How Focus on the Family Acquired 200,000 New Emails with a Free Online Assessment

Published by Nathan Hill

Focus on the Family is a Christian ministry that focuses on equipping families with the tools they need to thrive. This includes educating couples on how to have a strong and healthy marriage, providing tools for parents to help raise their children, providing counseling when people face crises or tragedy, and much more.

Focus on the Family LogoThe Problem

Being a content-driven organization, it’s crucial for Focus on the Family to be reaching new audiences, acquiring new emails, and cultivating them into donors. Many organizations have great content and are doing impactful work, but just doing good work does not guarantee that the right people are going to hear about you, value you, and donate to your cause.

In fact, someone could frequently visit an organization’s website for years, but that doesn’t guarantee they will join an email file or donate. Focus on the Family recognized this, and wanted to develop an offer that would appeal to likely subscribers, capture their email, and plug them into a donation funnel.

The Plan

Marriage AssessmentSince marriage is a major content topic for Focus on the Family, they decided to create a free online assessment that would help someone discover how healthy their marriage is. As experts in this field, they had identified 12 key marriage success traits that could be measured using simple questions.

This assessment makes a series of statements and asks the user to rank them on a scale from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” At the end, the user is prompted for their email address in order to view their results. After submitting the form, the user can see a chart of all 12 key traits explaining the areas in which their marriage is strong, and the areas they have room to improve.

You can take the assessment for yourself here.

Just having an offer doesn’t guarantee results. Focus on the Family launched a series of Facebook ads, tapping into their social media community to provide their new assessment to people likely to take it.

After someone completed the assessment, they were entered into a post-assessment email nurture series. This series points the assessment takers to additional content and resources they can use to improve and strengthen their marriage. This additional content was a mixture of free blogs and articles, as well as books that could be purchased through their eCommerce store.

Email Series ExampleThe Results

This free offer netted significant results in several key areas. First, they saw a 10% increase in daily traffic to their site simply through organic social media posts. When they followed this up with paid social media advertising, they were able to lift their daily website traffic by an additional 26%.

This led to a combined 38% overall lift in website traffic. But the primary metric they were looking to lift was new emails.

This additional traffic resulted in over 260,000 completed assessments. And 200,000 of those were brand new email subscribers. The potential of these subscribers to become donors is far greater than someone simply signing up for a newsletter. They’ve experienced the value proposition of Focus on the Family directly, so that when a donation appeal comes, they will have a much more tangible idea of what they’re supporting.

The Learning

One of the biggest takeaways that we can draw from this campaign is the idea that not all content offers are created equal.

Focus on the Family - Best Recurring CampaignEven as we evaluated the applications for the 2017 Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization awards, we saw many organizations that were utilizing Facebook advertising to give a free offer in exchange for an email address. But in many cases, organizations use offers for acquisition that aren’t related to the work the organization does.

For instance, Focus on the Family could have given away a chance to win a free cruise in exchange for an email address. It may have gotten a lot of submissions, but that doesn’t help someone understand their organization better. By creating an offer that is relevant to your work and helps someone experience your organization first hand, you can increase the likelihood that a new email subscriber will be engaged with you and become a donor.

Because of their ability to create an offer that tied so well into the work of their organization, and its effectiveness in acquiring their target audience, we’ve awarded Focus on the Family a 2017 Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization award.


About the author:

Nathan Hill

Nathan played a snare drum in the 2008 Presidential Inaugural Parade.