Contribution Forms: Easier Access = (Even) Easier Fundraising

Contribution Forms: Easier Access = (Even) Easier Fundraising

Campaign season is picking up quickly as we march on toward 2016, and we’re always working to make things as easy and efficient as possible for our users.

That’s why we’ve made some big changes to the way Contribution Forms are managed — and now it’s better than ever. We’ve made it so you can access your campaign or organization’s forms (with or without money raised) all in one convenient place. Plus, we’ve got a bunch of other new features to make managing your forms easier than it’s ever been.

Just head over to the By Form tab from the left menu on your campaign or organization’s dashboard.

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Once there, you’ll see a detailed breakdown of all your Contribution Forms.

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They’re listed in descending order by default, starting with the most recent form that was created. But just click on any of the headers and you can toggle the table to sort it how you’d like.

With this update you’ll be able to simply glance at the table and get a clear picture. You can quickly scan through the slugs (or page names) you gave your forms, the number of contributions they received, the amount of money they raised, and whether or not you chose to brand your forms. You’ll also be able to duplicate a form from this page, with just the click of a button.

Further, if you’ve got a form from a few years back that you know won’t be getting sent out to donors, simply hit the Archive button in orange at the right of the table.

If you choose to archive a form it can no longer be viewed, which also means it can no longer receive contributions and you won’t be able to edit it. However, we give you the option to archive rather than delete your forms, so that you can Revive a form if you need to. If you’ve archived a form it will turn grey, as you see below, but it will still be listed in the same spot in the Dashboard as it was before it was archived.

 

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Just click Revive at the far right of the table and the form will become active. Anyone with access to the Dashboard will have the ability to visit and work with the form again.

You’ll also notice that there are two tabs at the top of the page, one for Managed Forms and one for Community Forms.

tabs

The Managed Forms tab provides a breakdown of forms that were created by any user with access to your campaign or organization’s Dashboard.

The Community Forms tab provides a breakdown of forms that were created by a third party. For example, a volunteer decided to create a form to raise money for your candidate or organization. You won’t have the ability to edit these forms, but you can collect data, just like you would from a form created by yourself or another user with access to the Dashboard.

Just below those tabs you’ll also have the option to Download a contribution form CSV report. This report will give you an even more detailed breakdown of each form, including info like whether or not the form was set to public or private, as well as the pre-set contribution amounts you chose for the form.

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Finally, you can now search for a form by page name. Simply type in the name you gave your form in the box at the upper righthand corner of the table.

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If you have any questions or comments about this update, please don’t hesitate to reach out at info@actblue.com.

Mobile giving just got a whole lot better

Mobile giving just got a whole lot better

Introducing the ActBlue Express Pass. Built for a mobile-first world.

ActBlue Express Pass

We’re always trying to improve our Contribution Forms — that means eliminating inefficiencies and making them more user friendly on every device. And nothing has seemed more inefficient to us than typing in 16-digit credit card numbers with your thumbs on a mobile device.

That’s why we’re introducing ActBlue Express Pass, built with our 1.5 million Express user pool in mind. It lets Express users with a mobile phone number bypass the form by simply clicking a link in a text message to give. Express users are donors who have saved their payment information with ActBlue and can give in a single click.

Here’s how it works: If an Express user starts filling out a Contribution Form on a device that doesn’t have their information stored and they have a mobile number associated with their account, we’ll offer them an Express Pass. Users fill in an average of 111 characters on a form, but with Express Pass they only have to enter their email address.

Why this feature? Why now? Mobile is the way of the future for online fundraising. Over the last two years, the percentage of ActBlue donations made via a mobile device has jumped from 9.1% to 29.1%. That can spike to around 67.7% on nights and weekends when people are away from their computers.

We already knew that when we roll out features that improve on-the-go donations, we see astronomical gains. When we launched our mobile-responsive Contribution Forms back in September 2013, we saw mobile numbers jump from 9.6% to 20.5% over one month. Still, no matter how mobile-optimized your form is, it’s a pain to type in information on a mobile phone, so we decided to take that step out of the equation for Express users. It’s the next step toward our goal of making mobile donating as easy as desktop giving.

Donors are already coming to campaigns and organizations via mobile, but if it’s not an easy process, some will abandon that donation. We’re meeting users where they are, and tailoring the donation process to their devices. We’ve crunched the numbers and Express Pass was associated with a 4.7% increase in conversions for mobile Express users, a statistically significant result.

The benefits are two-fold: Users can donate quickly and easily with Express Pass, and the next time they donate on a mobile phone, they’ll already have their information stored right there, so they can give with just a single click. That’s going to a major investment as we get closer to the critical 2016 election.

But the best thing about ActBlue Express Pass? It feels intuitive, and it fades into the background in the best possible way. It just works like it should, while bringing in more conversions for every campaign and committee.

User Experience & Implementation

The gif above gives you an idea of how the Express Pass steps work, but we’ll break them down for you below.

The user selects a donation amount, types in their email address, and moves on to fill out the rest of the form. But before they can do that, we check and see if they’re an Express user, and if they have a mobile number associated with their account (half of all Express users do). If both of those things are true, we show them a popup that reminds them they’re an Express user and offers to send them a text message where they can finish their contribution.

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Next, they click yes, because easy = awesome. Donors receive the text message, click the link, and their contribution goes straight through. If your campaign has chosen a post-contribution action like a pop-up recurring box or customized redirect, Express Pass users will enter that flow like any other user once their contribution processes. Otherwise, donors will see the thank you page like usual.

ActBlue Express Pass will significantly improve donors’ experience when giving on-the-go, and it makes it even easier for campaigns and organizations to collect donations at in-person events.

Express Pass is automatically turned on when Express Lane is enabled for a campaign or organization. Applicable donors will see Express Pass on single entity and tandem forms, but not on event and merchandise forms. Those require extra info and will still get the regular mobile treatment for the time being.

With ActBlue Express Pass, we’re not just looking to scale forms that were originally built for the desktop into mobile devices. We’re coming up with a whole new way to give. That’s what the future of fundraising tech will be about — solutions that work for every device, wherever your donors are.

Recurring projections using a predictive model

Contributions from recurring donors are growing by leaps and bounds. Right now there are $46M pledged over the next 18 months from over 203,000 donors, across all of ActBlue.

That’s a huge revenue source for campaigns, and it helps them with long-term budgeting. But we know that some donors won’t fulfill their full pledge, despite all of our best efforts to retain them. That’s why it’s crucial that campaigns and organizations are able to effectively predict how much money is going to be coming in month over month.

We’ve built a new predictive statistical model to run this projection for you automatically. Just go to your Dashboard, click on recurring, and then click on the tab that reads “Recurring Projections”.

You’ll see something that looks like this (this is the current ActBlue monthly projection chart):

And here’s the daily projection chart:

This pane shows both the aggregate and daily amount of revenue we expect you’ll bring in from currently active recurring contributions over the next two months. These expectations are based off a predictive model that takes into account the historical performance of recurring contributions. We provide both the exact estimate and a confidence interval between which you can reasonably expect your revenue to be. You can hover over the chart to find the exact estimate as well as the high and low estimates.

If your committee has received enough recurring contributions to make a statistically sound prediction, then the model used to calculate the expected value of your recurring contributions is unique to your committee. Otherwise, we use a model based on data we see all across ActBlue. In either case, this model is recalculated daily to ensure your data is accurate and up-to-date.

Here at ActBlue we’re committed to providing infrastructure that gives cutting-edge tools to groups large and small.

Not every campaign or organization has the resources to build a predictive model for their program or the data to power it. We’re able to leverage the power of site-wide data to build these models and make them available to every organization, so we can all make smarter, more informed decisions. That’s the power of ActBlue.

As always, if you have questions or want advice on building your recurring donor program, just drop us a line at info@actblue.com and someone will be in touch.

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!

Thank your donors AND ask them to take the next step

We’re introducing a feature you’ve been asking for just in time for campaign season! Now you have the option to redirect your Express users to any page you want after they’ve contributed. This gives you the opportunity to send your donors to an action page on your website, like a petition. Or, you can redirect them to a volunteer form and ask them to take the next step in supporting your cause.

To use the redirect feature visit the Edit tab on any Contribution Form and scroll down to “Show Advanced Options.”

Below the “Thanks page blurb” prompt you’ll now see the “Thanks redirect URL” option.

Here you can place the link to your website or any other page you want your Express Users to see after making a contribution.

After contributing, your Express Users will see a popup that says, “Your contribution succeeded, thanks!” for 5 seconds before being directed to the page you’ve chosen.

If a non-Express User has contributed using the form, they’ll still be brought to our thanks page with an Express signup ask.

Express Users are donors who have taken the time to save their information and commit to your cause, and it’s important to continuously cultivate those relationships. By taking the time to redirect these donors to an action page after they’ve contributed, you’re moving them along the ladder of engagement and showing them how much you value their support.

Any questions? Feel free to comment or drop us a line 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.

Conversion rates by refcode

Our developers have been on a 2015 quest to give users greater access to data and visualizations to help you optimize your fundraising program.

We just rolled out a new feature on page dashboards: conversion rates per reference code (refcodes, for short). The two new columns on the refcode table display the number of people who landed on your form and the percentage of those that actually made a contribution.

Previously, you had to use your email mailer to check how many folks clicked each link to your contribution form and then look on your dashboard to see the number of contributions that were made. This will save you a step.

Just go to any form statistics page and you’ll see it (sample image from our testing):

FYI, we added new tracking functionality to make this work, so there isn’t historic data — only data from yesterday on will show up.

However, this will come in handy when sending emails, particularly if you are testing different versions of an email that are all linking to the same contribution form.

And, in addition to comparing conversion rates among different refcodes on the form, it should be useful to see how conversion rates differ from form to form. Know your organization-wide conversion rate, and pay attention if any form slips below that. Low conversion rates might ensue if there is a disconnect between the email content and what’s included on the form or if there is too much or too little text on the form.

It’s another tool in your toolbox that should help save you time and make better decisions. Speaking of new useful things, don’t miss the Recurring Retention charts that we just rolled out.

Questions? Just drop them in the comments or shoot us an email at info AT actblue DOT com.