he tries to recall what the headline was trying to communicate?

The best headlines are immediately clear and value-oriented.

It’s important not to run this test on yourself. You might spend an hour thinking deeply about your opt-in offer and headlines, so it might be difficult to judge the headlines without bias.

It’s time to run an A/B test on your headlines once you have a few that are powerful and clear and pass the 1-second test.

Test idea #2: Captivating imagery

The reader’s eyes will be drawn to either the headline or the imagery depending on the reader. It is a good idea to test the imagery on your opt-in to make the most of people’s limited attention.

When you are testing imagery, use pictures that show the thing being offered along with the emotions of your subscriber. Let me explain:

Let’s say you have a home that’s full of your family’s things, and you’d like to declutter it. Here are 3 easy image ideas to test for this offer:

  1. The image focuses on a physical report that you would get when opting-in.
  2. An image that focuses on the feeling of serenity you get when you no longer have to deal with clutter
  3. An image of feeling overwhelmed and anxious when you are faced with clutter.

Test idea #3: Opt-in type

Effective email marketing means switching things up over time. If you’ve only been using pop-ups to get people to sign up for your list, it might be worth testing out sidebar widgets or a top ribbon that stays visible as your readers browse your post.

There needs to be a balance so that readers are not annoyed by a bunch of ads popping up all over the page.

Thrive Leads allows you to compare the performance of different types of forms by testing them against each other.

You could do an A/B test on a pop-up that shows up after 5 seconds vs. a slide-in widget that appears once the reader gets 25% through the article.

This way you can learn what formats best resonate with your reader without them getting annoyed!

Test idea #4: One-step vs. two-step

You may find through testing that having a two-step opt-in form provides better results than immediately showing the form.

A 2-step form is where the pop-up appears with a simple button that offers the item. Then, when the user clicks on the button, a form appears asking for their information. The button, when pushed, reveals a signup form instead of delivering the item.

Some may think this method is frustrating, but there is some psychology to support it.

The visitor has already shown interest in what you have to offer by clicking the button.

If you place form fields on a separate page from the button that links to them, the visitor may be less likely to fill out the form since they have to take additional action.

Sneaky, but effective.

Test Idea #5: The right number of form fields

Unless you can get people to sign up for your email list, personalizing your emails and segmenting your list won’t be valuable. You should test how adding more form fields affects the rate of people who sign up for your emails.

In version A, we collect email addresses only. In version B, we also collect a name and phone number. Should we also include their birthday and favorite flavor of ice cream?

The amount of information you capture in your form can depend on your business needs. For example, if you plan to follow up with customers via phone, it would make more sense to capture more information rather than less.

However, if your goal is to build a lasting relationship with the user through email, you could lose a lot of potential subscribers by not including this information.

Test Idea #6: Color and Design

This idea is low on the list because, in general, changes to button color or text fonts don’t have much benefit.

Stop worrying about whether to put a red or green button on your opt-in form, and instead run an A/B test to make the decision.

Even if the results of A/B testing aren’t significant, the testing is still beneficial. We have encountered several instances where my beliefs and opinions were disproven by testing.

Some gurus would tell us the best font size and color to use for buttons to get more conversions. After testing different variations, we found that it really didn’t matter what I used.

If you find yourself arguing over small details often, use this as an opportunity to resolve the issue and move on.

Test idea #7: Completely different offer

This is the most important test and will take the most work, but it is also the most likely to be successful.

Even if you have the best headline, opt-in type, and colors, people won’t sign up if they don’t want what you’re offering.

So test out different offers!

One way to engage your reader is to offer a multiple-choice pop-up. Got 3 different offers? Let them choose to download all from the same form!

The answer is to A/B test them and let the data tell you what works best!

Test idea #7:Prioritize Your Tests

If you are confused about what tests to run and in what order, creating a simple list will not be helpful.

You need to create a process to prioritize which elements you want to test first, and why you want to test them.

Why do you need to prioritize your A/B tests?

Two reasons:

  • Nearly 70% of all A/B tests produce either negative or neutral results. Prioritizing will increase the odds of carrying out tests that provide a positive impact on your conversion metric.
  • Since testing is limited by the amount of website traffic you receive, prioritizing tests which drive traffic and business to your site will help you run test simultaneously down the line.

If you want to prioritize your testing, you should have an objective in mind that will help you figure out which tests to run first. If you want to be successful, you should obviously have a thorough understanding of your business objectives, KPIs, and target metrics.

Beyond this, keep the following in mind when prioritizing tests:

1. If it’s obvious, don’t test it

Businesses that are obsessed with A/B testing may end up testing elements that don’t require any testing.

For example, if you have a random image at the top of the page. It doesn’t really help the page much, it just takes up a lot of space on the screen. You don’t need to do a lot of testing before taking this image away.

The same applies to other obvious changes, such as:

  • Whitespace: Whitespace – at least when used judiciously – never really hurts your visitors. Don’t be afraid to replace distracting elements with whitespace when necessary.
  • Random images: Images that don’t contribute to your marketing narrative, show off your products or help visitors navigate your site don’t really have a place on your landing pages.
  • Random text: All text on a conversion-focused page should be in the service of your target goal. Any copy that doesn’t contribute to your narrative or your target should be eliminated.

2. Test “money” pages first

The pages on your website where customers can purchase your products or services are known as your ‘money’ pages. These types of pages are important because they are where you make a profit from your customers.

The following should be your first priority when creating an A/B testing plan: People who visit your checkout page are interested in your product. A small improvement in the rate of conversion for these pages can lead to a significant change in your actual revenue.

You should optimize your pages starting from the bottom of your conversion funnel and working your way up. This means that you should start from the checkout pages, then move on to the product pages, and eventually shift to the home page.

Other Useful Ways to A/B Test

We drilled deep into A/B testing your landing pages and forms in this article, but did you also know that it’s incredibly powerful to test:

  • Your Product Pricing to get more revenue per customer
  • Your Blog Post Headlines to get more traffic from Google (learn how to do it easily!)
  • Your home page’s call to action to get more subscribers should be at the top of the page.
  • And so much more…

You should optimize anything that is a valuable business asset and can directly impact your bottom line.

If you want to learn how to improve your website’s conversion rate, it’s time to get geeky and become a “conversion scientist.”


Is your head spinning yet with the possibilities of how you can increase your email subscribers with the same amount of traffic?


You have the skills to improve your website’s conversion rates using data. You can use this data to test different aspects of your website and see how they impact conversion rates.