Category Archives:

Digital experience

A hand holding an iPhone taking a picture of buildings.

It’s all about the mobile

Rebecca Buchanan, Digital Marketing Officer, discusses the world of mobile marketing, why you should implement a mobile marketing strategy and how to get the best results. 

Mobile is huge. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK (2017) reported: ‘In June 2016, 29 million UK adults used a smartphone to access the internet accounting for 46% of their time online…In terms of mobile online activity, more than 4 out of every 5 minutes are spent on mobile apps with only 18% of time spent browsing sites’. There’s a phenomenal opportunity to find people affected by cancer, potential donators & fundraisers to guide them to relevant information, via their mobile phones.

What’s not working

Word has it, mobile display banners are on the way out. That’s not to say it doesn’t bring results because they can. It can be a great awareness driving tool and generally low cost, but haven’t we all had the problem of loading a web page or a YouTube video and then accidently clicking on a banner ad taking us to somewhere else entirely? It negatively disrupts the online experience, and responses can be similar. There are other ways to utilise the wonderful world of mobile marketing, let’s explore…

Fun and engaging side of mobile Display

There are all sorts of different formats to make mobile marketing more enticing. You can use rich media, video, 360o video, be interactive and combine formats for an increase in awareness, ad recall and brand recognition. Yorkshire Tea ran a campaign with a pop-up ad which allowed users to colour in the image using their phone. An agency called Loop me said it had a 64% uplift on positive response – could you adapt any of your campaign for this type of creative?

An phone showing the Yorkshire Tea pop-up with an image of the drawing coloured in.

Location, location, location

Location targeting can be very useful as our mobiles tend to join us on all our journeys and it’s something that can be helpful in getting to understand our audience. Cancer Research UK recently launched a proximity location-based mobile campaign for World Cancer Day, to send messages to people on their mobiles to encourage them to donate. Giving them presence in areas didn’t have otherwise.

With recent advances in location targeting, Xad, a location-based marketing company, spoke at an IAB seminar recently and reminded us that location is the greatest form of intent. Human beings are creatures of habit. Therefore, a lot of information can be drawn from location data about real-world behaviours and can fuel decision-making.

Dark social

The name implies something of a sinister nature but dark social is merely the information that we share through private channels such as messenger apps, email, and secure web browsers (https) that we cannot track. RadiumOne says, 79% of cancer content is shared in the dark and The IAB UK (2017) also state that instant messaging apps take up 85% of smartphone share of time online. That’s a whole lot of time, where people could be sharing and discussing information on their mobile, that we don’t know about. Is this an area you would like to explore further?

What to be wary of

Paying for a programmatic cross-device campaign? Be careful. Most of the time you will only be paying for desktop activity or android. This is because cookies will be the main tracking component which only android and desktop use – IOS restrict third party cookies. At a recent IAB seminar, Widespace mentioned they’ve recently launched the reach amplifier to help target those who might be using IOS, so this is something worth asking your agency about if you plan to use mobile marketing.

They also mentioned a staggering 50% of mobile ad traffic is fraudulent. Companies such as Whiteops can check campaigns for fraud by using tags to show what’s not working – should you be worried that your mobile campaign might be at risk, ask your agency to check for fraud. This check should be included as added value by any good marketing agency.

So, could mobile become part of your marketing strategy? If you have any ideas or want to discuss your digital marketing activities, just drop us an email anytime:

A hand pointing to a graph of traffc analysis

Ad servers and Google Analytics: who to believe?

Sharing her tips and tricks, Rebecca Buchanan, Digital Marketing Officer, writes about how to analyse Facebook campaigns to achieve the most accurate results. 

Read more +

3 simple steps to building customised campaign URLs

Digital Comms Officer, Rebecca McCormick, shares her top tips about building customised campaign URLs and finding them in Google Analytics.

1a. What are customised campaign URLs?

Customised campaign URLs are destination URLs that have campaign tracking (or “parameters”) added onto the end of them. These “parameters” allow you to easily identify the campaigns that send traffic to your site, in Google Analytics.

1b. When do I need to use them?

Customised campaign URLs can be used for all types of online marketing activity that drive traffic to your site – ads, PPC, paid social, organic social, email marketing, etc.

For example, you might not want to just see your incoming traffic from Twitter, but whether that traffic is the result of a particular series of tweets. Or, you might not want to see the influx of traffic from a newsletter, but whether that traffic is the result of a particular banner or link in the email itself.

2. How do I build a customised campaign URL?

To build a customised campaign URL, you will need to use the Campaign URL Builder tool, filling out the fields below. You must fill out the first 4 fields which are shown below:


1. The “Website URL” is the full webpage URL you are directing traffic to.

2. The “Source” is the “referrer” – what specific source brought traffic to the webpage. This could be “google”, “newsletter1”, “twitter”, “exampleblog” etc.

3. The “Medium” is the “marketing medium” – the type of activity that brought traffic to the webpage. This could be “organic”, “email”, “banner”, “cpc”, “referral” etc.

4. The “Name” is how you want to name and identify your specific campaign, promotion, or product. This could be “notalone2017”, “givingtuesday”, “longestdaygolf” etc.

“Term” and “Content” are optional fields, often used when creating customised campaign URLs for paid search or ads. For when to use these fields, please see the definitions below:


For consistency, it’s best to fill in the fields using lowercase with no spaces and no special characters.

As you are filling in the fields, or making any changes to fields, the URL will be automatically updated below. Click “Copy URL” to copy the full URL. Alternatively, click “Convert URL to Short Link” to convert the full URL to a shortened Google one. Shortened URLs are useful when a full URL is difficult for users to remember, or looks confusing or unattractive for users. Another option is to convert your customised campaign URL using a URL shortening site.

3. How can I find data for my customised campaign in Google Analytics?

Log in to Google Analytics.

1. Select your chosen “view” and date range in the top right-hand corner. Navigate to: Acquisition > Campaigns > All campaigns.

2. Type the name of your campaign (that you used when creating the customised campaign URL) into the search function. If you can’t see your campaign, check that you entered it correctly or try typing in just part of the campaign name. You can also click “show rows” in the bottom right-hand corner, to show more rows.  Isolate your campaign from any others by clicking on it (the name, in blue).

3. You’ll then be able to see the data arranged by “source/medium” (based on the naming conventions that you entered when creating the customised URLs). You can isolate one “source/medium” from any others by clicking on it (the name, in blue). If a specific “source/medium” is not showing, try clicking “show rows” in the bottom right-hand corner, to show more rows.

4. If you want, you can then select the box next to your “source/medium” and click “plot rows” (just above it) to plot its performance over time. Or you can click “Export” at the top of the report, to export the data to a csv or pdf.

5. When exporting data, remember to click the “day”, “month” or “year” button, and select the metrics that you would like (using the drop-downs above the graph e.g., “Sessions” and “New Users”) to dictate format and content of your csv data.


Social Media: The Importance of Being Aware

Social Media Officer, Hayley Devlin, discusses the importance of awareness days/weeks/months.

As a cancer charity, we see awareness days a lot. October, famously, is for Breast Cancer Awareness. In January, we have Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and in June it’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week. In November, it’s a triple whammy: Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Mouth Cancer Action Month and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Here’s an example of a Facebook post we ran for Lung Cancer Awareness Month: 


Our Social content calendar features a whole host of ‘awareness’ days and they’re not always cancer related. There’s Deaf Awareness Week in May, Random Act of Kindness day in February and (our personal favourite) World Emoji Day in July.

But why tie in some of these seemingly frivolous days with our content? Shouldn’t we be posting about different cancer types all the time anyway?

Social media is, essentially, just a big conversation. It’s a loud and busy one, and it’s easy for your voice to get lost in the crowd. Awareness days, weeks and months are great because they usually trend, making the conversations visible to people who might have otherwise missed it. As social gets more saturated, reaching new audiences organically (without any spend) is becoming increasingly difficult. The #AwarenessDays are great, because they’re a conversation that lots of people are already having, and present us with the opportunity to add in our two cents, reaching new people along the way.

Of course, cancer awareness days/weeks/months are particularly important to us. They give us an excellent springboard to create content we know will not only be relevant, but that people are also looking for. One of our top performing posts of the year came from Cervical Cancer Prevention Week in January. It had a staggering organic reach of 362,319, was shared 2,048 times and earned 5,115 likes. To put that into context, our top performing post this year was our tribute to Caroline Aherne. It had an organic reach of 549,909 people and earned 6,554 likes. It was also a video, which we know the Facebook algorithm still favours, so the fact that our cervical cancer awareness post did so well is a testament to how important they are. 

Here’s an example of a Cervical Cancer Prevention Week post:


On top of allowing us to showcase our cancer information and support services, the more ‘fun’ days are a chance for us to think more creatively. They give us the opportunity to showcase Macmillan using an angle we may not normally go for. For #WorldEmojiDay, we created a timeline out of emojis to help show how we’ve grown as an organisation since our beginnings. The World Emoji Day tweet had 38,477 impressions, which is more than double our average (average of about 13,000).

Our World Emoji Day Tweet:


On #WorldKindnessDay, we used a quote from the Not Alone Campaign and a tip from The Source to encourage people to share their own tips on the platform. We used #WorldHelloDay to introduce some of the experts we have on the Online Community. We’re always on the lookout for new awareness days to consider for our content planning.

Mind you, I don’t see us posting about International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day at any point soon!

To find out more about our awareness days/weeks/months, follow our Facebook and Twitter social media channels.


Google removes all right-hand side ads

Last week Google removed all of the ads which appeared down the right-hand side of tablet and desktop search results. Instead, ads will only be shown at the top and bottom of the page, with up to four ads shown at the top of the search results. This will reduce the total number of ads shown to seven, compared to ten which it was previously. This new change effects users worldwide.

Ad space - before



The continual ‘pushing down’ of organic listings will mean that the organic space will become even more precious. Therefore, we will need to have a greater focus on SEO. The change will also mean that our paid search is likely to become more costly, as competition to appear in one of the four ad spaces at the top will increase. If our ads appear at the bottom of the page we may also see a loss of traffic as our click-through rate (CTR) will be impacted.


Ad space-after



The benefits of this change are that there will now be a greater parity between mobile and desktop search results, meaning that ad results will be presented more consistently creating a more seamless user experience. Long-tail queries that show only one ad will now be consistently given a more prominent position at the top of the page, which should encourage CTRs.

We will be sure to keep a very close eye on this and will update with any changes.

Instagram prioritises views over likes for video

This month Instagram is beginning to give more insight into how the app’s 400 million plus users are interacting with Instagram videos. You’ll now be able to see how many times an uploaded video has been viewed. View counts will now appear directly underneath the video posts where before you’d normally see likes. A view is registered when any video has been watched for at least 3 seconds.




Instagram has said it is giving priority to views because “it’s the best way to show how the community is engaging with video.” For us here at Macmillan, this means we can now see and compare what the most efficient engagement is for our video posts. We can see how many views we have on other social media platforms including YouTube and Facebook, so will be able to look at performance across all platforms to see where video is most effective. Perhaps Instagram would prove to be a far more popular tool for viewing our video content.

We look forward seeing further improvements from Instagram as the company have said “adding view counts is the first of many ways you’ll see video on Instagram get better this year.”


instagram video

If you’re interested in how we’re using Instagram at Macmillan you can take a look at our other blog here 

YouTube Innovation Project

The digital marketing team have worked on an exciting YouTube innovation project, which aimed to display related video ads to users who were searching for cancer related keywords, in order to raise awareness and target specific users.


So why did we decide to do this project?

When doing a search on YouTube we noticed users were exposed to unrelated video ads when they were specifically searching for cancer related keywords

In the example below the user is presented with a Beta-Glucan and a Rush ad when typing the word ‘cancer’ into YouTube’s search bar.




Although Macmillan’s YouTube channel does appear lower down the page, the lack of advertising within the charity industry has allowed other organisations to dominate the top spaces with virtually no competition, this presented  us with a great opportunity to be first to market and for a relatively low bidding price.


How exactly does it work?

We displayed 9 cancer specific case study videos in the results pages on YouTube when users performed a related search

For example if a user typed ‘cervical cancer’ into YouTube they were presented with Kate’s story of being diagnosed with cervical cancer and the support she received from her Macmillan nurse, Vikki

For other cancer types and brand terms we presented the user with Rocio’s story

Rocio's story


The results

The campaign exceeded targets in terms of impressions, views and Avg. Cost per view!

Exposure to the videos increased by 90% compared to the target we had set. Mid way through the campaign we expanded the targeting to include people who had viewed other related cancer content and other related YouTube channels. This allowed our videos to be seen by even more people.

We managed to halve our target cost per view, which was driven by an increase in the number of people watching our content for more than 30 seconds. Proving that our content is relevant and engaging for our target audience.


Results graph

As we suspected the majority of the views came from a mobile device. During the campaign we reacted to this and adjusted our bids to focus on mobile devices to help ensure users on this devices viewed our ads.




Consumer Insight

A really interesting insight we discovered from this campaign was that there was a trend between the number of clicks on PPC and the number of views on YouTube. The number of clicks on PPC increased when more video views occurred on YouTube.

This indicates that when a user is exposed to one of our videos they then conduct a Google search in order to find out further information.

consumer insight


What’s next?  

This was a really interesting test to carry out and we were able to start to draw some conclusions on user behaviour across YouTube and paid search as well as reaching a large new audience.

In order to take this further we are looking to run the campaign again and use attribution modelling in Google analytics which would allows us to measure the impact of each channel on one another. This could lead to us developing a year-long YouTube advertising strategy in a similar way to how we currently manage paid search activity.

Cancer Research UK launched contactless collections across the UK

As part of its World Cancer Day fundraising campaign CRUK launched contactless collections across 16 locations in London, Glasgow, Liverpool and Leeds making CRUK the first charity to approach contactless donation technology on this scale.

Supporters had the opportunity to donate £2 to the charity by simply tapping their contactless card on the reader which was operated by fundraising volunteers.


Ed Aspel executive director of fundraising and marketing and the charity explains “We’ve been at the forefront of contactless giving in the third sector, having launched a small scale pilot in four of our shop windows last year. But this activity takes it to a new level, will ensure we stay relevant, and make it as easy as possible for people to donate in a way that suits them. It really is as simple as popping some spare change in a collection tin and all money raised will go towards our life-saving research to beat cancer sooner.

Cancer research has been working alongside other charities and UK cards Associations to ensure that the trial is successful. The launch represents a wider initiative which aims to bring contactless payments to the sector, CRUK will be sharing the learning’s from this to the sector so a whole we will benefit.

We’re really looking forward to finding out the results from this test and looking at  how we can involve contactless payments in our fundraising in the future.

If you want to find out more about contactless payments you can have a look at our other blogs on the subject:



Instagram Innovation Test

In December the Digital Marketing carried out a test using some innovation budget to try and significantly increase the followers on the Macmillan instagram account.

In order for the test to be effective we decided to target users who ‘Like’ Macmillan Cancer Support Facebook page but do not ‘Follow’ the Macmillancancer Instagram page, this way we knew that they had an interest in Macmillan so were  therefore more likely to be interested in following our instragram account.

We worked closely with the social media team to determine what the best type of post should be, we decided to use the most successful organic post for the promoted posts in order to help publicise the type of content available for potential followers.





In order to determine how many new followers the new post had helped the account generate we projected the number of followers we would have gained if the promoted post was not live (using data for follower growth over the proceeding month) we could then measure the impact that the promoted post had. There was noticeable rise in followers, 11724 at the end of the campaign compared to a projected 10801 which is an extra 928 followers which can be attributed to the paid post- which is a 10% increase!

In addition to this the post received an amazing 8374 likes and lots of positive comments demonstrating the engaging nature of this channel.

What’s next for Macmillan and instagram?

The test was very successful and we met our main objective to increase followers on the Macmillan instagram account. As a team we are going to carry out further work to establish the true value of growing followers and what this means in terms of reaching more people affected by cancer.

Facebook has now made it even easier to create instagram campaigns which work alongside other paid promotions so we will certainly be carrying out more activity on this channel in the future.


Facebook logo

Facebook is making it easier for people to donate

The social network is currently trialling a new way for charities to raise money within Facebook. This comes in the form of the new fundraiser tool which allows charities to set up a standalone fundraiser page, in addition to their general Facebook profile page, in order to raise funds for a specific campaign.

On this page the charity will be able to explain the campaign story, encourage supporters to donate, collect all of the donations and track the progress of the campaign- all in one place!

Facebook users will be able to donate in just a few clicks and can also share their donation with friends, the shared posts will also include a donate button so anyone who sees the post can also easily make a donation to the cause.

Another way Facebook is making it easier for people to donate is the addition of the donate button, which non-profits can now add to pages and posts which appear in their followers’ newsfeeds. Once a user has entered their credit card information they will be able to donate through facebook instead of having to navigate to an external website. Once again all these posts can be shared and the donation button will feature to.

Naomi Gleit, vice-president product management at Facebook, said Facebook is committed to expanding the tool to as many organisations as possible in the future.

“With more than 150 million people around the world connected to a cause, Facebook is a global community of volunteers, donors and activists coming together to make the world a better place,” she added.

“People raise money for disaster relief, they search for missing children, and they bring attention to the issues they care about.

“We’ve seen from our community that when people take action, lives are changed. We know we can do more to enable these connections.”

If you’re interested in finding out more check out Facebook’s help page

Page 1 of 11123...Last »