How email engagement influence social media response rates Experiment ID: #7013

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: 5/1/2017 - 5/31/2017

Hillsdale College was promoting the launch of their new DVD version of their popular Constitution 101 course. They had sent an email to their house file and wanted to see if they could raise more money by remarketing to that audience. Using a new technology named LeadsBridge, they created two distinct custom audiences in Facebook: one of subscribers that had clicked on the email and another of those that had simply opened.

Using these two distinct audiences, they then served them the same Facebook ad with a direct ask for a gift in order to receive the DVD set.

They closely monitored results to see which group was more likely to convert, and therefore should receive more remarketing dollars.

Research Question

Which audience will result in the best return on investment?

MECLABS Conversion Factors Targeted

C = 4m + 3v + 2( i - f) - 2a ©

Copyright 2015, MECLABS


C: Clicked the email
T1: Opened the email


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Clicked the email 0.54%
T1: Opened the email 2.0% 274.5% 98.1%

This experiment has a required sample size of 316 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 2,231, 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
× 274.5% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

The audience that had simply opened the email showed a 275% increase in response rate over those that had clicked. This flouts conventional wisdom that we should remarket to the audience that advanced the furthest down the marketing funnel—in this case, they might have seen the offer and decided it wasn’t for them. This is important to keep in mind when evaluating the success of your email program. Opens are important—and their lack of action right away should not rule them out for future conversion.

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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.