How ActBlue Improves Mobile Conversions

How Mobile Conversions Can Boost Your Fundraising Power

Dan Engel Mobile Testing

Enticing individuals to give away their hard-earned dollars to political campaigns and social causes online is a major challenge for candidates and nonprofits. But fundraising powerhouse ActBlue has turned that challenge into its own wheelhouse of expertise. In its first year, ActBlue took in only $800,000. Now twelve years later, ActBlue harvests millions upon millions of donations from small donors. In doing so, it has become a repository of best practices on what it take to drive mobile conversions.

Let’s review their hard-learned lessons on best mobile strategies.

Who Is ActBlue?

Functioning as a plug-and-play donation toolset for Democratic candidates and progressive nonprofits, ActBlue solicits contributions from millions of individual donors yearly, typically in the $10–$50 range. On its website, the organization describes itself as “a one-stop shop where folks can give to all the causes they care about, at any level of government, no matter how big the race or how small the organization.”

Since its start in 2004 with $800,000 in contributions, the grassroots fundraising portal has grown to become the largest single source of political contributions in the nation. As of January 2017, ActBlue had raised $1.5 billion, processing 24,200,973 contributions from 4,032,813 individual donors. Over the past 12 years, 14,308 candidates, committees and organizations have made ActBlue integral to their fundraising strategy. With approximately 40% of donations made from mobile devices, Act Blue’s leadership understandably makes the continual improvement and optimization of mobile conversion a central part of their operations.

ActBlue’s Three Key Mobile Conversion Strategies

1. Optimize Mobile Conversions with Continual UX Updates

ActBlue strenuously recommends fundraisers continually tinker with online forms to make the donation process easier and more appealing. Their efforts have paid impressive dividends. Many of their tests are designed to drive mobile conversion gains by simplifying forms and eliminating text.

Elevated phone conversions at ActBlue

Image: ActBlue

For example, a redesign of a donor form enabled users to jump past boilerplate contribution instructions. That alteration pushed up conversions by 5.2%, a significant jump. In comparison, a similar test across both desktop and mobile platforms using email lists yielded only modest gains. By narrowly focusing on mobile users’ desire to accomplish tasks quickly and with maximum convenience, ActBlue saw an increase of 250,000 new mobile conversions in one month, resulting in roughly $400,000 in additional contributions.

Not surprisingly, when higher conversions are largely dependent on visitors acting impulsively to an email soliciting support for a candidate or cause, efforts that keep the process of donating simple and uncluttered pay off.

2. Harness the Power of A/B Testing Across Your Entire Campaign

In addition to employing mobile A/B testing to assess design tweaks and data entry field variations (for example, combining donor first and last name in one field did NOT help), ActBlue offers clients a robust A/B toolset to refine campaign messaging, branding, and other aspects of their donor appeals.


“We’ve never lost a statistically significant A/B test.”ActBlue

Once a better performing variation has been statistically verified, ActBlue’s software automatically directs traffic to the pages in proportion to their higher conversion rate. In this way, there isn’t a waiting period to deploy the better approach, meaning no traffic is wasted or potential donations sacrificed. Should a poorer performing page surge ahead during the test, the traffic allocation will reverse.

A-B tests to improve mobile conversions

ActBlue’s A/B testing tool features a “multi-armed bandit” algorithm to selectively push traffic to better performing pages.

At any point the campaign manager can declare a winner by clicking the “Make Winner” button or can allow the system to gradually zero out traffic to the inferior performing page.

ActBlue also discovered that deep dives into your website’s analytics can be a useful source of ideas for A/B testing. They noticed that many of their donors identified themselves as retired or unemployed on ActBlue forms. So it tested and altered its web forms to let users to check a box for those choices, rather than typing them in–a hassle on mobile. That minor change elevated completed donation forms by 4.7%.

3. Offer One-Click Functionality for Returning Visitors

Encouraging users to create a profile that instantly recognizes them on subsequent visits has become a standard feature of virtually all websites. News outlets such as the New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal use it to manage subscriber accounts and permit access to premium content behind paywalls—a business model that has finally gained wide acceptance, even with Millennials. Profiles can serve up saved searches, abandoned shopping carts, auto-reorder subscriptions, and encourage lightning-fast impulse purchases—all features honed to perfection by Amazon. In fact, ActBlue leadership credits Amazon as the inspiration for their own streamlined transaction functionality.

Act Blue and mobile conversions

Image: ActBlue

Dubbed ActBlue Express, the single-click donation has proven particularly effective for mobile conversions. The transaction can be triggered simply by a visit to the candidates’ website on a smartphone or tablet or through a URL embedded in an email. In both instances a cookie pre-installed on the device generates an Express Pass within the page unique to the visitor. With approximately 3.4 million registered ActBlue profiles, fundraising campaigns of all description are likely to find existing ActBlue users already in their email lists and donor databases.

Loading Speed is critical for mobile conversions

ActBlue’s homepage loads in a snappy 0.39 seconds on the iPhone 6s.

ActBlue’s fundraising prowess demonstrates the remarkable benefits these three strategies can bring to your mobile conversions:
• Continual UX Updates
• The Power of A/B Testing
• One-Click Functionality
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