How refining a post-course donation page value proposition affects revenue Experiment ID: #10657

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: 1/2/2019 - 1/12/2019

Hillsdale College had run multiple experiments on their post-course-donation pages, leading to a control that had not been beaten in some time. The control answered a question placed in the reader’s mind—why does Hillsdale teach these courses for free? It then went on to explain how Hillsdale does all these courses without funding from the government and asked the reader to support the College. 
 

They decided to craft a new donation page value proposition that incorporated several new elements that they hypothesized would increase conversion. First they created a new headline that excited the reader, rather than simply thanking them. Then, they repositioned the following copy to position it as “must read” content, numbering the items so that the reader had some direction as to what order they were supposed to read in. 

They kept the same belief statement first, but made a distinction in how they approached discussing the funding of the courses. Instead of mentioning the lack of government funding, they positioned the course as a gift to the donor, provided by other generous donors. This introduced the concept of reciprocity—that people are more likely to give if something is given to them first. The third point reminded the reader that they were furthering their education, and expressed gratitude. Finally, they concluded by giving a mission to the reader—help reach the “millions more” who don’t know about these courses. They reiterated the important nature of these courses, and then made an assertion: “We know exactly how much it costs to get a student enrolled in an online course. When you make a gift of $75 today, you will allow 15 more people to hear about this course.” 

This communicates a few things to the reader:

  1. Hillsdale is prudent and strategic in marketing these courses
  2. The reader can have a defined impact with a defined donation amount—giving them a handle. 

They launched the treatment in an A/B test and watched results to determine a winner. 

Research Question

How will refining a donation page’s value proposition affect revenue?

Design

C: Control
T1: bulleted Value Prop - 4 things

Results

Treatment Name Revenue per Visitor Relative Difference Confidence Average Gift
C: Control $1.23 $43.89
T1: bulleted Value Prop - 4 things $2.80 127.0% 99.7% $53.41

This experiment was validated using 3rd party testing tools. Based upon those calculations, a significant level of confidence was met so these 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
× 86.5% increase in conversion rate
× 21.7% increase in average gift
127.0% increase in revenue

Key Learnings

The treatment produced a 127% lift in revenue, due to an 88.1% increase in conversion and 21% increase in average gift. Not only did this new copy inspire more people to read and subsequently give, they were inspired to give more. Further testing is required to know if this average gift increase is due to the copy or to the suggested $75 gift handle, but these results are now being tested across multiple courses to see if the results hold. 


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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.