Making joint campaigns work online
In February 2012 Which? and 38 Degrees launched a joint campaign – The Big Switch. The idea was a simple one, and one we felt that the energy market was crying out for.
We wanted to gather a large group of people who wanted to switch their energy provider, and then bargain for a market-leading energy deal. We realised that by combining the clout of both organisations we could get a bigger group and therefore an even better deal.
One of our key questions when planning the campaign was how to make sure that both partners were prominent on digital communications, while keeping our activity separate enough to maintain our individual styles. Both organisations have built up a unique trust among their members; we wanted to capitalise on this in a way that benefitted both of us, encouraged more people to join the campaign, and raised awareness that we were both active in trying to change the energy market.
Separate campaign landing pages
We decided that each organisation should have a separate landing page for the campaign, allowing separate control over the website copy and design. 38 Degrees opted to add a campaign page to its existing site, and Which? created a microsite specifically to serve this campaign.
By having separate pages, we could ensure that our individual styles were reflected. More importantly from a practical point of view, each organisation could update the pages as and when it felt necessary, rather than relying on collaboration for updating of copy, or training staff to use new systems.
Clearer user journey
It was clear on each of the pages that the campaign was a partnership, with each of us adding mentions of the partnerships, and partner logos. However, crucially we could present the campaign with our own branding, meaning that the user journey from other sections of our website was a smooth one.
It helped the onward journey too. Users who had signed up could also then be presented with secondary calls to action relevant to each organisation – for instance Which? users were offered a secondary action to share the campaign on twitter or facebook, and links to find out more about the Which? Affordable Energy Campaign.
Separate data, joined-up results
One of the trickiest things to get right when working with another campaigning organisation is the data – both organisations want to be able to maximise the potential to gather future supporters and maintain strict data protection standards. For The Big Switch we decided that the best way to do this was for each organisation to own the data that they collected through their microsite or campaign page.
This meant that neither organisation was ‘leeching’ the other’s supporters, and each could use it as a strong opportunity to grow its campaigning database. During The Big Switch, Which? achieved a roughly 30% opt-in rate to campaigns subscriptions, almost doubling its campaigning database by adding unique supporters (i.e. supporters who had come via the Which? microsite, rather than being ‘taken’ from 38 Degrees’ supporter base).
Once we had collected the data of those who were interested, email communication regarding The Big Switch had to be joined up too. Although each organisation owned its own data for ongoing campaigning purposes, emails sent about the practicalities of switching (for instance emails requesting supplier information) came from Which? – one of the reasons it was so crucial to present the partnership right from the beginning. We didn’t want 38 Degrees supporters to wonder why Which? was suddenly emailing them!
We were delighted with how the campaign went. From a consumer point of view we achieved some fantastic results:
- A market leading energy deal with average savings of £123 per switch
- More than a quarter of a million sign ups between both organisations, with 150,000 going on to ‘phase 2’ – providing energy tariff and usage information
- A final switching total of 37,700 – the biggest collective switch in the UK, with an average saving among our final group of switchers of £223
Alongside our consumer wins, we were also very pleased with how the digital side of the campaign panned out. As I mentioned before, we have almost doubled our campaigns subscribers, meaning we have not only a bigger subscriber base to call on for campaign support, but we have also managed to find people who are specifically engaged with energy. Our early indications show that ‘Big Switchers’ are the most engaged group on our campaigns list, with much higher than average open and click-through rates.
What’s more, the partnership allowed us to support each other visibly on social media. Which? has a reputation as the ‘trusted voice’ of the consumer, and 38 Degrees has a strong reputation for powerful, reactive campaigning. By combining these two strengths, the campaign becomes shareable and engaging to a much broader audience. At Which? this has been our most shared campaign – both on facebook and on Twitter – and the speed and volume with which it was shared drove a surprising amount of traffic. In fact, even with intense media coverage of this campaign, including lots of inbound links, facebook drove more traffic to the Which? microsite than the major news sites combined.
So in conclusion – we at Which? love a good partnership! We think this campaign is a fantastic example of how well two organisations can support and complement each other when their goals are aligned. And hopefully it shows that joint campaigns don’t always require organisations to be exactly alike, or run things on one website with joint branding. A harmonious campaign can give both of you great results and a boost in supporters, without anyone having to fight over the middle ground.
Nikki Whiteman is Consumer Action Producer at Which?