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5 things to test in your social ads for your Christmas Appeal

— Written by Samara Gentle, Head of Digital Fundraising & Marketing, Marlin Communications

In the age of information, as fundraisers we can be overwhelmed with what we’re told is ‘best practice’, and it can often cloud our judgement and prevent our campaigns from growing.

Best practice can be a starting point, but from my time in digital, it often depends on the organisation, the value proposition, the message and the creativity. All factors can be tested and tweaked to work for you.

So ahead of the Christmas Appeal season, here are some tests you can do with your social media ads to get a better idea of what resonates with your current and prospective supporters.

Test 1: Long Copy vs Short Copy

There is mixed advice about long and short copy. In short (see what I did there!) it all depends on what you’re communicating and the imagery you use to go with it. For your Christmas Appeal, do a straight A/B test of short vs long copy: the longer copy explaining the value proposition or case study you’re highlighting, and the shorter copy focusing just on a simple sentence or two of the why.

Test 2: Plain image vs Text on image

We’ve seen varying success with these two types of images, so we always recommend putting it to the test early on in your campaign. Sometimes campaign images are strong enough on their own and sometimes overlaid with a case study quote or call to action can perform strongly.

SCHF Tax Appeal

Example: SCHF Tax Appeal

SCHF Tax Appeal

Test 3: Ad Headline

As marketers, we tend to know the ins and outs of how ad formats work, but often forget that the average person has no idea. In fact, some places where ads show ONLY the image and a short headline may not include what donors need to know. That ad headline is an often overlooked area for a CTA, and we mean a true call-to-action that says ‘CLICK HERE to donate today’. Just letting the user know that it’s a clickable area can have a huge impact on your campaign results.

Test 4: Double your donation

If you’re incorporating a matched giving day during your appeal, it’s a great opportunity to test the comms and what works best for your audience. For example, testing copy that says ‘Double your donation’ against ‘Double your impact’. While they both say the same thing, one is more connected to a person’s values and communicates what they will really get out of the interaction.

Test 5: Landing page

You can set up an A/B test directly on your landing page or you can use the ad platform to test different landing pages. When setting up this test it’s important to make sure you’re comparing apples with apples, that is the ad creative and copy has to be exactly the same, with the only difference being the landing page the user is taken to.

What to do now you’ve tested?

Now you’ve tested all these things and have the results, what’s next?

First, make sure you’ve documented the tests and the results. If you didn’t know, NextAfter has a free tool you can use to document your tests in one place: WinstonKnows.

Second, how do you know if a test result is valid or significant? If you use WinstonKnows to document your tests, it will give you a confidence score based on the results so you’ll be able to know how much stock to put into the result of your test.

Third, share your findings. Whether it’s in an end-of-campaign report or during a team meeting, share your findings! Becoming a digitally savvy organisation means sharing what you’ve learned on a regular basis.

Finally, take these learnings into your next campaign. Sometimes it means retesting theories, or using what you’ve learnt to try new iterations.

Still, need help setting up A/B testing? Download our step-by-step guide and start optimising your online fundraising today. Don’t worry, it’s FREE!