I'm guessing that headline got your attention. Many stations have an informational web page that explains all the ways people can support your station. Our testing shows that you'll bring in more revenue during pledge drives if you skip over this support landing page and send users directly to the pledge form. And we have the data to show it.
The idea for this particular test came out of a proven rule of thumb from the for-profit world: If you're trying to get users to give you money, fewer steps in the process translates into a higher conversion rate. The fewer pages in the funnel, the more people end up finishing.
We wanted real data on whether this truth applies to our online pledge funnels as well. So we ran an A/B test to find out.
During KPLU's pledge week in late March and early April, we sent site visitors randomly to one of three different test versions:
- Version 1: No support landing page. When users clicked on the Support This Station button, Support in the site navigation, or support-related posts, they went directly to the pledge form.
- Version 2: Static support landing page. When users clicked, they first saw a page (shown below) that contained messaging about why giving is so important as well as other ways to give. Clicking on a prominent "Give to KPLU Now" button led them to the pledge form.
- Version 3: Changing support landing page. This worked the same as version 2, except the messaging on the page changed each day to match the language or premiums discussed on air. For example, one day KPLU offered special event tickets for pledge amounts over $60.
Above: The static support landing page we tested.
We wanted to find out whether having a support landing page before the pledge form had an effect on conversion rate (how many site visitors pledged) as well as pledge amounts. We also looked at whether changing the messaging on the landing page every day made a difference.
During the test, over 21,000 visits were assigned to the three versions listed above. We cookied visitors so they saw the same version if they came back later that week. And we used Google Analytics to track all the data.
The data spoke loudly and clearly: There was a 15.3% increase in same-session conversion when KPLU sent users directly to the pledge form and skipped the support landing page. Here are the details for each version we tested:
No landing page Static page Changing page
Conversion: 3.28% 2.82% 2.84%
Avg pledge: $121 $101 $109
Revenue: $32,040 $28,389 $29,377
Geeky statistics note: These differences are directionally very strong, but just shy of true statistical significance measures due to variability in the data. But we are confident that given the number of users included in this test, the differences we're seeing are real and important.
A 15.3% increase matters. Even if we assume the average pledge amount is the same across versions (which it might not be), KPLU could make $13,000 more during one pledge week by skipping over their support landing page.
For your station, take the revenue you raise online during pledge drives and add 15.3% to it. If your annual online revenue from pledge drives is $200,000, that could mean $30,600 additional revenue. That's not money you want to leave on the table. (If a lot of your traffic to your pledge form already skips your landing page, for example email campaigns that link directly to the pledge form, be conservative and reduce this estimate of additional revenue.)
By the way, the static vs. changing messaging on the support landing page made no statistical difference. The improvement is really all about whether users see or skip the additional landing page.
We're not saying you should eliminate the support landing page entirely. Users need to know about other ways of giving. They should be able to find this page via your site navigation, maybe as a sub-link under a Support link. But in order to maximize your revenue during pledge drives, make the main links and buttons to Support or Donate go directly to the pledge form.
Why the Difference?
Why would the presence of an additional, seemingly helpful page actually make our audience less likely to give?
We believe it comes down to this: During pledge drives, our audience is primed to give. Our job is to get out of the way.
Stations do a great job with on-air messaging on why supporting the station is important. By the time people go online and click on Support This Station, they don't need any more convincing. Once they're in the funnel of trying to give, every page is an opportunity for distraction. A simple message or link could throw them off and for whatever reason discourage them from continuing. So removing an entire page makes a real difference.
This test made us wonder: What about the rest of the year? Support landing pages are harmful during pledge drives, but do they provide useful information and encourage giving the rest of the time?
That's what we're testing next. We'll do another A/B test and again look at conversion rate and pledge amounts, this time outside of pledge week. Stay tuned for the results!