The Backstory
The nonprofit digital marketing world has just barely scratched the surface of website testing. Sure, there are clear-cut cases of commercial marketing teams deploying extensive market research efforts via A/B tests, multivariate tests, focus groups, surveys, field trials – but less frequently do we see such exhaustive premeditated testing make it into nonprofit marketing plans.

Our Take On It
Does this mean nonprofits are less strategic or too small to play the game? I would argue no. Rather, nonprofit marketers work with limited budgets AND must report back to Boards who often fail to see the necessity of budgeting for digital optimization. Even small, micro-local or niche nonprofits with limited web traffic can benefit from strategic testing and optimization. You don’t have to be a large, national organization in order to play the game.

There’s a strong case to be made for allocating budget toward testing and deploying digital strategy based on verifiable, quantifiable test results. First and foremost, you may be leaving money on the table if you’re not testing for optimization! Consider the impact of raising your donation form’s minimum gift amount from $25 to $40. Or, if you were to optimize your form for a “monthly giving-first” strategy, how would that move the needle on overall giving? If you had test results that indicated a strong conversion rate (or higher gift average or greater overall giving) it becomes a no-brainer!

What Should You Do?
Google’ s Content Experiments allow you to create webpage A/B tests from within Google Analytics and requires very little manual implementation of code. Simple A/B tests can help you optimize a donation form or a landing page by allowing you to test components of the page such as the placement of the security logo (should it be at the top of the page or lower beside the “Submit” button?) or the order of your giving levels (list them high-to-low or low-to-high?) Frankly, the testing options are limitless.

Configuring a head-to-head test between pages begins with your original (live) page and the variations you’d like to test. Google’s user-interface will generate analytics tracking code for you to implement within the pages. Not comfortable with HTML code? No problem – Google has a built in feature that allows you to email the code directly to your Web Master with instructions of where to embed it.

In your test configuration, you may setup “advanced segments” for tracking particular audience groups. In addition, you may customize the metric you’ll track in terms of conversions, i.e. visits, donations or registrations.

Content Experiments runs a statistical engine for analyzing experiments that generates winning/losing results within an approximate 2 week window. The engine is configured with a component for “dynamic traffic allocation” which automatically shifts traffic away from low performing variations over to higher performing variation(s) in order to further test and improve conversions.

Case by case testing results provide a valuable supplement to our understanding of marketing best practices. To pursue more than simply a “drop in the bucket” approach to optimization, consider building a sustainable testing program. Look at your program holistically – set your goals ahead of time and map out what it will take to get there. Document each of your test hypotheses, results, conclusions, and strategies. Adopt winning tactics as best practice and continue to refine.

For More Information
The Creative & Strategy Services team at Charity Dynamics is dedicated to mulling over current trends, fleshing out recommendations and vetting new opportunities in the digital nonprofit world. Partner with us and gain insight into what’s new, what’s worth pursuing and what your organization can do to change the world.