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Effective On-line Donation Pages: Five Short Tips

Excerpt from Perfecting Your Page: Can Donation Page Optimization Boost Online Giving?

On-line fundraising has become a growing source of income for many nonprofits over the past 10 years. But while organizations typically spend lots of time developing clever, creative, and inspirational on-line content, they often overlook more mundane aspects of on-line appeals that can make a big difference in converting advocates, subscribers, and other supporters into donors. Specifically, while e-mail and Web page copy may persuade people to "click to donate now," less than half of those who click through to the donation page (and often just a few percent) typically complete the donation transaction.

Marketers are increasingly turning their attention and resources to landing page optimization. For example, both Marketing Sherpa and Marketing Experiments have published reports recommending increasing donate button size and using more eye-catching colors to increase conversion rates (i.e., the percentage of people who complete an action after navigating to the landing page). However, as most case studies have focused on e-commerce sites, Amnesty International USA decided to find out whether similar changes to donation landing pages could increase conversion to donate as well.

Donation Page Optimization: Summary of Learning

  • Size DOES matter Bigger donate buttons helped convert more donors.

  • Color can matter too A vividly colored donation button can strongly boost donation page conversion ... but seasonality and color choice influenced whether it did.

  • Less is more Removing unnecessary fields from the personal information form significantly increased conversion to donate.

  • Remind people (nicely) why they want to donate Polite header copy ("Please make a tax-deductible gift ...") followed by short appeal copy yielded better conversion than a more forceful call to action ("Donate Now! Help us ...") without appeal copy.

  • No need to be demanding Using firmer language on the donation button ("Donate Now" instead of "Submit") did not produce statistically higher conversions.

How to Get Started with Testing

Make sure these test results apply for you! While certain factors increased donation page conversion among AIUSA's supporters, results from your organizations' supporters may differ, so testing is paramount before rolling out any changes. Below are some guidelines to keep in mind when starting the landing page testing conversation:

  • Multivariate testing
    • You'll need an outside software vendor, and a relatively steady stream of traffic with good conversion rates for this testing to produce actionable results.
      • Companies such as Optimost or Widemile provide software that makes it relatively easy to track test results in real time; however, cost will be a deterrent for many nonprofits.
      • Google's Website Optimizer is a free alternative for organizations using Google AdWords; however, unless you're very research and analytics savvy, you will need a consultant to help you implement tests and analyze results.
    • Start small: choose only a few variables to test, with two (or three) values for each so that you generate meaningful results in a relatively short period of time.
  • A/B testing
    • Even if you can't afford (or don't have enough traffic) to do multivariate testing, you can still do A/B (split sample) testing on your big ideas.
  • General
    • Don't test multiple values (e.g., size and text) in one page component (variable)&#8212#8212;you won't be able to tease out how each one is influencing the results.
    • Track donation amounts in conjunction with conversion to evaluate impact.
Melissa Tooley, Donordigital
© 2008, Donordigital. Excerpt from  Perfecting Your Page: Can Donation Page Optimization Boost Online Giving? Excerpted with permission.

Melissa Tooley is director of research and analytics for Donordigital, a company that helps nonprofit organizations, campaigns, and socially responsible businesses use the Internet for fundraising, advocacy, and marketing.
Topics: Fundraising