In the spirit of election day, I did a comparison of the Obama and Romney donation flows on their respective web sites. I’ll start with showing the two end-to-end experiences and then follow with some comments.
First, the challenger, Mitt Romney:
1. On going to http://www.mittromney.com, the user is redirected to an interstitial page and is asked to enter an email and zip code:
2. By clicking on Learn More… the user is taken to the full site:
3. By clicking on the Contribute button in the top right, the user enters the donation flow:
4. After specifying the donation amount, personal information, and payment information, the user is taken to the Thank You page:
5. Here is what the confirmation email title and subject looks like in the Gmail Inbox:
6. Finally, here is the content of the confirmation email:
Now, let’s take a look at the incumbent, Barack Obama.
1. On going to http://www.barackobama.com, the user is redirected to an interstitial page and is asked to enter an email and zip code:
2. By clicking on Continue to the website… the user is taken to the full site:
3. By clicking on the Donate button in the top left, the user enters the donation flow:
4. After specifying the amount, the user is taken to the next step to enter personal information:
5. Next is the payment information:
6. Next is the payment submission page:
7. At this point, the user is taken to a login (?!) page:
8. Here is what the confirmation email title and subject looks like in the Gmail Inbox:
9. Finally, here is the content of the confirmation email:
Thoughts on the two experiences…
1. Both campaigns make use of an interstitial page when the user first visits their website. The advantage of doing something like this is to instantly capture the user’s email address in order to send them a steady stream of marketing material. The disadvantage is that such an interstitial page is a source of friction and may lead to user drop-off — for example, a certain percentage of users would be expecting to immediately enter the donation flow and may drop-off the flow entirely if they are served with an interstitial instead of the real home page with a donation button option.
2. The Romney donation flow is completely captured on one page, and the Obama donation flow is 4 separate sub-pages. One could argue the Romney method is better due to the minimization of the total number of steps. On the other hand, one could argue the Obama method is better due to a simplification of capturing each essential component step-by-step. No clear winner here.
3. The Obama donation flow is lacking a donation confirmation step. This is a huge miss on their part. For Romney, the user clearly knows that they have completed the flow and that their donation has been submitted. In the Obama donation flow, the user is taken to a login page. That is just very odd. At the very least, the user should be shown some content thanking the user for the donation or confirming that the donation has been processed. Taking the user directly to a login page almost seems like a fluke or a bug.
4. In terms of how the email looks once it lands inside the Gmail Inbox, the Romney campaign is lacking. Their confirmation email is sent from an account named digital whereas the Obama confirmation email is sent from an account named Obama for America. Clearly, it is more reassuring for a donor to see the Obama email in their inbox than the Romney email.
5. In terms of the content of the email, the edge has to go to Romney. Team Obama may have been making a judgement call that many email clients (such as Gmail or Outlook) would strip out images in an HTML rich email so they went ahead with a plain text email. Romney, on the other hand, is using an HTML rich email with some social buttons to share the message forward. In addition, the Romney email is signed by Mitt Romney but the Obama email is only signed by Obama for America. Obviously, it’s not the real Romney doing the signing here, but it’s still a more personal touch.
All in all, it is rather remarkable to me both of these donation flows lack a certain amount of polish considering the fact that hundreds of millions, if not several billions, of dollars was spent by each respective campaign on this election.