Should You Add a Password to Your Donation Page?

We tested password-protected donation pages, and the results will surprise you.

IMGE Studies Fundraising Marketing Strategy

Every marketer knows it’s a best practice to reduce friction for your audience. The more barriers you put between your user and the transaction, the more likely they will fall off.

So why are so many political fundraisers sending emails with password-protected donation pages?

It’s a bold tactic. It replaces a low-friction transaction with a sense of secrecy and exclusivity. It throws best practices out the window.

So, of course, we decided to test it.

Here’s How We Designed Our Password-Protected Donation Page Test

For this test, we worked with Heritage Action, a major fundraiser with an engaged subscriber base. Knowing we would have a large number of users from our multi-message end-of-month fundraising series, we decided to test this hypothesis with that content package.

This was a much bigger test than simply splitting the traffic going to the donation page: we needed to deliver two different versions of the entire series to a randomly segmented audience because we had to give users the password to the page, as well.

So we used two variants of the content: one series with a password-protected landing page and instructions on how to access it and a control version without any password.

What was the user experience like for each variant? Here’s what they saw when they clicked through on each series:

Once the series concluded, we would compare clicks, conversion rates, and total raised between the two variants.

We were ready to determine: Will perceived exclusivity lead to more donors? Or will an extra step add too many barriers for users to give?

The Result: Password-Protected Donation Pages Won, BIG Time

Over the course of our test, the fundraising content received over 16,000 opens. The two audiences had similar open rates, but once they opened, nearly every other metric significantly diverged.

Not only did the password-protected landing page lead to more clicks acquired, it also outperformed the control series on every other metric:

  • 143% more clicks
  • 145% higher click-thru-rate
  • 24% higher number of donations
  • 22% higher total raised

So why did the password-protected page win?

Perhaps the curiosity gap was just so strong that it drove clicks. Perhaps the promise of exclusivity increased subscribers’ sense of ownership in the organization. All we know for sure is that in a world of 1-click donation buttons, this particular password-protected page stood out and won big.

The best part of this? Every one of these guesses leads us to our next testing hypothesis for this client.

Should You Use a Password-Protected Donation Page?

With results like these, we absolutely think you should test it.

Just keep in mind that every audience is different, and yours might not have the same dramatic response we saw to this tactic. Adding a password might have only won out because of its novelty, and we might see its performance fade in future tests.

All of this variation is why we support a robust culture of ongoing testing here at IMGE. Contact IMGE if you want to start your testing journey with us.

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