How Can I Get More Donations With Just a Small Change? A/B Testing Your Fundraising Landing Pages (Part Two)

Below is Part Two of a series of three articles in which Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein talks about A/B testing your web pages, which can make a huge difference in how well they convert site visitors into supporters and donors. Michael is the president of Spitzer-Rubenstein Strategies, a digital campaign consulting firm specializing in email, social media, online advertising, and website development and optimization. Note that if you leave questions comments below or tweet them to @MSRPOTUS, Michael will answer them in tomorrow’s conclusion, and be sure to check out Part One of the series.

How Can I Get More Donations With Just a Small Change? A/B Testing Your Fundraising Landing Pages (Part Two)

By Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein

Yesterday I explained how even a small, underfunded campaign can easily use A/B testing to bring in a lot more donations without much work. But how do you put those lessons to work for you?

Whenever I work on a website, I generally have a long list of changes I want to make, and if you’re running a site, it shouldn’t take you long to come up with a similarly long list of things that you don’t like about the site. Maybe we’re talking about elements of the site that might not work well, or perhaps it’s pages that you’re curious if you could improve. For your first tests, look for the big things that everyone will see: don’t worry about changing a few words in a paragraph somewhere on one page which might be only seen by a tiny portion of people. High-visibility means page elements like headlines, images (adding a photo or an image of any kind usually improves the results) and calls-to-action like “Donate Now.” To get rolling, start with just one thing that you think could result in a big change. For instance, with Cathy Guerriero’s campaign, we changed the headline on the donation page.

Now, you’re going to need a little bit of code to get started. Luckily, there are a number of options. Google Analytics includes a free tool called Content Experiments that lets you split visitors into different groups and have each group see a different page variant. That’s fairly easy to set up, but you do have to set up each page individually and then add a couple lines of JavaScript to the original page. Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely are probably the two most prominent other services; both of them cost money but make it easier to create test variants.

No matter what system you use, you’ll have to also set the success page, the page you want visitors to reach. That page is probably a thank-you page after the donation or volunteer signup, and anyone who reaches that page was a successful conversion. If you can, also tag those people in the backend of your CRM or donation processing system (so that you know who came from where) and double-check that everything is working properly (i.e., making sure that people are actually going into your system from both page variants, etc.).

The next step is the most frustrating: waiting for results to come in. You’ll want to wait for what’s called “statistical significance,” a fancy term that means that there’s a 95% chance that the results are representative of what would happen if you let the test go on forever. One version should have a 95% likelihood of being the best. How long that takes depends on the difference between the variants. If 2% of people donate when they see page A but 10% of people donate when they reach page B, you would only need 100 visitors (not donors) to be 96% certain that version B is better. (Don’t worry about the math; whatever tool you use should let you know whether the results are statistically significant). But if the difference is only a couple percentage points, it’ll take a while longer and you’ll need more visitors to be certain which version is better.

Then, once the results are in, set the winner to be the standard page (make sure the URL stays the same so that visitors end up at the right page), and start thinking about your next A/B test.

Ready to get started? Or have more questions? Post them in the comments below or tweet them to @MSRPOTUS and I’ll answer them tomorrow.

Written by
Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein
View all articles