How to Raise Over 2 Million Dollars Online
We’re still in awe at the stunning success that the Freeze MND campaign saw during it’s campaign run from May to June this year. With a final tally of more than 2.4 million dollars donated, we share some insight into our website planning process including user experience design, designing an effective donation form, hosting considerations and risking it all on a single-field credit card input.
Freeze Motor Neurone Disease (Freeze MND) was a month long campaign to raise funding and awareness for Motor Neurone Disease and the Cure for MND Foundation. 24 collaborated on the project as the digital agency responsible for the digital strategy, design, development and hosting of the campaign website. Together, we built freezemnd.com.
Project and Website Goals
- Easy to use for a wide range of people across a wide range of devices
- High rate of conversion for the donation form
- Does not go down, ever
- Helps inform people about Motor Neurone Disease
- CMS: WordPress
- Coding Languages: PHP, jQuery
- Framework: 24 Framework (Based on bootstrap)
- Hosting: WP Engine – Enterprise II + Cloudflare
- Payment Gateway: Stripe
User Experience Design
Planning the Freeze MND donation website, our main focus was to initially inform the user about MND and to then encourage them to click through to the donate page. The key messaging and compelling video on the homepage served this purpose well, driving almost 25% of traffic through to the donate page. On the donate page, we aimed to make the form as simple as possible, using big buttons to select monetary values and asking for only the essential personal data. We also took a calculated risk, using a single-field credit card input pattern that allowed users to enter the credit card number, expiry and cvv on one line and without clicking or tabbing between fields. This option offered a very smooth experience for users, for which we received great feedback from users directly and by analysis of dollars raised.
We focused on:
- A donation form that was easy for anyone to use and worked exceptionally well
- Essential Content only with 2 Key Pages for information and donation
- Simple + bold navigation
- Repeated call to donate throughout page content
- Great imagery + graphics to evoke empathy and reflect the vibe of the campaign
- Content Rollout across time to keep people coming back for more
- Input validation, error messages and success messages that keep people informed and happy
Homepage Visual Design
Designing an Effective Donation Form
When researching best practice and creative ideas for the donation page, I started with some ideas from the legendary Brad Frost. His recommendations + some ideas of our own resulted in a donation form that was bold, clear and easy to use.
We focused on:
- Using large input areas with substantial size font
- No distractions with unnecessary content
- Using button styling for donation values
- Reducing the number of taps / clicks
- Using a single-field credit card input pattern
Donation Page Wireframe
Donation Page Visual Design
Single-Field Credit Card Input Pattern
While researching for credit card input ideas, I thought back to a post I had seen last year by Brad Frost. The single-field credit card input would make the perfect solution for donations. Clear, no-fuss, easy. First written about by Luke Wroblewski in 2012, the style derives from Square Wallet’s form.
With simplicity and ease of use at an all time high for credit card input, we believe that the form design was a big contributor in receiving more than 24,600 donations.
With the success of the campaign riding on a donation platform that can actually take donations, it was crucial to maintain 100% uptime with the website. Going down was not an option. Having worked with WP Engine in the past and knowing the stability and scalability of their hosting platform, I knew they were the team for us.
Leading up to the campaign launch, estimated traffic was discussed, predicting 10,000 concurrent users as our peak traffic. We knew we needed a reliable and hearty hosting solution to ensure that we maintained 100% uptime, so we discussed options with WP Engine and went ahead with their Enterprise II solution. In final preparations for launch, we used loader.io to run a few load tests on the site, ensuring that we could maintain 10k users at one time. To complete our hosting solution, we also set up the site on the caching, security and CDN platform, Cloudflare.
Over the course of the month long campaign, the hefty media schedule resulted in some sharp spikes in website traffic. June 8th, the day of the final event, was our biggest of them all — resulting in 38,534 sessions with 7,756 concurrent visitors at the peak. WP Engine offered amazing support through the whole campaign with a 24/7 support team and an account manager. They took our media schedule on board and had someone monitoring the servers during all peak times.
We’re happy to report that the solution was successful, resulting in 100% uptime!
With well considered user experience, an appealing visual design and heavily tested code, we rolled out our most successful campaign website yet. With 100% uptime and more than $2.4 million dollars raised in 3 weeks, we’re pretty proud of freezemnd.com and our collaboration with the Cure for MND Foundation. We also had a pretty great review from the managing director of Channel Seven:
“I was very impressed with the Freeze MND website and regard it as one of the key elements of the campaign that made it so successful. The website was easy to navigate and simple to use, yet technically robust. In short, it coped with a mass audience campaign with 100% uptime, so every dollar was caught. The ease of donation through the interface was exceptional. Finally, the visual experience that donors where engaged with on the Freeze MND site truly reflected what the media, public, and wider communities felt about the whole event and campaign – a sense of true involvement in helping to end this dreadful disease”
– Lewis Martin / Managing Director, Channel Seven
What we’ve learned
Each project offers a unique opportunity to learn — to evaluate what could be improved the next time around. We’re happy to share some of these learnings here with the intention that this will help another agency, business or individual launch their campaign with the greatest success possible. Here’s what we learned:
Get google on your side, early.
Are you launching your campaign on a new domain? Make sure google has adequate time to index the new website. This one might be a little tricky as you don’t want to release your campaign before the launch date. So, we recommend putting up a landing page on your domain from a few weeks out. Maybe you drive a little traffic there to build some hype? Maybe you use a countdown or just engage people with some great content. Regardless, it’s important that when people type your campaign into google, your website hits number one.
Have a fallback, always.
We all have our favourite browsers to use, but we can’t afford to give less time to those ones that aren’t our best mate. Here’s looking at you Windows and Android browsers. While only 2% of our overall traffic came from an android browser, we missed an important bug that made the single field credit card entry difficult to use on an android phone. We quickly resolved the issue with a fallback that provided the user with a different credit card entry to use, but it’s tough to say if we potentially lost some donations. A lesson learned for next time.
We also realised that if someone did have trouble donating online, we needed a fallback method to help them donate. So, we added one line of text under the final submit button: “Having trouble donating?” which dropped down some text with the SMS number to text in a donation. Simple, yet highly effective.
Don’t forget about hosting, ever.
We tend to spend our energy on the traditionally ‘fun’ stuff, like user experience, visual design and content strategy. One key player in the game, however, deserves just as much love. Hosting can make or break a website or campaign and has just as much value as the considerations made in design and development. Without the right hosting solution for the business needs, you risk putting all the hard work in jeopardy. Our learning here was on the investment needed to engage the best hosting solution. With high expected traffic (from media coverage) + a requirement for 100% uptime, a significant monetary investment was needed. We’re glad we didn’t dance on the risky side and made the call to go with the more robust option. It may have required more budget up front, but the payout in security, scalability and service was invaluable.
So, how about them stats?
If you’re like me, you get all googly-eyed at awesome website stats. I’ll share the glory, so here’s some of ours for the duration of the campaign, 15th May – 10th June.
Campaign Launch: May 15th
- Total sessions: 159,609
- Total users: 101,177
- Pageviews: 325,354
- Avg session duration: 3:04
- Mobile / 53%
- desktop / 27%
- tablet / 20%
- Countries donated: 94
Technology – browsers
- Safari: 49%
- Chrome: 26%
- Safari (in-app – facebook): 10%
- IE: 8%
- Firefox: 4%
- Android browser: 2%
- Other: 1%
- Organic Search: 52%
- Direct: 27.5%
- Social: 15.5%
- Referral: 5%
- Site Uptime: 100%!!!
Monday, 8th June – Our biggest day for donations + traffic
- 38,534 Sessions
- Around 2PM: 7,756 sessions
Total Donations to date: $2,414,011
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