Our new integration with Account Updater makes recurring donations even easier

Over the past year, we’ve been working to integrate with Account Updater, a tool from the credit card industry that reduces disruption any time you get a new credit card number (i.e. when you receive a chip card or lose your card). Now that we’ve integrated with Account Updater, if we try your recurring contribution and learn that your credit card number has changed, we’ll try to seamlessly update your contribution with the new number, so your donation can go on uninterrupted.

We know how much of a pain it is to receive a new credit card number and have to find and update every recurring payment you’ve set up online. We wanted to eliminate that hassle for small-dollar donors. And, as an added bonus, if a recurring donor has their credit card stored on their ActBlue Express account, their stored card will also be updated automatically. That way the donor can continue giving in the future with a single click, without needing to go through the trouble of updating it on their own.

Account Updater has been gaining popularity in the e-commerce space — you might have noticed it’s a little less frustrating to update your Netflix subscription. It’s a courtesy for consumers and we are very excited to build this out across ActBlue to make the donation process as frictionless as possible. We want people to be able to give to the candidates and causes they support just as easily as they can buy concert tickets online or shop on Amazon. So far, recurring donors with automatically updated credit cards have given $6,190,367!

What this means for campaigns and organizations using ActBlue:

You don’t have to do anything to enable this feature. It’s available to every campaign and organization using our platform, and we don’t charge you any extra for the feature.

If your organization is running a recurring program, and you have a donor that lapses because their credit card is no longer valid, we’ll automatically attempt to update the donor’s card through their credit card company and retry the contribution three days later. If that works, their recurring contribution will carry on with the new card number.

We hope that this will make your lives easier — no more tracking down donors and asking them to update their information. To see what percentage of your donors have been able to seamlessly continue their contributions thanks to the integrated Account Updater, you can navigate to the Metrics page of your Dashboard, and scroll to the pie chart section.

pie-chart

If you have questions about the integration with Account Updater, let us know at info@actblue.com.

Apple Pay is now available on ActBlue forms

Improving the user experience is always our priority at ActBlue. We try to make it easier for donors to give to the causes they believe in, wherever they are. And in turn, that helps campaigns and organizations increase their conversion rate.

One of the biggest points of friction for donors has always been typing in their credit card number on a mobile device, and with mobile now representing 40% of our contributions, we are always trying to improve that experience. That’s why our tech team worked hard to roll out our newest feature: Apple Pay on ActBlue forms!

Apple Pay has been around for a few years at physical merchants, where you might have used it to buy coffee or movie tickets. But in September, Apple updated its iOS on iPhones to be able to accept Apple Pay in browsers. We were excited to be a very early adopter of Apple Pay, and to be able to get it set up during crunch time, when it made a big difference to campaigns and committees.

Here’s how it works:

applepaygif-inf-275

Apple Pay will only show up as a payment option on a contribution form when a donor has Apple Pay set up with a credit card on their device (the vast majority of the time this will be users on phones, but there are some ways to enable Apple Pay on your laptop, like with the new MacBook Pro that comes with a touch bar).

We tested having the Apple Pay option available during the contribution flow and saw a 6.5% increase in conversion rates among users with Apple Pay active. After that we quietly rolled it out to every federal campaign and committee in the fall. We rushed to give access to as many people as possible before the election, and a million dollars (!!) ran through Apple Pay from the initial roll-out through Election Day.

Our developers have been working to expand Apple Pay’s availability since then. Right now, Apple Pay is available for all federal campaigns, federal PACs, 527s, and c3 and c4 nonprofits. Our team is working hard to clear state and local jurisdictions one by one in the coming months, so candidates at every level of the electoral process will have access to this tool.

This is just another way that ActBlue’s infrastructure is a shared resource for Democrats, progressives, and nonprofits across the country, and for the donors who want to support them.

What this means for campaigns and organizations using ActBlue:

You don’t have to do anything to enable access to Apple Pay on your contribution forms, because we’ve done that automatically. In fact, your donors may have been using it for months already. We’ve already helped raise $2,532,776 from 82,904 donations through Apple Pay! 

You’ll notice a new pie chart on your Dashboard, which shows you what percentage of donations are coming in via Apple Pay. And when you download a .csv of your contributions, you’ll be able to see which donors are using Apple Pay, just like with PayPal.

Your Apple Pay percentage might look small now, but as more folks adopt Apple Pay, we expect that to grow. And most importantly, Apple Pay will play a big role in giving donors another easy, fast way to chip in and make an impact on the critical progressive work taking place right now.

If you have any questions about Apple Pay leave a comment or shoot us an email at info@actblue.com.

What reaching 2 million Express users means for you

We hit a major milestone during the recent end-of-quarter rush: 2 million Express users! That’s 2 million donors* who have saved their credit cards with ActBlue and can give to virtually any Democratic candidate in America — and an increasingly large percentage of progressive organizations — with a single click.

Now, that’s obviously a huge number, but big numbers don’t mean much on their own. What’s important is that it’s not just a big pool, it’s a big recent pool of donors. These aren’t just donors who signed up back when President Obama was running the first time — these are current, active, and engaged donors. 815,706 Express users signed up in 2015 (573,241 in the last 6 months alone), from 2,685 campaigns and organizations. Check out this growth chart:

Cumulative total of ActBlue express users: 2.1M

And here’s a closer look at the year-by-year breakdown:

Cumulative total of ActBlue express users: 2.1M

And Express users don’t just sign up for accounts, they actually use them. Express users account for 69% of all donations made site-wide right now, and their mobile donation rate is consistently higher (41% vs 32%) than non-express users. That’s going to be key in 2016, given the steady growth of mobile donations. We’re seeing a full 38% of donations made via mobile, and as much as 58% during big night or weekend hours.

But the best part of the Express universe, as always, is that it’s a shared resource. That means that organizations and candidates — from small non-profits up to presidential candidates — can fundraise more effectively. And it means that donors can connect and contribute to their favorite causes in one place. Together, we build grassroots movements for change.

* Actually, it’s 2.1 million now. Yep, the Express universe is growing that fast.

Testing those beautiful brandings

This is the one you’ve all been asking for. We just added the ability to A/B test your brandings!

Now there’s no need to guess whether a giant photo of your candidate or a simple branding will fare better. And with our awesome multi-armed bandit A/B testing suite, you’ll get results as fast as possible.

To set up a branding test, create or open up a contribution form. Navigate to the A/B test tab and give your test a name. Next, check off “Branded layout.” Your first variation will be the branding your form is currently set to (or your default branding). You can choose your variation to test from the dropdown menu. You can also test having no branding by selecting “ActBlue default.” If you need a refresher on creating a branding, check out our guide.

Once you’ve made your selection, click “Create test.” You can monitor the results of your test once you start sending it out to donors.

Unlike a regular A/B test, our multi-armed bandit system of A/B testing will start sending more traffic to the winning version of the test as results come in, so you’ll get results faster and won’t lose money on a subpar variation. And there’s no need to pick a winner — the multi-armed bandit will take care of it for you!

If you have questions about setting up a beautiful branding or an A/B test, let us know at info@actblue.com.

One-stop shop: Visualize your data and create targeted lists

At ActBlue we’re committed to dreaming up new ways for you to visualize all of your data. In that spirit, our tech team just rolled out a new way for campaigns and organizations to analyze contributor data by tracking HPCs (highest previous contributions) and total contribution amounts by individual donors.

This new visualization provides amazing insight not just for technically skilled data people, but also for smaller campaigns and organizations. The chart allows users to select groups of donors based on their donation history and download their email address and contributor information. That means teams that don’t currently have the ability to segment and target donors can now instantaneously create a segmented email list!

Here’s how it works:

If you navigate to the “Donors” tab of your Dashboard (previously called the “Uniques” tab), you’ll see a graph that looks something like this:

You can also select “Total Contribution Amount” in the “Show your donors by” menu to see this:

You can toggle between the HPC and total contribution views of the graphed data at the top. This chart has a log scale for both its x and y axis. A log scale increases by an order of magnitude, rather than a fixed amount, which allows us to present a clearer picture of your data. What does that mean? If you look at the x-scale, you’ll see there’s more space between 1 contribution and 2 contributions than there is between 8 and 9.  There are far more people who gave just 1 contribution, but on a regular graph all those dots would be stacked on top of each other. So, by choosing a log scale, we’re able to show you more of your actual data.  

The x-axis shows the total number of contributions a donor has made to your campaign or organization in their lifetime on ActBlue. The y-axis shows the donor’s highest previous contribution, or the total amount that they’ve donated, depending on which view of the chart you are looking at.

Values on the y-axis are rounded. For values from $1 to $5, amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar. For $5 to $25, they are rounded to the nearest $5, and from there on, tens are rounded to tens, hundreds to hundreds, and so on.*

For values on the x-axis, contribution numbers above ten are rounded to the nearest ten. It’s unlikely that you have contributions ranging in the hundreds, but in that case they are rounded to the nearest hundred.

The graph itself gives an insight to highest previous contributions for your entire donor base, along with information on how many donations people have made. But it doesn’t end there. Click a dollar value or a number of donations to highlight a row or column. You can switch to the other visualization to see how their total volume corresponds.

More importantly, you can download a CSV of the email addresses and the corresponding contribution data from a column, row, or selected range of the graph. To select a column or row, just click on the corresponding value and click “Download selected” in the upper right hand corner. 

To select a custom set of data, you can drag your mouse to draw a box around your desired values and then download the data.

This allows you to do some pretty sophisticated targeting without needing to do the backend work. You can easily target donors based on their highest previous contribution and frequency of donating without knowing a line of SQL.

For example, we’ve seen a lot of success in our program by targeting donors based on their HPC. For low-dollar donors, we’ll ask them for $5, while higher-dollar donors are asked for $10 or $15. With this chart, you could download a list of $3 and $5 donors and then send a personalized ask to that group. If you have a big enough email list, you could try sending a $5 ask and a $7 ask, to see if donors would be willing to give just a bit more.

You can also toggle the graph to show outliers (people who fall outside the scale of the graph), if you’re interested in targeting those donors.

We hope that this new tool will allow you to get to know your donors in a more nuanced way and run an even better email program.

If you have questions about applications or how to read the graph, we’re happy to answer them. Just drop us a line at info@actblue.com


*We chose this rounding scheme to simultaneously maximize the granularity of useful information and minimize unimportant visual clutter.

Sharing the good news

We just built a new feature that allows you to set up contribution alerts for people who aren’t administrators on your candidate or organization’s ActBlue account.

This is a great feature for family members and friends who want to be kept in the loop but don’t need to create forms or access the back-end of your account. It’s also a great way to share fundraising progress with anyone who might be hosting a party for your candidate or helping out with your organization’s big fundraiser.

You can turn this feature on for specific contribution forms or for your entire campaign or organization. To turn it on for a specific contribution form, navigate to the Email Alerts tab of the form and click “new contribution form alert.” Then click to subscribe a third-party ActBlue user to your alerts and fill in the threshold as usual.

If someone has not created an ActBlue account, they’ll get an email asking them to create a password. Either way, they’ll get a confirmation email letting them know they’ve been signed up.

The process for signing someone up for a campaign or organization’s alerts is the same, but you can set them up by navigating to the User Access tab of your Dashboard.

We’ve also added a single click unsubscribe feature to all contribution alert emails, so if you don’t need to get them anymore, you can easily opt out. Between that feature, and the recently rolled out refund alerts and contribution form alerts, there’s a whole lot more you can do with email alerts. Be sure to try all the new features out, and then tell us how they worked for you at info@actblue.com!

Simple HTML, made simpler

We just built a new WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor into our contribution forms so you can add custom formatting to your pitches, thank you emails, pop-up recurring asks, and more. No HTML experience required.

Here’s what it looks like:

You can add basic formatting like bullet points and bolding, as well as add images. If you’d like to see the traditional HTML editor, click the pencil on the right-hand side of the menu to switch back.

While more creative control is awesome, this would be a good time to remember the “less is more” mantra. You want to make sure your forms are readable on all devices, particularly mobile, where 25% of all contributions are made.

If you have questions, email us at info@actblue.com. We’re happy to help!

Branding your receipts

With our new receipt branding feature, you now have the tools to create a receipt email that looks and feels like your campaign.

Instead of a plain text receipt, yours can look like something like this:

Go to the Brandings tab of your Dashboard. Either create a new branding or click to edit an existing one. Your receipt branding will be part of a contribution form branding.

Scroll to the bottom of your branding and toggle open the “Receipt Email Styles” section of your branding. Here you can add a background hex color code (something like #CCCEEE).

Here’s a tip: If you don’t know your campaign’s exact hex color code, you can scroll up to the “Background color” field and click the text box. A color picker will pop up, which you can use to eyeball your color. Then copy the hex code that pops up and paste it into the receipt email section.

You can also add a header image, which will be scaled to fit within 600px x 200px. Once you’re happy with your branding, click save.

To put the branding in action, just assign it to any contribution form you’d like, which you can do in the Options section of the Edit tab of the form. Add your custom text to the “Email receipt text” box and send yourself a preview email.

Hit save once you’re all set! Your donors will appreciate finding a customized receipt and thank you note in their inbox.

Have questions or just want to show off a really great branding? Let us know at info@actblue.com!

The Multi-armed Bandit: New and much improved A/B testing tools

The A/B test tool on ActBlue, which allows you to test out contribution form titles and pitches, among other variables, has gotten a significant upgrade, just in time for campaign season.

The old A/B testing tool worked great, but it also forced you to wait around for both test variations to get enough traffic to gain statistical significance. If one version was performing way better than the second one, that meant you were losing out on potential contributions in order to gain valuable insight.

This is how most A/B testing tools work, and it’s a good system. But with the new ActBlue testing tools, which use a more advanced statistical algorithm than typical A/B testing, you can still achieve statistical significance without having to sacrifice a ton of traffic to a losing form.

As the test runs and one variation begins performing better, we’ll start sending more traffic to that form, roughly in proportion to how they’re trending. You can see the traffic allocation listed just above each variation on the “A/B Test” tab of your contribution form. The traffic allocation will change continuously as donations come in. It’s important to note that if a variation is receiving 75% of the traffic, that does not necessarily mean it’s conversion rate is 3X as high as the other variation(s). If you’re curious what it actually does mean and want to talk complicated stats, you can get in touch with us here.

If there was a false positive and the losing form starts doing better, the traffic allocation will begin to reverse. The test will continue to run indefinitely until you click “Make Winner.” The A/B testing tool will eventually send 100% of volume to the winner if you don’t make either version the winner manually.

The new A/B testing tool makes your tests more efficient, which means you can try out more of them. If you have radically different language you want to try on a form, alongside three more standard pitches, there’s little risk. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll send fewer and fewer people to that losing form.

We wanted to give special thanks to Jim Pugh from ShareProgress for sharing notes on the multi-armed bandit method used in their software and helping us out with building this tool (and for hanging out in the ActBlue office for a week)!

As always, let us know what tests you’re running and what’s working for you at info@actblue.com!

On-the-go Campaigning: Contribution Alerts by Form

You’ve long been able to set up email contribution alerts for your campaign or organization, but with campaign season heating up, we’ve added that feature to individual contribution forms as well. This will help you track individual fundraising emails closely and keep an eye on any large donations that come in, no matter where you are. And as an added feature, you can set an alert for any refunds that are processed on the form.

To set an alert, navigate to your form’s dashboard and go to the new Email Alerts tab. Click “new contribution form alert” to set up your first alert.

Select the appropriate email address from the drop down menu, add a threshold above which you want to receive an alert, and choose either contribution or refund alerts. If you want to receive an alert for any donation or refund, regardless of amount, put a 0 as the threshold. However, we recommend setting that bar higher so you’re not inundated with emails.

Click “Set up alert” and you’re done. You can set up as many different alerts as you want on the contribution form. You’ll receive an email every time someone donates or is refunded, depending on your preferences.

It’s great tool to help your finance director keep tabs on big donations or refunds. It also helps you keep track of any large gifts so that your Executive Director or candidate can personally thank the donor.

Have questions? Let us know at info@actblue.com.