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6 A/B Test Ideas to Improve Your Nonprofit Marketing Metrics

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Published March 2, 2020 Reading Time: 7 minutes

Small ideas have the power to create big change. It can be tempting to implement an idea that you think will improve your marketing efforts without vetting it first. However, you need to know for certain that your idea, no matter how small, is going to improve your metrics.

The key is to either validate, or disprove, your idea before it’s implemented on a permanent scale. That’s where A/B testing can help. It lets you compare two iterations of the same asset you’re testing an idea on, like an email with two different subject lines.

Free Download: The Nonprofit Digital Marketing Checklist

Version A is your original, also known as the control, and Version B is your variant, or what you’re testing. After running the test, you calculate which version performs better, check that it’s statistically significant, and run another test.

If you’re scratching your head over the finer points of A/B testing and what statistical significance is, that’s OK. Below, we’ll thoroughly explore the protocol before giving you six creative A/B test ideas that can help improve your marketing efforts.

Why A/B Test?

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Everything about A/B testing is small, from the small changes we make to the small impact they have on marketing metrics. But those small gains, accumulated over months and years of testing, result in massive payoffs.

To help illustrate, let’s run with a hypothetical example. You get 50,000 monthly site visitors with a 2% conversion rate on your donate button. That means you’re getting 1,000 conversions each month. Then, you run an A/B test on your donate button which increases that conversion rate to 2.5%.

It’s a small increase, but you’re now getting 1,250 conversions each month. In the next year, that means you’ll get an additional 3,000 conversions—just think how much that increase in conversions contributes to your fundraising revenue.

While an A/B test won’t improve your metrics overnight, it is a way for your organization to measure how changes to your marketing strategy can affect your goals.

It also reveals areas of your marketing strategy that may not be performing, or it can confirm hypotheses about ways you can improve. The key here is your hypothesis, which needs to be highly targeted.

In-line with our earlier example, the hypothesis could be: “If we change the size of our donate button, then it will be more visible to our audience and drive more conversions.”

Your A/B test could also revolve around the color of the button, copy on the button, or its physical location on the page. In order for this to be a true A/B test though, you can only test one of these elements at a time. And you always have to calculate the statistical significance of your results.

Statistical Sig-What?

Statistical significance is how you prove the results from your test are reliable. It shows that the changes you want to make will have a positive impact on the specific metrics you’re tracking, and that they’re not attributed to chance.

For example, say you run an A/B test with that has a statistical significance of 94%. That means you can be 94% confident that your results are accurate. Of course, it means there’s also a 6% chance that you could be wrong, so the higher your statistical significance, the more confident you can be in your results.

Pro Tip
We recommend using a statistical significance calculator to calculate your own results.

To determine statistically significant results, you need to maintain a truly random sample demographic. If your traffic isn’t evenly split, or the sampling isn’t random, it introduces errors into the test due to behavioral variance among those sampled.

Case in point: if 50% of your sample group, only men, is shown Version A of your test and 50%, only women, are shown Version B, the results are null. That’s because, while the traffic might be split evenly, the homogenized demographic split introduces variations to the data.

Always make sure you have the biggest possible sample size, ensure it’s an even split, sent to a purely random demographic, and run for a long enough period of time. To ensure adherence to A/B testing protocol, there are many tools you can use like Google Optimize.

6 A/B Test Ideas to Improve Your Marketing Metrics

Now that you understand the protocol and philosophy for testing, we’ll explore some creative A/B test ideas you can start using immediately. You’ll likely find that, once completed, each test opens the doors to a new subset of testing options that build off the initial one.

For each A/B test you run, you must form a highly targeted hypothesis about how you think your effort will increase a specific metric. To help, craft your hypotheses as if, then statements.

1. Placement of Donate Button on Your Website

If you have a donate button embedded on your website, you want people to click it and make a donation to your nonprofit. It’s an actionable conversion point, but it needs to be highly visible, so a potential A/B test could revolve around the location of your donate button on your site.

Would it be more effective in the center of the page? Does it drive more conversions if it’s subtly included in the navigation tab?

These are both valid A/B tests you can run, but you have to start with one before building further. For this, a potential hypothesis could read:

“If we place our donate button in the center of the top of the page, then we’ll increase our conversion rates on the button.”

Opportunities for further testing:

  • Place your donate button in the site navigation
  • Add a second donation button at the bottom of your site
  • Increase or decrease the size of your donate button

2. Donation Button Color

We have a lot of assumptions about color. Red is energetic, green represents growth, and purple equates to extravagance—or do they? Further, do specific colors encourage or discourage people from clicking your donate button?

This can be tricky because it’s important to maintain branding across design elements, but there’s a very real possibility that your colors could discourage people from clicking. Or maybe those colors are the main reason you are getting so many clicks.

The only way to find out is to run an A/B test. Your hypothesis here could read:

“Changing the color of our donate button from black to red will encourage more people to click, which will improve conversion rates.”

Opportunities for further testing:

  • Change the color of the copy on your button
  • Make the button match, or heavily contrast, the colors on your site
  • Use a different color from your brand on the button

3. Email Subject Lines

The subject line is what grabs someone’s attention and encourages them to open your email. A/B testing different subject lines is a great way to increase your email open rates. Start by examining how your current subject lines are written.

If they’re simple and straightforward, try making them creative. If they’re overly flowery, try making them direct and to-the-point. Then, once you’re finished with your test, think of the ways you can modify your subject line even more.

An example of your hypothesis could be:

“If we make our subject lines more creative, then we’ll grab attention and encourage more people to open the email and increase open rates.”

Opportunities for further testing:

  • Incorporate emoji into your copy
  • Personalize the subject line to your recipient
  • Tease the content inside the send with your subject line

4. Email Call to Action Copy

Once you know how to get people to open your emails, you’ve got to figure out how to get them to engage with your content and click through. One of the primary ways is to drive clicks is with your CTA copy on anchor text in the email.

There are many ways you can adjust the CTA copy, but the key to success is to narrow down to one idea that you think can have the highest potential impact. Save the other variations for follow-up tests, and then form your hypothesis for this iteration:

“If we keep our CTAs in the email to five words or less, then the direct nature of the copy will drive people to click through to our content.”

Opportunities for further testing:

  • Increase or decreasing the length of your copy
  • Use a minimum of one power word per CTA
  • Infuse creative and storytelling focused language in your CTAs

5. Submission Form Location

Finding the perfect place to put your submission form can be a tough nut to crack. To start, look where your current form is and find out how many submissions you’re getting.

If your numbers are already high, don’t immediately assume that everything is perfect about your form. There’s always some small tweak you can make that might take those numbers even higher. The physical location of the form on the page is great place to start, and your hypothesis could read:

“If we move our submission form from the bottom of our page right after a strong value proposition for supporting our nonprofit, then we will see an increase in the number of total submissions.”

Opportunities for further testing:

  • Add to or reduce the number of questions on the form
  • Increase or reduce the amount of space the form takes up
  • Create a dedicated landing page just for the form

6. Modal Pop-Up

Each modal pop-up has a different style, feel, and character. However, at its core, the pop-up typically presents an offer to the audience after a set duration of time spent on the page.

For example, if you’re reading a blog post a modal might pop up after 15 seconds asking you to subscribe to the blog newsletter. It’s a strong marketing strategy, but you have to find the perfect way to engage your audience with it.

Start by narrowing down a goal you want to achieve with the pop-up. In this scenario, we’ll stick with the blog newsletter signup goal and determine what you’ll be testing, like time. Then, turn it into a hypothesis for your test:

“If we have the modal appear after five seconds on the page, then we will increase the number of subscriptions to our blog newsletter.”

Opportunities for further testing:

  • Build a pop-up that’s only text, one that’s only images, or a hybrid combination
  • Make your modal cover large portions of a user’s screen, small parts, or anything in between
  • Change the color scheme of the pop-up to make it stand out from the rest of the page

You should cultivate an “always be testing” mindset at your nonprofit in order to find the winning combination, and the six A/B test ideas here are a great place to start. No A/B test is too small to run, and it will always provide an interesting learning for you to apply to your marketing strategy.

If you want even more tactics to level up your marketing, make sure to download our Digital Marketing Checklist for free. Now, get out there and run some tests!

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The Nonprofit Digital Marketing Checklist

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