How the tone of advertising impacts donor conversion Experiment ID: #7559

The Heritage Foundation

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 8/24/2017 - 10/3/2017

The Heritage Foundation had learned from previous experiments that a homepage callout section that focused on new member acquisition as able to drive a high volume of donor motivated traffic. In previous tests on this callout, we had tested the entire funnel and found that a membership offer was the highest performing with regards to new donors but that the “Drain the Swamp” message resulted in the most clicks.

We decided to test out a “Drain the Swamp” message on the homepage callout against the standard “Join Heritage” language. Both of these would include a final call to action of “Become a member” and would land on the same donation landing page that focused on membership as the offer.

Research Question

Will the more action-oriented “Drain the Swamp” message increase the motivation of visitors clicking on the callout enough to influence donor conversion?


C: Join Heritage
T1: Drain the Swamp


Treatment Name Conv. Rate Relative Difference Confidence Average Gift
C: Join Heritage 0.04% $67.06
T1: Drain the Swamp 0.09% 115.9% 99.6% $60.43

This experiment has a required sample size of 22,265 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 98,494, 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
× 115.9% increase in conversion rate
× 9.9% decrease in average gift
94.5% increase in revenue

Key Learnings

We found that the “Drain the Swamp” message was able to increase overall donor conversion by 116%. When we analyze the differences between the two versions, we can see that the “Drain the Swamp” message is highly action-oriented compared to the “Join Heritage” message that focused more on the past accomplishments and what Heritage is rather than what it will do. This leads to the hypothesis that people support Heritage based upon what it will do, not on what it has done in the past.

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Experiment Documented by...

Kevin Peters

Kevin is the Chief Technology Officer 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.