What does it take to get a customer to act? Several micro-yeses that lead to the Ultimate Yes. – Daniel Burstein, Marketing Experiments

The micro-yes is one of my absolute favorite marketing concepts since being introduced to it by Marketing Experiments several years ago. It essentially breaks down the sales funnel into a series of split-second decisions where the person can either say “yes” and continue through the funnel or say “no” and not buy your product.

There are several different Ultimate Yeses in peer-to-peer fundraising. Registration and fundraising come to mind immediately. Applying Mr. Burstein’s theory and using P2P registration as the Ultimate Yes, the micro-yes conversion path might work like this:

  1. Email subject line (yes gets an open)
  2. Email content (yes draws the reader in)
  3. Email call to action (yes is a click to your website)
  4. Website content and experience (yes gets a click to register)
  5. Registration form flow (yeses move the user through the process)
  6. Registration completion (the Ultimate Yes!)

Within each step, there are even more micro-yesses that must occur to keep the supporter moving towards registration. The most important micro-yes is transitioning to the registration form. This means the email caught the attention of a supporter, the website motivated her to want to get involved, and the experience made the path to registration effortless.

There is a lot of work involved in crafting emails and developing websites that will lead to conversion, but there often isn’t nearly enough attention paid to the registration form itself. To avoid dropping the ball as you approach the goal line, let’s review the series of micro-yeses in the registration form to ensure you reach the Ultimate Yes of registration.

Who does your registration form serve? You or your supporter?

There is great temptation to view the registration form as a vehicle to collect information on our participants. We want all of their contact information. We want to know how they heard about the event or if they’ll be attending the post-party. Someone at the organization wants to make sure we find out if all of these new prospects want to learn about planned giving.

The amount of information we attempt to collect can get out of control very quickly. Avoid the temptation to let the form serve your staff and remember that its purpose is to allow someone to become a participant as efficiently as possible. For every piece of information you add to the form and for every question you ask, consider how it will benefit the registrant, not how it will benefit the organization.

With each question and step in the form, we create a new decision point and increase the likelihood that a micro-yes will become a no, and the form will be abandoned. For that reason, we need to make sure that every part of the form is optimized for the micro-yes.

Sign in/create an account – Is there any benefit to logging in first, or would it be easier to just say you’re new and not have to remember your username and password? If someone with an existing account signs in, the registration process actually becomes easier, but are we telling people that? Make sure you spell out the benefit of logging in and let them know it will quicken the process because many fields will be filled out for them. Of course, this also eliminates a lot of the decision points and the possibility of a no.

Choose how you will get involved – This part of registration forms is often uninspired and dull. “Walker, Volunteer, or Virtual Walker?” We can do better than that! This choice should get your potential participant excited and eliminate any anxiety that might lead to a no. Use this decision point to your advantage and categorize your participants differently. You could provide options such as “I’m new here” or “I’m a pro” and talk about the exciting experience each selection offers.

Set a fundraising goal – This question can become part of a series of micro-yeses that will eventually lead to fundraising. We balance a tight rope here by wanting to remind people that this is, in fact, a fundraiser, while also not wanting to cause any fear about the thought of fundraising. This is a great place to call attention to how the funds they raise will be used.

Contact information – There is a certain amount of information that a potential P2P participant would expect to provide when registering for a P2P fundraiser. Though each additional field provides a new opportunity to say no and abandon, basic contact information tends not to create a lot of decision friction. However, the potential to say no increases if the form is being completed on a mobile device, as the decision point on mobile not only focuses on the piece of information being asked for, but also on how complicated it is to provide this information.

Many registrants can also be lost if “phone number” is a required field, or if there is logic built into the form that warns them if any of their contact information has been entered incorrectly. Perhaps they provided a fake email address or phone number because they simply don’t want to hear from you. Once they receive an error message, the micro-yeses stop.

Other questions – This is the hardest place to ensure staff motivations do not outweigh form efficiency and benefit to the registrant. For each question you want to add, ask yourself four questions:

  • Does this question benefit me or the participant? Like all things fundraising, it isn’t all about you.
  • Do I have a plan for this information? Don’t ask a question simply because it’s been on your form since the 90s. Is anyone even using this information?
  • Could I ask for this information later? A great example is, “How did you hear about this event?” Many people treat this sort of question as a throw-away and pick an answer that may not even be true, just so they can move to the next question. The American Diabetes Association sends a survey out a few days after registration to collect the sort of information that could be asked at a later date. Think about using this method for all of those optional questions on your form to quickly move your participant to the Ultimate Yes.
  • Could I do a better job explaining why this information is important? Think about the common “what is your t-shirt size” question. Yes, the answer to this question is helpful to nonprofit staff when they are placing their t-shirt order, but what’s in it for the participant? Improve this question by explaining how a participant obtains a shirt and show an image of the t-shirt itself to increase the likelihood for a micro-yes. Best Friends Animal Society includes language to indicate that participants are awarded a shirt at their Strut Your Mutt event when a certain fundraising level is reached.

Make it easy for a participant to say yes to you, at every step of the registration process. How will you improve your registration form as you think of each potential micro-yes?

This post is based on Shana’s presentation from the Peer to Peer Roundtables earlier this year. Check out the slides!


Shana Masterson has been a fundraiser since 2001. In 2014, she joined Blackbaud as a senior consultant. Her unique skill set as both a peer to peer fundraiser and a technologist allows her to focus on maximizing peer to peer campaign revenue through success planning, road mapping, communication calendaring, configuration recommendations and more.

Prior to joining Blackbaud, Shana led the American Diabetes Association’s online fundraising and communication strategy for the national special events team. She also worked for the National Brain Tumor Society, the American Cancer Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Connect with Shana on Twitter or Linkedin.

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