One page, one purpose. If you’ve spent any time in the CRO world, or read even a single article on landing page optimization, you’ll have heard this catchy little slogan. And yet, unlike the majority of marketing advice containing little substance, this is a phrase which can drastically change the effectiveness of your site’s pages. How? By focusing your page’s intent. Having only one purpose removes extraneous CTAs, helps target your messaging, and makes it easier to track actual success. I mean, if your page has 10 CTAs (and we assume each has an equal chance of being taken) then…
You have a finite amount of time to capture a reader’s attention, and you’re just going to throw away half of it with a clunky sidebar? No, you’re not, you’re a conversion rate optimizer. You’re going to test, and find a better alternative.
links to resource pages (preferably right under the opt-in form)
links to popular articles
The opt-in form collects emails, and resource pages and popular articles are useful for new visitors.
This makes sense for new readers, but what value does this add to longtime readers?
Occasionally they might look for your top posts, but couldn’t you have a single link for that in the top menu?
There are very few items in a typical sidebar that could be considered essential, which is typically a red flag that space is being wasted.
Sidebars Are Useless For Mobile
Everyone knows that mobile usage has been consistently increasing for years, and that trend isn’t changing anytime soon.
Assuming you have a responsive website (which you should), have you ever checked what happens to your sidebar on a mobile device?
Most slide down to the very bottom of the page.
After the post.
After the related or recommended posts.
After the email signup form.
After the comments.
Only the most hardcore fans will ever scroll down that far and click on something or fill out an opt-in, but they’ve already done that further up the page.
Conclusion: Most sidebars only detract from your blog on mobile.
A Bold Hypothesis: Increase Your Signups by X% to Y% By REMOVING Your Sidebar
I think it’s clear by now that on most sites, a blog sidebar might not be the most useful part of your pages.
But every blog needs a sidebar…right?
Luckily, there have been a few that were not only bold enough to test removing the sidebar completely, but to also publish the results.
Case Study 1: Video Fruit
Bryan Harris already had a simplified sidebar on the Video Fruit blog. It looked like this:
He decided to split test the original (with a sidebar), with a version that involved removing the sidebar altogether:
The results? He was able to improve his email signup rate from about 11% to just under 14% by removing the sidebar altogether — an increase of 26%.
Most would be happy to achieve either one of those email opt-in rates. A major part of Bryan’s strategy is the content upgrade. Devesh showed how he increased his email subscribers by 492% with content upgrades a little while ago. Best of all, since these opt-ins are in the content, they convert well with mobile visitors as well.
After that, you have your answer as to whether or not a sidebar works for you.
But wait, you’re not done. Remember those sidebar elements that your users found most helpful? Find a way to preserve the elements that readers use most, either by including them in the header, the content, or slightly before or after the content. Test that again and you could further improvements.
You have a chance to increase your email opt-in rates by 26-71% from a simple test. What are you waiting for?