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Features

Recurring pledges are like gold. There’s a reason why they’re often called sustaining contributions. Building a base of recurring donors can have a huge impact on the sustainability of any organization, including campaigns.

And now we’re making it easier for you to raise more long-term recurring contributions. Introducing: infinite recurring!

You’ve got a choice: ask people for a recurring contribution for a defined number or months (old standard), or ask them for one with no expiration date (new!). You can also choose not to have a recurring option, but we don’t recommend it (I’ll explain later.)

Here’s how you do it: Go to the edit page of any contribution form. Scroll down till you see this:

recurring toggle

Click on it to expand. It’ll look like this:

recurring options expanded

Select your radio button and then scroll down and hit submit. Yep, that’s it.

ActBlue got it’s start helping candidates raise money for their campaigns, which are built in two year cycles, so we allowed folks to set up recurring contributions for up to 48 months. The assumption was that donors would feel more comfortable signing up for a recurring contribution that would be sure to end at some point. These days, more and more organizations, who are around cycle after cycle, are using ActBlue. Plus, the way people use credit cards has changed and we have a whole system to let you extend/edit/add a new card to your recurring contribution, complete with prompts from us. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to have time-limited recurring contributions anymore.

So we tested it. Would forms with an infinite recurring ask perform the same (or better) as forms with a set number of months? AND would you raise more money if you didn’t have a recurring ask on the form, but asked people with a pop-up recurring box after their contribution was submitted?

We’ve got some answers. Several committees have run tests, confirming that conversion rates on time-limited forms and infinite recurring forms are similar. So if you’re around longer than election day, go ahead and turn on infinite recurring.

Generally speaking, making a form shorter and giving people fewer options leads to higher conversion rates. So theoretically, taking the recurring option off of a form should lead to more donations. We have a pop-up recurring box that campaigns can turn on to try and persuade a one-time donor to make their donation recurring, and there seemed to be a reasonable chance that having no recurring ask on the form would raise more money.

Nope! Turns out that we got a statistical tie on conversion rates between having the recurring option on the form or off. Just having pop-up recurring turned on did not generate as many recurring contributions as having it both on the form and as a post-donation action.

There were slightly more contributions processed on forms without a recurring option, but not enough to generate a statistically significant result. And then add to that the lost revenue from having fewer recurring donations, you end up with a pretty clear take-way: leave the recurring option on the form. Sure, you can turn off the recurring option, but you’ll likely lose money. And nobody wants that.

That’s why recurring contributions have been on every ActBlue contribution form since the beginning. These days we run anywhere from 8-14% recurring, and over $11 million is pledged to thousands of campaigns and organizations.

There is one big question we haven’t answered yet: will you raise more money overall from an infinite recurring contribution than say one with a 48 month expiration date? We’re currently working on a long-term experiment to test exactly that.

The answer might seem self-apparent, but the truth is nobody really knows. Credit cards expire and people cancel their pledges. You never know for sure how much money you’ll raise from a recurring contribution, but if you pay attention to your long-term data, you’ll be able to figure out your pledge completion rate.

If you’re interesting in figuring out a recurring donor strategy, we’re more than happy to give you some (free) advice. Just drop us a line at info@actblue.com.

Our mission has been to make your lives easier this campaign season, so you can spend more time connecting with supporters. We rolled out a new refund feature that will do just that. Now you can issue your own refunds for your campaign or organization, as long as we haven’t sent you a check with that money yet.

As always, we’re ready and willing to handle your donors’ questions and refunds in a timely manner, but this feature gives you the option to issue the refund yourself if it suits your needs.

Now, if someone contacts you directly for a refund, you can feel free to take care of that while you’re on the phone with them. If you know a particular donor is over their contribution limit, or ran a donor card incorrectly, you can handle that refund right away in-house.

Making a refund

One of our other favorite new features, the search function, makes the whole refund tool possible. Navigate to the search tab of your Dashboard, fill in the donor information that you have available, and click search. Once you’ve found the right contribution, you can click on the associated date to open up all the contribution information.

If the contribution is eligible for a refund, you’ll find a drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen where you can choose the reason for your refund and process the refund.

If the contribution has already been disbursed in a check, you’ll see a message prompting you to contact ActBlue Customer Service to obtain a refund.

You have a contribution you can’t refund yourself? Have a question for us? Would like us to handle a refund? Let us know!

Just drop us a line at info [at] actblue [dot] com and we’d be happy to help.

We just introduced a new feature that will save you time when you want to update the look and feel of your contribution forms.

A consistent brand identity is critical for committees of all sizes. But what happens when you update your ‘look’ midway through a campaign? We know time is at a premium, so we decided to save you a big step and make it easy to swap a sharp, new branding for an old one.

After you create your new branding and check the box beneath the display name to make it the default, just delete the old default branding. All of your contribution forms with the outdated default branding will automatically update to your new, flashy identity.

This way you won’t have to assign an intern the tedious task of updating previous contribution forms one by one.

Don’t worry about accidentally deleting a default branding identity. You’ll get this handy warning message if you try to delete one:

This feature won’t affect contribution forms that were not created with the default branding. For instance, if you have a “Women for [Insert Candidate’s Name]” contribution form that used a unique logo and branding, it won’t change when you subsitute a new default branding for the old one.

We just rolled out a new feature that allows you to duplicate an existing contribution form, saving your team precious minutes during crunch time. A few folks have already stumbled upon this feature. I’ve already had one friend post on my Facebook wall about it. Yep, they’re a big email nerd. No surprise he noticed it, this feature is for the email nerds and the power users.

This post is short and sweet because it’s super simple. If you have a fundraising form that you want to copy, there are now two places you can do that. You can login and go to: https://secure.actblue.com/my-pages and click the yellow Duplicate button beside the form.

duplicate option in list

Or, if you are editing an individual contribution form, you’ll see a greyed link that reads “Click here to create a new form based on this one.”

duplicate in form edit

Then you’ll see a pop-up that will ask you to pick a slug for the address. Hit the button and you’re done.

duplicate popup

Everything else about the contribution form will be copied over exactly as it is on the original contribution form.

This new feature will be particularly useful for the campaigns that do a lot of emailing and create a new form for each email, which is a best practice. This way all of their favorite settings will be set-up and all they have to do is replace the form content to match the new email blast.

If you are running tests within one page, the upgraded testing tool is still the way to go. But this should be a significant time-saver for a number of folks.

You asked and we’ve delivered. We just rolled out a brand new contribution search–one of the most widely requested features–for all of our campaigns and organizations.

This feature gives Finance Directors quick access to contributor data. You can search for donations by a bunch of relevant fields, including amount, date, name, and start date. Here are a few other things your Finance team can do with the new feature:

  • Answer questions from donors by searching for their contributions right in your browser, no .CSV needed
  • Search to see if a pledged donation has been fulfilled
  • Find a list of high-dollar donors by searching for contributions over $100, $1000, or whatever amount you choose

You’ll find the link to the contribution search in the left-hand toolbar of your campaign or organization’s Dashboard. All you need to do in order to find a donor is fill in the relevant fields and click “search.”

Have questions about the contribution search? Let us know at info@actblue.com!

Email isn’t the only place you can use Express Lane links. Any spot where you can put a link with some explanatory text can be an opportunity to raise money. A few organizations and campaigns have recently been experimenting with Facebook ads targeting Express users.

Here are a few examples from the DCCC and Senators Franken and Hagan of Express Lane Facebook ads out in the wild.

Franken Facebook ad
DCCC Facebook ad
Hagan Facebook ad

Based on the results from those who have already tried this tactic, if you regularly run Facebook advertising, it’s worth testing Express Lane ads to your Express universe. If you do try it out, let us know what your ROI is on the ads.

The same rules apply here as they do for other uses of Express Lane. If you’re going to run Facebook Express Lane ads, you need to use our preferred language and be clear with the donor.

If you are interested in trying a new tactic with Express Lane links, drop us a line at info@actblue.com and we’d be happy to advise you on current best practices.

We’ve completely reengineered the A/B testing system to make it possible to test more variables.

You’ve long been able to test the page title and copy, as well as the appearance of (or lack of) a video or a thermometer on your contribution forms. Now, you can also test the pop-up recurring ask and title.

The best part? We’ve also added all of that testing data to the donor data .csvs, which are available for download on every form.

Here’s what it looks like. You’ll find it under the A/B Test tab when you’re logged in and editing a contribution form.

ABtestingtoolvisual

This new feature is best utilized by candidates and organizations that have thousands of donors contributing on one form. It’s unlikely that you’ll see statistical significance on these relatively small changes unless you have a large sample size.

For those of you that do have a large donor pool, you’ll be able to figure out which pop-up ask works the best for your program. For example, you can test offering a premium in the recurring upsell: “make it a recurring donation and you’ll get this awesome sticker.” And you’ll be able to track and fulfill those orders via the new .csv.

We’re really excited about this new feature because recurring contributions are so incredibly valuable to organizations and the pop-up recurring has proved to be such an easy way to convert people to recurring donations. Have fun testing and figuring out the best ways to build that recurring pool!

We’d love to know what you’ve been testing, especially if you’ve found clear winners and losers. And if you have questions about running A/B tests, please drop us a line at info@actblue.com. Our data analyst is more than happy to help you design and run a successful test.

At ActBlue, we’re all about streamlining your workflow and providing you with the most data, ensuring your campaign or org is efficient and making knowledgable decisions. Our customer service team gladly handles a lot of low-level donor requests you may receive, including refunds, to help you save precious campaign time. We’ve always provided all the compliance info you need for those refunds, but we’ve recently launched a few new tools to help your administrative side manage and get more insight into the refund work going on.

So we’re rolling out three new tools, in order to give your operations and finance teams more data and insight into your donors’ financial accounting.

1) ) Refund center: Want to trace how a refund moved through the system? Check out the new refund center where you can see contribution details, date of contribution, date of original disbursement (typically check date), and date recovered (which check/wire it was taken out of).

2) Refund reason: Curious about your donor behavior? The new refund reason field offers some insight into the reason for a refund, so admins can see it a quick glance.

3) Refund alerts: Want to know right away when there’s been a refund? Just like our donation alerts, an admin user can elect to receive alerts every time a refund over a certain amount is issued. It’s available on the User Access tab of your entity.

Your compliance workflows stay the same. The refund information with checks is right where it’s always been, but now you have more data at your fingertips. If it’s useful to you, finance team members can sign up for alerts, monitor refunds, and follow up with donors who have been refunded and may have outstanding pledges. And compliance teams can easily see when refunds were issued and recovered, which may make their reporting duties easier.

As always, our customer service team is always here if you have questions about these new features or anything else. Just email info [at] actblue [dot] com and someone will respond promptly.

In the fast-paced digital campaigns world, if you’re not innovating and testing constantly, you’re headed for obsolescence. And, more importantly, you’re letting your users down, especially those in short-term competitive environments (aka elections). At ActBlue, we’re always developing our platform with metrics-driven decision making, aka testing.

The result is that today’s ActBlue isn’t the same as the ActBlue of a month ago, and that’s a great thing. Sometimes our tests fail. Others result in a barely statistically significant bump in conversion rates. But that’s ok because all of those little bumps add up. Occasionally we hit on a big winner that dramatically increases conversion rates. We do it in a methodical, constant way that allows us to identify improvements big and small.

One advantage we have is the sheer volume of contributions we process, which allows us to A/B test small tweaks to the form and get statistically sound results. If one organization tried running an identical test on their own, they’d never be able to identify as many improvements.

We’ve got thousands of campaigns and organizations counting on us to have the best system possible, so they can focus on winning. It drives our work and testing every single day.

Our tech team make changes to the platform daily. Some are minor tweaks, others major changes. They’ve developed a rock-solid platform where we can easily roll out significant feature or a layout change, even in the middle of the crazy busy end-of-quarter period. And that’s no easy feat, but a deliberate design choice so we can be as nimble as the party needs.

Today we thought we’d roll back the curtain just a little bit and break down some of our favorite A/B tests from the past few months.

Test 1: Employer Address Checkbox

We know from our data that a lot of donors mark retired or unemployed on the forms and we wanted to see if we could use that knowledge to increase conversions. Turns out: yes! We A/B tested our normal form with one that has a checkbox they can click if they’re not employed. The checkbox automatically provides us with the information, which fulfills the legal requirement and bumps up conversion rates.

Original:

Checkbox:

We saw a 4.7% improvement in conversions (p < 0.05, for those of you keeping score), so we switched over to the new checkbox version. Bonus points for cutting waaaaay down on customer service questions about the occupation/employer boxes.

Test 2: Shrinking the Contribution Form

Speed is essential in online contributions, so we’re always looking for ways to make the Contribution Form shorter and faster to load, but the rapid increase in mobile donations has made it even more important than ever. We ran a number of tests aimed at shrinking the contribution form, including the following:

- Removed credit card tooltip (which popped up when you click the credit card box) so it would load better on mobile
– Removed “Employment” section header
– Using horizontal employer fields rather than stacking them vertically

All of these tests ended without statistically significant results, but that was a win for us, because it meant we could make our forms less cluttered. If a feature isn’t adding value, that means it’s time to go. And bye bye those three things went on every single form in our system.

You can see the evolution of the Employment section below.

Version 1 (original):

Version 2 (horizontal):

Version 3 (no header, checkbox added):

Test 3: Multi-step Contribution Forms

We already wrote a whole blog post about this test, but it’s worth mentioning again here. This was one of those big wins, with a 25.86% increase in conversion rates with 99% significance. That was after just a few days of running the test. We had tested multi-step Contribution Forms a few years back, and they lost to our standard one page forms, which just goes to show how important it is to test and test again.

One page form (losing version):

Multi-step form (winning version):

We do one thing at ActBlue and we’re the best at it in the business. And the biggest reason is that we’re constantly upgrading our platform. We push changes out to everyone ASAP so that thousands of campaigns and groups big and small can get the best right away.

In a few months when we get down to the crunch of election time, know that we’ve got your backs and you will always be using the most optimized and tested form out there.

This one is for the fundraising pros, the long-time ActBlue users, and the data junkies out there. With our new custom date range CSV feature, you can now download a .csv of donations made in any data range or fundraising period you choose.

After nearly 10 years of helping some groups fundraise, people have a lot of data stored on ActBlue and need an easy way to access exactly the information they want. Juggling data and producing thousands of custom reports is no easy feat, but we knew folks would find it useful, so our new engineer Eric made it happen.

Just go to your Dashboard and click on the Reports tab.

Select your date range, and then click on the link that reads “Download a fundraising page CSV report.” It’ll generate a file for you and automatically download it, and you can pull as many custom reports as you need or want!

We’ve got tons of new features lined up on our development schedule, so stay tuned!

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