A Guide to Digital Marketing Testing for Nonprofits

Testing ideas to strengthen your fundraising

When was the last time you tested your fundraising strategies? In the world of nonprofit marketing, we hear a lot of arguments for A/B testing… but it can often take some effort (and even discomfort) to try a new way of doing things that seem tried and true.

In the dynamic and ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, testing is crucial to a successful fundraising program. Digital marketing testing can help fundraisers discover insights that transform strategies, enhance decision-making, refine campaigns and achieve better results.

Testing should be a foundational pillar of your fundraising program, so here are some best practices to help you excel in your digital marketing testing endeavors.

Define Clear and Measurable Objectives:

  • Are you solving a pain point?
  • Do you have a hunch or idea that may positively affect campaign results?

Before launching any digital marketing test, defining your objectives and establishing key performance indicators are essential. Whether you aim to improve click-through rates, boost engagement, increase donations or acquire new donors, having specific goals will guide your testing strategy. 

Additionally, decide on a level of statistical significance that ensures a high level of confidence. Strong statistical significance ultimately helps determine whether your test’s results can be considered accurate and effective when reapplied.

Define the Target Audience:

Define which audience segments are relevant and should receive the test. Target audiences can be segmented based on demographics, giving behaviors or other relevant factors. Audience exclusion is also an essential factor; including the wrong audiences could skew test results.

Test Across Multiple Channels:

To maximize your impact, conduct tests across multiple channels such as social media, online video, email, paid media and more. Although various channels share audiences, their behaviors and preferences within each channel may differ.

Set up a Schedule to Monitor and Analyze Data:

Regularly analyze your data. Testing should not be a “set it and forget it” practice. By regularly monitoring your data, you’ll begin to identify trends, get a sense of what’s working and be able to spot errors or anomalies that show up.

Stay the Course:

Don’t give up. Digital marketing tests take time. A test must run for an adequate amount of time to provide any worthwhile learning. By allowing the test to run, you can capture variations in performance. Additionally, consistency is critical. Make changes based on data-driven insights and avoid making frequent adjustments that can disrupt the testing process.

Ready to launch your own digital marketing tests? Read on for some ideas to get you started.

A/B Testing:

A/B testing, aka split testing, weights both control and variant at 50% to determine which performs better. 

For example, perhaps you want to test what images in your emails are most likely to drive donors to respond, a photo of an individual showing need or a photo showing their transformation. An A/B test would send one image version of the email (your control) to one half of your audience, and another version (your variable test) to another audience. A/B testing can be used to identify top-performing headlines, images, copy, calls-to-action, etc.

Optimization Testing:

Test different layouts, content, navigation and forms to determine what elements encourage visitors to take a desired action when they are donating, volunteering or subscribing to a newsletter.

In addition, focus on optimizing conversion rates. Conversion rate optimization ensures that the path from clicking on an ad to completing a donation is compelling and as frictionless as possible.

Donor Journey Testing:                      

Understanding the donor journey is an absolute for nonprofits. Test different touchpoints along the donor journey, from initial ad interaction to lapsed donor re-engagement. A compelling donor journey aims to build meaningful and long-term relationships with supporters.

By using these handy tips to help you dive into digital marketing testing, you and your organization will discover valuable insights and strategies that will become a fundamental cornerstone within your fundraising approach. And keep in mind, BDI is always available to help!

Learn more about digital marketing testing in BDI’s Digital Donation Page Case Study. It includes a checklist of easy-to-implement strategies BDI has tested that can help you optimize your donation page. Request your free copy of the Case Study here >>

Check out our recent Quick Shot: Should Nonprofits Thank Supporters with a Gift?

  • Nicole Ige-Hutto

    Nicole Ige-Hutto, Director of Digital Strategy

    Nicole brings to BDI a passion for using marketing to tell powerful stories of unique organizations and the people they serve. Her heart beats for the hurting, oppressed, and forgotten. She has spent over 10-years working with nonprofits around the world – from national organizations, to small nonprofits in rural India, to local nonprofits in Southern California.

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