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image06Take an imaginary trip with me to the date November 1st. If your office is like many in the U.S., it will probably be buzzing with stories from yesterday’s Halloween festivities. But if your office is like mine, then a new buzz will have taken hold and be growing rapidly. I don’t mean any gossip on best/worst costumes. I mean hair on the upper lip. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s Movember.

Movember is an annual moustache-growing charity event designed to raise funds and awareness around men’s health issues. While the main event takes place in November, the campaign spends the rest of the year raising donations, signing up teams, and spreading awareness. Testing and optimizing Movember.com is a major part of this.

If all the action happens one month out of the year, you might ask, why does Movember test its website year round? Many types of businesses have a crazy busy season and traffic peak during specific times of the year—like Christmas for online retailers, long weekends for travel sites, November for Movember, etc. Since this timeframe is so paramount to success, testing teams should be optimizing their sites before, during, and after the massive influx of traffic. The most successful sites are ones that are continuously testing.

In this post, I’ll outline (with thematic moustaches) how Movember did just this and saw amazing results. If it weren’t for the A/B tests that brought in thousands more participants, we wouldn’t be lucky enough to witness so many glorious ‘staches out there.

image00Grooming Before: The Prince ‘stache

Tests to boost registration

Movember experimented with with a number of elements on their registration page. They started with branding and copy on the homepage’s main CTA.

They found that ‘sign-up’ outperformed the original copy of ‘register’.  Based on this, the team chose to make ‘sign-up’ the primary CTA across the site.

They tested the homepage image, hypothesizing that a background picture showing a critical mass of people would lead to more sign-ups than a burlap texture.

movember-background-testJust as they hypothesized, the crowd image—meant to be a reflection of the swell of moustache-growers they were trying to build—lifted registrations by 2.8%. Based on an average of 1 million “Mo Bros” participating, this would mean an additional 28,000 more registrants.

image05Grow During: The Einstein ‘stache

Expanding awareness with social

Boosting sign-ups was a major goal for the 2013 campaign since registration numbers dipped in 2012. To increase sign-ups immediately before and during the campaign, Movember tested placement of their social sharing buttons. On the original page, the option to share to Facebook is buried below the fold. The team hypothesized that making the sharing options buttons, placing them in the top right of a profile page and adding a picture of mo’ bros with mustaches above them would increase clicks on the buttons.

movember-winning-variation-profile-page

The new profile page design increased clicks on the Facebook share button by 490% and clicks on the email share button by 75%. That’s enough to ruffle your whiskers.

Hulk-hogan-handle-barComb/Style After: The Hulk Hogan ‘stache

Constant iteration and improvement

Movember knows testing can really impact the success of a campaign since about 94% of their donations are made online. To continue increasing registrations and shares, the team applied the lessons they learned about the impact of images to other areas of the site. They added more pictures of men with mustaches, of course testing the additions as they went. Their discoveries held true across their diverse webpages. The photos of people worked. More visitors clicked “Ask for Donations” and “Start or join a team” when a moustached-man we smiling back at them.

movember-ask-for-donations-testIn the end, the more prominent CTA increased fundraising asks via Facebook and email by 32% and 28% respectively.

What happens next?

Still with me on this imaginary journey? We’ve made it to the end of November and one glance around the office reveals incredible moustache-growing success. From the elegant imperial, to the rugged cowboy to the downright Ron Jeremy, I’m really not sure if the feeling I have is one of admiration or creeped-out-ness

So it’s all said and done. The donations collected, the staches shaved, and many men around the world healthier from the strident commitment of mo’ bros…

But I still feel you moustache me a question: What happens next to Movember.com?

It will continue to evolve and improve based on results from A/B tests. The team has seen the value testing can have (28,000 more registrants is a lot of moustache). They will continue to test their donation funnel, sign up flow, and many more parts of the online experience. They were strategic about planning their tests before the campaign, making agile changes during peak-traffic based on what they learned, and then applying those learnings to site-wide changes.

Allow Movember to be an example for your own site. Effective testing is done in many phases and should guide site improvements year-round. The next time Movember rolls around, get involved! Let your stache (or your friend’s) be a reminder of the value of continuous improvement.

For more experiment ideas, visit the Optimizely Case Stories page.

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