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Donald J. Trump’s $30M Testing Team

Michael Babyak
Feb 9, 2017 · 3 min read

The RNC Performance, Optimization & Experiments Team (POET) ran over 300 tests on from July through November 2016, generating over $30 million in added revenue. A sampling of these tests can be found in the RNC Testing Booklet.

23 days before Donald J. Trump formally accepted the Republican Nomination for President of the United States at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, the RNC POET team walked into an empty office in a nondescript building on the I-410 North Loop in San Antonio. Our mission was to work hand in hand with the Trump campaign’s digital team to build a state-of-the-art Presidential digital fundraising operation, and compete against Hillary Clinton’s national juggernaut organization that had already had an 8 year head start.

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Normally a project of this magnitude would take weeks, if not months, to scale. We had hours and days. Here’s how we did it:

Step one: We integrated our [RNC] infrastructure with to support our quickly growing list of advertising partners with accurate and reliable data. Tools used: Adobe Dynamic Tag Management and Adobe Analytics.

Step two: We built a testing and optimization program to transform base assumptions and deliver content to best engage potential voters and motivate potential donors in a unique and challenging election cycle. Tools used: Adobe Target, Revv.

It was an election with a candidate who was so unique that every assumption had to be thrown out the window. This applied to our online efforts as well.

We started with the basic user experience on the website: language, colors, imagery, and screen size. Next, we optimized the donation experience, such as the order and size of gift amounts presented to potential new donors.

One of our key game-changing online strategies this cycle was the “upsell” — a secondary ask after the user completes an action. Once we hit on how effective upsell strategy was, we set out to leverage it to maximize the effect of our donors. Using the Revv one-tap donation platform, we optimized the order and language (by marketing audience) of upsell options: double your donation, make your donation recurring on a weekly or monthly basis, or create an account to enable future one-tap donations. This weeks-long series of tests helped us optimize messaging and revenue down the stretch.

Our tests continued to evolve as we sought to define the Trump brand online. Since the Trump campaign put less emphasis on fundraising during the primaries, an overwhelming number of unofficial entities filled that vacuum online. After testing showed the word “official” generated significant lift, developing authentic Trump digital products became a major theme of our ongoing tests.

Supporters reacted to authentic, personal messages from their nominee. They wanted to join a movement — and they wanted to hear a positive message. Our message testing on aligned with our digital advertising testing, and drove our television advertising messaging — positive, inspiring messages from Trump beat out any anti-Hillary or otherwise negative copy.

The velocity, depth, and breadth of our testing operation would not have been possible without a foundation of trust between RNC Digital and the Trump campaign. Brad Parscale and Gary Coby trusted us with In return, Gary challenged us to deliver creativity, data, and results. Thanks to the work by Michael Escoto, John O’Keefe, Alex Varisco, Nick Larson and the rest of the POET team, we broke new ground in the digital political space and helped win the presidency.

See the tests for yourself in the RNC Testing Booklet.

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