Pivoting digital marketing strategy during a pandemic
Events have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 – with many seeing cancellation, rather than managing to adapt in time. With events making up a significant portion of charities’ annual revenues, lockdowns and restrictions have posed a huge risk to non-profits’ incomes.
One charity which rose to this challenge in 2020 was Diabetes UK. Its flagship event, the One Million Steps challenge, sees individuals join a huge online community of steppers to raise money, walking at least 10,000 steps a day over three months.
Time to rethink
The UK’s first lockdown hit just two weeks into the event’s three-month media plan. Significantly limited outdoor activity, as well as the fear for those living with Diabetes falling more severely ill with the virus, meant meeting sign-up targets with the charity’s marketing strategy seemed impossible.
A new strategy which offered reassurance and pandemic-friendly tips to complete each set of daily step challenges was needed. Such a pivot would see Diabetes UK advertise the event again, but this time with a new digital strategy, creative, and event accessibility that reflected a nation in lockdown.
A new digital strategy
Diabetes UK reacted quickly, pivoting its campaign to include COVID-19-proof messaging. As a result, the One Million Steps challenge enjoyed a head start in early sign-ups.
As the digital events space became more crowded, Manifesto’s channel-agnostic and performance-driven media spend strategy helped to substitute the momentum. Using Facebook, Spotify, Bing, and Google Paid Search, Manifesto set in place a system of rules and automations, using Cost Per Action (CPA) to dictate rate of spend. This meant the campaign could restart without succumbing to the risks of big media spends and poor results.
Pivoting quickly, the team even trialled a new implementation of Facebook lookalikes, which led to a spike in sign-ups at the most crucial part of the campaign – the final three weeks.
Exceeding pre-COVID-19 targets
The event marked one of the UK’s largest virtual walks in 2020, raising £1,956,581 for Diabetes research. The campaign registered 22,038 people in total – a 108% turnout on its pre-pandemic target.
So instead of simply surviving, the charity’s campaign outperformed and set new records. It overcame its target for sign-ups through advert clicks by a whopping 136%. And it smashed through pre-March revenue targets by an even larger 196%. An outstanding achievement and testament to the long hours, agility, and hard work put in by all involved.