Best practice digital optimisation from Greenpeace and Optimizely

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Conversion is the most important digital metric your union should be focusing on. It simply means the proportion of visitors to a page on your website who take a specific action, such as giving you their email address, register to volunteer, signing a petition, joining the union, donating to a strike fund or similar.

Optimisation is the process where you use controlled tests to determine which variation of a web page or email is the most effective at conversion. Most unions would be familiar with basic optimisation tests through A/B testing with email subject lines. Keen followers of the Obama campaign would know the story of how the campaign “raised %60 million” by running A/B test experiments, involving different versions of photos, layouts and button colours.

Over at Mobilisation Lab, the global Greenpeace think tank dedicated to developing powerful new strategies for campaigns, Wendee Parker describes how Greenpeace Switzerland used optimisation techniques to get the most out of their Google Ad Grant:

Starting with only a few hundred visitors per month in September 2012, GP Switzerland optimized its key words and text ads to help bring more than 30,000-50,000 monthly unique visitors to its website.

Greenpeace Switzerland experimented with different landing pages for their Adword traffic, with the goal of getting conversion rates up to 5%.

Steff’s team recently decided to create landing pages for a campaign calling for clean, safe, and renewable energy and for another campaign demanding toxic-free fashion and clean water.

For each campaign, they will test layouts for different segments of GP Switzerland’s online audience. Each page will explain the issue, how the campaign seeks to solve the problem, and how people can support the campaign. They are hopeful that these customized pages will lead to higher conversion rates.

“No matter what business you are in, it will not be successful right away. That’s just never going to happen,” says Steff. “I think, in general, that’s a message for AdWords. Improving campaigns takes time.”

With traffic in the order of 30-50,000 per month, getting 5% conversion could equate to as many as 2,500 new supporters per month.

Meanwhile, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund was raising funds in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. With just a few seconds to convince millions of visitors to the site to donate, high conversions was essential to raise funds.

Over three days, the Fund ran a series of tests on the donation form. They experimented with adding photos, changing the layout from one column to two columns, by removing unnecessary fields, and varying the button text.

Not only were they able to measure the direct conversion rate (the number of donations per visit0r), but also the average donation. They were able to increase both:

The results were outstanding, increasing average donation per pageview by just over eight dollars.

“With a disaster like the Haiti earthquake, every second counts when it comes to attracting donations, and it goes without saying that every dollar counts,” said Marie Ewald, Director of Online Fundraising for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. “In less than 48 hours we tested eight versions of the donation page, and through this experiment we were able to generate an additional $1,022,571 in online revenue.”

Had we not set up these few tests, we would have lost a million dollars. These tests are a testament to the power of the right words, or the right image and layout. But don’t take our word for it, test it out yourself. We recommend setting up experiments to find the best headlines, the best pictures, and the best location, size, and copy of your call to action buttons, for starters.

The Fund used the Optimizely tool, which enabled “on the fly” creation of variations for tests. I’ve used Optimizely a few times and found it very intuitive and simple to use.

Greenpeace’s advice for optimisation are definitely applicable for union digital campaigns:

  • Optimize the size and reach of your campaign: When you post new content to your website, grow the size of the campaign by adding more AdWords keywords to your campaign. If your supporters do not all speak the same language, consider designing ads in additional languages to reach everyone in your target audience.
  • Optimize your text click-rates: You can significantly improve text click rates by testing different versions of your ads. Write several versions, run each one, and compare the results.
  • Optimize your landing pages: You will notice a close connection between the quality of your landing page and your ad performance, including conversion rates. To optimize landing pages, use A/B testing, a simple way to test changes to a page against the current design. This technique allows you to determine which one produces the highest conversion rate.

 Do you have any good examples of digital campaign optimisation?

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