How a contextual image affects email acquisition rate Experiment ID: #6393

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: 3/8/2017 - 3/28/2017

Hillsdale College was promoting their course on C.S. Lewis, when they noticed that there might be an opportunity to optimize the email acquisition page.

The course enrollment page had the headline “Learn timeless principles from one of the world’s greatest authors”, and the reader had to go to the next line to find out who that was. C.S. Lewis’ name was only mentioned one on the page, and many readers who skimmed the content might not know who “one of the world’s greatest authors” referred to.

They hypothesized that putting a picture of C.S. Lewis on the page would help the reader connect the dots between the headline and the subject of the course, even if that person didn’t know who C.S. Lewis was at first glance.

Research Question

Will adding a picture of C.S. Lewis increase email acquisition rate?

MECLABS Conversion Factors Targeted

C = 4m + 3v + 2( i - f) - 2a ©

Copyright 2015, MECLABS


C: Control
T1: Treatment 1


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Control 31.3%
T1: Treatment 1 34.4% 10.2% 98.1%

This experiment has a required sample size of 1,681 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 4,805, 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
× 10.2% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

The treatment with the picture increased conversion by 10%—a nominal, but important increase. This prompted a new series of tests to see whether email acquisition could be further improved by creating more context for the course and third-party validation.

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Experiment Documented by...

Jeff Giddens

Jeff is a Senior Vice President at NextAfter. If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.