Starting in 2007, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign ran a series of digital marketing experiments to increase signups and donations using A/B testing where site visitors are randomly shown two options (A & B) to see which performs best. According to the director of analytics for the campaign, this optimization converted an extra 2.8 million email addresses and translated into $60 million in online donations.
Since then, A/B testing has been an important tool for digital political marketing. The more traffic you generate online, the more experiments you can run and the better your results, but campaigns of all sizes can and should be testing their digital creative to increase performance.
Effective A/B testing starts with both a clear hypothesis and measurement. You should start with big changes and work your way to smaller tweaks. Here are six A/B testing your campaign run to improve digital performance.
Test Calls To Action
Your call to action – what the link in the email or the button on the site says – is one of the more important components of your campaign’s digital conversion funnels. Instead of generic language like “join” or “donate” test calls to action that are more specific or timely, like “Chip in $5 to Defeat Socialism” or “Take Action.”
Your call to action can affect both your conversion rate as well as the outcome, such as amount raised or hours volunteered.
Vary Donation Amounts
The behavioral science behind anchoring is powerful. We make decisions based on comparisons. It’s one of the tricks restaurants use on wine lists, for example. For your campaign’s online fundraising program, you can run experiments with A/B tests to see whether changes in the amounts you ask a donor for impact either the number of donations or how much they give.
Instead of asking for $10 in an email, ask for $5 to test whether you convert more donors. You can anchor your donation amounts around the average gift for your campaign to see if that will push the total raised higher.
You should run these tests in email copy, text messages, and donation pages. If you are still building your online fundraising program, you should run your experiments for longer time periods to get sufficiently reliable data.
Mix Up Email Attributes
The majority of online fundraising comes via email. Mixing up the elements of your marketing emails can lead to significant improvements. Some tests your campaign can try include,
- Campaign logo versus no logo
- Long subject line versus short subject line
- Sender full name versus sender first name
- Weekday send versus weekend send
- Evening versus morning
There are a number of possibilities and many email marketing platforms even make it easy to A/B test right from the software.
Test Creative Variations
Every style component of your email, social media, website, and donation pages can be tested. Videos, photos, and even colors can have an impact on digital performance. With online advertising, for example, testing a 15 second video versus a longer form video can produce varying results depending on desired outcomes. Having a photo of the candidate alone on the donation page may raise less money than a photo of the candidate with family. Red buttons might get more clicks than blue buttons.
It’s especially important to start broad before going narrow with creative experiments to build on your findings over time.
Personalizing your digital marketing is another variable you can A/B test. From adding names to customizing donation amounts or mentioning a supporter’s location, these can all improve your outcomes. Testing is important for measuring this effect so you know how much effort to put into collecting the data needed for personalization.
Say, for example, adding a supporter’s hometown to an email gets more opens and raises more money, but asking for a home address lowers your conversion rate by more, you can explore other, more efficient ways to collect the data.
Adjust Landing Page Templates
Try testing variations with your landing page style for petitions, volunteer signups, and donation pages. Does adding more text boost your conversions? What’s the difference between a video or static image? Test the difference between a single versus multi-step form.
Small tweaks can make a big difference at this stage of the process.
Running simple, focused A/B tests is a critical tool for boosting your digital campaign’s performance and maximizing your paid media investments. Software like Optimizely and Google Analytics can help you run and measure reliable tests, but don’t be afraid to keep it simple. You should always document your tests to keep track of what does and doesn’t work.