Obama for America’s digital fundraising machine
A/B Tests Run
Increase in Donations
Improvement in Email Sign Ups
The Obama digital team optimized to increase donation conversions 49% over 20 months
The 2012 presidential election was a tight race. To fuel the campaign, the Obama Digital team optimized just about every aspect of the campaign’s fundraising strategy, from web pages to emails. Over the course of 20 months, the team executed about 500 A/B tests that increased donation conversions by 49% and sign-up conversions by 161%.
Their optimization success is a testament to the perseverance and iteration required to achieve huge conversion gains. The team focused on cultivating a detailed understanding of their users’ behavior, looking for influences in variables like imagery, copy, design, usability, and website performance.
Kyle Rush, Obama for America’s Deputy Director of Frontend Web Development, steered the team’s testing roadmap, ensuring that there was always a queue of ideas and experiments waiting to be tested. Optimizely was their A/B testing platform of choice.
Their scientific method for testing centered on strong hypotheses, and on creating multiple experiments to try to prove or disprove each hypothesis. In some cases, multiple testing was helpful in determining whether the team had uncovered a true winner or a statistical false positive in their results.
To uncover conversion improvements that would convert visitors to email subscribers and email subscribers to donors, the team focused on quantifiable measurement of their users’ behavior using Google Analytics, paired with user research insights and hypotheses based on consumer psychology.
Always be running an A/B test. If you are really serious about your A/B testing operation, then there’s no reason why you wouldn’t. You might have some instances where a variation bombs and reduces conversion rates, but you have to be willing to take that risk.
Kyle RushDeputy Director of Frontend Web Development, Obama for America
Test 1: restaurant menu psychology
Test 2: mobile web insights
Test 3: The ‘gradual incline’ donation form
The Obama Digital team always had a test running, and always had a backlog of experiment ideas. The traffic coming to the campaign website was a tremendous opportunity for testing, just like the traffic coming to your site right now.
Understand user psychology
Instead of adopting a “test everything” mentality, encourage members of your testing organization to craft hypotheses that draw on a deep understanding of your user’s motivations, desires, and behavioral quirks.