Will Shaming Your Visitors for Closing a Lightbox Increase Opt-ins?

"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?

The Test and the Hypothesis 

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 I'd rather waste my time sifting through outdated YouTube tutorials."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. 

The Conclusion

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!

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

  • Zana Hart says:

    I would never use clickshaming. I believe in good clear communications.

  • Christoph S says:

    Very interesting test, Hanne! I am happy with the results – because I think its not a good idea to blame visitors. What we cannot measure is the impact a blaming link has on the brand itself – but as your example shows the negative impact might be huge …

    • Hanne says:

      I think many of the comments here show that clickshaming on the Thrive Themes audience would be a pretty bad idea 🙂

  • Miles A says:

    Not my style. If you want my stuff great, if not – just move along.

  • Brian says:

    I like the article. Thanks for doing the test. You definitely have a great point at the end about how we want our website readers to feel when they visit our site.
    I think we’ll opt-out if click-shaming our readers. 😉

  • Ernie says:

    when a pop up ad distracts me from the work i’m trying to do, and when that ad includes a shaming opt-out, I mutter some admiring comment such as “go to hell” and click the opt-out. (especially if the pop up ad obscured something I was trying to work on)

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Ernie,
      I agree that pop-ups can be “annoying” or cover up the article you wanted to read etc. That’s why I believe having a great opt-in offer and precise targeting to actually offer something of value are the key to good opt-in rates (and happy visitors).

  • Thomas says:

    Even if a certain clickshaming statement yields a higher number of download opt-ins: Does the prospect quality remain the same?
    If you sell a product aimed at clever people, you might lose sales. Your ideal clients might leave as they feel manipulated. You might end up with people who can be clickshamed into freebie downloading but not into purchasing your great product.
    Split testing is a good thing. As long as it is not bs testing.

    • Hanne says:

      Yet another interesting question (but harder to measure) and lot will depend on the traffic, the offer, the follow-up emails but it is a real concern!

  • Clint says:

    Thank you, very interesting!

  • David Gruder says:

    As an integrity expert, I thank you for doing this research and posting your results. Shaming people is fundamentally unethical. Shaming people into doing what WE want them to do is manipulative selling. “Clickshaming” is a perfect name for this unethical selling tactic that positions entrepreneurs as sleazy. This “fake news selling” is also silly to use because other tactics work as well or better. Here’s my bottom line for those who value having a reputation as an integrious entrepreneur, “Clickshaming is Brand Slaughter.”

    • Alfonso says:

      Marketing is about manipulating people. Clickshaming is just another technique.

      • Kaala Souza says:

        Not sure how you’re defining marketing. Manipulation has more negative connotations (i.e. “Unscrupulous ways”). Marketing = getting product to customer. No shaming needs to be involved in that.

      • Stephen says:

        >> Marketing is about manipulating people.

        Disagree. Depends on your intent and net benefit/harm to the person you are marketing to.

        See –> http://www.jonathanfields.com/the-line-between-persuasion-and-manipulation/

      • John A says:

        Stephen R, this article by Jonathan Fields is excellent with an exceptional thread. I believe, however, like some of the others in the thread, that your intention isn’t really the point. I believe that you need to present your position and positively as you can addressing what the prospect’s interests are, then allow the prospect the freedom to decide what is best for him or her. Michelle Barry Franco, on this article, gave a fabulous description of manipulation: “simple agreement, group-think strategy, amazing financial-success stories (and promises) and other known mind-numbing persuasive techniques can lead many into a sort of trance.” Trance means no freedom to choose.

      • Suzanne says:

        Marketing done well is not manipulation.

      • Suzanne S says:

        Marketing done well does not manipulate people.

      • Kaivalya Deshpande says:

        No, it’s not. The way I see it,

        Marketing Means,
        “Selling an Exceptionally Excellent Product/Service by sending the Right Marketing Message to the Right People at the Right time”

        If the Product/Service is Really good, and it Truly Genuinely Helps people, it is worth telling people about it, Right?

        and when someone sells something less valuable, with an aggressive approach, then it becomes salesperson-type selling.

        We can see this in the Offline world as well as on the internet.

        Look at the Ramit Sethi Website (Thrive Themes Wrote a very In-Depth Article on him, which was really informative)

        He has a bit aggressive approach but its worth it, because, the value of the content is exceptionally good.

        On the other hand, Clickshaming is just, according to me, Insult to the Reader.

        By Reading this Article, I have decided to add “No Thanks, Maybe Later” to my Opt-out Link.

        lastly, Please don’t consider Marketing as a Manipulation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      • Hanne says:

        Hi Alfonso,
        I have to disagree… Marketing is about presenting your product to the right people. That doesn’t mean you have to manipulate them into doing something they actually don’t want… Unless you simply have a sell and run business…

    • Hanne says:

      Thanks David

  • Kelly says:

    I don’t like click shaming. It makes me mad seeing that.

    I totally agree that we should evaluate how it represents our brand!

    But I have signed up with forms that use it, but only because I wanted in.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Kelly,
      I agree that if the offer is strong enough, I don’t close BECAUSE of the link… But they should test if another approach wouldn’t work as good 🙂

  • MamaRed says:

    As a person and a brand, I despise these clickshaming approaches. The flat out piss me off and I take off running (ok, not clicking) as fast as possible. I spent years recovering from a shaming approach from well-meaning family and teachers. I’m not about to put all that work out to pasture and start doing it to myself or others.

    Besides, my goal is a loving, caring, hopefully funny brand with a focus on how to make things easier, more profitable, and get my clients focused on doing something they dearly love doing.

    Thanks, as always, for a great article.

  • Greg says:

    Then there are people like me that never read beyond the word no. I never read those. I just look for the link that says no. In my opinion only people with low self esteem would bit on that lame trick.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Greg,

      I think you guys here are definitely an educated audience. Many are marketers themselves and know what is going on with that kind of link…

  • Denis says:

    Thanks for spending the time to test it and for sharing the results

  • Mike says:

    I agree with Ernie T. I get a little kick out of clicking the ‘shame’ link. Mostly I was not going to opt in anyway which is why I looked at the ‘shame’ link in the first place. These links make me think that the website owner is demeaning the visitor and it is a bit like them saying nah nah nah nah ‘you’re too stupid to go on my list’

  • mike says:

    I agree with Ernie T. I get a little kick out of clicking the ‘shame’ link. Mostly I was not going to opt in anyway which is why I looked at the ‘shame’ link in the first place. These links make me think that the website owner is demeaning the visitor and it is a bit like them saying nah nah nah nah ‘you’re too stupid to go on my list’

  • Fred says:

    I’m not a big fan of clickshaming for the very reason that’s stated in that screenshot at the end. It just makes the site owner seem a bit pretentious.

  • Isa A says:

    When I see them, I leave the page straight away. Manipulating people is not an option. I take it as a pure insult to visitors. What makes you (the site owner) superior? Unfortunately, some so-called SEO gurus use this as well.

    • Hanne says:

      A LOT of people use them… That’s why I was wondering if they worked (or if everybody just started using them because others did)

  • Ashley Faulkes says:

    Never tried it, but can see how it annoys people. Like the constant notification optin on your browser. I switched that off too. I find them annoying so do most people I am guessing. But A/B testing is definitely a great way to find out what people really think :> good reminder

    • Hanne says:

      Thanks Ashley,
      Yeah while some things are annoying, they still work (so people say they find them annoying but many people opt-in) can be worth using. But A/B testing should always be a first reflex when testing some new approach 🙂

  • Bill says:

    I see this far too much. While it may work better at getting a sign up compared to a simple “No thanks” it sends a message about who you are. I personally am more likely to click the shaming route just because I don’t want to be doing business with someone who would use such a technique.

    Of the 3 options you tested, the absence of a “No” option is less offensive, but still wrong. The whole idea of the opt in page is that “opt” implies that it is optional. Making someone hunt for the way to “opt out” is not as bad as shaming, but still wrong.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you for your comment. I just need to clarify something… while we did not put the link underneath the button we did leave the normal close button in the right upper corner of the form (for all variations) so it was very easy to close 🙂

  • Michiel B says:

    I don’t like these clickshaming optin-in forms either. They often seem pushy to me and make me click away fast.

    Especially if they come in the form of an automatic pop-up after x seconds or an exit intent pop-up. Personally I find these automatic pop-ups pretty annoying in the first place, but if the pop-up also includes a clickshaming link, it really annoys me :).

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Michiel,

      I think the pop-ups are especially annoying when the offer is not relevant, when they are had to close or when they insult you 😉

  • Sarah A says:

    I don’t want my subscribers being shamed or feeling a sense of shame so I don’t care how much of an improvement there is, I won’t do it.
    Can you run another test, I have a theory.
    All the negative responses are on the right, on a right handed person, that’s the option we gravitate towards. If you put the positive attribute on the right, and the negative on the left I think you’ll see up uptake in optins. Simply because there’s not a lot of mouse movement to say yes, whereas in the current position there is.

    • Hanne says:

      Interesting Sarah 🙂 In this case we had the one under the other but I can see how switching the yes and no could change results 😀

      • Michel says:

        This is an interesting theory. I think I might try this on a couple of my webforms to see what happens. Also I suspect that using Green (for go) for the Yes option and Red (for Stop) for the No option is likely to make difference. This article has certainly made to start to think outside the box for opt in forms. Thanks for the stimulation. 🙂

  • Tim says:

    Great test, thanks for sharing the results. I do wonder if the ‘no thanks’ version just made it easier for people to find the way to dismiss the dialog.

    But that aside the one thing it does prove is language matters. What you say and how you say it.

    This article on GDPR opt-in consent notes that Copy Hackers also tested having yes/no links -> https://www.zettasphere.com/gdpr-consent-opt-in-examples/ Spoiler… They found having yes/no was a big benefit.

    But also as pointed out by Copy Hackers, the no option doesn’t have to be shameful, as used by many brands. But rather can just bring home the consequences of the actions. So rather than “I’d prefer to waste time”, “I reject the offer”.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Tim,

      My opinion about the No Thanks link immediately under the button is that it gave a too easy exit possibility.
      What is mean is that people maybe did not even read the value proposition and just dismissed it.
      Having to move the mouse to the upper right corner gave just that little extra attention to have to read the opt-in form and consider the offer.

      We’ve also seen great results with multiple choice opt-in forms and yes/no opt-ins. But like you said, it doesn’t have to shame the audience 🙂

      And again… It’s definitely something to test because every website is different!

    • Sarah A says:

      Let me know how it goes if you decide to test this aspect Michel. I think I might try a variation with the colours as well.

  • Ed F says:

    Thanks for this study. I will stick with a heart centered approach.

  • Michael says:

    This is a great, clear, useful post. Thank you.
    I wonder if something the OPPOSITE of ClickShaming would be a good option, i.e. for brand management. Something like:
    “Nah, this isn’t that interesting for me right now…”
    A phrase that let’s them know it’s OK to click on the no, that way it forms a little more of a connection than turns them off (because as we see they most likely will click on it anyway…)

  • Keith Sager says:

    Quite a timely article. I have recently been exposed to the principles and concepts of Simon Sinek, and his messages speak directly to this topic. Basically EVERYTHING a business puts out is telling their employees (and customers) what your principles and moral directions are, what you think of them and how much you value them as a person. You are telling them how much they can trust you (if at all). To make decisions “by the numbers alone” and not factor in TRUST, you are making a grave mistake. To use click-shaming screams to your prospect that you are self-centered and you want their money & if not, then “f you.” Not a very endearing sentiment for a new prospect. Hanne, thank you for risking your own business reputation to run this test, just to create value for your customers, whom are also, for the most part, raving fans. ThriveThemes does business “right.”

    • Hanne says:

      Thanks Keith,

      I have to say that I did rewrite the clickshame link about a 100 times to find something that I thought was Ok to put out on out site 🙂

  • tlaserx says:

    Shame on people who use Clickshaming!

  • Irena Stopar says:

    Hanne, thank you for sharing the research results. It’s interesting to see what you did, but I don’t use clickshame links. I will probably not use them in the future. If I will, I will do it because of curiosity reasons and just on few opt-in offers for specific kind of people that read my content but usually don’t buy. People know me as an honest person who delivers a lot of value and helps them solve their problems. If someone is not ready to join my list, it’s fine to me. I just want the perfect visitors who are happy to opt-in, open my emails, read my posts, use the content for happier and more successful life and buy something when they feel OK with it. I believe I leave a lot of opt-ins and sales on the table, but when I sell something, it leaves a great feeling for my customer and me. This year I made a simple test. After low opt-in rates for one of my programs, I created a new freebie for a specific group of people. It was hot and created high opt-in rates, but unfortunately, this created high bounce rates and unopened future emails, too. After that, I had to delete more than half of them because I got a high spam score. I decided to go slowly and get more qualified people on the list.

  • Maria says:

    Great Article! I was thinking on implementing it in some of my sites but now I see its not the best choice. Or maybe I should test it first 🙂
    thanks Hanne!

  • Daniil K says:

    How about. “No thank: This is not exactly what I am looking for.”
    If the person clicks it. You send them to a quiz and redirect them to something they want…

  • Thomas says:

    It’s very funny. What kept my attention in your email was the clickshaming link.
    I didn’t expected something like this from ThriveThemes. So I went on reading your email and finally clicked the link to this article.

    I like this article especially because of the What-works-for-us-don’t-mean-that-it-works-for-you-as-well-conclusion.

    I think this is always the most important to have in mind.

    So thank you so much for this article and have a great day!

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Thomas,

      I think it’s important that you said “I didn’t expect that from Thrive Themes” which made this subject line stand out and because of the curiosity factor you clicked. If we wrote like that all the time it would not have worked.

      (btw that subject line won the A/B test ;-))

      And I think it’s VERY important to consider that what works for us will not necessarily work for you. Different brand, different audience,…

      I hate it when I see articles like “Do this to increase your opt-in rate by 2000%” and then the test went from 2 to 48 email opt-in in a month…

  • Ben Janke says:

    Simply test it for yourself and see what works for your audience. If you can’t generate more leads, you can’t change more lives!

    • Hanne says:

      While I agree with that statement, I think you also have to consider your brand and the image you want your brand to convey 🙂

  • Nate says:

    First time I saw this was with Neil Patel. It’d be interesting to interview him to see what results he’s seeing from the “clickshame” strategy.

    Thanks for the test and feedback.

    And p.s., my parent’s basement is a great place to work so back off 🙂 (jk)

    • Jeff Berry says:

      I use the same words as Neil something like, “No , I don’t like traffic.” I don’t take them to another page if they click No ( I don’t have any traffic anyway) but if they say they don’t want traffic, I believe he takes them to another page about getting conversions, or something.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Nate,
      Yes he might have really different results with this! Other style, other website, other audience,…

  • I’m actually surprised the clickshaming results were as high as they were. I am personally offended when I encounter one of these and actually find myself saying no just because they tried to shame me into saying yes!

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Ron,

      My guess about this is that the link we used ‘No, I prefer sifting through outdated YouTube tutorials” was a good reason to read the opt-in offer more carefully… But I’m just guessing of course 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    I’ve seen this so many times it has absolutely zero impact on me anymore.

  • Nahid Hasan says:

    Thanks for the awesome article with your A/B test data. I think the result might vary a little with the types of audience we are dealing with. But personally I also feel irritating when I see clickshame links on any opt in form.

  • Jeannette says:

    Thanks so much for running this test for us! I wouldn’t use clickshaming but it’s nice to know I’m not losing clients because of my choice not to.

  • Roxanne says:

    Clickshaming has the OPPOSITE effect on me (than the site owner probably desires). When I see a yes and no (that is sarcastic), I’ll hit the NO as I find it annoying.

  • Jay N says:

    Appreciate the test Hanne and the results. Personally, I discredit any brand that tries to discredit my judgement and choices. Click shaming doesn’t feature in my comms strategy!

  • George says:

    Great article. I think those clickshaming opt-ins are really annoying.

    • Hanne says:

      But sometimes annoying works… Ads in your Facebook stream might be annoying but they work. That’s why I think it’s important to test things rather than to base on opinions, George 🙂

  • Sande says:

    Great food for thought! I don’t like the way clickshame feels so why would my visitors? I appreciate the integrity of ThriveThemes.

  • Ian says:

    How about using comedy. I’m sure there’s a compromise here. I’d like to test humor rather than shaming.

    • Hanne says:

      I think humor done right can send the right message to the audience and reinforce the brand identity, Ian! Let us know if you test it and get results.

  • david says:

    clickshaming is a manipulative tactic that may be able to convert a certain subset of the population, but at the end of the day, it adds no value to people, in fact, it certainly does take a stab at someone’s self image.

  • Mark McKenna says:

    Thanks, Hanne! Great analysis on this trendy amd sneaky practice. I actually didn’t know it was called click shaming and am a little surprised it’s called that because I have never felt ashamed to click on the shame link. For me, it hasn’t appeared to be a persuasive technique. However, with it being such a popular practice, I appreciate you sharing counterintuitive findings like this. I will move forward without click shaming and not feel like I am missing out on conversions!

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Mark,

      I also discovered the name while doing my research 🙂 And if you want to, I encourage testing it (or a funny version) on your site. You might get different results than we did 🙂

  • Greg says:

    Clickshaming buttons actually discourage me from accepting the offer. After all, if that’s their attitude, do I really want anything to do with them? Someone who tries to manipulate me and make me feel bad before I’ve even seen what they have to offer probably isn’t my kind of person.

  • Alok R says:

    That clickshaming was on my list but thanks to your test study it won’t be required anymore. I will stick to my simple “No thanks” message.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Alok,
      If it was on your list you should test it… You might not get the same results as we did depending on the message you use.

  • Jean-Philippe G says:

    Clickshaming not but just an asset like: “No thanks, I already know all about that”

    • Hanne says:

      hihi which would make people feel good about clicking and also maybe a bit self conscience “Do I really know all about that topic?” Worth a try Jean-Philippe!

  • Chris H says:

    I try very had to be of service. I will not use “click shamming” for my work. I want people to give me the info because I have something that they need, want and desire. I’ll say it again, I’m here to serve those that would like what I have to offer.
    Thanks Hanne, great information. (although, I read this because of the click shamming email hook. Lol. So it does work)

  • Victor says:

    It may depend on your brand whether clickshaming is a good fit or not. I could see where it may be done tongue in cheek and in a playful way and it would come off as such. But, if you venture into sarcasm or a direct attempt to induce feelings of shame in a person that’s where I would disagree. To induce such feelings implies that someone is doing something wrong or bad – neither are not all that desirable of the goal is to win over new customers. It’s kind of like insulting a new customer that walks past your storefront. It’s like saying that they’re foolish for walking past and not shopping in your store. I wouldn’t do it, personally. Even if it meant higher conversions. My values are more important.

    • Hanne says:

      Totally agree Victor, I think some brands can get away with them when done with humor and tact because it really fits their image.

  • I can’t stand the technique — so much so that I’d rather close that tab on my browser than click EITHER option. Then I head over to Google to see what other search results have to offer.

  • Leo Emery says:

    I have the Yes/No light box and with that you can have text below the yes and no button. Of course you can add click shaming text. But I don’t shame at all. I think of how I feel when I come across click shame options and my first thought is usually “bite me”. So because of how it makes me feel I don’t want to make anyone else feel the same way. So under my yes button it says “I want to see” and under the no button it says “I’m good, thanks”.

  • James L says:

    Thanks for sharing ‘real’ numbers. It is rare to see actual and significant data like this without doing it yourself.
    Since I am building brands I avoid this technique because I feel it may negatively affect the perception of the brands in my targeted demographics. But now your results make me question if it is even a viable technique for a ‘one-shot’ campaign like when I used to push a specific product that I got an affiliate commission on sales. Looks like the ad/offer copy is still where the magic occurs that makes your visitor decide to opt-in rather than trying to make them feel bad about not opting in.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi James,

      Thank you for pointing out that the data is significant. I recently read an article where opt-ins went from 2 to 48 and they claimed HUGE % in improvement while hiding the actual numbers in the small text. That’s how A/B testing gets manipulated…

  • One could use the alternative approach. “That’s a great offer, right? You could take it. You probably should take it. But, maybe there’s a better offer on the next page”. Keep ’em engaged.

  • Teri says:

    I would definitely not use it, and I hate seeing it presented to me. It’s totally passive aggressive, in bad taste. Particularly because my niche has a lot of shame inherently… which I try to help people get over.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Teri,

      I think that’s why we should ALWAYS think about the audience first. I feel like saying “I don’t want more traffic” is not the same degree as “I want to stay fat” on a diet website…

  • Christopher Tatum says:

    Those “clickshame” links don’t effect me at all. If I don’t want your emails or free crap disguised as value – then I don’t want it. Nothing they write is gonna pursued me to do something I don’t want to do.

    • Hanne says:

      Hardcore Christopher 😉 But I agree that this doesn’t work on everybody. The more you know about persuasion/manipulation the less this is efficient.

  • Frank M says:

    When I see clickshaming, I click no every time. I feel if they think that they have to, or try to force me to buy their product, they are NOT the type of people I want to do business with. That and if they think their product is inferior to where they have to use clickshaming, I for sure do not want their product.

  • Matthew says:

    Clickshaming is equivalent to willingly cutting someone off in traffic—knowing you’re committing an ass-move—and only doing so because your windows are tinted so dark that you can’t be seen. The truth is, people would not commit such ass-move, mean behavior onto another human being if they weren’t cowardly hiding behind a keyboard, or blacked-out windows for that matter. Folks, treat everyone as though he or she were your own grandmother. Respect.

    • Hanne says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Respect is important. Online communication should not be an exception (or excuse because you can hide behind a screen)

  • I’ve seen a lot of marketers do this. In my opinion, I’ll go with the scientific statistical proof that you provide (I’m a Six Sigma Master Black Belt).
    Thank you very much for sharing your experience. Great job!

  • David C says:

    For me the most valuable information is the clickshaming version was simply not significantly better. But simply removing the No Thanks link entirely is probably better overall (no potential negative user experience). Thanks for the data.

  • Marjory says:

    I feel manipulated by click-shaming opt-ins. Often I do not click either link and just leave the site. I vote with my feet, as the old saying goes. Even without the A/B test results, I would not do it on my sites. Thanks, Hanne, for another great post!

  • Suzanne S says:

    Thanks for testing this, Hanne! I will say the email subject line got my attention and raised an eyebrow. I always open Thrive emails, anyway, though, and had to smile when I saw the content of the email.

    As for clickshaming, I personally would not do it.

    I have seen a few funny ones that have made me laugh, and if it is something I am interested in, I opt in. The others that are milder don’t have much of an effect on me. The ones that are really rude, like the one referred to in the screenshot you posted… those make me run. I have no interest in doing business with folks who do this.

    To be fair, however, there are people who will see this kind of thing being done and think it is the correct thing to do, whether it resonates with them or not. So perhaps a little grace can be given to those who may be trying to mimic a certain “guru” without testing it, or without considering the possible reactions of the visitors.

    As for humor, I would stay away from that, as that can be tricky, and I prefer not to mess around with something that could go awry.

    Thanks again for testing, and for being willing to test on the TT blog.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      I’m absolutely not telling anyone not to use it 🙂 I just think that using it because some guru is using it without testing it is a bad idea!

      And I think humor could be very efficient but humor has to be done right and has to be a part of the brand in order to work. It’s a tricky one 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    When I’m faced with a clickshaming link it makes me think ‘how dare you put me in that box’. It gives me a bad impression of the company and that makes me feel their products/services are probably bad too. Surely if someone has to shame me into clicking then they are probably someone I do not want a customer relationship with. As you said… “there are actual humans having an (often first) impression of your site and your brand.” That’s more important than having (questionably) better results from clickshaming.

  • Eve says:

    Years of working with young people – think newborn to 18years – has taught me that positive reinforcement is the key. A simple ‘YES! I’m ready to develop my pattern making skills further’ for the yes works wonderfully! (26.3% conversion rate over the last five months!)

  • Shane says:

    I was wondering about this. Thank you for doing the test!

  • Virend says:

    Thank you for the excellent article. I am not impressed by “clickshaming links”. They certainly don’t persuade me to buy. Often, they discourage me from buying.

  • Shane Hall says:

    Here’s an idea. For the “no” option, maybe have it say “No thank you. Please let me get back to the article.” or something else a person would actually be comfortable saying. At this point, the lack of pretense might be refreshing for people who are tired of being talked down to by other businesses.

    • Hanne says:

      True 🙂 Often doing the opposite of what everybody else is doing might be refreshing and refreshing is the key to getting attention, and attention is what everybody is fighting for… Let us know if you test this, Shane!

  • I see the point for gaining more leads. As well I see a point in ethically behavior. I don’t wanna contribute to a world, where people get shamed. But I like the article. Now the click shame has a name. 😀

  • shoden says:

    clickshaming pisses me off actually. there have been cases where i felt the content was actually great on the other side, but because of the annoying popup with the bullying, i abandon the site altogether.

    thanks for running this test Hanne!

  • Margaret Makewell says:

    If they don’t want my stuff, I don’t want to work with them anyways. Shaming people when you don’t even know them, just to get a sale is morally wrong.

  • Even if “clickshaming” got better results, it would still be a mistake to use it. The bottom line is that it would feel bad. What’s more important than speaking to your visitors with respect and understanding? Your reputation is far more important than anything else.

  • John S says:

    Clickshaming is negative… we try to avoid that in our business model

  • Quentin P says:

    It’s great you did this test. I know it will help a lot of people who do it because they are fearful of that other awful urgency cliche stated by so many gurus, namely “you may be leaving money on the table” – trust me, if you take that “money on the table” – the cost on your reputation will be higher than the extra bucks made in the long term.

  • Alfred says:

    Thanks for conducting this testing and presenting the findings here. I’m aware of such and it has been ongoing for quite sometimes even till now. Personally, I get numb to all these irritating pop-ups that I will find ways to close it (sometimes, they even made it difficult for you to find an exit)

  • Kim says:

    So glad that someone is writing about this topic. I find click shaming annoying as heck. If the site owner is giving away something worth opting in for then I will opt in. If not…ill keep it moving regardless if they add text like the examples in this post to their CTA buttons. Great post yall.

  • Grant says:

    Thanks for doing this test Hanne. Judging from your comments I think it’s safe to say, at least from this crowd, that clickshaming should be avoided. Personally I just think it lacks class, and in my mind puts everything else the particular seller says in jeopardy. I put it right up there with the sellers that put “are you sure you want to leave this page” on exit that you have to click sometimes 3 times to move on.

  • Laura says:

    The only “clickshaming” option that should ever be used (if any) is the obviously humorous variety. If you can’t make it entertaining, then just don’t.

  • Doug says:

    How about running a test where both options are a positive. I’ve heard this works well.
    Blue link underneath button is a “ok I’ll try the ebook” type of statement .

    • Hanne says:

      I’ve also seen the 2 link being Yes… I’m not sure about that. I feel like it is pretty manipulative too because most people think that would close the lightbox… But it’s worth a try 🙂

  • Susan O'Dea says:

    I would never use it because it gives me a feeling of instant ‘dislike’ in the person or company immediately. I don’t want my visitors feeling like that! It makes me immediately close the page. So I don’t even hang around to read what I came to see. I don’t like the style… so I know I won’t like doing future business with anyone who uses these ‘childish’ antics.

  • Jo says:

    Personally when I’ve run into click-shaming I tend to roll my eyes, and close the site. It’s just too damn “used car salesman” for me.

  • Alexandru Pulpa says:

    What if instead of clickshaming, we could have a ‘clickloving’ thingie… maybe a link to another popup optin, for a different offer?


    Want to get really healthy really fast?
    Learn the top 5 secrets of rapid alkalinization of the body
    {Join Now}

    …instead of clickshaming…—>
    “I’d rather learn how to change my attitude on loving my body and allowing more alkaline foods to enter the mouth today!”
    —> if this 2nd link is clicked, a popup will appear with a different offer…

    so we have:

    email/button + offer 1 (a .pdf…)
    text leading to popup optin 2, with a semi-different offer…

  • Curtis Johnston says:

    I hate click shaming and it makes me hate the websites that do it!

  • Linden H says:

    We all know marketing involves persuasion tactics, but i do not believe in using these shamming tactics. Please reply to this comment or you will be abducted by aliens this evening 🙂

  • Janneke says:

    Interesting article. I can’t imagine using clickshaming even if your a/b test had shown an advantage. I simply do not like it.
    I do feel that I can help people and also that I offer something unique, but if someone isn’t interested they should be able to decline without negative emotions.

  • Norman says:

    Hey Hanne,

    thanks for that informative article!

    I don’t use clickshaming. But my reason is another one:

    What do you think about the quality of someone who opted in because he or she wants your thing and the lead quality of someone who just opted in because he did not want to shame? Who is more likely to buy your next product? Who is more likely to consume your next content?



  • Definitely not for me… I want people to sign up because they connect with me and what I am offering not because they are being shamed into it. In the end you want people on your list that will stay on your list and that happens when you start from a position of trust…shaming does not build trust and probably makes for a lot harder work in the end. Would you want to hang around a friend who was putting you down and making you feel small? Seriously… why would you ever do this to a potential client/customer!

  • Ramesh says:

    Very interesting post Hanne. I hate clickshaming it’s a sign of desperation. If you have great content or product your audience will know this, they’re not stupid!

  • Lol! I found this a very interesting article. I never thought of doing applying this method to my readers but I’m curious what the results were. Glad though I don’t have to consider it anymore.

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Dominic, if you don’t like this for your audience you should not do it but always test things for yourself, don’t just take my word for it 😉

  • Matthieu says:

    Interesting article, quite agree with the facebook message…
    You can’t force anyone to click, that doesn’t make sense.

    +1 for improved sales arguments and quality communication.

  • Jacob T says:

    Interesting. Actually I think I was one of the visitors who opt out of your test, simply by clicking on the X in the upper right corner.
    But now when you tell us about the experiment, I have a feeling about it, that was saying something around “That kind of argumentation for not opting in was very unexpected from a company like TT. Too primitive – too aggressive.

    So – Im glad this was a test and thank you fore sharing.

    But – maybe it can be effective and tolerated, maybe even appreciated in some properly younger segments selling products og services where this could be expected. Or as someone gave as an example where you are going to say no to something of real great value.

    Any way – I dont like like it. I think you should treat your visitors, customers, potential customers with respect. It is of cause OK to opt out if dont like the offer. …

  • Dave says:

    Has anyone ever tested a humor approach with the second button?
    “Click here only if you’re not afraid of clowns”
    That’s the best one I could come up with at this time. But you get the idea.

  • Bill says:

    This was a very interesting test. I am so glad it came out like it did. I know I personally don’t care for the clickshaming links and had no intention of using them. Appreciate the work you did.

  • Stefan L says:

    Hi Hanne, really interesting article and I think especially the “first impression of the humans behind the statistics” is a very important aspect to consider if you are trying to build a real brand.

  • Sam says:

    even if cllickshaming gives you results, i would not go for it. Frankly for , somethings we dont need to A/B test to make a decision.

  • Sophie says:

    Hm… mixed feeling here. I would think that somehow reiterating the offer would increase the optins, or buyins… so there is something between clickshaming (aggressive and arrogant and condescending) and reiterating the loss… I respond to loss better than to an offer…
    My question is this: how do you technically do this? Just send them to where with the “no” link?

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Sophie,

      I agree that the framing on the link is the most important thing here.
      In this A/B test the link simply closed the lightbox.
      The Yes link went to an opt-in form.

      You can easily test different forms and link texts in Thrive Leads.

  • Robert R says:

    I think it depends on the niche and product. I also think if obvious humor is involved, its fine. But, insulting people is probably not a good marketing strategy.

  • Everett McLaughlin says:

    Very nice info. And the results where interesting as to what people perceive just from the OPT OUT signage, and not just the products image – info – price – etc… People? It’s the Moon positions or something???

    • Hanne says:

      People are weird Everett 😉 That’s why it’s almost impossible to predict a result and you should always test it.

  • Jane says:

    I have never felt it was a negative thing. I actually get some pleasure out of clicking “No I don’t want to learn the 5 easy steps to making tonnes of money.” I like treading my own path. If the optin meets a genuine need and has value. Then only am I in!

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Jane,
      I laugh too sometimes with those links… Doesn’t affect me but it’s interesting to see the strong feelings people have towards them!

  • Dave says:

    I take particular pleasure in saying no to clickshames. I’ve never signed up to one yet 🙂

  • Kevin B says:

    Good article, nice companion to the recent Nielsen one.

    Other than this deliberate test, am I right in thinking TT used to actually do more of this, but changed tack a while back?

  • Noah says:

    Hi, I don’t think your B example was pure clickshaming as it did contain an actually valid reminder for a realistic undesireable alternative. Everyone who’s ever wasted hours on Youtube this way will be painfully reminded. Therefore I’d consider it psyhologically clever or sneaky, you name it, but not working with shame as much.
    Great article though and thanks for bringing it up!

  • Sharon says:

    I’ve been hesitating about using clickshaming on my site for some time now. Personally, when I visit sites that use clickshaming, it has absolutely no affect on me whatsoever. I’ve seen this tactic used so prevalently over the past few years that the “shaming” doesn’t even phase me now. It’s a tactic that has gotten old because everyone seems to be doing it.

  • John Ayling says:

    The real objective is not to get everybody on your list using whatever tactics you can muster.

    It’s to provide an opportunity for people to connect with your messages, and ultimately buy from or through you.

    A hyper responsive list is much better than a large list of manipulated and click-shamed people that you’re wasting your and their time with.

  • John A says:

    Hanna, the volume of responses you got to this article is incredible. Count me on the side to those who hate clickshaming. I agree with the comment about “opt-in” implies an option. If someone doesn’t want what I have to share, I want them to go elsewhere. I’m not paying then for a subscriber who will never buy because they don’t want what I have. Clickshaming can work in two scenarios that I can think of: 1) people who would use similar sales and marketing tactics on their own clients and customers (i.e. manipulators) and 2) people who are so caught up in having higher numbers they don’t care if the numbers are meaningless. By the way, nobody has mentioned that many times someone wants you to signup for some bonus that you already signed up for before so why would you want to shame them for not ordering your bonus again?

  • Nicely done you break up the content with graphics that pop and keep the reader engaged – you walk the walk

  • Karen M McCamy says:

    Great topic, Hanne! IMO, it’s long overdue that someone honestly addressed the reality — and ethics — of this practice!

    As many [most?] of your thrive community have aid, I think it is extremely obnoxious. I also click away completely whenever I see “clickshaming” in practice!

    I also agree that it reflects Rey negatively on one’s branding and reputation!

    PLUS…ethics aside, the numbers you’ve shown indicate it isn’t really successful! So, why would anyone resort to such a tactic, considering the potential damage to reputation? Still…we keep seeing it in use!

    • Hanne says:

      Hi Karen,
      Thanks for joining the conversation. It is not for our audience (and comments show why 😉 ) But that doesn’t mean others can’t see an uplift from this 🙂

  • Alan says:

    I have resisted clicking on those links for ages. I recently tried one just to see it all the hype could measure up. Long story short, it did not. Of course, you can’t put everyone in the same box.

    Being somewhat stubborn that tactic just naturally made me more determined not to click. I recognized the intent and simply resisted. I will not use it on my sites as it rather insults the visitor.

  • Christina H says:

    I would be curious to see how a more information gathering “no” instead of passive aggressive no would play out. For example: “Yes, Gimme the book” and “No, it’s not worth my contact info” or something similar.

  • Tara at KitHub says:

    I doubt that the conversion to a sale on my site is high from someone that was click shamed. It’s a waste of time to try and gain customers that way and quite frankly a sad way to conduct business and your life.

  • Yvette S says:

    Thanks for addressing this, Hanne.
    I would say 2% improvement in signups is absolutely not worth the price of entirely losing the image I want to paint in my ideal clients head: a friendly, helpful professional who knows his/her topic and is easy and fun to work with.

  • Ekramul hasan says:

    I have resisted clicking on those links for ages and i try to send my call to action link to people but i see my conversion is still low, i dont think peopel do hasitate to click when my conversion is really high 2 years before. By the way thanks for sharing your valuable article here.

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