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Digital experience

Robots hands typing on a computer.

Chatbots and charities: unlocking potential

Our Digital Marketing intern, Ellen Whyte, talks us through the exciting world of chatbots and the charities making the most of them. 

What are chatbots?

Also referred to as talkbots, IM bots, or Artificial Conversation Entities, chatbots are rapidly becoming ubiquitous in our increasingly digital world. They are computer programmes that have a variety of uses, but almost all are designed to mimic human speech in the hope that they hold a semblance of a conversation. Apple’s Siri is perhaps the most well-known example.

Whilst some chatbots are purely for entertainment, a growing number of companies are beginning to recognise their extraordinary amount of potential. Their promising future is evidenced in a study by Juniper Research which estimates that although only 20% of interactions with bots used by banking organisations are currently successful, in 2022 93% will be, creating an average saving of $0.70 per chatbot interaction.

But do chatbots have any relevance to the third sector? 
 

Well, various charities are beginning to seize the multitude of opportunities offered by chatbots and really make a difference.

Walk with Yeshi 

Poster for 'Walk with Yeshi' campaign. A young woman walks on unpaved road with a large container of water on her back. Text reads 'An immersive story about the young women of Ethiopia'.

Immersive charity: water campaign

One of the most outstanding examples of chatbot innovation is ‘Walk with Yeshi‘, a collaboration between charity: water, the jewellery brand Lokai and the agency AKQA which hopes to raise awareness about the water crisis.

When a conversation is started with the chatbot on Facebook Messenger, it triggers two-and-a-half-hours of messages from Yeshi, a woman living in Ethiopia who spends the same amount of time walking to gather water. The messages from Yeshi include photos and sound recordings, and there is even a digital map of her journey that users can follow.

By using the chatbot medium on a platform where people normally communicate with friends, ‘Walk with Yeshi’ presents a unique opportunity to raise recognition of the crisis as it allows the audience to personally connect with Yeshi’s plight. 

‘Here I Am’ 

Screenshot of 'Here I Am' chatbot. Left is headshot of a woman underneath text reads About me – So you’re here to learn about learning disability? Hopefully I can help. My name’s Aeren. I love reading and acting. I went to mainstream school, got all my GCSE’s and then did a BTEC in Performing Arts. Let’s chat!’. On right is chatbot conversation.

Conversation with Aeren

Mencap has also used a chatbot exceptionally well, in its quest to help people understand more about learning disabilities and those affected by them. As part of the ‘Here I Am’ campaign, users can talk to a chatbot whose answers come from the experience of Aeren, who has a learning disability.

Whilst users cannot type in their own queries, they can initially choose from a selection of four pre-set responses, including emojis, and so the experience still feels personally tailored. It’s a great way for people to discover more about learning disabilities in an original and engaging way and the project achieved notable success.  Awareness of Mencap grew by 3% as a result of the campaign, with 20% of the public seeing it.

Virtual Assistant 

Another charity attempting to harness the power of the chatbot is Age UK which aims to help people ‘Love later life’.

As part of their support network, they have an advice line that runs daily and receives over 250,000 calls a year.  However, as their Head of Digital Content, Rob Mansfield, explained at an Equimedia Charity Conference8, sometimes the lines are too busy to respond to every phone call.

In an attempt to combat this, Age UK have recently implemented a chatbot (called a ‘Virtual Assistant’ so it was not too alienating for the older generations) on the site in the hopes that simple enquiries could be answered using the chatbot, and ultimately relieve some of the pressure on the phone line. The study by Juniper Research also revealed that, on average, four minutes were saved every time someone used a chatbot, demonstrating the invaluable potential of an effective bot.

 

Screenshot of Virtual Assistant chatbot conversation. Text reads: Hello. We’re testing our new Virtual Assistant to try and help find the information you need on the website. Please keep your questions short and simple and don’t include any personal information. 

Age UK’s Virtual Assistant

However, it is very difficult to create a chatbot that can handle every single query thrown at it, as they are often confused by complex questions, or unable to interpret spelling mistakes. To ensure people with complicated questions could still receive help, Age UK created a response to questions that the chatbot could not answer which included other ways people could contact the charity. So, whilst chatbots are a great way to provide quick responses to straight forward questions and reduce congestion on the phone lines, they are far from flawless.

Do chatbots have a place in our future? 

Chatbots undoubtedly have a huge future in helping customers have a smoother experience online. They also have the massive potential to create a new dimension through which an audience can engage with and discover more about a charity.

Whilst it may take a few more years before they work perfectly, the technology is definitely exciting, and one for people in all areas to watch.

Want more digital insights?

Check out our previous posts on the potential of Snapchat for charities and how to keep your digital content accessible.

Follow us on Twitter @mac_digital for more updates from the digital world and be the first to hear when our next blog post is live.

Plus, check out www.macmillan.org.uk to see our digital work in action.

Three Snapchat logos with 'We are Macmillan Cancer Support' written within them.

Why we should bother with Snapchat

Our Social Media Officer, Jessie Donnelly, discusses the value of Snapchat for charities and why it shouldn’t be dismissed.

Like all the other big social media platforms, Snapchat is becoming a word that everybody knows. It’s the home of puppy filters and the birthplace of the now ubiquitous Stories feature. Still, there’s no way Snapchat can be a seriously helpful tool for brands, right?

Wrong.

The sheer numbers of Snapchat’s audience prove it’s a mistake to ignore it. The app has a global audience somewhere in the region of 170 million – if Snapchat were a country populated by its users, it would have the eighth largest population in the world. By the end of 2016, around 11.2 million of those users were in the UK, which is expected to rise to over 13 million by the end of 2017. It’s estimated that a quarter of all UK smartphone users have Snapchat installed, which will rise to a third by the end of the year. That’s a pretty big audience!

For us here at Macmillan, the news is even better as Snapchat is dominated by users outside of our usual demographics. 51% of adult Snapchat users are aged 34 or under and 23% of adults on Snapchat in the UK are aged 18-24. In the longer term, this is the next generation of people affected by cancer but, in the short term, it’s an audience of potential volunteers, fundraisers and interns.

But what does that huge, committed user base mean for organisations like Macmillan?

Brand awareness.

For a platform that’s largely built on content of 10 seconds or less, Snapchat holds its audience – the average time spent on the app by users is 25-30 minutes every day! That means there’s plenty of time to reach your audience and boost your brand awareness on Snapchat, and there are two main ways to do this: Snapchat Stories and On-Demand Geofilters.

 

 Snapchat Stories

Two Macmillan employees fundraising outside the Ritz.

 Snapchat Stories are a great way to tell the story of a day or an event in small bite-sized installments that can be viewed (again and again) by your audience until they expire after 24 hours. The temporary nature of Stories is a great way to spotlight events and give people an insight into life within Team Macmillan, while the somewhat less polished nature of it all gives the content a more authentic edge. As it’s quick content that disappears, you can be playful and more humorous than on other channels (especially as the audience is younger) while it’s also a great platform to introduce people from around the organisation who our audience might not ordinarily meet (from interns to volunteers to the social media team itself!).

 While our Snapchat following is still relatively small here at Macmillan, our viewing figures are consistently growing on our Stories, as is our number of followers so it’s definitely a platform for us to continue building on! The only major drawback to Stories is that the content is only viewable to those who already follow you, but that’s where On-Demand Geofilters come in.

 

On-Demand Geofilters

Geofilter for the London Marathon with silhouttes of the London Eye and the Big Ben at the bottom. Text reads 'One mile to go!'

 If you’ve ever used Snapchat, you’ve likely added a geofilter at some point. Most towns and cities have at least one, as do landmarks, airports and a whole heap of other places. Tacking a geofilter onto your Snap is a fun way of letting your friends and followers know where you are (perfect for making people jealous if you’re off on holiday!).

But aside from the geofilters that Snapchat provides, it’s possible to design and upload your own to be visible to people in a certain location at a certain time. Compared to Snapchat Stories, this is an excellent way to boost awareness of your brand as they’re visible to everyone in that location at that time, not just your existing followers. Cost-wise, geofilters are an incredibly efficient to spend money – unless you’re competing for prime territory like Buckingham Palace, you can generally cover the space you want for less than £20 per day.

Even better, that geofilter will be seen by whoever a user sends it to or whoever views a story it’s been added to. This is how geofilters set up for events attended by several hundred people can eventually be seen by thousands of people. Take the Macmillan Volunteer Conference earlier this year – though the conference was attended by around 400 people, the geofilter we designed to run on the evening of the Awards Ceremony was seen more than 39,000 times!

Geofilter from the Macmillan Volunteer Awards 2017.Text reads: 'Recognise. Reward. Celebrate.'

This geofilter gained over 39,000 views!

 

Not every geofilter will perform as well as this – even we’re slightly surprised by it. The number of times they’re used can’t be predicted, but competing with several other brands (as could happen at big events like the London Marathon) can have an effect. But as a cheap, fun way to get your brand out there, on-demand geofilters are a fantastic tool!

 

You can follow Jessie on Twitter @JessieDonnelly  and add Macmillan Cancer Support on Snapchat by searching ‘macmillancancer’.

Left: Batteries Not Included Team present their prototype to Macmillan staff. Right: Screenshot of digital MISS bus alert.

Hackathon 4.0: Digital innovation at Macmillan

Our Digital Assistant, Addy Olutunmogun, reports from Macmillan’s fourth Digital Development Hack Day. She talks to participants and organisers to find out more about the event’s evolution and significance.

If you want to see problem-solving at its most innovative, creative and inspiring, look no further than Macmillan’s Hack Day. 4 original ideas to help us deliver for people affected by cancer, 4 dedicated teams of tech whizzes, 1 day to create a prototype.

‘an important opportunity to demonstrate what technology can bring to Macmillan’

— Chris Trenning, Agile software coach

Office board displaying different Hack Day ideas

The 12 shortlisted Hack Day ideas – whittled down from over 40!

Our Hack Day has grown from a team-building exercise amongst digital development staff to an event that encourages input from across the organisation. In doing so, this summer’s event, perhaps more than any other, has shown how technology can help us deliver in a variety of novel ways.

The Organisers

I spoke to Steve Knight, a web development team leader, and Chris Trenning, Agile software coach, who’ve masterminded this year’s Hack Day.

Why do you think Hack Day is so important for Macmillan?

Steve: Hack Days [a.k.a Hackathons] are a great way to generate ideas, promote a culture of innovation and encourage the use of new technology. We’re an ambitious charity and we need to take advantage of new technology and ways of thinking to help us achieve our mission.

Chris: Hack Day is an important opportunity to demonstrate what technology can bring to Macmillan. People tend to shy away from technology, if they’re not working in it, because they feel they don’t understand. If you’ve got an area you know nothing about, you can sometimes be dismissive. Hack Days help to break down those barriers. They demystify what we do and the people who do it and so remove that fear of interaction.   The event also allows the Technology team to exhibit some pride. They can show off – and I think that’s really healthy for them!

How has Hack Day evolved?

Chris: It’s more inclusive and every event gets a wider audience.

Steve: This year we asked the whole charity for Hack Day ideas and we had over 40 ideas submitted! They came from 6 of our 7 Directorates and included staff from all over the country as well as some home workers. It’s great to get such nationwide engagement with the project. We have also listened to our teams and changed the format of the day accordingly. For example, this time the teams were able to present their ideas in a market stall format the following day instead of formal presentations we used to do.

Chris: We listened to what people liked and didn’t like about previous hack days and used this to develop the format. There is now no overall winner [prizes are awarded to the teams for their efforts and to encourage some friendly competition], the teams now have an opportunity to win in 5 different categories:

  • Innovation – Is tech being used in a novel way?
  • Creativity – Are you surprised by the way the product works?
  • Technology – Is it clever? Does the implementation demonstrate something new?
  • UX and Presentation – Is it easy to use? Does the design make it enjoyable to use?
  • Marketability – Can you imagine this product being utilised in the organisation?
  • Best team name!

We designed this to ensure everyone has an equal chance to win and to recognise value in each prototype produced.

What future do you envisage for Hack Day?

Steve: It would be great if the event became a collaboration with different teams and not just Digital Development. Hack Days can be much more than a technical exercise. They can involve working out a process, coming up with designs – anything you want them to be really. Our involvement [the Technology team] will mainly be coding, but other teams can contribute a lot of different approaches and ideas. A representative from Macmillan’s Innovation team came to an ideas workshop for this Hack Day along with members of the UX, creative and editorial teams. They are all very interested in getting more involved so the future is promising for Hack Days at Macmillan!

The Teams

So, who are these amazing techies taking on this challenge for Macmillan? Steve kindly invited me up to the lofty 17th floor to meet them.

Team Beaver Members: Richard x2, Reinaldo, Nuzhat, Andreea

A member of Team Beaver explains his prototype to a member of staff.

Team Beaver explain why their gamification tool is a winner.

Tell us about the project? Gamification of giving. We’re tying donations and volunteering into a points system that you can get achievements for. Depending on how much you contribute, you’ll earn badges that you can share on your social media profile.

What do you enjoy most about Hack Day? Working together.

Team Floppy

Members: Harald, Milan, Suneetha, Swathi, Shenika

Left: Harald guides staff through this team's transcription tool prototype. Right: a screenshot of the prototype interface.

Harald guides staff through his team’s transcription tool prototype.

Tell us about the project? A tool that converts speech to text and stores it in a database. It will allow us to record Macmillan Support Line (MSL) calls so users won’t have to repeat answers and help staff quickly identify users’ needs.

Team Brahma

Members: Raghu, Adrian, Beni, Ashish

Team Brahma present their Good News page.

Team Brahma show off their Good News page.

Tell us about the project? We’re creating a Good News page that gives users flexibility to see news articles from chosen topics and filter out negative news.

Why did you decide to take part in Hack Day? We love the stress! It’s a challenge as we have to tackle tech we haven’t used before. We’re learning on the go and it’s a great opportunity to learn new things.

Batteries Not Included

Members: John, Mo, Sam, Dino

 

Left: Batteries Not Included Team present their prototype to Macmillan staff. Right: Screenshot of digital MISS bus alert.

Batteries Not Included try to win over staff with their MISS bus tool.

What are you working on? Using IP location software to give users relevant Macmillan information. Today we focused on using the tool to promote our MISS (Mobile Information Support Services) buses but there is potential for the idea to signpost people to a range of local services like coffee mornings.

Why is Hack Day important to you? It gives us a chance to develop applications for areas of need that aren’t always prioritised.

The Winners

If trying to develop these ambitious projects in a day wasn’t hard enough, the teams then had to present their work in a 2-hour market stall. Staff where invited to check out the prototypes and cast their votes.

The results were…

Most Innovative Hack Winner: Team Floppy

Most Creative Hack Winner: Team Brahma

Best use of Technology Winners (draw): Team Floppy and Team Brahma

Best User Experience and Presentation Winner: Team Beaver

Most Marketable Hack Winner: Batteries not Included

Best Team Name Winner: Batteries not Included

Congratulations teams!!

What do you think? Who would be your winner? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Similarly, if you’ve ever attended a Hack Day, let us know. Was it any good?

A green keyboard button with the words 'Access' on.

Accessibility: An interview with Rebecca Cryan

Our Senior Digital Editor, Rebecca Cryan, talks about accessibility at Macmillan and our most recent audit.

What is the importance of accessibility at Macmillan Cancer Support?

We consider our website to be a digital service. Our cancer information, our online community and content like the financial guidance tool need to be accessible to everyone. Web accessibility is vitally important to us meeting our organisational aim of being there for everyone affected by cancer.

It’s also important that all the ways people can give to Macmillan are easy too. We don’t receive any government funding so we can only provide our services to people thanks to the generosity of our donors. Online giving is an expanding proportion of our donations portfolio with over 17% of all money raised by Macmillan in 2017 coming from online. Accessible forms and sites mean that it’s easier for everyone to donate to us. Developing accessible sites is also more cost-effective in the long run, meaning that we’re using our budget in the most responsible way, which is obviously a key consideration for a charity.

Since people are living longer with cancer, our demographic is skewing older, which is also a segment of the population more likely to have accessibility needs. So, accessibility is important to make sure we’re providing for our specific audiences.

However, it’s important to note that making our content accessible doesn’t just benefit our disabled users, it makes it more usable for everyone using the site. Logical navigation makes it easier for everyone to find what they’re looking for; correct mark-up makes the site perform better and faster, across all devices; proper labelling and use of alt-text improves SEO. So there are many benefits to making our sites accessible. It’s important to us for a range of reasons: social, legal, financial and technical.

What have you done recently to improve accessibility at Macmillan?

Over the last year we’ve really focused on helping people across the organisation understand why accessibility is important and how they can support our aims. We’ve started a working group made up of front-end developers, UX/UI designers, graphic designers, content creators and editors. These people are all involved in the production of a piece of content and can all do their bit at their touch-point with the content.

We’ve also worked on a policy so we can be really clear about what accessible means to Macmillan and the minimum standards we expect of content produced both in- and externally.

In order for us to move towards having fully accessible digital products, we need everyone to be on board and understand what they can do to make it happen. Accessibility is everyone’s job.

Why do we conduct accessibility audits?

We audit to check how we’re doing against Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This is a globally recognised set of standards for creating accessible websites. For us it’s the best way of understanding where we’re doing well and what needs more work.

We use an agency called Nomensa to perform formal audits for us. They are extremely thorough, performing over 200 manual tests per page. We tend to select pages which are representative of a wide range of our content and audit those, so we can apply the results as widely as possible. Day-to-day we perform accessibility checks on all new and updated content; it’s a part of lots of people’s jobs including developers, designers, and editors.

When do we audit?  

We tend to audit at different times, for different reasons. Sometimes we’ll do an audit on a specific section which we plan to dedicate significant resource to over the next few months. This gives us a clear awareness of the issues and strengths before we start work.

Sometimes we’ll audit content of strategic significance such as our forms to make sure we’re flagging any potential issues. We then use the results to form a business case for making changes to these areas.

What were the key elements looked at in our most recent audit?

As I mentioned, Nomensa do over 200 manual tests per page so they highlight a really broad range of issues. We asked them to look at our Donate, Events and In Your Area sections where they discovered we were missing some text alternatives on images and some interactive page elements were not keyboard accessible.

We also don’t have a skip-to-content link allowing users to bypass the navigation and get straight into the page content.

These findings give us a really clear plan for things to work on, to make sure our digital sites are available to everyone who needs them.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Facebook icon

Good things really do come in streamlined packages…

Our Social Media Manager, Carol Naylor, has been busy supporting teams around the UK to update and streamline our regional Facebook pages. Carol discusses how the project manages to slim the total down from over 30 to just 13 regional accounts. 

It comes to us all eventually.  One day you’ve got a stable of active Facebook accounts all happily chatting to their target audiences and then gradually demographics shift, projects reach the end of their shelf life, teams get rearranged and suddenly you notice a few of the smaller pages simply have tumbleweed rolling through them.

It’s unavoidable, no matter how strict you make the rules about futureproofing, sustainability, and resourcing. Things change and you can’t anticipate them all.

That’s the challenge we faced at the start of last year. Macmillan’s 33 regional Facebook pages needed a new approach. The organisation of the teams managing them had changed and we needed to adapt to this.  Staff were still eager to use social media but content was harder to plan and page management was getting frustrating. The growth in followers was stalling. It was time to update our Facebook network.

Fortunately, Facebook lets you merge pages.

That wasn’t the whole solution though. We wanted a new arrangement that would be intuitive and accessible for audiences and yet still be manageable within our internal structure. So, we sat down with the regional team heads and a humungous map of the UK and threatened to lock the doors until a solution was found after a lot of head-scratching and cups of tea we came up with a new map of regional pages. It didn’t exactly match our internal structure but that wasn’t the point. It would make sense to our supporters.

Next, we defined the project principles (and drank more tea):

Rationalisation – a more logical organization for accounts and a clear naming structure will make our accounts more accessible to followers.

Consistency – all pages will deliver a clear standard of service, appearance, and content.

Customer Expectations – ensuring that followers can find accounts easily and have a clear idea of what support each kind of account can offer.

One Team – anyone following our Facebook pages will see not only how Macmillan raises funds in their area but also what it does with those funds to support them locally.

Delivering Results – “build it and they will come” is long past. The new pages will have clearly defined KPIs and objectives that go beyond just audience sizes.

Page management was the next hurdle.  But we were starting out with just two pilot pages so we could experiment safely.  A few more pots of coffee (we got bored with tea) and we had a rota that assigned daily management of the page to different teams on a weekly basis. This was overseen by a core editorial team who managed content strategy. This gave everyone the chance to get hands-on experience of managing a Facebook page and avoided the danger of everything falling on the shoulders of a few enthusiastic individuals.

Naturally the new page managers needed plenty of support. So we produced FAQs on how to handle enquiries and complaints, provided sample text to use in the ‘About Us’ sections of each page and produced new branded profile images for all the pages so that they all had a common style. We also set up a page admins group on our intranet for sharing best (and worst) practice.  Doing page merges in groups rather than all at once meant that we had a growing pool of experienced admins who could help any worried rookies.

Initially we were very apprehensive about how the planned changes would be received by the communities following the existing pages. Would they be territorial and resist the idea of combining with other local audiences? Would the appearance of a post from a long-dormant page in their newsfeed simply prompt them to unfollow?  So, we gave followers plenty of notice on each page and started posting content relevant to the whole new patch on pages even before the merges took place. We wanted audiences from the merged pages to feel at home.

Once the pilot groups got going, they got imaginative. They involved local Macmillan professionals, they experimented with strategically sharing content with neighbouring pages, they tried out ‘themed’ weeks with all content related to a specific topic like Volunteering or Corporate Partnerships. They also shifted the focus of the pages away from fundraising to a more holistic view of our work and tried to balance fundraising content with awareness raising information and news about services.

Here is one of our active pages, raising awareness about our live Q&A session on benefits:

Our East of England Facebook page

By the end of the three-month pilots, they had a wealth of experience to share. At that point we took stock and learned some interesting lessons:

  • Audiences were OK about pages being merged.  We’d explained the advantages to them and they understood.  By the end of the project we’d done 10 merges and not one supporter complained about any of them.
  • An established page management team and content plan was critical. One page which wasn’t directly involved in the merge process tripled its follower growth rate after putting these in place.
  • The demographics of our audiences didn’t change despite the shift in content focus. However, once given the choice, they demonstrated a greater appetite for information about Macmillan’s work than for news about fundraising events.
  • Engagement for the combined audiences considerably exceeded the sum of the original wholes.  We assumed at first that the novelty value of a new page might be responsible for this but engagement levels stayed consistent even after the novelty had worn off.
  • One of the reasons for this was that the quality of content got pushed up.  For example, instead of 5 teams needing to find content for 5 pages, they were competing with each other for space on just one page. And since they only had to run the page for one week in five, they had the luxury of time to think about what they *really* wanted to post.

The process we’d established got tweaked with each subsequent merge – some teams had a designated social media person, others all wanted to have a go – but the principles remained the same.

The biggest headache came with the final merges when we lost our contact at Facebook and discovered that the Facebook help pages and community were not as useful as we’d hoped.

Tip – if you’re advertising on Facebook, ask your agency to help find someone who can help you at Facebook, it’s the only way.

And, just over a year after we started, you can see for yourself how it’s all working out:

Stop by sometime and say Hi.

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: digitalmarketing@macmillan.org.uk

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. 

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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:

Capture7

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:

tg

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: 

lung-cancer-awareness-month-fb-post-002

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:

cervical-cancer-post-fb-002

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:

world-emoji-day-tweet-002

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.

 

Icons of graphs and devices to represent google analytics

Google Analytics: An interview with our Digital Analyst

Hattie Biddlecombe, Digital Analyst at Macmillan Cancer Support, uses Google Analytics to provide insight into Macmillan’s online presence. I sat down with Hattie earlier this week to discuss how Google Analytics helps her in her role and the impact that it has on Macmillan.

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