May 29, 2012

Improving online donations through AB Testing

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A recent article in WIRED magazine, and online on recently caught my eye, about A/B testing. A/B testing presents website visitors with variations of the same page, and click-through rates are monitored to gauge effectiveness. Obviously, the better-performing results are implemented. This can be key for online nonprofit fundraising.

A/B testingfor Nonprofits from AespireA/B testing may not be possible for your organization (but it can be if your website is using a content management system like Joomla!); there are some key insights from the article, and others that are online, that provide some valuable tips for improving your user experience and click-through rates for your website.

The most interesting part of the article from a nonprofit perspective was a sidebar article on a donation page that proved very successful for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. (The donation page that the article mentioned no longer seems to be online, and has been replaced with this donation page that is missing some key elements.

In summary, the key highlights were:

  • Creating a two-column donation page with an image related to the donation request: 8% more money donated per page view
  • Increasing the font size on the form and labels: 2% increase in donation per pageview
  • Cutting title and phone fields: yielded an 11% more money donated per pageview
  • Change the button language. Submit is not as effective as “Support [your cause]. Resulted in 16% more money donated per pageview
  • Make certain a security badge is visible. Donors want to know the site is secure and can be trusted.

Consider this article about the IGN gaming web site.

Key insights:

  • Subscribe to YouTube button: moved high on the page, upper right
  • Change a “sign up for email updates” button to “Get Free Exclusive Content.” (Free is a powerful word).

What’s important to learn from these two examples?

  1. Customize your donation page(s). Generic donation pages are not as likely to align with a visitor’s values; your donation page should include a photo representing the cause or special interest you’re requesting funds for
  2. Be specific with the ask: “submit” or “donate now” is not as powerful as “Feed a hungry child” or Support [your cause]
  3. Keep it simple for the donor: do you really need to know all of that information about them?  Ask for the minimum amount of info so that it’s easy for the user to fill in the form
  4. Assure the potential donor. A security certificate badge is a seal of assurance
  5. Make the action item links highly visible: button and form placement are important, put yourself in the donor’s place and imagine what it’s like to donate on the page.

An online fundraising/donation page can be the most important page on a nonprofit web site. This page above all others may do more to create affinity for the cause – donors will remember if it was easy or difficult to give to you – and how well the experience is may determine if they are a repeat or one-time donor.

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