Searching Your Nonprofit’s Web Site—A vs. B Makes a Huge Difference

I’m a devoted participant in Anne Holland’s blog, Which Test Won. Participant rather than reader because each week Anne offers up a challenge, asking marketing geeks like us to vote on which version of the landing page design, e-news subscription form or donate here pop-up worked best: A vs. B. These are real-life marketing case studies!

This week’s test pinpoints the best way to design the search box on your nonprofit’s website. Which do you think works best, A vs. B?

Maybe you’re thinking, “Who cares? This is such a tiny difference.” Well, the truth is that tiny differences in layout and design can make a huge difference in your results.

This test was executed by Dell Computers, where the marketers found that version A is far easier and more satisfying to use, resulting in a 7% increase in dollar value of purchases over Version B. As Anne writes, “the winning version of this test omitted the word ‘Search’ in the search bar itself, and added a button with the ‘Search’ call to action. This gives the user more direction and lessens the onus on her to interpret icons, e.g. the magnify glass. Dell used multiple variations for this test, and each variation using the magnify glass icon did not perform as well as the Search Button.”

Think about it, you could generate an increase in donations or memberships this significant with just a tiny change like this one. But you need to test to know what changes to make.

A/B testing is easy to do with digital marketing channels. It’s a doable way to get tangible insights on your network’s wants, habits and preference that are guaranteed to increase your marketing results, including fundraising. And if you’re engaging folks via the web, email and/or mobile, your tools are already in place. I’ll be writing a lot more A/B testing this year.