Illinois Policy Institute

How increasing the relevancy of the cause to the reader affected donor conversion

Experiment ID: #2727

Illinois Policy Institute

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 04/07/2017 - 04/13/2017

Illinois Policy Institute sent an appeal asking their email file to support a long-awaited budget fight. They crafted an email that was very informative, and used facts and figures to show that most Illinoisans support it. However, they wondered if this sort of language created distance between the reader and the intended action of supporting the cause with a donation.

They crafted an email that sought to strategically close the distance between the reader and the intended donation in two ways. First, this new email was more open about the funding that it would take to win this battle, which provided a bigger perceived need that the reader could imagine themselves helping solve.

Second, the treatment made a very direct ask (“Would you be able to help us push this important new budget forward?”), and related it personally to the reader (“This bill could have an incredible impact on your taxes”). Finally, the treatment allowed the reader to fulfill a wish of the writer, John Tillman, who they ostensibly recognize and respect: “I’d be honored if you joined us at this critical inflection point”.

They split their email file and sent one appeal to each half to determine a winner.


Research Question

Will decreasing the reader’s perceived distance to a cause increase donor conversion?


C: Control
T1: Increased Connection


 Treatment NameConv. RateRelative DifferenceConfidence
C: Control 0.08%
T1: Increased Connection 0.33%328.0% 99.0%

This experiment has a required sample size of 2,502 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 8,121, and the level of confidence is above 95% the experiment results are valid.

Flux Metrics Affected

The Flux Metrics analyze the three primary metrics that affect revenue (traffic, conversion rate, and average gift). This experiment produced the following results:

    0% increase in traffic
× 328.0% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

The treatment email produced an incredible 328% lift in donor conversion, with a significant directional increase in average gift as well. This shows the power of bringing the reader closer to the cause by being more upfront with the need (which increases their perception that they can help) and connecting the donor to the cause personally (by showing them how it will impact them).

This presents a new framework for crafting email appeals to ensure that the ask is clearly made (even in the form of a question) and that the impact of the donor’s gift will have a noticeable impact on their own life.

Experiment Documented by NextAfter

Question about experiment #2727

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