Award-winning membership communications show one size doesn’t fit all

Dan Linstead , 1 December 2017

The only charities to win at this year’s big content awards – both Immediate clients – prove targeting is the key to success

This week’s International Content Marketing awards were the most diverse ever, drawing over 400 entries from 23 countries. The content being judged included print magazines for airlines and supermarkets, a microsite for a US tyre company, a heritage engagement campaign and a social strategy for a frozen food brand. The Grand Prix went to a Norwegian road safety video. What can we learn from such a dizzying array?

Perhaps just this: that the range of entries reflects the diversity of audiences and channels out there, and that successful content marketing now demands an ultra-targeted approach. At Immediate, we were delighted to see two of our projects for major charities pick up awards on the night, both of which reflect that thinking.

Engaging families with the RSPB

Our portfolio of membership communications for the RSPB won bronze in the Best Membership category, the only charity to feature in the list. The RSPB has long been a trailblazer in segmented membership comms, publishing not one but 4 magazines, for adults and children of different ages, for many years. Many adults still go a bit misty-eyed when recalling their years in the RSPB’s junior ranks, as a member of Wildlife Explorers, the Young Ornithologists Club or – before 1965 – in the Junior Bird Recorders Club.

Our work with the RSPB over the past three years has focused on honing their message to different age groups and demographics to improve retention. For children, we have focused content around tighter age profiles, linked to school Key Stages. This has been particularly successful among families in the typically attritional first year of membership, where more relevant content has improved retention by 3%.

Other audiences have different needs from the RSPB, and over the past year we have also completed a major web migration project to ensure a variety of smooth user journeys through the website. Parents, teachers, kids, conservationists and – yes – serious birders will now find it easier to get the particular membership experience they want.

Finding new audiences with English Heritage

Our other charity client to win at the awards was English Heritage, whose 1066: Year of the Normans campaign won Gold in the Best Content Campaign category. This superb integrated project was designed to mark – and stake ownership of – the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, a milestone in English history. Brand activity included hiding 1,066 wooden arrows around the country, commissioning a new Bayeux tapestry from children’s author Liz Pichon, and a re-enactment of King Harold’s fateful 300-mile march south from York to Battle.

The content supporting this activity was equally imaginative, ranging from members’ features and videos (produced by Immediate) to a Facebook standoff between #teamsaxon and #teamnorman.

Part of the ambition of the campaign was to reach younger audiences, which led to collaborations with YouTubers Yogscast (who recreated Dover Castle in Minecraft) and TV historian Dan Snow, who broadcast live to schools on social media from Battle Abbey on the anniversary itself. The results were dramatic both in terms of immediate engagement and long-term value. Search for ‘1066’ in Google, and English Heritage used to appear around page 10 in the results. Try it now.

So, two very different, but both award-winning pieces of charity communication from Immediate and our forward-thinking clients. And the takeout? Like that historic arrow flying towards King Harold’s eye 950 years ago – it’s all about targeting.

Case Studies

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