"No thanks I'd rather pay full price", "No I don't like traffic" or my personal favorite: "No, I want to continue dwelling in my mom's basement". 

All of these are statements to click if you want to close a lightbox without opting in...

A while ago we started seeing those rude, passive aggressive and sometimes flat out cruel links everywhere. It got so common there's even a term for using these: Clickshaming.

By writing an undesirable result as the "No thanks" link, the goal is to shame visitors out of clicking (and into subscribing).

But do they work? Do they increase conversions? We decided to test it out and the results may surprise you....


Clickshaming is All Around

I didn't have to look very far to find interesting examples of clickshaming....

Some of them are simply making the "missing out" very obvious.

No thanks, I do not want higher rankings - Backlinko


Others take it one step further and make it something embarrassing to admit, like:

No, I don't want more revenue - RazorSocial

No I don't like change - I Will Teach You to be Rich

Or they are simply really insulting (and a bit funny). 

No, I want to continue dwelling in my mom's basement - Jacob King

While I suspect the last one to be a link bait stunt (to get people to talk about his website), the other forms are very common and have been around for a long time.

But the real question remains... Do these clickshame No thank you-links increase the opt-in rate on those forms?

Testing Clickshaming vs Regular CTAs

We decided to test it out on the Thrive Themes website. In Thrive Leads, we set up an A/B test on a screenfiller opt-in form.

The hypothesis is the following:

More people will sign-up for the opt-in form if we make them uncomfortable clicking the "no thanks" link.

In order to test this hypothesis, we decide to test 3 variations:

  • No link (our original form)
  • A simple "No, Thanks" link
  • A Clickshame link "No thanks. I´╗┐'d rather´╗┐ wast´╗┐e´╗┐ my time sifting through outdated´╗┐´╗┐ YouTube tutorials."

This will allow us to test if a normal link is clicked more often than a clickshame link and what happens if there is no link at all.

All other details stayed exactly the same (same type of opt-in form, text, images, button color, trigger time, animations, ...) so that they would not influence the results.

The First Result... No Thanks

No Thanks Variation

After letting the 3 variations run for 1 month (the minimum period to get significant results being 2 weeks) we could clearly see the normal No Thanks-link having a negative impact on conversion rates.

-27.38% compared to the original (no link)

The No Thanks variation was performing 27.38% worse than the original form (without a link to close the form) so we decided to pause this variation.

Pausing one of the three variations allows to keep the test running with only the 2 remaining variations. 

In our test case we continued with our original form (without a link) and with the variation with the clickshame link because after 1 month we did not have a statistically significant result to pick a clear winner.

In Thrive Leads, you can see this in the column "Chances to beat the original". If the chances to beat the original are between 95% and 5% after 2 weeks (and more than a 100 conversions), the result you're seeing is not statistically significant. 5% is the minimum threshold we suggest because this means that if you repeat the exact same test 95 out of a 100 you'll get the same result. 

Of course, the closer this number is to 100% or to 0% the better.

So What About Clickshaming?

No thanks, I'd rather waste my time sifting through outdated YouTube tutorials

We kept the other two variations running... But over 3000 signups later we still could not get any significant results.

2.02% increase - 71.42% chances to beat the original

As you can see, even after months of testing and over 3000 combined signups, the clickshame variation (the yellow one) only has a 71.42% chance of beating the original.

These statistics are not conclusive. And this is really not that rare when you conduct A/B tests. 

Moral Considerations with Clickshaming

Clickshaming is a manipulation. 

It may generally be done in a fun and lighthearted way, but it's still a form of manipulation. 

Ok, so marketing uses all sorts of psychology to convince people, but think about this... you're using a very overt manipulation (the user can clearly see it) to begin your relationship. And you want that person to engage with your content and become a customer... it doesn't seem like the best recipe for success. 

Throw in the fact that your often outright insulting someone just because they don't want what you're offering. 

Would you do that in a real life situation?

It's certainly something where you need to think deeply about whether it fits with your brand. 

Are the additional conversions (assuming there are any) worth tarnishing your reputation (even slightly), and are those additional sign-ups actually going to turn into happy customers who are willing to leave you awesome reviews?

If you start the relationship with a manipulation, it's unlikely. 

The Conclusion: Does Clickshaming Work?

The lower opt-in rate on the No thanks variation compared to the Clickshame variation suggests that people do hesitate to click on a link that clearly states something uncomfortable or undesirable.

But the non-conclusive test results between the original no link variation and the Clickshame variation tells us that simply removing the "No thank you" option might be enough to get the same results.

Now, we're not going to pretend that this is the absolute truth and that you'll see the same results on your site (we'll leave that to our competition). But I hope this shows that blindly following what everybody is doing might not be the smartest move for your conversions!

And then there is the question about your image... How do you want your visitors to FEEL when they arrive on your website an sign up to your email list? 

I don't need your attempts at shaming...

I know this is opening a whole other can of worms... But it's important to keep in mind that behind those sign-up rates there are actual humans having an (often first) impression of your site and your brand.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Are you using clickshame links? Did you test it? How do you feel when you see them? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author Hanne

Hanne knows exactly what companies have ever retargeted her (she keeps an updated file). And when she's not busy discussing high-level funnel design over cocktails with the equally geeky, you'll find her discovering a place for the first time

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