Optimization: The Secret Weapon In Online Fundraising

Many nonprofits are taking advantage of optimization testing to conduct small experiments that drive huge increases in revenue.

If optimization testing isn’t in your organization’s digital plan for the year, add it now. For a relatively small investment, you could reap significant gains in online fundraising.

What is optimization testing, you ask?

A/B split testing (i.e., optimization) is the process of systematically testing changes to your current website to determine which deliver the highest conversion (and revenue). Using sophisticated web tools, you can create a mirror image of your site. You can then split traffic across the two, randomly and evenly delivering half of your visitors to your existing site, and half to the mirror site that includes your test element. This allows you to test each variable in real time. The beauty of this approach is that as you learn and optimize, your improvements can have a compounding effect on site conversion and revenue.

Where does optimization belong in your digital strategy?

This is where many nonprofits make a big mistake. Many organizations go through the effort to scope, build, and launch brand new websites every year. But they fail to make ongoing optimization part of that plan. It’s considered a “phase 2” objective, put off until the following fiscal year either because of budget, staffing or any number of other priorities. That’s a huge mistake.

If you plan to build a new site or significantly improve your existing site in the coming year, you need to plan for optimization testing as a part of your improvement strategy. It should be integrated into your overall plan rather than being an afterthought. The additional investment in dollars and hours will more than pay off in the long run.

What’s the value in optimization testing?

I’ve seen simple optimization tests for some clients increase their online revenue by 20% – 50% year-over-year. Think about that. That could result in a six-figure revenue increase for your organization! Here’s an example of how the math could work:

Optimization #1

Even using the most conservative estimates, optimization testing proves to be a wise investment.

What elements should you test?

Test options are endless, especially when you’re using an automated tool that allows you to conduct the tests without huge investments of hours from your programming staff. Here’s a quick list of some of the variables most frequently tested:

  • Site navigation design
  • Donation button color, placement, etc.
  • Ask strategy
  • Call to action
  • Donation form placement and order
  • Imagery and video
  • Offer presentation
  • Value proposition

The options are endless. The more you test, the more you learn and refine. The more you learn, the more money you’ll raise for your cause.

Are you already using optimization testing? If so, I’d love for you to share what you’re learining here!  If not, what’s keeping you from it?


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