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Experiment Walkthrough: How Refining the Donation Value Proposition Increased Conversion by 553.3%

Published by Jeff Giddens


The DTS mission is, “to glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders for the proclamation of His Word and the building up of the body of Christ worldwide.” They strive to help men and women fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, or more simply: Teach Truth. Love Well.

Dallas Theological Seminary launched a Resource Center for biblical perspectives on today’s issues. The goal of this Resource Center was email and donor acquisition. Immediately after the signup page was a donation ask.

DTS had run a similar value proposition experiment on this page before but had seen no significant difference in results.

Together, we ran a more radical test the second time around.

What DTS Tested (and why)

First, we focused on which value proposition would generate stronger response: an ask for an investment in a student, or an ask supporting the provision of the Resource Center. We hypothesized that since these visitors were accessing the Resource Center, a value proposition built around Resource Center itself may be the more compelling proposition as it more closely reflects visitor motivation. This went against the time-tested DTS value proposition, which had always centered around the students on campus.

In the flow of this conversion process, the prospective donors see the donation appeal directly after signing up for the Resource Center themselves. So, we know that the visitors to this donation page view the Resource Center as valuable. Since we know the perceived value of the Resource Center tipped the value exchange from cost-heavy/value-light to value-heavy/cost-light on the previous page, what better context then to present a donation opportunity?

We hypothesized that while most visitors would be receptive to the student based appeal in another context, this appeal fails to leverage the momentum of the “micro-yes” that has just occurred: signing up for the Resource Center. Therefore, we hypothesized that the additional congruence and relevance of the Resource Center appeal would harness some of that momentum and boost results.

Next, we sought to reduce friction on the page by changing the placement of the endorsement to move it inline with the text (keeping the entire page single column) and adding a photo to accompany the endorsement.

Take a look at the two versions of the page below. Did you see the endorsement by Chuck Swindoll in the control? The first time I looked over the page, it didn’t even register with me. But on the second page, you can hardly miss it. If anything, the simple format change DTS made turned that powerful quote into a stopping point for even the most aggressive page skimmers.

Finally, relying on learnings from numerous other experiments, we hypothesized that including suggested giving amounts – even while preserving the open field donation option – would boost average gift.

Screenshot 2015-12-23 11.30.49


Once validated, the treatment produced a lift in conversion rate of 553.3% plus an increase in average gift of 241.4%!

Tailoring the value proposition to harness the momentum of the “micro-yes” that brought your audience to the donation page can be extremely effective. The layout modifications enhanced the force of the endorsement and reduced friction, adding to the overall effectiveness of the value proposition. And, the additional force of the value proposition coupled with the suggested giving amounts, boosted revenue substantially.

Overall this campaign produced a 2,130.4% increase in revenue. Great work, DTS!

Tests you may consider based on this experiment:

  • Tailor your value proposition to harness momentum of the previous conversion step
  • Place important social proof inline with value proposition text–and consider adding an image or style to draw attention to it.
  • Add suggested giving amounts to donation form

This experiment targeted 2 of the 3 key revenue metrics: conversion rate and average gift. If you want to see where the “low-hanging fruit” is in your online program, run this quick self-diagnostic tool.

Published by Jeff Giddens

Jeff Giddens is President of NextAfter.