American Cornerstone Institute

How introducing “donors like you” language impacted clicks in an email appeal

Experiment ID: #100331

American Cornerstone Institute

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 07/12/2022 - 07/27/2022

In an effort to increase click-through rates, we wanted to know how “casting” the recipient into the role of donor before they donate would impact engagement. In his experiment, we kept all other copy the same, switching only language that mentions needing “your help” to “help from donors like you”. We sent each version of the email to 50% of the house file to assess the results.

Research Question

We believe that casting an email recipient into the role of a donor before they donate will increase click-through rates by using the persuasion principle of consistency to prompt them to follow through.


C: "You"
T1: "Donors Like You"


 Treatment NameClick RateRelative DifferenceConfidence
C: "You" 1.5%
T1: "Donors Like You" 1.8%17.8% 97.5%

This experiment has a required sample size of 17,501 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 46,019, 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:

    17.8% increase in traffic
× 0% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

By casting the email recipient into the role of a donor, we were able to realize a 17.8% lift in click-through rates, with a 97.5% level of confidence, validating our hypothesis. We believe this lift occurred because by asking for help from “donors like you” we preemptively created a feeling of commitment which prompted more people to seek consistency by clicking through.

While past experiments have shown that “you” language increase engagement, we wanted to take this a step further by speaking to a future you that is already making a difference by donating to the cause at hand.

This treatment achieves two things en route to increasing engagement:

  1. It lets the recipient know that they are just the kind of person the client needs to help them accomplish their goal, and that those who do donate are people who align with similar values and goals
  2. By casting the recipient into the role of a donor before they donate, the potential donor wants to be consistent by translating their values into action. The thought pattern “I care about these issues and I am someone to whom this organization is looking to help, but am unwilling to take actions” creates an uncomfortable feeling of cognitive dissonance wherein the potential donor feels one way but does not back that up with their actions. This treatment gives them the opportunity to put their values into action, thus increasing engagement


Based on these results, we may look to include similar language to this in other contexts to see if phrases such as “caring people like you,” “conservatives like you,” “progressives like you,” people who want to see real change, like you,” etc. to see if this tactic applies in these instances as well.

Experiment Documented by NextAfter

Question about experiment #100331

If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.