A/B test: New York Times, Washington Post logos help conversions; USA Today logo hurts conversions

Many websites display the logos of media outlets that have run stories about or that mention that site.

For example, we display various press logos prominently on our homepage.

Press logos are thought to increase website conversions. And since website conversions are likely an SEO signal, adding press logos to your site might even give you a small SEO bump.

One thing we have always wondered, though: Does this actually work?

Do people really use your website more if you display famous newspaper logos on it?

And if newspaper logos encourage visitors to use your website, which newspaper brands do it the best?

We didn’t know. So we ran a test to find out.

We found some things we expected – and other things that surprised us:

  • Including multiple press logos together on our landing pages increased conversions by 17%.
  • However, certain newspaper brands performed better than others when placed alone on our landing pages:
    • The Washington Post and the New York Times were the most trusted brands among consumers, increasing conversions among consumers by 32% and 29%, respectively.
    • The Wall Street Journal was the must trusted brand among local service professionals, increasing conversions among professionals by 8%.
    • Despite having the second-highest circulation of any U.S. newspaper, the USA Today was the least trusted brand among both consumers and local service professionals, actually decreasing conversions by 25% and 13%, respectively.

Here are the details:

Test #1: Newspaper Logos vs. No Newspaper Logos

The first thing we tested was whether having newspaper logos on our site increases conversions.

We didn’t even include links to the articles that mentioned us – just the logos of the papers.

Whether or not the insinuation is correct, the idea here is to demonstrate to visitors that Thumbtack is trustworthy because Thumbtack has at least been mentioned at some point in these publications.

We tested this on our landing pages – these are pages that include a list of service professionals in a certain category and certain city (like this one for photographers in San Francisco or this one for house cleaning services in Chicago). These are the pages that many visitors see when they find us from search engines.

Demonstrating trust may be particularly important for a company like ours that is built on trust – it is a major leap of faith to hire a tutor into your home, a contractor to work on your bathroom, or a caterer to serve at your wedding.

Many of these visitors have never heard of our company before, and this page is our best shot at making a good first impression on them.

What did we find?

Including press logos on our landing pages increased conversions by 17%.

A “conversion” for us is when a visitor clicks “Get free quotes” – if a user clicks that form and fills out their information, we’ll send them 3-5 bids on their job to their email inbox within 24 hours. This is a win for us, a win for the professionals listed on our site, and a win for the consumer.

These results were tested on more than 6,000 visitors to our landing pages.

The takeaway?

If your company has been mentioned in many famous newspapers, you should include those logos on your site to increase conversions.

Test #2: Mano a Mano – The Brands Face Off

We were curious which of the four big newspaper brands that have mentioned us had the most credibility with the visitors to our site.

So we ran a test: When surfaced alone, which newspaper brands converted the best – and the worst?

A quick note here – since Thumbtack is a marketplace with buyers and sellers, there are two types of people that use our site.

The first type of person is the entrepreneurial service professional – she is the handyman, the photographer, or the tutor who lists herself on our site. About 5,000 new entrepreneurs list themselves on our site weekly, and more than 220,000 have now listed themselves on Thumbtack.

The landing page we tested for entrepreneurs is this one, where the professional can list their service on our site.

The second type of person is the consumer – he is the person who visits our site looking for a carpenter, a magician, or a graphic designer.

The landing page we tested for consumers is the same one as above (like this one), where the consumer can tell us the job they need completed.

Here are the results we found:

Who were the winners?

The Washington Post and the New York Times were the most trusted brands among consumers, increasing conversions by 32% and 29%, respectively.

For consumers who visited our site for the first time, the Washington Post and the New York Times were by far the most trusted brands – when shown alone, they increased conversions by 32% and 29%, respectively.

Keep in mind that the consumers who come to our site presumably have money to spend – so maybe they’re higher-income people who love their Times and their Post.

The Wall Street Journal was the most trusted brand among local service professionals, increasing conversions by 8%.

The business-oriented entrepreneurs who list their services on Thumbtack seem to trust the Wall Street Journal more than the Times, the Post, or USA Today.

And who was the loser?

USA Today was the least trusted brand among both consumers and local service professionals, decreasing consumer signups by 25% and local service professional signups by 13%.

USA Today is the second-most popular newspaper by circulation in the U.S. – and it has more revenue than Google does in the U.S..

But placing USA Today’s logo on our site actually decreased conversions significantly.

These results were measured across 15,000 visitors to our site.

Takeaway: Placing press logos on your site isn’t a guaranteed winner.

We were amazed at the difference in trust among brands between the two groups of people.

The consumers on Thumbtack tend towards the high-income, female, and shopper demographics. These people seem to love their New York Times and their Washington Post – and not their Wall Street Journal.

Conversely, the service professionals on Thumbtack tend towards the middle-income, blue-collar, entrepreneur demographics. These people seem to respect the Wall Street Journal a lot – and actively distrust the New York Times.

As for USA Today? We have no idea why this hugely popular newspaper would have decreased conversions across the board. Your guess is as good as ours.

Whatever the reasons, our tests showed that press logos can increase conversions – but certainly not always. Whether adding press logos to your site increases conversions depends on which logos you’re adding and what kind of audience visits your site.

———–

Are you an engineer? Thumbtack is an awesome place to work and is hiring – check out our job listing here.

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  • http://twitter.com/benknight8 ben knight

    Good job, but come on, everybody knows that USA Today doesn’t really have an honest claim to “the second-highest circulation of any U.S. newspaper.” For one thing, it’s only 5 days a week. For another, more important thing, USA Today has always given away most of its circulation for free, at hotels, etc., in effect cooking the circulation books ,

    • Anonymous

      Hey, we’re just repeating what Wikipedia told us! :-)

      • Nick Outlaw

        Hey you just email different service providers with ficticious leads to get them to create an account.  Once the service providers set up an account, you then send more false leads to influence them to pay for your services without once mentioning your charges befroe then.  What goes around goes around. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/plasmacarwash Plasma Carwash

    fascinatin’ rhythm

  • Nick Outlaw

    You are sleezy and sneaky.  Your marketing tactics are unethical and extremely annoying!  I have rage and hate for you.  burn in hell

  • Peter

    It is a Good website, Good copy text, Good, great user friendly features / facilities. Question is how do you make your money ? as you rightly should, I mean Angie’s List has always lost money.
    What, from a potential investors view is your income stream/streams ?

  • http://www.qupiik.com/ qupiik

    Very insightful piece. And very timely indeed

  • http://www.redkingdesign.co.uk/ Red King

    Interesting, I have noticed that many websites are using press logos. Need to think of a clever way of including one on my websites.

  • ilanes

    So interesting. Thanks for sharing.