How to A/B Test Your Nonprofit’s Text-to-Give Messages

Imagine that your nonprofit is gearing up to run a text-to-give fundraiser alongside your upcoming fundraising gala. You want to encourage supporters to give to your cause, but you’re not sure what type of messaging will be the most effective to engage donors and spur action. 

If this sounds like a scenario you’ve been in before, don’t worry! Rather than guessing what type of content will resonate with your supporters and push forward your fundraising goals, leverage A/B testing to make informed decisions. A/B testing is a powerful tool that enables nonprofits to experiment with different versions of texts and assess which one will perform best. 

In this article, we’ll cover how your nonprofit can incorporate A/B testing into your next text-to-give campaign to amplify your success. But first, let’s make sure you have the basics down. 

What is A/B Testing?

In text marketing and fundraising, A/B testing is the process of testing different versions of a text message to small subsets of your subscriber list simultaneously. Then, you can compare which text message performed the best in achieving a given goal—such as getting donors to give, register for your upcoming hybrid event, or navigate to a resource on your website. 

Once you know the winner of the test, you can send this message to the rest of your subscribers in your contact list. A/B testing is a great way to gather insight into your audience’s motivations and interests, pointing you to ways you can more closely tailor your appeals to your different donors in the future. This will help you strengthen your overall communication strategy and bring in more donations in the process. 

A/B testing is a tried and true method, as evidenced by the thousands of higher education institutions, churches, and nonprofits that have leaned into this experimentation tool to develop a reliable donation pipeline. If you’re ready to see how A/B testing can transform your text-to-give efforts, explore our top tips. 

1. Invest in a Nonprofit Text Messaging Platform

To get started with A/B testing, you’ll need a nonprofit text messaging platform that offers this capability. Look for an advanced tool that: 

  • Allows you to test up to four different versions of a text message at once: Many platforms only allow you to test two versions at once, limiting your ability to experiment and play around with different concepts and messaging to inspire giving. By working with a platform with greater flexibility, you can test multiple variations of texts, from changing the copy to adjusting the multimedia content you send. 
  • Gives you full control over the process: You should be able to pick the percentage of your subscriber base that receives the different versions of your message. For example, let’s say your nonprofit has 1,000 subscribers. You could test four different versions of a text message among 20% of your subscribers. This would mean that you could send each version to a different subset of 50 subscribers. After your experiment, you’ll be able to see which text performed the best. 
  • Empowers you to make the final decision: The right platform will let you decide which message is best to push your goals forward, and then you can easily send it off to the rest of your subscribers who weren’t included in the A/B test. This way, you can feel confident that the message you’re sending will resonate with your audience at large and inspire them to take action. 

Tatango’s guide to nonprofit text messaging additionally recommends investing in software that empowers your nonprofit to segment your contact list, keep your data secure with automated logout and two-factor authentication, and send messages at rapid speeds. With an all-in-one texting solution that offers A/B testing and more, you’ll be in great shape to lead a winning text fundraising campaign. 

2. Decide What Features You’ll Test

There are many features you can test in your text messaging campaigns. For example, you might consider:

  • Sending an SMS (text-only message) versus MMS message (includes GIFs, video, audio, and pictures): An MMS message also allows you to utilize an eye-catching subject line and use more characters of text, making it a good option to tell a compelling narrative and sway your supporters to give. 
  • Using different subject lines: The quality of your subject line can make a big difference in whether supporters feel intrigued enough to read (and act on) your text, so playing with multiple versions can help you settle on the best subject line possible. 
  • Sharing different media types: Not sure if a picture of a beneficiary or video of your nonprofit staff explaining your fundraising needs would best inspire audiences to give? Test different versions of the multimedia content you include to see what resonates the most with supporters. 
  • Including different stories: Storytelling is one of the best strategies to connect with donors and encourage giving at scale, but what if you’re not sure which story to tell? A/B testing can help you determine which story creates the greatest impact. 
  • Adjusting your call to action (CTA) language: Whether you want to play around with the active verbs you use or the length of your call to action, A/B testing allows you to pick the perfect CTA as it relates to your goal. 

Make sure you’re not just testing different features at random. The features you experiment with should be selected with thought in an effort to support the goal of that particular text message. For example, if your goal is to encourage donors to give to your year-end fundraising campaign, you might want to experiment with the story you tell about why you need their support. 

For instance, an animal welfare organization might tell a story about:

  • A dog they helped save off the street who is now in a loving home all thanks to donor support.
  • A family they gave free dog food and affordable veterinary care to so they could keep their dog.

The data results from the A/B testing will indicate which story resulted in the most amount of donations. Make sure to keep a record of what variable you’re changing so you can clearly tell at the end of your experiment which text message content resonates the most with supporters. 

3. Track Metrics

Once you’ve conducted your A/B test, you should be able to assess how each text variation performed. This is where choosing the right text messaging platform is critical. Your text software should automatically generate real-time data reports and empower your team to take an in-depth look at metrics for each text like: 

  • Open rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Average donation amount
  • Total donations

As with A/B testing in email or social media, this data can provide invaluable insight into the engagement levels and responsiveness of your audience to various messaging strategies. Once you identify the message that made the biggest impact and supported your goal, you can share that message to the rest of your subscribers in your contact list. 

You can also make slight adjustments to your text message so you can better target different donor groups. Double the Donation’s guide to text donations recommends segmenting your contact list so you can send tailored donation requests to different types of donors. For instance, you can adjust your solicitation so small donors are asked to give $25 to your year-end text-to-give campaign, while donors with greater giving abilities are asked to donate $100. 

Make sure your text messaging platform offers extensive segmentation capabilities so you can break up your contact list into subgroups—based on common factors like average donor amount or donation frequency—with ease. 

Wrapping Up

A/B testing should not be difficult or overwhelming! With the help of the right nonprofit text messaging platform and partner, you can easily experiment with different versions of your messages and text-to-give solicitations at any time. Do your research to find an intuitive solution that comes with A/B testing, data tracking, and more to support your fundraising strategy. 

Author: Mike Snusz
Mike Snusz brings 19 years of digital fundraising experience to his role as Director of Nonprofit Customer Experience at Tatango, a text messaging platform for nonprofits and political campaigns. Prior to Tatango, Mike spent 15 years at Blackbaud leading a team of digital consultants that helped nonprofits improve their online fundraising, monthly giving, email marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Mike started his nonprofit career managing the Ride For Roswell from 2003 to 2005 in his hometown of Buffalo, NY.

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