February 24, 2022

Our award-winning work with WWF-UK

Written by

The digital breakthrough and methodology

We at Catsnake are thrilled that our work with the WWF-UK has won 'Best Content Marketing Campaign' at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose.

This (award-winning!) type of digital campaign has a particular methodology. This blog will give you a whistle-stop tour of how it works.

So hopefully you’ll then be able to apply some of the techniques to your own campaigns. Oh, and we’ll also reveal the results from our campaign with WWF-UK, because it went quite well!

Where it began

In early 2020, WWF-UK were assessing their legacy pipeline and realised there was a bit of a problem brewing.

WWF’s historical legacy approach was focussed on DM and telemarking, targeted at warm WWF supporters. This had built a strong foundation for the legacy department, but as they reviewed the data, it became clear that it was showing signs of diminishing returns.

WWF’s broader brand acquisition had shifted towards younger audiences and the legacy department lacked the data to really understand the motivations and values of their colder audiences.

So they came to Catsnake with two distinct aims:

  1. To shift legacy acquisition away from warmer supporters, and deliver a high number of low cost cold legacy leads. Our target was 2,333 new legacy leads at a cost of just £30 per lead (CPL).
  2. To gather insights that would allow WWF to better understand the motivations and values of legacy supporters, to optimise future legacy campaigns.

The tricky bit was that we needed to achieve both of these goals through just one campaign!

Seeing the opportunity not the problem

Because of WWF’s twin aims, it was clear we needed a system that was both an acquisition tool and a research tool. But, as we began to build this approach, we discovered something crucial.

Bringing together these two elements, acquisition and research, was not only possible, it was preferable.

One campaign methodology structured around both of these aims meant that acquisition and research could strengthen and optimise each other.

This is the realisation that led us to the development of Adaptive Acquisition.

OK, so what is Adaptive Acquisition?

Good question, so glad you asked.

In a nutshell, Adaptive Acquisition is a social media campaign which targets story-driven content at amenable audiences. It combines non-linear targeting, social media analytics and a bit of good ol’ fashioned statistical analysis.

But the magic comes from how we build the content.

For WWF, we created over fifty unique pieces of content. Every one was built around a tagging system which captured its key elements and the motivational approach it utilised.

This tagging process allowed us to understand not just which pieces of content were converting legacy leads for us, but why, in each case, they were proving to be so successful. In other words, we were discovering what features (or 'tags') were consistently working for WWF across the campaign.

In this way, we could not only deliver lots of leads for WWF but provide a vast quantity of live (as opposed to self-reported) data, on what actually motivates, convinces and activates WWF’s specific legacy audience.

Force multipliers: research and acquisition

However, these insights aren’t gathered only at the end of the campaign. They are constantly delivered as the campaign progresses. And because we were crunching the data, and assessing tag performance live, we could use those insights to optimise or 'adapt' the campaign and content as it ran.

Broadly, by reacting to the audience data, we could remove media spend from content that wasn’t converting, and put more behind stories that were working.

More specifically, as we learnt which kinds of stories (or 'tags') were working, we could create new pieces with similar roots. When a story was delivering low-cost leads, we could create more content on that topic, emotion, or motivator in response.

We also split the audience into 10 different targeting sets, which meant we could react to specific groups in tailored ways.

Was it worth it?


As well as delivering a vast array of easily-actionable insights into the WWF legacy audience to guide future acquisition and stewardship, this approach smashed both our campaign targets and industry benchmarks for legacy acquisition.

Our target was 2,333 new legacy leads at a cost of just £30 per lead (CPL).
We ended up more than halving our target CPL, delivering 4,846 unique legacy leads for WWF, at only £14.45 CPL.

Not only was this work with the WWF-UK incredibly successful, it was also extremely enjoyable. That’s why we’re especially proud to celebrate this win with the amazing people at WWF-UK who inspired us to pioneer this approach.

Find out more about this campaign in the case study.