With fast-moving digital trends peppering our daily newsfeeds, it’s easy to get distracted by the latest shiny new toy. Claire Hazle, head of digital at Marie Curie, believes that charities can feel under immense pressure to jump on the latest digital bandwagon but there is plenty to be gained by focusing on the brilliant basics.
Let’s face it, we’d all love to have the massive digital budgets seemingly enjoyed by many of our commercial counterparts. However, many charities can take such huge leaps forward just by being really focused on some core foundational blocks and making these the absolute best they can be. At Marie Curie we are running a transformation programme that underpins a two-year digital strategy – any longer than this and it would become out of date quite quickly, given the pace of digital change.
Imagine our strategy as a cupcake.
The brilliant basics are the sponge, with a dollop of ‘test and learn’ innovative activity as the icing. The icing is important as we can try new things and be creative – but it’s more important to get the sponge mix right.
So what’s cooking at Marie Curie?
In 2014 we embarked on an ambitious digital programme of work to get our brilliant basics right. Here are some of our key ingredients you could also adopt:
1. Personalising our communications
Everyone likes to feel valued by the charity they support. There’s nothing worse than receiving a blanket communication. At Marie Curie we have been running highly targeted, successful direct mail campaigns for a long time. Our challenge is how we might personalise our supporters’ online experience. We are therefore focusing on how we can use what we know about our supporters to tailor our email communications, website journeys and media strategies… and then joining these up into a seamless experience, cross-channel and cross-device. And, importantly, making it simple for our supporters to choose how, what and when they want to hear from us.
If you’d like to read about our latest email campaign for the Great Daffodil Appeal, it was featured on the e-consultancy blog recently.
2. Creating a multichannel supporter experience
Digital is not only great as a standalone channel in its own right, but also as an amplifier for offline activity. We rarely consume information through just one channel, so adopting a multichannel (or channel neutral, perhaps) approach is ever more important. A YouGov survey in September 2012 found that a whopping 75% of Brits watch TV whilst also using a second device such as a tablet or smartphone. Of these, 65% are surfing, 60% emailing and 48% using social media as shown in this graphic.
Studies like this highlight the importance not only of adopting a through-the-line approach to creative, messaging and media planning, but also the strength of combining channels. We’re spending time looking at how we can optimise our channel mix and we’re modelling attribution so that we can understand how we can better leverage multichannel digital communications.
In December we launched our new website, which is at the heart of our online supporter experience. It was built by our in-house team from scratch using a new content management system that puts control into the hands of the organisation, rather than requiring IT development to make the slightest change. It was built around how people use our site rather than how we’re structured internally, which was a step-change for us. We conducted thorough user testing to build and test personas that helped us to shape the site architecture and content.
The website uses responsive design so that the experience is seamless across any device. This removes the overhead of managing a rather clunky separate mobile site and also optimises the online giving process, particularly on a smartphone.
3. Increasing our efficiency through automation
Machines can’t replace people, but technology can make those people work more efficiently to the benefit of the supporter and the charity as a whole. We’ve purchased a marketing automation platform that is helping us to transform how we build and schedule campaigns, including our street collections. The latter development won us a Gold at the Digital Impact Awards, of which we’re incredibly proud.
So how can you make digital successful for you? Here are my top ten tips:
1. Have a clear vision of where you want to get to, and why.
2. Don’t try and eat the whole elephant in one go. Tackle it in manageable chunks that you can review and learn from as you go.
3. Invest in your team. Having motivated, creative people around you is brilliant for maintaining the buzz to keep that digital pace going and ideas flowing.
4. Set clear targets and regularly measure your performance to understand what’s going on. Data is nothing without insight.
5. Test and learn. Then test some more.
6. Make your experiences personal and your content engaging so that people want to share it.
7. Engender a culture of agility, both in mind and practice.
8. Appoint a digital agency who can support and challenge your thinking.
9. Don’t let the shiny new toys distract you.
10. Get your sponge mix right (the basics) – nobody likes a soggy bottom!
If you’re interested in finding out more about Marie Curie’s digital strategy and change programme, please do get in touch. You can find me on Twitter at @clairerosehazle. Happy baking!