October 23, 2023

Digital acquisition campaigns with Amnesty International UK

Stephen Follows
Written by
Stephen Follows

Welcome to our latest edition of ‘Client Conversations’ where we take the opportunity to catch up with clients and take a closer look at their experience of working with us. This time, I’m chatting to Emma Simpson, Legacy Marketing Specialist for Amnesty International UK, all about the Adaptive Acquisition project we worked on together towards the end of 2022.

For those who aren’t familiar with Adaptive Acquisition, here’s a bit of background (and I’ll try to keep it brief): Adaptive Acquisition is our award-winning lead generation approach, where we run a highly targeted digital campaign through Facebook, using a large quantity and wide variety of story-driven content. This chases minimal CPLs and also uncovers audience insights, which can be used to to develop ideal messaging formulations, and inform future campaigns. I could talk about it all day, but let’s get back to the interview.

Emma! Thanks for joining us. Let’s dive straight in. What lead you to start this project?

Hi Stephen. Well, we had a lot of support from senior management for our plans to invest in legacy marketing. For legacy, the vast majority of what we do is warm acquisition, cold digital acquisition campaigns were not something we had significantly invested in. This was a great opportunity to try something new, and do something big.

We contacted the team at Catsnake and you told us about this big digital campaign to generate leads for legacy giving, and we thought, this is brilliant, we definitely want to do something like this. We’d never had an agency work on a Facebook campaign for us, so this was completely new.

Example Content - Amnesty International Adaptive Acquisition Campaign

Well, we were delighted you chose to take that leap with us! So, once you’d decided to do it, what did you need to do before getting started?

One of the most important things was getting everyone on side. So, the digital team, most importantly, but also the data team, our campaign team, the individual risk team, we had to make sure that everything was in place to get going with the project. We knew what scope we had, what we could invest. We settled on a campaign duration of two months, with about five months to get everything ready and for the Catsnake team to create the content.

So, everyone was on side and you had a timeline, great! What, do you think, were the most challenging parts of the project once you got going?

Finding stories and content that we could get the right consent for. We’d chosen to do this big project which involved creating large volumes of written and video content for Facebook, and getting consent on a lot of stories, imagery and video can be really tough. Once we had the content, we had so many people that needed to sign it off. A huge part of what Christina and I did was to make sure everything was correct and on brand. And ensuring that the stories were told with care as they cover a lot of sensitive topics.

That’s a great point, and a major challenge for this kind of campaign. As well as the normal sensitivities to do with Amnesty’s work, there’s the layers of legacy added on, which is all about family, death, and money, things that - certainly in Britain -  we don’t like to talk about. Navigating all of those sensitivities was huge.

How would you say the content varied from your typical campaigns?

The asks were different. A lot of our campaigns on digital had been very small, like the Free Will's Month, where the call to action is short and to the point like ‘Write Your Will for Free’. But in this campaign, we took a different approach, we focussed more on why someone would want to leave a legacy. Through these pieces we could talk about the long term change someone could make through their legacy gift, it was about evoking an emotion in the reader. Then for the call to action, people could download our guide, and sign up to our mailing list to hear from us again.

Also, because a key part of the project was to gain audience insight, we wanted to test different types of stories and approaches, we were a bit more brave with the content.

Example Content - Amnesty International Adaptive Acquisition Campaign
Yes, and I think that’s one of the best things about the Adaptive Acquisition approach, starting with very little information about your audience, but going out there and learning about them, learning what stories work, who to target, and at the same time generating live leads.

So, now that you’ve got these leads from the project, where did you go from there? And do you know whether those leads will translate into pledges?

So, considering the supporter journey afterwards was very important. We started with a few different emails, and that’s something the team is continuing with. With legacies the potential income takes time, which makes it difficult to explain the impact of campaigns to fundraising directors and finance teams. So we’re using historical data to extrapolate results. Potentially only 1% of the leads generated may leave a gift, but when you take into account the average legacy gift value, it doesn’t actually take much to make this an incredibly worthwhile campaign. And I think it's important to bear this in mind, so you know how to talk about the future impact of these campaigns.

And now, we’re happy to say, you’re working with Catsnake again on your Always-On campaign, how is this going to be different from the original campaign?

Yes, so as part of our strategy, we’ve chosen to continue with the Adaptive Acquisition approach, but in a slightly different way. We’re going to use fewer stories and videos, but run them for a longer amount of time - all through the year. We’re going to update some of the content from last time, and create some new content. We don’t have to create much content because we can still use a lot of what we had, we’re just adding some new stories, which are relevant to the last year.

Knowing what you know now, if you were talking to someone at the beginning of this process, are there any tips you’d give? Or things you wish you’d known at the start?

Yes, initially, building a case for investment is really important. It did take a long time to make sure we got the budget for this kind of project, so it’s worth planning ahead. You’ll likely be working with other teams, so it makes it much easier having everyone on board early on. Working with our digital team was also really great because they learnt a lot from this too. Not only was this project a long term investment in legacy, and something that will really impact all of our future legacy campaigns, but the learnings can also be used right now and by other teams. In fact, some of the audiences that we’ve had learnings from on this campaign have been used on other, non-legacy, campaigns, and the results have been really positive. It’s really great, and something I didn’t really expect at the start of the process.

Also - consent. It’s a big one. It took such a long time to make sure we had consent for everything, the stories, images and video. That’s something to remember when thinking about timelines, and the staff time you have available.

Thanks so much, Emma, for sharing your experience of Adaptive Acquisition and your top tips!

No worries, Stephen. It was a great project and as an organisation, and a team, we learned so much. It’s been brilliant and completely new for us. And this is a nice opportunity to tell everyone about it.

Find out more about this campaign in the case study.

If you’d like to learn more about Adaptive Acquisition and whether it could be a good fit for your charity, please feel free to get in touch.

Want more ‘Client Conversations’? Then check out our article with the RSPB’s Vicki O’Hare, all about the creation of ‘Time Flies’, their first legacy TV ad.