Website Navigation Case Study: How I got 145% more clicks to email newsletter pages by changing 3 words

Published on March 2, 2015 By (Follow on ) 16 Comments

Do you have a dedicated lead capture or email newsletter page somewhere on your site?

A page whose sole purpose is to get people to enter their email, sign up, or start a trial?

A page that literally is the top of your funnel?

How many people are clicking to it when they read your content?

Today I’m going to show you how my team and I got 145% more click throughs to a lead capture page using something I call: The Likable Link Technique.

We didn’t just do this on one page. We did this on two different sites, with two different traffic levels, in two different niches.

And we did this without generating any new content.

Short on time? I’ve made a PDF checklist of how to implement this technique, a summary of the data from my tests, plus 10 ideas for likable links you could use on your site that aren’t found in this post. it’s free, click here to get it now.

How the Likable Link Technique Increased Clicks to Backlinko’s Email Newsletter Pages by 149%

Backlinko, one of the best SEO blogs on the net, has a newsletter page that used to look like this:

Email Newsletter page

(It looks different now, but that is the subject of another post.)

A link to the page was on the site’s main navbar, which appears on every page on his site:

Website navigation link

When people like what they’re reading, they want to learn more, so they’ll click on whatever links you give them. (Note: I only have 2 links on my navbar and they both effectively do the same thing. This is on purpose.)

Because Brian Dean (Backlinko founder) is a baller, he actually has an opt-in form on 3 out of those 4 navbar links, so regardless of where someone clicks, there’s a chance they will opt-in.

But, the Free Updates page converts anywhere from 25% – 100% better than the others – after all, it’s entire purpose is to promote the newsletter and get people to sign up.

But here’s the thing…

How compelling is “Free Updates” as a link?

Do people really want Free Updates? Obviously some do (stats below), but here was the key question: What else could we call it that’s closer to what they really want? Since this is an SEO blog, what they really want is more traffic to their site. Or, one step removed, they want good SEO advice. That’s exactly why they’re here.

So, our hypothesis: if you change the link to something closer to what they want, they will like it better.

Hence, it’s a Likable Link.

So we tested 3 more likable variations for that link:

1. Double Your Traffic
2. Triple Your Traffic
3. Proven SEO Tips

And here’s what happened:

website navigation a/b test results

They all increased conversions by 144% or more, all with 100% confidence.

There was basically no difference between them, but a huge difference versus “Free Updates”.

Conversion Nerds: For you conversion nerds wanting more conversions per variation, we ran it the next week for an additional 162 conversions and it was still converting at 3%, then we ran it again 6 months later (right before publishing this post) and it was converting at 3.3%. Also, we got more than double the visitors requested by Evan’s Sample Size Calculator for this conversion improvement.

We ended up going with Proven SEO tips because it was spot on with what they were getting on that page and felt the least salesy.

A Likable Link Increases Clicks by 145% to ValueWalk’s Newsletter Page

ValueWalk is a major financial news site that gets millions of pageviews a month. So it’s a great contrast to Backlinko for this:

  • Different content (news vs. in-depth guides and case studies)
  • Different niche (finance vs. SEO)
  • Different traffic levels (millions per month vs. hundreds of thousands)

But just like Backlinko, ValueWalk has a dedicated Newsletter page that’s linked to from the Navbar.

newsletter link in navigation bar

In fact they even made it all caps to get more people to click.

Well, once again, we thought we could find a more Likable Link than “Our Newsletter”.

In this case, there are a lot of different things readers could want (because there are a lot of different readers). Some may want financial news, others specific stock tips, videos, books, etc. But ValueWalk is based on the principle of Value Investing, and on the newsletter page, it is giving readers a free ebook on value investing.


So we tested the most obvious variation ever: “Value Investing”. After all, that’s what the site is about, and that’s what they can read more about once they click through.

The results were eerily similar to Backlinko:

Email newsletter link split test results

145% more people clicked on the likable link.

Conversion Nerds: Yes, we don’t have 200 conversions per variation here, but we are using Optimizely’s new Stats Engine with “always valid results” which was telling us it was 100% confident that this was the winner. And again, our sample size per variation was way higher than Evan Miller’s and Optimizely’s sample size calculators.

But Does a Likable Link Change the Conversion Rate of the Lead Capture Page?

The smart reader may ask this: What if more people click on the Likable Link, but those new users don’t convert as well when they get to the lead capture page?

Great question.

Tests on this for ValueWalk are ongoing (I’ll update this post when they conclude), but on Backlinko, we noticed that as long as your lead capture page headline matches the Likable Link, conversion rates stay the same.

Note: This is true for the links we tested. If you tested “Free Sex” or something absurd, scammy, or too good to be true, then yes, your conversion rate is probably going to drop when they get to your newsletter page and end up disappointed. No, my clients won’t let me test “Free Sex” in their navbar to prove this. If you want to prove this “Free Sex” theory, email me, show me you have at least 8,000 uniques a month, and I’ll run the Free Sex test on your site for free and write a case study on here about it. Not kidding.

For example, when the link said “Free Updates” we noticed that a page whose headline looked like this, converted between 9% – 10%:

Newsletter Page headline

But when you changed the headline to match the Likable Link (a well known conversion principle from PPC funnels), the conversion rate increased to 12% – 13%:

Newsletter Page headline

Then, with the link saying “Proven SEO Tips, we did the same test, except the variation looked like this:

Newsletter Page headline

And the results showed the same difference in conversion rates (9% – 10% with a mis-matched headline and 12% – 13% with a headline that matches the Likable Link):

Headline match A/B test results

Key Takeaway: Make sure your Likable Link is (a) not too good to be true and (b) matches the copy on the lead capture page and your conversion rates should stay the same for your lead capture page.

20 Likable Link Ideas You Can Use Today

I don’t want people who read my stuff to not take action, so here’s what I have in store. Below are 10 ideas for sites in 10 different industries that you can use or build off of to make your own likable link.

Then, for people who sign up for my email list I have 10 more Likable Link ideas (one more idea for each of the 10 industries below, so you get the full list of 20).

You can get both of these bonuses by clicking here and telling me where to send them. (Existing subscribers, just enter your email and I’ll drop it in your inbox directly, you won’t be signed up “twice” or confirm your email again, my email machine will recognize you.)

I’m assuming that in all cases this is a content based site within each industry.

So “Sales Software” doesn’t mean a link on your home page (that’s usually “Get Started” or “Free Trial”), but a link to capture emails from a content page such as a blog post that is getting a ton of traffic but not turning into leads for your business.

1. Marketing: Change “Free Newsletter” to “Grow Revenue”
2. Weight Loss: Change “Free Newsletter” to “Get Your Workout Plan”
3. Sales Software: Change “Free Newsletter” to “Proven Sales Strategies” (Duh! See above.)
4. Clothing eCommerce: Change “Free Newsletter” to “Men’s/Women’s Style Tips”
5. Sports: Change “Free Newsletter” to “Tennis/Soccer/Weightlifting Strategies”
6. Cooking: Change “Free Newsletter” to “My Best Recipes”
7. Parenting: Change “Free Newsletter” to “Parenting Case Studies”
8. Gossip: Change “Free Newsletter” to “The Juiciest Stories”
9. Furniture/Household: Change “Free Newsletter” to “Interior Design Case Studies”
10. Personal Finance: Change “Free Newsletter” to “Save/Earn More Money”

Again, if you want 10 more Likable Link ideas you can get them by clicking here. You enter your email, I’ll send you the bonus, and you’ll be on my email list. I send in depth case studies and articles like this once or twice a month and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Have a link you want feedback on? Mention it in the comments. So far, I’ve been able to respond to every single comment.


  1. Sue Anne Dunlevie
    March 3, 2015

    Hi, Dev,

    I love Backlino and so I loved this post! I blog about blogging so I was thinking of “Get More Subscribers” or “Get More Traffic” for the title of my Likable Link.

    What do you think?

    • DeveshKhanal
      March 3, 2015

      Sue, I think both of those would work better than “free updates” or “newsletter”. In the backlinko example above 3 different variations all worked almost identically better than Free Updates! I’d pick the one that’s closest to the info they’re gonna get when they sign up.

      • Sue Anne Dunlevie
        March 3, 2015

        Thanks for the feedback, Dev!

  2. Chris Von Wilpert
    March 4, 2015

    Nice results Devesh! I’m working with a few home builders (some energy efficient, some luxury, some just want to stand out for being higher quality standard home builders), instead of them offering something like “News and Green Advice” to get more leads, what would you recommend (also what might you recommend for a newsletter that has marketing tips for builders and renovators)?

    • DeveshKhanal
      March 4, 2015

      Chris, for green advice I would try:
      – Make your home green
      – Luxurious renovations.
      – Luxury renovation tips

      Or if you’re offering an ebook or other optin bonus, state the BENEFIT of the bonus in the link. People LIKE benefits.

      For marketing tips for builders:
      – Grow your business
      – Get more clients (or whatever word they use for clients)
      – Or borrow from one above and say Proven Builder Marketing Strategies

      Curious, do builders read marketing blogs?

      • Chris Von Wilpert
        March 5, 2015

        Thanks Devesh. I’m not sure if they do, so I’m wondering if content marketing is even worthwhile in this market. I guess the only way to know is to ask them directly. If you have any tips on how to find out where owners and business development managers in a particular market like home builders hang out, would love to know.

        • DeveshKhanal
          March 5, 2015

          Haha, I have NO idea. But that’s part of the fun. You only need a couple of them to ask them about conferences, what they read, online groups, etc.

          Maybe there is no central hangout place for this demographic, in which case I’d double down on a solid referral strategy and cold pitching (

  3. KeithBresee
    March 7, 2015

    Hey Devesh!

    This is a great technique! Ive seen it on backlinko, but never gave it a second thought.

    Im going to implement this on my blog and Ill let you know how it goes!

    Thanks dude! 🙂

    Be awesome!

  4. Jamie Spurrell
    March 16, 2015

    Great article Devesh and killer Likable Link Ideas!

    It is amazing what results you can achieve by simply changing a few words.

    Keep up the great content.

    Jamie Spurrell

  5. Jeff
    April 2, 2015

    Great stuff Here devesh. I’m going to give some of those suggestions at the bottom of the post a try on my personal site.

  6. Robin
    May 18, 2015

    Hey Devesh!

    Just stumbled upon this post. Great stuff, as always, love how you illustrate everything with case studies! It’s kinda reassuring that Brian Dean doesn’t have EVERYTHING figured out 🙂 Hope that someone will test the “FREE SEX” headline!

    • DeveshKhanal
      May 18, 2015

      Try it Robin, I’ll feature you here as a case study! 🙂

    July 29, 2016

    Practical piece – In case , if somebody is wanting to merge PDF or PNG files , my colleagues saw piece of writing here


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