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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!

Scott Brown made some uh interesting design choices for his new Massachusetts New Hampshire Senate campaign website. But where he went really wrong was his contribution form.

We’ve been watching this video from WebPageTest on a loop today (spoiler alert: our entire form loads before their first response):


We’re obsessive here at ActBlue about page load time, going to great lengths to shave off hundredths of a second. It’s often the difference between someone giving a donation and just simply giving up, particularly when they are on a mobile device. And that’s why 20.3% of all contributions on ActBlue last month were made on mobile. If your numbers aren’t up there, you’re doing it wrong.

And none of that would have been possible without the support of thousands of ActBlue donors, so thank you.

Now let’s all stop laughing at Scott Brown (for the moment) and get back to work powering Democrats to victory this November.

Our mission is to increase participation and transparency in the fundraising process, and we work hard to make sure our features match that goal. No matter how you measure it–3,000,000 donors, more than a quarter billion dollars sent to Democrats–it’s been a success. Here’s one example:

A while back we noticed that mobile web traffic was exploding, so we built a mobile donation form that would make it easy for people to donate with their phone. We also realized that data entry, already a pain on a regular computer, would be even more difficult on a phone. Long story short, we made our mobile form play nice with ActBlue Express, a feature that allows donors to create a profile so they don’t have to retype their info every time they want to give.

The combination proved extremely potent. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of users with an ActBlue Express account, and the mobile conversion rate has grown steadily. ActBlue is hardly the only political entity out there with a quick donate option or a mobile form. But we’re different in one important respect: we provide these tools to every campaign that accepts donations through our site. They’re available to you whether you’re a state senator or a federal candidate, whether you’re a donor who gives $25 or $2,500.

Why does that matter? If you follow politics, you’ve probably seen something about Democratic discomfort with the Citizens United decision. As Republican SuperPACs ramp up for 2012, Democratic campaigns are worried that they won’t be able to keep up with the Adelsons. Donors, meanwhile, are concerned about entrenching a system they dislike. ActBlue is a way out of that dilemma. Candidates don’t have to put themselves at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis Republicans. Donors can give quickly and easily, without embracing GOP tactics.

By taking a settled piece of campaign finance–the ability of individuals to support campaigns–and updating it for the digital age, we’ve massively increased participation and transparency in fundraising. Oh, and sent nearly $100,000,000 to Democrats this cycle.

That’s what we’re here to do.

If you’ve read the last few monthly numbers posts you’re aware that it’s been a good year for Democrats on ActBlue. But looking at our Q1 numbers, you can see that a huge amount of money is flowing to candidates and committees that don’t make our top 5 for the quarter. While everyone else is consumed with the ups-and-downs of the presidential race, we’re quietly helping Democrats up and down the ballot get what they need to win.

Let’s take another angle on that: if every seat in Congress were constested, you’d have around 500 committees getting money. ActBlue has 2,050 recipients. That’s the best expression of the kind of work we do, and how it ripples out across the country. Now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 333,928
Total raised $18,070,391.02
Average Contribution size $54.11
Committees receiving money 2,050

 

So, these numbers are the gold standard for year-over-year growth. While 2012 is a presidential election year and that pushes the numbers upward, you can glance at our 2008 numbers to see how much we’ve grown over the interim.

Q1 2008 Q1 2011 Q1 2012 Change
Contributions 52,149 180,537 333,928 85%
Volume ($) $6,945,713.73 $8,712,756.77 $18,070,391.02 107%
Mean Donation $133.19 $48.26 $54.11 12%
Committees 992 881 2,050 133%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for Q1 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 103,592 $3,036,757
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 26,827 $1,310,832
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Party Committee 20,974 $423,339
Democracy for America Organization 20,602 $468,190
PCCC Organization 16,566 $166,313

Our latest installment of "ActBlue in One Take" features Sen. Al Franken. The Senator from Minnesota understands the value of grassroots donors–he raised over $2M on ActBlue in 2008, funds that were crucial to both his election day victory and drawn-out struggle against Republican attempts to keep him from taking his seat in Washington. Click on the video below to see what Sen. Franken had to say about the role of grassroots donors–and ActBlue–in 2010

You can search for your favorite Democrat in our candidate directory, or visit our homepage and support the candidates that lead our hot candidates list.

At ActBlue, we're about helping campaigns meet donors where they are, and where they are is changing. Not that long ago, email and cellular phones were emerging technologies. Today, they're fully integrated, and an ever-growing number of Americans check their email on their cellular phones. In recognition of that fact, we've launched ActBlue Mobile–now you can support the Democratic candidates of your choice right from your smartphone. 

Donors: did your phone just buzz because you received a fundraising email from a candidate you like? Just click on the link and enter your information the way you would from your home computer or laptop and submit it. You could be on the bus, or taking in the game down at the bar; it doesn't matter. You can play a role in American politics without missing your stop. (Or a critical play!)

We built ActBlue Mobile because we think that American politics should reflect the patterns of  American life, and that the American people shouldn't have to be politicos to be political. It's that very same impulse that led us to build cutting-edge integrations with Twitter and Facebook, and it will continue fuel further innovation is the months and years to come.

Remember, Washington D.C. speaks the language of money and influence. At ActBlue, we're working every day to help you be part of the conversation. 

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about our monthly statistics posts, so we’ll be continuing them throughout the 2010 cycle. Today we’re looking at numbers from March 2010, and you should stop by late next week when we’ll release our end of quarter numbers. The purpose of these posts is to provide information, and nothing below should be construed as an endorsement of a particular candidate or committee.

The March 2010 overview:

Number of contributions 58,626
Total raised $5,228,392.83
Average contribution size $89.18
Distinct committees receiving money 1,250
Distinct fundraising pages receiving money 1,124
Fundraising pages created 1,002

 

Granted, every statistic is higher than it was in February, but March numbers are buoyed by the end of quarter (EOQ) fundraising push by federal candidates. To exempt that variable from our analysis, let’s compare March 2010 to March 2008. Keep in mind, though, that ’08 was a presidential cycle, and March was the last EOQ deadline before the decisive Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Nevertheless:

March 2008 March 2010 Change
Contributions 25,345 58,626 130%
Volume ($) $3,707,838.92 $5,228,392.83 41%
Mean Donation $146.29 $89.18 -39%
Committees 787 1,250 60%
Pages Created 564 1,002 78%
Pages w/ Money 654 1,124 72%

 

NB: “pages” here refers to fundraising pages, which are landing pages that make a specific fundraising ask. For an example page, click here.

The massive increase in volume and contributions, combined with decrease in average donation size, speak to the increasing power of grassroots fundraising generally, and, as we’ll see below, issue-oriented grassroots fundraising.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Campaigns & Committees for March 2010 (by donors).

 

Committee Name

Bill HalterType

AR-Sen, 2010Donors

11,887Amount

$390,112.82 PCCC – Progressive Change Campaign CommitteeOrganization8,603$109,664.77 Democracy for AmericaOrganization5,692$52,880.09 Krystal BallVA-01, 20103,587$35,793.04 Ann McLane KusterNH-02, 20103,456$35,193.03 Anthony WeinerNY-09, 20103,071$64,608.18 Alan GraysonFL-08, 20102,494$57,163.94 Connie SaltonstallMI-01, 20102,188$92,463.60 Dennis KucinichOH-10, 20101,788$36,188.49 Betsy MarkeyCO-04, 20101,205$27,998.14

In March, the top 10 (as always, ranked by number of donors) includes some new faces. As was the case last month, the PCCC and DFA take their spots on the podium, eclipsed only by Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter, who is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Blanche Lincoln. Lt. Gov. Halter amassed over 10,000 ActBlue donors in a single month with the backing of labor unions, progressive advocacy organizations, and Netroots PACs. For a more complete listing of the groups fundraising for Halter on ActBlue, click here.

What’s particularly interesting about this month’s top 10 are the interconnections between candidates and both policy issues and advocacy groups. Krystal Ball and Anne McLane Kuster–#4 and #5, respectively–earned their berth thanks to a fundraising page set up by the PCCC. They are challenging “Blue Dog” Democrats who opposed the public option in the recent healthcare bill, an issue of concern to many PCCC donors. The candidates ranked 6-8 also structured their fundraising efforts around the recent healthcare bill.Reps. Grayson and Weiner saw their candor about GOP opposition to the bill rewarded by online donors, and Saltonstall is running against Rep. Bart Stupak in Michigan.

The larger point being that our volume in March reflected–in real time–the momentum and enthusiasm that was building behind healthcare reform.

You can see that firsthand in the list for Top 10 Fundraising Pages for March 2010

Name Donors Raised Average
dumplincoln 5006 $116,478.85 $23.26
pelosi-tv-ad 3577 $68,669.03 $19.19
2010pccc 3402 $66,266.55 $19.47
weinercdthc02242010 2909 $56,459.33 $19.40
pccc_main 2042 $41,152.28 $20.15
pccchalterfield 1968 $32,449.24 $16.48
orangetoblue2010 1850 $66,934.74 $36.18
standupkucinich 1124 $21,366.66 $19.00
conniesaltonstall 780 $35,644.27 $45.69
graysonboldprogressive 718 $13,211.30 $18.40

 

Quick points:

  • Three of the top 10 ActBlue fundraising pages benefited Arkansas Senate candidate Bill Halter.
  • Over half of the pages directly mention or motivate donors to give to candidates because of health care issues.
  • Six of March’s Top 10 fundraising pages by numbers of donors were created by the PCCC
  • Democracy for America, Daily Kos, and the Firedoglake Action PAC all had fundraising pages that made the list.

Some of the common features used on these 10 fundraising pages were the inclusion of embedded video and the use of ActBlue’s goal-based fundraising thermometers. Be sure to check out some of the other pages linked above as well as our recent post that covers some important tips to get some ideas of how to make your next fundraising page more successful. 

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