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Marie Curie unveils transformation plan as new digital chief admits charity has been 'far behind the curve'

Marie Curie Cancer Care has launched a three and a half year digital transformation programme as its newly appointed head of digital Claire Hazle admits the charity is lagging behind with its digital output.

The project, which will enable multichannel relationships with supporters and patients and introduce technologies as part of broader efficiency improvements, comes after Marie Cure realised it was falling behind other charities which are producing more innovative digital marketing activity.

“About a year and a half ago the programme of work that was required was identified in recognition that as a charity we were very, very far behind the curve in terms of our use of technology and digital,” Hazle told The Drum.

“Particularly in the way we communicate with our supporters, carers, nurses and health professionals. As a charity we really need to focus in a very concentrated way on even coming up to the same level as other charities, let alone being able to demonstrate innovation in that area.”

Marie Cure will introduce the programme in stages, focussing this year on overhauling its website to streamline donating and volunteering processes and taking a personalised approach to its communications.

The work will ensure that the charity uses the data it has already collected on its users to offer targeted marketing communications, in a way that is suitable for those who interact with Marie Curie, whether that is through traditional offline methods or newer digital channels.

“As a charity, and as any brand we know more about our customers and supporters than perhaps we realise and we can use that information to personalise that engagement in a much closer way than knowing what their Twitter handle is or what they had for breakfast.

“For me it’s knowing the right information about people and understanding what kind of relationship people want to have with us and being able to personalise on that,” she said.

Social media is a key area for the charity, which has taken a “test and learn” approach to marketing campaigns when it comes to using the platform.

Hazle explained that Marie Curie is exploring ways to acquire new volunteers and donors through people’s own social circles and analysing consumer touch points.

“I’m keen to explore how we join up that journey, so with the new website it will give us much more opportunity to think about what those supporter journeys look like end to end. So once somebody has interacted with our website – they’ve come from an email perhaps or from a piece of DM – what happens then?

“How do we continue that conversation with them digitally and also offline as well through display advertising, potentially in terms of retargeting, how do we blend in their search behaviour? How do we present people with a more personalised experience with the website as well? Once we know the kind of the thing you are interested how we can tailor that experience more closely.”

Despite admitting that Marie Curie has a way to go before it can match other charities' progress in digital, Hazle said she sees it as an opportunity for the charity as it has a “blank piece of paper” and that she will look to other brands in different industries as a gauge.

“My view of it is as a charity we sit in a very distinctive space in caring for people who have any terminal illness and our digital experience will be similarly unique. I don’t think we would ever say we aim to be like XYZ charity because for me I don’t want us to be a ‘me too’ charity I want us to forge our own unique space in the digital environment and to make sure we’re doing what’s right for Marie Curie and our supporters rather than just copying what others are doing.”

The charity is currently recruiting a range of new roles for both the digital and marketing teams who will play a key part in driving Marie Curie’s digital development.

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Natalie Mortimer

I look after all things creative.

All by Natalie