How clarity performs against inspirational copy at year-end Experiment ID: #10853

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: 12/9/2018 - 12/17/2018

Hillsdale College was driving traffic to a landing page as part of their year-end campaign, primarily for cultivation purposes to watch a video. However, they knew that some of this traffic would be motivated to make a gift after watching the video, and they wanted to know—would inspiration or clarity be a more powerful motivator to give? They placed a call-to-action button below the video and tested two messages: one inspiring (Help Hillsdale Teach Millions More Americans) and one clear (Make your year-end gift to Hillsdale College). They tested the two to determine a winner.

Research Question

What provides a more powerful “soft ask” motivator—inspiration or clarity?


C: Help Teach Millions More Americans
T1: Make Your Year-End Gift


Treatment Name Click Rate Relative Difference Confidence
C: Help Teach Millions More Americans 2.9%
T1: Make Your Year-End Gift 2.1% -28.7% 99.0%

This experiment has a required sample size of 2,680 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 9,339, 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:

    28.7% decrease in traffic
× 0% increase in conversion rate
× 0% increase in average gift

Key Learnings

The “clear” copy produced 28% fewer clicks than the inspirational copy, which showed that visitors to this page (who weren’t clicking with philanthropic intent anyways) were not motivated enough to respond to the direct ask. In the future, Hillsdale will have to work harder to inspire even more people to give when “donation” is not the explicit action.

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Experiment Documented by...

Jeff Giddens

Jeff is the 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.