How Much Is Too Much?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The more information you request at newsletter signup, the fewer people who will follow through and subscribe.

Unfortunately, it turns out that I’m wrong.

For the past 30 days, and using a service called Leadpages (affiliate link), I’ve been experimenting with two nearly identical versions of my newsletter sign up box.

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One (Original), asks only for email address (you can see it here).

The other (Variation 1), asks for email address, first name and last name (see it here). It also asks: “How did you learn of this newsletter?”

You can see the results, side by side, below:

Nearly identical.

Frankly, I’m pleasantly surprised to see these results. I like asking for a name because it makes it easier to understand tracking reports at a glance (without a name, I need to try and decipher email addresses).

And I like asking “How did you learn of this newsletter?”, because it gives me a sense of which people, web sites and miscellaneous sources are sending prospective subscribers my way (short answer: it’s a little bit of everything with the occasional big hit).

Note, by the way, that regardless of which approach I use, only the email address is required; subscribers are free to not fill in the other boxes. I’m confident that if I required more information, there would definitely be a drop off in sign ups.

Of course, I’ve been wrong before.

5 thoughts on “How Much Is Too Much?

  1. Bob McCarthy

    Hi Michael (congrats to Evan)
    I think this has more to do with the types of information you’re requesting.

    First and last name are minor identifiers. Ask for company name, title, address or (oh no) the phone number, and you will see a drop off (especially if they are required).

    The phone number is the killer for obvious reasons. Of course, if you really need the number (and some situations require it), you might want to explain why you need the number. And then go the next step and add “Best Time to Call.”

  2. Bruce Horwitz

    A few thoughts on your “experiment”. First, how many variation 1 subscribers included all the requested information? The “conversion rate” is probably not much affected by merely asking for more information if it is clear that only the email is required and people ignore those other questions.

    Second, asking for name and “how did you learn” are minimally invasive compared to other bits of information that might be requested. If you asked for business annual sales, or size of customer base I expect that you’d have a lower conversion rate even with those answers being optional. You’d really kill the response if those were required.

    Third, the questions you asked were reasonable from a subscriber’s perspective. Having the name of a subscriber allows you to communicate more like a human with the subscriber (“Dear Michael” instead of “Dear“) and a subscriber can understand that it’s a big help to your marketing to know where he or she learned about you.

    So I think the lesson is that it’s okay to ask for additional information if it is a) optional, b) relevant, and c) respectful (e.g., not invasive).

    BTW, at the other extreme I’ve been on sites where I wanted to download a product information PDF – something I should just be able to click on – and been required to provide email, name, and sometimes even set up a password. Geesh, don’t they want me to see their product information.

  3. Rachel Cunliffe

    Hi Michael,

    I think this is an interesting experiment to run, the only problem is that you’ve reached your conclusion prematurely (which is a common issue with A/B testing). Basically, it’s too soon to know if one is better than the other (or no different) because your sample sizes are too small – you’d only spot a *massive* difference at this point in the experiment. You can use a sample size calculator like this:

    Hope this helps,

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Looks like a great tool, Rachel! And thanks for pointing out the fact that there’s more data needed.


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