PPF Blog

AskThem Experiment 6: Signature Conversions on Question from Allied Org.

This is the writeup of Experiment Six of our open-analytics experiments on AskThem, conducted with support from Google Civic Innovation. Background on this project.

Previous experiments have primarily been split-tests in the quite-useful Optimizely; this test measures traffic in Google Analytics & conversation in a special – but hopefully replicable – case, a partnership from an allied non-profit organization.

Over 500 people signed-on to hear a public response.

In launching AskThem, we don’t have a marketing budget or commercial partnerships, no link-sharing agreements or widgets to syndicate our content. We drew primarily on our open-government tech-circle experience, creating & running our previous project OpenCongress.org from 2006-2013.

(We also drew on support from the Knight Foundation’s Tech 4 Engagement initiative, and allies such as Code For America, our AskThem Advisory Council and others.)

One non-profit org. that really stepped up to help with AskThem was the Center for Responsive Politics, makers of OpenSecrets.org, the vital money-in-politics & transparency researchers for the fed. government. For Sunshine Week 2014, March 15-21, they graciously chose to use AskThem as a platform to deliver a question to Sen. Reid on campaign finance disclosure legislation – a perfect use of AskThem. Q was pub. around March 5th, and from then to Thursday Mar. 13th it totaled only 31 unique pageviews.

Around Friday March 14th, OpenSecrets kicked off their campaign, using primarily their social media channels (46.2k followers on Twttr, 78.5k likes on FB – hashtag #AskReid). (PPF mentioned the question as well on our much-smaller social media channels, but that wasn’t significant in the numbers.) From that week, to Thurs. Mar. 20, the question page to Sen. Reid received 815 pageviews, 690 unique views – reaching its 500-signature goal on Mar. 18th at 4:40 pm (as documented on Twttr). Peak traffic was Wed. Mar. 17 w/ 475 pageviews. So in broad summary, our allies pushed a Q to our top 500-signature threshold in about one week. G-Analytics screenshot of that page traffic, that week:








We could set up more-intensive user-funnels to directly track which clicks from page visitors resulted in new users registered, but this is sufficient for my purposes –  given that there is low-level of organic traffic to the page, low SEO at the moment, not much news coverage or links to this page. OpenSecrets, we could see, was driving signatures. Towards that end, signatures by day, screenshot from GitHub gist :









Of course from the above, 301 signatures came on 3-17, which was primarily an email push to members from CRP. Sarah Flocken, their terrific outreach coordinator, wrote me in an email, “Any emails we sent to our mailing list always included a link to the Q page itself. We used Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and recently, Google + to get the word out, as well as pushes on the OpenSecrets Blog itself. And Reddit! We promoted on Reddit as well, and Pinterest.” That day, March 17th, the Reid question page had 408 unique pageviews – a 73.8% signature conversion rate that day.

So in this focused instance – which certainly isn’t always the case – about 721 unique page views from question creation Mar. 5 to threshold on Mar. 18th was sufficient to generate 500 signatures, a ballpark signature rate of approx. 69.3% visitors (from . The clear ask from an organization to use our open platform achieved a high traffic rate and a phenomenal conversion rate on signatures, in this one-time goal. Other orgs. have yet to choose to pick up AskThem this prominently, but this is a standout success of how the endorsement of a membership group or issue-based org. with comparable levels of social media scale can push question signatures to nearly 70%. Analytics below from 1st-18th :








Similar G-Analytics studies are possible on question pushes from our sibling non-profit Fight For the Future, promoted over email to their large list. From these revealing & crucial analytics experiments, my open-source development team and I now have empirical evidence on how we can enhance our non-profit platform. From here, I have other good ideas to connect visitors to their local elected officials – but we need charitable funding support to continue operating and move towards sustainability. Please support our non-profit work. Questions, comments: david at ppolitics.org.

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