"How Does My Online Donation Page Look?" = The Wrong Question
I hope you enjoyed my last article "Social Networks: How to Make Them Work for Your Organization." For those of you who missed it let me provide this disclaimer: I lead an online fundraising company, so my perspective is very pro-digital … but it’s also informed by 10 years of Internet fundraising experience, so I hope it will be of some value to you.
For many of you the upcoming holiday season will be the busiest time of the year for donations, and an increasing portion of those donations are arriving via your Web site. As a result, more of you are paying attention to your online donation pages. If you’re like many of our clients, all kinds of people are providing input, opinion and even demands about what your online donation pages should look like: "Center this." "Add that image." "Add this video." "Make it look more like that other charity’s donation page." Any of this sound familiar?
If so stop, take a deep breath, and consider the problem you’re trying to solve. Are you trying to have the best-looking donation pages on the Internet? Or are you trying to have the most effective donation pages?
A sacred word on the Internet is "conversion." If your team isn’t talking about "conversion metrics" when it comes to your Web site and your online donation pages, you’re going to become a hero today! In the context of online donation pages, "conversion" would describe the percentage of people who actually complete your online donation journey. Let’s say 100 people click on your "Donate Now" button, but only 75 make it to your "Thank You For Your Generous Donation" screen. You would have a 75 percent conversion rate.
Since we work with many charities to power their online donations experience, we have a privileged view and can study the conversion rates across multiple online donation experiences. What have we seen so far? Less is often more. Some of the best converting donation pages are often the simplest: a small header, lots of white background, and a clear call to action. Some of the best-looking donation pages were often laggards when measured by conversion. Big juicy headers, lots of text, lots of color seem to be getting in the way of conversion! We have more studying to do, but one thing is crystal clear: Decisions about online donation pages should be driven by objective conversion data, not subjective opinion about what "looks good."
Here is a recipe for this upcoming holiday that will guarantee more online donations for you:
Step 1: Make sure your online donation pages are being recorded by Google Analytics. You can use another technology, but really why would you? Google Analytics is FREE. If you aren’t currently tracking your pages, start today so you’ll have a baseline.
Step 2: Create a "Version 2" of your donation page. For example if your current donation page is heavy with images, make Version 2 lighter.
Step 3: Use Google Website Optimizer (yes, also FREE) to test Version 1 vs. Version 2. Pick the version that has the best conversion rate.
Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 and 3 as often as you can. If you were able to improve your donation page conversion rate by 5 percent, just imagine how much more money you’ll earn this holiday season.
Step 5: Treat yourself visiting Google Conversion University. Even if you’re a non-technical person I encourage you to spend 15 minutes here; these tools are so easy to use they are no longer exclusive to the IT team. It will give you and your team a new approach to your online donation pages, as well as your Web site in general.
If you are enjoying this content I invite you to search for my "Digital Fundraising Podcast" on iTunes and listen to interviews with rock stars in the world of digital fundraising. Also, if you have any thoughts or comments I’d love to read them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philip King is president and CEO of Artez Interactive.