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How The Heritage Foundation Increased Revenue Per Visitor by 31%

Published by Jeff Giddens

The Heritage Foundation is a public policy think tank headquartered in Washington, DC. Founded in 1973.

Their mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

The Challenge

Heritage has run hundreds of optimization experiments, testing everything from landing page to email treatments to pay-per-click ads to increase conversion. They wanted to increase conversion on their main donation page, which had been tested for years with very few, if any, significant gains.

The Test

This was the Heritage donation form as it stood when we first developed our hypotheses. It had basically been unchanged for two years, and had some simple copy at the top of the page inviting visitors to make a monthly recurring or one-time gift.

Heritage Donate 1
Control donation page

Heritage Donate 2
Treatment donation page

We hypothesized that adding a stronger value proposition to this page would increase the likelihood that a visitor would become a donor. We crafted a statement that emphasized Heritage’s points of exclusivity and better “sell” what Heritage has to offer.  This was the landing page that we developed.

We ran the test, gathered enough traffic to achieve statistical significance, and found that the treatment page with the added value proposition statement had a slightly higher conversion rate and a slightly higher average gift, resulting in an 18% lift in revenue per visitor. 


But this wasn’t the end of the test — we had another hypothesis that developed while this test was running. Our giving form had seven gift options on it. We hypothesized that reducing the available choices would increase conversion by creating less cognitive friction in the mind of the donor.

The form also defaulted to a monthly giving ask. Why monthly giving? Very simply, a $5/month gift is worth $60 a year, while a $50 gift is worth just $50. However, the nature of monthly gifts is that they are generally smaller and spread out over a period of time, so the initial ask was only $5. We hypothesized that if we increased the suggested donation amounts and defaulted to a one-time gift ask, we could further increase revenue per visitor.

This would be commonly seen as short-term thinking, but we knew Heritage had a successful campaign that turned one-time donors into recurring donors, and we could capture those commitments downstream.

So we created a new version of the treatment that can be seen below: three suggested donation amounts, and a pre-selected one-time gift.

Heritage Donate 2
New Control Page

Heritage Test 3
New Treatment Page

The results

The second test resulted in an additional 10% in revenue per visitor. This proved that reducing cognitive friction (the amount of choices we force our donor to make ) allows more of them to make the decision that we value most — the decision to give. Together, these two tests resulted in a cumulative lift of 31% in revenue per visitor.


For the Heritage Foundation, that amounted to more than $150,000 in annual revenue. The power of landing page optimization is real, and can deliver real value. What will you test today?

Published by Jeff Giddens

Jeff was the 1994 Georgia State Spelling Bee champion.