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Can you name this critter?

The Bush Heritage two-step Australian wildlife campaign has garnered great results – both in terms of lead acquisition and donor conversion. James Herlihy explains how it was achieved.

Before Al Gore even invented the internet (he didn’t really, it’s just a meme), fundraisers knew that, if done well, meaningful non-financial engagement can lead to richer supporter relationships and greater response. But translating that principle into new digital media – and ensuring the viability of this digital activity as an acquisition channel – is where fresh fundraising ground is being broken in 2016.

Bush Heritage’s wildlife survey campaign, which was produced with Pareto Fundraising, is one example of that ground being broken successfully – and I would like to share some key results and findings with you.

The centrepiece: a wildlife survey microsite

The survey microsite is the centrepiece of a two-step campaign involving primarily Facebook content (still the best digital acquisition channel for return on investment and volume) driving prospects to an enticing survey landing page featuring the little critter featured here (take the survey at bit.ly/ wildlife-survey to see if you can name it!).

Once a participant completes the survey, they are entered into a phone conversion program, while also being fed into an email journey aiming to promote social sharing and deepen supporter engagement before being served financial asks.

The results for the three-month trial early in 2016 were easily convincing enough to roll out for a further five months, as Audrey Hii, Direct Marketing Team Leader at Bush Heritage, explains: “The wildlife survey is very engaging and therefore delivers highly qualified leads. We understand from our phone agency that the phone fundraisers enjoy calling survey participants as the conversations are really positive – evidenced by a strong contact rate of close to 50% with a healthy conversion rate of 8% and average gift of $23.

“The cost per acquisition is the lowest across all of our regular giving acquisition campaigns and the projected 12-month return on investment looks to be on par with the best performing campaigns within our face-to-face program.”

The keys to success

What makes this campaign successful? Based on this and other two-step campaigns we’ve run, the top three elements are: A topic of relevance and interest to wellaligned donor audiences Unique Australian wildlife is interesting, especially to thoughtful middle-agers to retirees (who benchmarking tells us are our most reliable donors).

Self-interest factors We hit this attribute on a couple of counts. First is the personal challenge implicit in the campaign’s ‘What do you know?’ proposition. We all love finding out more about ourselves, and the fact that the survey scores you and responds interactively to your answers creates a nice instant feedback loop – and makes it more of a conversation than a one-way response process. The other self-interest factor is, of course, the incentivisation in the form of a low value, high street shopping voucher.

Compelling execution With Bush Heritage’s brilliant photos and the weird and wonderful world of Australian wildlife, our creatives had some fun with this one. The tone of the exercise hit just the right balance of fun and intrigue, while positioning Bush Heritage’s conservation programs in the mind of the participant and starting to build supporter interest. The tone of the quiz also makes it amenable to social sharing and competition – and no-one minds getting a few more supporter leads for free!

Campaign challenges

Six months into any digital campaign, the limited size of the Australian population (which breaks down to far smaller qualified target audiences) makes itself felt. We have to constantly optimise both audiences and creative, trialling and incorporating fresh ideas to keep lead cost per acquisition from rising and maintain volumes through to the phone room.

Happily, the campaign is still delivering strongly, which means more supporters helping Bush Heritage keep its awesome conservation work running. And if we reach that point where audiences need a rest from this survey, we’re a step ahead with plans to refresh this activity – and ensure online engagement remains a strong ongoing acquisition stream for Bush Heritage into the future.

 

James Herlihy is the Digital Strategist at Pareto Fundraising. He has spent more than a decade campaigning with nonprofits and is the brains behind groundbreaking digital campaigns for dogs, dolphins, humans, rights, reefs and more.

This article was first published in Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine 2017

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