With August pledge in the rearview mirror and December pledge on the horizon, it’s a good time to pause and reflect—taking a deeper look at the efficacy of existing digital fundraising tactics, and perhaps more importantly, exploring the opportunity to test new ones.

Trying out new digital tools is an essential part of a balanced fundraising and marketing strategy. One digital fundraising tactic—the use of lightboxes— deployed by WETA during August TV pledge, yielded some exciting results worth highlighting.

WETA’s Lightbox Test
WETA, in partnership with Anne Lewis Strategies, LLC, strategically deployed a lightbox on its homepage during TV pledge for a ten day head-to-head test from August 13th – August 23rd, 2015. The test was conducted in an effort to quantify the lift in conversion rate and revenue, if any, from the presence of a lightbox during TV pledge. We also wanted to track what, if any, negative impact the lightbox had on people visiting the site who do not donate through the lightbox. One half of website visitors saw a lightbox (up to once per day), while the other half saw no lightbox.

Conversion Rate and Revenue Spike
WETA saw a large lift from those it showed the lightbox to over those visitors it did not. The following chart shows the conversion rate, revenue, and bounce rate results for the two treatments:

As demonstrated above, the presence of the lightbox on WETA’s homepage, resulted in dramatic increases in both the conversion rate and revenue. The lightbox increased the conversion rate by 70 percent, from 1.30 percent to 2.21 percent, with incredibly high statistical significance. Similarly, total initial revenue increased 75 percent, from $9,988 to $17,500.

However, as shown in the graph below, it is worth noting that when looking at the conversion rate day by day, there did seem to be a larger increase in the first few days. Given the low daily volume was, it is possible that some or all of the difference can be accounted for by statistical noise.

Bounce Rate Remains Modest

WETA also wanted to see if there was a negative impact of putting up the lightbox by tracking the homepage bounce rate – i.e., the percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only the homepage. The dramatic increases in conversion rate and revenue are made even more impressive when compared to the relatively low bounce rate, which increased by a mere 7 percent—from 20.64 percent to 22.10 percent. This marginal increase in bounce rate came very close to, but did not achieve, statistical significance.

When looking at the bounce rate day by day, like conversion rate, the first few days seemed to be different from the rest, with the difference larger than the remainder of the test period. It is, however, only an increase of a few dozen estimated bounces. Therefore, like conversion rate, given how low the volume was, it’s quite possible that some or all of the difference can be accounted for by statistical noise.

A Lesson in Testing

Pledge offers a unique opportunity for stations to explore and test new digital fundraising techniques outside the traditional mix of fundraising tools and strategies. Doing so, in conjunction with consistent messaging, holds real promise for stations eager to generate new revenue and reach new members. As WETA’s lightbox testing was able to demonstrate, new fundraising tools can yield immense benefits for stations willing take the leap from traditional pledge drive tactics to more dynamic, targeted fundraising strategies.

Natasha Hilton | Senior Associate | Development Services