Case Study: Blogger Outreach for Oxfam America’s International Women’s Day 2012 Campaign

March 26th, 2012 | Shonali Burke | 62 Comments

Oxfam America's International Women's Day 2012 eCardOne of the most fun projects I’ve worked on recently was Oxfam America’s (OA) International Women’s Day  (IWD) 2012 campaign.

The project

You might remember my telling you about this; long story short, we were asked to provide digital support for the campaign; specifically, to engage bloggers with the goal of raising awareness for the campaign and the work that OA does to empower women around the globe.

Since OA already has a robust social media presence, our task was not to add to its social media plan, but to supplement it via blogger outreach.

The timeframe

I’ve been familiar with Oxfam for a while, and it’s a terrific organization; but the project duration was fairly short; just about a month. Since I know how time-intensive any kind of outreach can be, I was hesitant at first to take it on, but it’s such a good cause that I did. And I’m really glad I did.

The objectives

Since every good campaign begins with the end in sight, our discussions led us to agree on our objective: to pitch and secure posts featuring or highlighting the 2012 IWD campaign, that specifically asked readers to:

Or, of course, any combination of the above.

Oxfam America's International Women's Day 2012 eAward

The end-goal was to secure as many new constituents to OA’s eCommunity as possible, since these are the people OA can activate when advocacy is needed. And as they opted in (hopefully) to be communicated to by the organization, OA would be able to convert them to evangelists for OA’s work and donors to the organization.

What’s measurable?

Here is where it wasn’t easy to begin with. The eCard initiative was new for 2012, so there wasn’t a benchmark, say for 2011, to set goals against. The downloadable award was also completely new (that we created for OA, based on a printable version OA had already created) – same problem.

But here’s what we did know: based on a similar initiative in 2011, where OA asked people to upload photos to a photobook, OA secured 261 new members to its eCommunity. And in 2011, there were seven blog posts on the campaign that had been tracked.

So in my head, I figured at least a 25% increase on both fronts – the eCommunity front, as well as the post front – would be a reasonable goal to set.

The big lesson here, of course, is that when you don’t have a benchmark, it’s really tough to set measurable objectives. And it takes time to look at the data you have, even if it’s limited, to figure those out. So start doing this as soon as you can.

The background work and outreach

Since we didn’t need to focus on promoting the campaign in social networks per se, but were focused on blogger outreach, we did a ton of research. And I mean a ton.

OA already knew that women, particularly urban women, are an important audience for them. Then there was the fact that the actions we hoped people would take were digital actions.

So using a variety of resources and a lot of sweat equity, we created outreach lists of “mommy bloggers,” women in the tech and entrepreneur community, influencers in the area of nonprofit/social good (check out the list I built for Traackr on this a while back), social media influencers (I know, I know, but if they get on board, they can have a huge impact) and some general outlets that popular with the social media crowd and women in general (e.g. Mashable).

After days and days of research, we narrowed down our target outlets – which included a lot of blogs, but also blogs on the online counterparts to women’s publications – to around 245. That’s a lot!

We also did a lot of background work in:

  • Creating a one-pager of talking points, adapted from a broader social media messaging document OA had created for the campaign, to be provided to bloggers on request;
  • A more detailed informational document for bloggers, that included links to photo and video resources;
  • A sample post for bloggers, that included anchor text, which was included in #2 above.

We made sure the latter two were easily accessible via OA’s ACT FAST microsite, so that it was easy for bloggers to do what we asked them to, if they were interested, of course.

And then we pitched.

Hot tip: I can’t stress this enough; even if you have done a ton of research, you should write a really good pitch that is personalized to the recipient. Do not send blanket pitches. Do not send press releases. Do not send attachments, unless you’re asked for them. Etc. etc. etc.

The results

I am very proud of these:

  • We secured 42 blog posts from a range of outlets, including Mashable, Mom Bloggers for Social Good, Beth’s Blog, Tootzypop (I loved this one!) and Spin Sucks; this was a significant increase over the 2011 online coverage (7 posts… so that’s, what, 600%?). In fact, OA told me that our work contributed to nearly 3 million social brand impressions on March 8th, a “record for Oxfam America” (her words!).multi-pronged outreach & coverage
  • We didn’t plan for this, but an unanticipated result of the outreach was that Victoria Marzilli (my client) was invited to be a guest on #TGChat the evening before IWD. So we were able to introduce the campaign and OA’s work to 68 participants in the chat. How cool is that?
  • What happened with the eCards? Almost 2,000 (1,194) senders sent slightly over 2,000 (2,044) eCards to more than 5,000 (5,515) recipients.
  • The eAward was downloaded approximately 1,000 times between March 7 and March 10.
  • And the big one: OA secured 752 new constituents to its eCommunity via the eCards. Comparing that to 261 for 2011, that’s a 288% increase.

And because we asked OA to keep us posted on what was happening on the back-end, we learned that:

  • The top 28 traffic sources (defined as driving five or more visits) to OA’s eCards page included 14 of the 42 blog posts we secured; so blog placements, many of which included the anchor text we had included in our pitches and the sample post, were a significant driver of traffic to that pageTraffic sources to eCards
  • There was a strong correlation between the publishing of the blog posts and search traffic via keywords such as “international women’s day ecards,” “women’s day ecard,” and so on.

So it was a short, intense campaign, but it worked. And it was worth it, from OA’s point of view (and certainly mine!).

And I hope that by sharing it with you (with OA’s permission, which I’m grateful for), it will give you some ideas on implementing not just creative campaigns for your clients/organizations, but on setting them up the right way so that you can really gauge the effectiveness when you’re done.

Thoughts? Questions? Would you like more case study posts? Do let me know – the comments are yours, you know that!

All images courtesy Oxfam America, used with permission

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Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
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Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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53 comments
CharityMatters
CharityMatters

Hi Shonali,

I loved this post, amazing work on spreading the news and making a difference. I would love to be included on your non-profit blogger list if you have future studies.  Keep up the great work!

 

Sincerely,

 

Heidi Johnson

www.Charity-Matters.Com

shonali
shonali

@ericamallison Thank you!

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

I ADORE this case study. I particularly like the way you set up the benchmarks; you essentially had little to work with, but were able to draw on past experiences and understandings in order to measure outcomes (i.e. success). Outstanding job and I was thrilled to be involved.

Latest blog post: A Personal Request

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

Fabulous campaign, Shonali. You've become incredible at tapping your network for client service. I love this about you. Resourceful. That.Is.All. Happy to have been invited, included.

Tinu
Tinu

Congratulations - that's really great! As is the idea of sharing the case study afterwards.

shonali
shonali

@nancycawleyjean Thanks so much for sharing! @rachaelseda

shonali
shonali

@farida_h Thanks so much!

shonali
shonali

@livefyre Thanks so much for sharing!

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

@WomensMedicine Thanks for sharing @shonali 's post and happy Monday!

shonali
shonali

@womensmedicine Thank you for sharing and @rachaelseda you too, and also for the tremendous support on the campaign!

shonali
shonali

@a_greenwood @legalerswelcome Thank you both and, of course, @GiniDietrich!

shonali
shonali

@forthmetrics Thanks!

CraigKessler
CraigKessler

Excellent case study.  As a practitioner in the field, it's great to read about different case studies and learn how others speak about the results.  Being featured in Mashable, I'm curious what % of traffic and sign-ups came as a direct result of that placement opposed to the other 41.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Very nice trackable measurable campaign @shonali . It really helped that you had last year's numbers to compare. Great job for a great cause!

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

This really was a fun and meaningful campaign to work on! I always enjoy seeing results in a case study, especially of projects/campaigns I've helped with. It's always nice to review the planning that took place and see how every effort tied (or should tie) back to the campaign goal. It helps you learn what worked and possibly what didn't. But more than anything, I love how a case study tells a story that helps people learn and improve! 

shonali
shonali

@pr_in_pink Thank you!

shonali
shonali

@skypulsemedia @leaderswest Thank you for sharing! Did you enjoy the @oxfamamerica case study?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

I agree with Ken. It was a really good campaign...and one I hope gets even broader reach next year. You set a really good foundation. Let's hope it's something we set up for our grandkids to celebrate like any other holiday.

Latest blog post: Apple Should Not Buy Twitter

KenMueller
KenMueller

This was a great project, Shonali, and I was glad to be a part of it. You did a great job of bringing people on board, and it shows how some creativity and a lot of hard work can go a long way. Congrats on a job well done. 

Shonali
Shonali moderator

 @CharityMatters Thanks, Heidi! The way the list works is that it looks for people who are using relevant keywords across multiple online platforms (e.g. Twitter, blogs, etc.), and then it generates the list. So it's really dependent on who's talking about and disseminating relevant content. That's one of the things I like most about @traackr  (and everyone knows I like MANY things about them!). Also that the list refreshes every week, it's not a static list.

Latest blog post: Change: It's A-Comin'

Shonali
Shonali moderator

 @EricaAllison Thank you! Coming from a measurement maven like yourself, that means a lot. I'm so glad you were involved too - it meant a lot to me!

Latest blog post: Change: It's A-Comin'

Shonali
Shonali moderator

 @Tinu I'm really grateful that OA let me do that. It makes such a difference when people can see what worked (and learn/figure out what to do better), don't you think? And thank YOU for all your support!

Latest blog post: Change: It's A-Comin'

farida_h
farida_h

@shonali A pleasure. Thanks for sharing that. Pretty useful guidelines!

Livefyre
Livefyre

@shonali Our pleasure, Shonali! We hope all is well and that this week is off to a great start for ya!

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

@NancyCawleyJean Good morning Nancy! Thanks for sharing @lisabyrne 's post. How are you?!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

 @CraigKessler Thanks! As to your question, Mashable was actually lower down in terms of traffic sources than some others, including @ginidietrich 's Spin Sucks, Mom Bloggers for Social Good, and @kanter 's blog (and several others, I'm just mentioning a few). It was #14 out of the top 28 referral sources (excluding email traffic - I didn't include those numbers since we were not charged with working on that part of the campaign). Especially when those big media outlets are on the target list, I too am curious to know how they impacted traffic, so you're not alone!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

 @HowieSPM Thanks! Yes - and the thing with the 2011 numbers is that because the 2012 campaign was different, we had to figure out how exactly to measure it against last year's. It's not perfect, but I think it got as close as it possibly could, without very sophisticated tools, etc. And hopefully this will be very  helpful to OA next year.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

 @rachaelseda You were a HUGE help on this. Especially with all you had going on personally - I can't thank you enough. 

howiegoldfarb
howiegoldfarb

@shonali @leaderswest @oxfamamerica surprised the success with the email campaign. @mpace101 would tell me 'see this stuff works!'

Shonali
Shonali moderator

 @ginidietrich Wouldn't that be neat? Thank you so much for helping out, Jean Genie!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

 @KenMueller and notice no mention of Facebook! ;-)

 

But she did get an article in Mashable guess I can't win. Sigh.

CharityMatters
CharityMatters

 @Shonali  @traackr Great feedback Shonali and I so appreciate the insight, hoping to be on the list soon:) Have a great week!

 

shonali
shonali

@livefyre It sure is. You?

NancyCawleyJean
NancyCawleyJean

@rachaelseda Hi there! I'm just fine thanks! How are you??

CraigKessler
CraigKessler

 @Shonali  @ginidietrich  @kanter Thanks for the follow-up.  As measurement is always an ongoing and developing process, it's interesting to hear how other measure results and gauge success.

shonali
shonali

@skypulsemedia Of course it works. If it's done right. :) @mpace101

mpace101
mpace101

@skypulsemedia @shonali @leaderswest @oxfamamerica it does work, but I am no longer with prior email co. - free agent

KenMueller
KenMueller

 @HowieSPM Well, I'll mention it, because that particular post that I wrote did very well for me, and guess what the number one source of traffic to my blog is? Yup, Facebook, is consistently the number one external source of traffic to my blog on a regular basis. Huge numbers, in fact. 

Livefyre
Livefyre

@shonali Oh really? What brings you out this way? You better stop by the office! We'd love to show you the digs, maybe grab a bite to eat!

shonali
shonali

@livefyre Heh, true! Hey, I'll be in SF end-April...

Livefyre
Livefyre

@shonali Great to hear :) Things are well on our end, too. Staying VERY busy, but that's definitely a good thing so we ain't complainin'!

NancyCawleyJean
NancyCawleyJean

@rachaelseda fun! I love that we're already looking forward to the weekend and it's only Monday!

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

@NancyCawleyJean I'm plugging along ;) I did have a great weekend & looking forward to a college friend visiting this weekend!

Shonali
Shonali moderator

 @HowieSPM  Google (organic search) was indeed one of the top traffic sources, but what really made me happy was that a) several of the posts we secured were included in that list, and b) because we worked with the SEO specialist beforehand, people were using the right kind of search terms to get to that page. So I guess the secret would be a smart combination of lots of prep work, good content that is optimized without going overboard, and smart outreach. @KenMueller 

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

 @Shonali  @KenMueller Very impressed. Usually Google is the number one source with stumble upon second (not sure how that happens). And often in the 70-80% combined range.You have a secret?

Trackbacks

  1. […] especially fitting today, as International Women’s Day is tomorrow (and you remember how much fun I had working with Oxfam America on their IWD initiative a few years ago, in fact, you should check out what they’re doing this year […]

  2. [...] With International Women’s Day approaching, Oxfam recently embarked on what I think is one of the best-conceived and (so far, at least) executed awareness and activism campaigns: Behind the Brands. (Disclosure, Oxfam America was a client last year and I had terrific fun working on the 2012 IWD campaign. [...]

  3. [...] Walking Dead. Make sure you have a clear call-to-action and a simple message. Trust me it works. Oxfam America’s International Women’s Day campaign is a perfect example of [...]

  4. [...] your information digestible, quotable, and shareable. I can’t think of a better example than Oxfam America’s (OA) International Women Day campaign that I worked on with Shonali Burke. OA had a clear call-to-action and a simple message; [...]

  5. [...] your information digestible, quotable, and shareable. I can’t think of a better example than Oxfam America’s (OA) International Women Day campaign that I worked on with Shonali Burke. OA had a clear call-to-action and a simple message; [...]

  6. [...] She’s sharing a great example of a blogger outreach campaign that worked as planned. Check out Blogger Outreach for Oxfam America’s International Women’s Day 2012 Campaign and share your [...]

  7. [...] Case Study on OxFam America’s International Women’s Day by @Shonali: [...]

  8. [...] post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical. All images courtesy Oxfam America, used with [...]

  9. [...] first “met” Zoe when I was pitching Oxfam America’s #IWD2012 campaign, and it was a delight to work with [...]

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