Membership has its privileges. But some words are more privileged than others.

Writing subscription or membership ad copy offers its own unique challenges.  The basics aren’t enough.  This isn’t a one-time sale.  Converting a reader into a subscriber means asking for an ongoing commitment, and these calls-to-action play by their own rules.

The goal is to get people to join, and with all ads, a clear call-to-action earns the strongest results.  There are two major benefits to including this in your ads.  First, they push the viewer to do something like ‘subscribe’ or ‘sign up’.  Secondly, these words pre-condition people who click on them – If they click, they already know that there will be a call to join something on your site.  But do they work?

Convertasaurus gives us the answer.  They do.

Almost all ‘action’ subscription words appear more often in successful ads than they appear in unsuccessful ads.  But how well do these verbs compare to ‘static’ words like ‘subscription’ or ‘membership’?

Even the most obnoxious ads can benefit from action verbs.

We uncovered words that show up in successful ads more often than unsuccessful ones.  Comparing call-to-action phrases in Convertasaurus helped us see that ‘subscribe’ plows ahead with the strongest track record.

Word Good/Bad Ad Ratio
Subscription 2.7 x
Membership 2.7 x
Enroll 2.9 x
Sign up 3.1 x
Register 3.1 x
Join 3.7 x
Subscribe 9.2 x


Inconclusive Results

Subscription Free subscription
Subscribe Subscribe free
Enroll Enroll free


Asking people to ‘subscribe’, rather than offering a ‘subscription’, triggers more conversions.  But what modifications to these words impact their effectiveness?  We’ll dig a little deeper.

If these were “exotic kittens”, would they still be available?

Let’s include another power word that people like to include in ad copy, ‘free’.  The word signifies that there is little risk to the user.  But how well does it work when you are trying to get people to ‘join’ something?  Adding ‘free’ to the words above doesn’t always produce a statistically definitive winner, but of the words that do, they begin to paint a pretty clear picture:

Winning Phrase Losing Phrase
Membership Free membership
Register Register free
Sign up Sign up free
Sign up Free sign up
Join Join free
Join Join for free


So, adding the word ‘free’ seems to actually devalue the membership you are offering.  Like with a fraternity or the Navy SEALS, if you want to make your membership attractive, don’t try to give it away.  As Groucho Marx said, ‘I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.’

Finally, we’ll take a look at personalization of these subscription words.  You’re proud of what you offer, and you want to make it seem more homey and personable.  Should you add words like ‘our’ or ‘us’ to the call to action?  Is ‘Join Team Edward’ better or worse than ‘Join our team of sparkly vampires’?  Do personal words help you look friendly, or make you look like a creepy cult?  Not all the ‘action words’ make good English phrases with these modifiers, but let’s look at those that do:

Homey and personable can also be creepy.

Winning Phrase Losing Phrase
Enroll Enroll in our
Sign up Sign up for our
Join Join us
Join Join our


So, it’s a pretty safe bet to skip the personalization, and use those valuable character spaces promoting other aspects of what you offer.

In summary, Convertasaurus proves the traditional belief that direct verbs in ‘call to action’ work better when promoting a membership than ‘static words’ do.  But be careful not to detract from these power words by devaluing the membership you offer, or by over-personalizing the message you are sending.

That’s a philosophy you can subscribe to!

Posted in Case Studies