Enhanced Testing and Proven Results in Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Eidolon onboarded amfAR’s online direct response program in 2014, where we developed and managed an extensive creative and production calendar, including over 50 email efforts throughout the year, along with other marketing channel initiatives including web, social media and paid advertising. amfAR’s search engine marketing (SEM) program had been stable throughout the calendar year, with the most success occurring in October through December. However, in early 2018, the program began to experience a decline in revenue.

Conduct In-Depth Analysis

To address the decline and position the program well for the year-end giving months, we performed an audit of the existing SEM initiatives, where we analyzed the media budget, engagement data, as well as the creative and copy featured on the landing pages. Historically, amfAR’s preference was to feature more abstract scientific creative and copy, and we were concerned that this did not clearly connect the impact of HIV/AIDS the pressing need for donor support. So, we began exploring strategies for actionable testing.

amfAR’s communications team had recently deployed a new series of testimonials from individuals living with HIV/AIDS, highlighting — in their own words — their stories, struggles and hopes for amfAR’s lifesaving cure research. We believed this creative would be a great test for SEM, and we set out to develop concepts that would motivate donors to give in a new and exciting way.

Implement New Testing Strategies

From amfAR’s Epic Voices series, we developed two concepts that featured the same individual Hydeia Broadbent, but using two different images, both selected to elicit a unique range of emotion. These images, along with an accompanying impactful quote, were developed into striking landing page banners that were paired with an optimized form and a clear call to action. These two new forms were launched as a head-to-head test in early November 2018 and ran through December.

Additionally, as part of our analysis, we determined that the existing SEM landing pages could help educate and steward the user — many of whom are first-time donors-by providing impactful statistics on HIV/AIDS and making a strong case for why their support is so urgently needed. So, in addition to the Hydeia form test, we also developed a third test form to coincide with World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1.

This new form landing page incorporated a striking banner that featured a red ribbon — a powerful symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness — which was adapted from creative that had tested well in the previous year’s campaign. This creative was coupled with an impactful and succinct list of HIV/AIDS stats and a back-end premium offer —all donors over $25 would receive a commemorative amfAR bracelet. This form was launched the week before World AIDS Day and, with temporal copy changes, was adapted and ran through December 2018.

These three test landing pages, along with a fourth page promoting amfAR’s year-end match campaign, boosted SEM results significantly in November and December 2018, bringing a 248% increase in the number of donors and a 129% increase in revenue over the previous year. Total SEM revenue at year-end topped over $40,000 with an average gift of $156, higher than the health sector benchmark of $130.