The team carried out testing to determine the most effective messages, layout and images.

Jon Garciandia of Greenpeace Spain and Iola Abas of Greenpeace South East Asia facilitated a session at the 2014 Digital Mobilisation Skillshare to share how digital teams in Spain and Indonesia are engaging new audiences through online advertising. Showcasing recent work, they explained the importance of creating a consistent user experience to make the most of your advertising budget, and to recruit supporters who are fully engaged with the story you’re telling.

Boost in new leads through targeted investment – Greenpeace Spain

Jon Garciandia, Digital Manager of Greenpeace Spain, explained how they had massively boosted their online recruitment and reduced their cost per lead (CPL)* by 70% through smart investment, targeting their activity more tightly around a single campaign.

At the beginning of 2012 Greenpeace Spain was running search and display advertising via Google Adwords, across several campaigns and issues, including oceans, ecology, agriculture, forest, biodiversity, global warming, climate change and environment as well as branding advertising. This catch-all approach was generating few leads at a high CPL – over 7€.

Working closely with their specialist online advertising agency, Greenpeace Spain took the decision to put all their investment into a single campaign – Save the Arctic. This tight focus allowed them to put their energy into optimising performance right across the campaign, identifying targets, connecting content with audience interests, testing and improving user journeys and copy.

The change in approach has paid off, with the Arctic campaign generating more than 90,000 new leads in 2013, converted to 5,664 regular donors by telemarketing. Adwords accounted for over 75% of these totals. One-off donations also rose, with 1,800 online donors in 2013, compared with around 1,000 per year in 2011 and 2012.

Crucially, the CPL was pushed down to just 2€.

Key takeaways

  • Be patient and focus on one campaign, at least at the beginning.
  • Use both search and display advertising to balance quality and quantity.
  • If you can, host landing pages on your main website (or a subdomain) rather than a microsite; Google will give it a higher ‘quality’ score.
  • If you work with an agency, ideally find a small one that really specialises in Google, and build a good relationship with them.
  • Keep a constant investment and boost it when you get external profile.
  • Test and optimise everything, from the ads right through to the Thank You page.
  • Try new things. All campaigns have an optimal point and an ending. Test and try new things while your current campaign is doing well.

Put in time and effort to get results

These dramatic improvements were the result of making one campaign work really well instead of trying to do everything at once. Says Jon, “Promote one campaign till you can improve the results. It is not a good idea to start several campaigns, with different content, at the same time.” He suggests choosing a campaign that is likely to match your potential supporters’ interests. “In the Arctic case, this is a positive campaign, accessible to a wider public.”

Investing time in a single campaign allowed the team to work on improvement in three areas:

  1. Where can we promote the campaign most effectively? (search, display, which sites)
  2. Which materials work best?
  3. What style works best to communicate the message? (claims, copy)

Testing and optimisation, particularly of the landing pages where new visitors arrive from the ads, was vital. “Effectiveness is the key, rather than a great design. Don’t try and guess. Test it!” says Jon. The team tested and refined the whole process end-to-end, from the ads themselves through to the Thank You page, to constantly improve.

Reviewing and refining keywords, targeting segments and trying out additional keywords also needed time and effort. “For example, around the Arctic 30 campaign we had some success targeting people interested in boats by using keywords around sailing.”

“Search is better quality but poor volume, display is volume, but you have to connect with the interest of your audience and find the best sites.” For display advertising, taking time to review which sites were most successful, (Gmail and YouTube) again allowed improved targeting.

Increased investment and a focus on a single campaign from April 2013 gave returns almost straight away in terms of reducing cost per lead. Learning and improvement pushed that down even further over the following months.

Smart spending

“Google likes you to keep a constant investment,” says Jon. Keeping a certain level of ad spend all the time will lead to better overall performance.

But people are more likely to search for your terms, or to click on your ads, when your name or issue is a current ‘hot topic’. “When you get visible media you’ll get a spike in traffic, so push money at it then. Keep an ‘always on’ strategy and bump up the investment when there’s external visibility for the campaign.”

If you use an agency, Jon advises developing a close relationship to enable this flexibility. “Transform your agency into a partner. Coordination is the key. Inform them about your campaigns, activities and opportunities.”

When the Arctic 30 activists were arrested in September high media visibility meant that increasing investment really paid off.

The team ran a retargeting campaign – serving people who had visited the site, but not signed up or taken an action, ads related to the campaign to free the Arctic 30 – and also increased spending on the Save the Arctic campaign. This generated over 14,000 sign ups in October and November.

Tighter focus  for better quality

Refining one campaign to offer a more consistent user experience also pays off in recruiting new supporters who are more receptive to future contact on the same issue. If a user’s journey starts with having seen the same ads and messages over a range of sites, connecting with their concerns and interests, they will be signing the petition as a considered decision.  Says Jon, “This means all the next steps asking for collaboration (not just money, but others like ‘share the petition’, ‘tell your friends’, ‘support this action’) will get a better response. In our case, we can see this with the response to phone calls and the e-mails: these people are happy to hear about us.”

Increasing traffic – Indonesia

The Greenpeace Indonesia digital engagement team have had success in driving traffic to a new microsite, but with high bounce rates are looking for ways to improve conversion to action and push down their CPL.

Says Iola Abas, “We’re the beginner, on the trial and error, but never afraid to test (and fail) and learn.”

In the initial test over 300,000 visitors clicked through to the ‘Protect Paradise Forest’  microsite, but 85% were bouncing straight away, and only 15,000 signed up. With a CPL of 5.3$ from keywords and 6$ from Google Display advertising the team are keen to test and work out what might work better for an Indonesian audience.

Any mismatch between the concept and wording of your ad and the landing page it links to risks losing people. “It’s important to develop content that connects with the interest of your audience. The whole process from the banners to the conversion call to action must be aligned to create better conversion and more satisfaction,” says Iola.

“We plan to create a campaign toolkit page, separate from the existing ‘Tiger Manifesto’ page. It contains downloadable, shareable images, infographic, posters.” Testing this against the original landing page, as well as carrying out A/B testing on the landing page using Optimizely, will allow the team to see what works best. “We can see that we need to focus on one campaign for a period so that we can learn and improve.”

* Cost Per Lead (CPL) is a simple way of measuring the effectiveness of your online marketing campaign – dividing your overall spend by the number of ‘leads’ (names,contact details etc) you have captured.