Is Your Data Noisy and Ambiguous?
March 3, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
Do you prefer noisy and ambiguous or clear and explicit? Doubt anyone would say the former but the sector, ironically, relies almost exclusively on the noisy and ambiguous kind of data.
- Clicked – did they click out of idle curiosity or with intent? Did the context (e.g., time of day or mood) impact the click decision?
- Donated online/offline – was the giving guilt induced or internally motivated? Does the person have intention to give again? Was the reply form confusing?
We rely heavily on mouse and pen movement with little to no understanding of why.
We’re not alone. Spotify wonders why someone skipped a recommended song. The skipping behavior is noisy and ambiguous. How does the machine in the recommender engine interpret the skip? Maybe that song would have been perfect if the person was exercising but not mellowing out on Sunday morning. Maybe it was an accident, they meant to hit the like button.
These last-mile behaviors are a form of user/donor feedback. But we need to marry the messy with the less messy to clarify. We need different feedback, the kind that only the user/donor can provide.
Put a Canary in Your Donate Page Coal Mine
There are three categories of explicit user feedback needed to create a better user/donor experience.
- Clarifying Behavioral Signals: The list here is almost endless. Why did the person exit the donate page without finishing? This is known as the abandoned shopping cart in consumer world.
We place code on the donate form to trigger a modal window appearing if the person on the donate page moves their mouse to the top of the browser to exit. The feedback script asks people why they’re leaving with a couple structured questions. This is the canary in the coal mine, I don’t need a lot of people giving me this feedback to have some useful insight. Otherwise, it’s a really dark hole.
- Collecting Feature Feedback: I’m surprised every time I ask the online CRM form providers if they do user research for feedback on layout, design and features. The answer is always no, preceded by blank stares and awkward silence. It takes very few humans giving qualitative feedback on your form or home page to identify a myriad of low-cost, high upside fixes.
- Understanding User Context: Did the person donate on a whim or because a friend asked, or do they have a strong, personal connection? Second-gift conversion would be aided immensely by knowing the answer to this simple question.
But how do we design these requests for feedback so it’s not annoying or intrusive for the donor? Here are three design considerations.
- The framing of the feedback: People are more likely to give feedback if it’s framed as collaborative, meaning it’ll help the giver (donor) and the receiver (charity) versus just the giver.
- Indirect asking: It can be more effective to instruct donors on how to give feedback rather than ask for it directly. For example, after an online donation the confirmation page can instruct donors that if they’d like to give feedback on the experience they can click the button and do so. This is subtlety but importantly better (often) than asking the person to do it directly.
- Timing: Ask right after the interaction or don’t bother.