Hillsdale College

How reducing form friction on email acquisition affects donor conversion

Experiment ID: #1651

Hillsdale College

Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College is an independent liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. Hillsdale’s educational mission rests upon two principles: academic excellence and institutional independence. The College does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 06/08/2015 - 07/07/2015

Hillsdale College’s Constitution 101 course is one of the biggest source of new emails and new donors for the college. Previous experiments had been able to increase the conversion rate of the donation page and had increased the number of visitors to the page.  However, we had been unable to build upon the success of the initial treatment created for the name acquisition page.

We decided to create another treatment that would divide the existing form into two steps; name and email would be first, followed by the participant’s address. When we devised this experiment, we made sure to set up tracking across every step of the process to ensure any improvements in one area didn’t adversely impact the other important metrics.

Research Question

Does dividing the registration form in to multiple steps increase the overall acquisition of emails, addresses, and donors?


C: Single Step Email Acquisition Form
T1: Two Step Email Acquisition Form


  Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Single Step Email Acquisition Form 0.61%
T1: Two Step Email Acquisition Form 1.2% 93.7% 93.0%

This experiment has a required sample size of 2,076 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 3,570, and the level of confidence is not above 95% the experiment results are not valid.

Key Learnings

The two step form successfully increased every metric along the registration process.  Email acquisition increased by 17.6% and the number of home addresses acquired increased by 9.0%. The biggest lift was achieved with the final step of the process with a 93.4% increase in donor conversion.


By spreading out the steps, we reduced the amount of mental friction associated with each step of the process. The forms looked shorter and, as such, increased the ultimate conversion along each step.

Experiment Documented by NextAfter

Question about experiment #1651

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