Movable Ink brings AR fun, and more funds, to The Movember Foundation

The Movember Foundation added AR to its marketing arsenal in 2018

The Movember Foundation is all about growing facial hair for a good cause, but the non-profit organization also wants people to have fun while they’re raising money. Enter Movable Ink, a company that creates digital tools for marketers, which brought augmented reality (AR) to the mustache-growing community.

Movable Ink’s email platform includes an AR experience that recipients can launch on a mobile phone directly from the email, without having to download any special app. The experience can then easily be shared via social media.

The Movember Foundation, a charity tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention by encouraging people to grow mustaches and supporting the cause in other ways during November, thought that AR would be something they could share with their participating fundraisers.

“We call our community of participants Mo Bros and Mo Sisters, and we have a saying that they’re the rock stars and we’re the roadies who set it up for them and give them all the tools and platforms to shine,” Meaghan Bilinski, marketing automation director at the Movember Foundation, told The Drum.

She stated that digital has always been an important part of the Movember marketing experience, as those who grow their mustaches like to share the progress online. The Movember Foundation started about 15 years ago and Bilinski said that the organization was one of the first charities to do peer-to-peer fundraising online.

“How we’ve evolved over the years is keeping digital at the forefront of everything we’re doing. Our approach is based on the values of our organization, which is centered around fun, thinking differently, and providing a remarkable experience for our community,” she said.

As a nonprofit, Movember operates with a lean budget, though it raises funds in more than 20 countries around the world. So, the organization’s efforts need to drive traffic with the greatest efficiency to give brand consistency, while also adding value back to the community and ultimately setting them up for success.

“Our way of fundraising is through that peer-to-peer model, so it’s important that all of our online experiences are designed to make things easy for them,” said Bilinski.

Email has always been one of the most important channels in the marketing mix, and the non-profit has been working with Movable Ink for six years, evolving by trying out the company’s newest technology and features.

“We’ve had great success with them ever since we started. For us it’s all about providing that remarkable experience. Little things that can surprise and delight make our emails stand out from everyone else’s. It’s about making it easy for people — so, giving them tools to share, giving them experiences they want to share and make that noise for us — because all our participants are our ambassadors who get the word out there and raise all that money for us,” Bilinski said.

The partnership with Movable Ink has improved performance, elevated engagement from subscribers and seen a huge increase in funds raised because of the work done in the email channel. As a result, the 2018 marketing team was nominated for The Drum's Marketing Awards.

No fake mustaches

The Movember Foundation’s fundraising marketing starts with a ‘First of Movember’ kickoff email, and it’s one they want people to share. In 2018, the Foundation took a mobile-first approach, improving on past experiences and adding AR. But using AR didn’t mean just slapping a mustache over someone’s picture.

“One thing we actually do is steer clear of fake mustaches,” said Bilinski, adding that the worst real mustaches often create the best online conversations. “People assume a great use of AR technology would be to show people with a mustache, but what we believe is we really want to celebrate the real mustaches. We don’t want to give an alternative to growing a real mustache.”

What Movable Ink and Movember decided to do with the AR functionality was to create a filter people could share that was dynamic, based on if they identified as a Mo Bro or a Mo Sister, and give them something to share to kickstart their fundraising. Since most of their users are mobile first, doing it there made the most sense. For desktop users, they used image personalization.

“Basically, once you open the email it launches your camera and you can take your selfie with the filter overlay and then share it across all of the platforms,” she said.

Brandon Jernigan, client experience manager at Movable Ink, said that the AR technology the company uses has the ability to be embedded on landing pages.

“Folks are using this as an opportunity to create chatter and excitement around something, whether it’s a product release or an event that’s occurring. We’re seeing brands wanting to explore or extend into new areas not just in email, but in additional chatter outside of the inbox, creating opportunities for touchpoints for keeping brands top of mind,” Jernigan said. He added that retail brands often use AR to show how people might look trying on glasses or clothing so they can get feedback from friends.

“It’s primarily in the email market, moving beyond the inbox and into web personalization display. For Movember, that meant it could generate buzz while allowing people to interact with the technology,” said Jernigan.

Room to grow

The Movember Foundation is just scratching the surface of what it can do with Movable Ink’s AR technology and it plans to build on the successes it saw in its 2018 campaign for the future. Its custom filter was shared more than 500 times, and it hopes to up that number considerably this year.

With Movable Ink’s functionality, Movember also plans to get more traffic for its app with stickers and the facial filter to allow participants to share the fun. It also looks to make fundraising easier by getting more people excited about the money they're raising with a mustache-shaped fundraising target progress bar, which goes out as a mid-month email. Bilinski said it's the most forwarded of all the emails they send, up 54% from the previous year.

“Every year, we keep the core concept but we expand on it and create more variations, more tailored content; however, we can take what’s working and elevate it. This year, we’re looking perhaps at different filter options and doing the AR feature more than once,” said Bilinski. “We want to make more of a surprise factor where people are excited to share it.”

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