Case Study – Easter Seals “Wish Alexis good luck!” campaign

Like many of my peers, I’m an email junky…especially when it comes to other nonprofits, going so far as too maintain an email account just for newsletter subscription.   I’m always looking for the next creative idea and seeking to see how what digital marketing activities my colleagues are engaged in.  Unfortunately, there is rarely enough time to read each newsletter, so I was ecstatic when a close colleague forwarded and asked me if I head read the below email from Easter Seals National this past Thursday morning and thought I would share the campaign as an example of creative nonprofit marketing.

Background:

In October, several news stories were published that Alexis Wineman would represent the State of Montana in the upcoming Miss America Competition.  Although such news would typically have a regional appeal, it became a national story when media learned that Alexis had been diagnosed with autism at the age of 11.  As such, she could become the first person with autism to be named Miss America.

Demonstrating creativity, Easter Seals saw the powerful story of Alexis’ hard work in overcoming the challenges of autism as an opportunity to not only raise awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorders, but also to drive email newsletter signups and encourage charitable giving.  Easter Seals (ES) understood that as the competition neared her story would gain even more attention. As a result, they thoughtfully planned a digital campaign around the story of Alexis and timed the campaign to launch just days before the Miss America competition.

Below is the original email…

The email was simple, straight-forward and contained clear call-to-actions (sometimes a minimalist design is the best option).  The creativity in this email stems from the ability of ES to refrain from directly soliciting donation and watering down the message of the email with buttons or multiple links to other online properties.  The email contained text links to share across social media, but the placement of the links was subtle and designed not to take away from the message.  The organization wanted the readers to focus on Alexis and to share their congratulations.


Call-To-Action

With three clearly identified links to click-thru, readers who followed up were taken to the custom landing page below:

Click to view the page

Again, you will notice the organization focused upon a clear call-to-action in signing the card for Alexis.  The page was minimalist to the extent that ES disable the sidebars and did not place multiple buttons or text links that could take away from the the call-to-action.  If you were looking for a place to donate on this page, you wouldn’t find it.

Upon entering their information and signing the card, the organization clearly indicated that users were subscribing to future email newsletters.


Second Call-To-Action

Upon submitting their signature to the card and email sign-up, ES redirected users to a custom “thank you” page that served as an opportunity to now donate to the organization:

Click to view the page

The page was now a direct solicitation for financial support and a clearly identified chance to share the good luck card.  At the same time of submission, an automatic email was generated to the individual signing up:

Dear Jarid,

Thank you for signing our good luck card for Miss America contestant Alexis Wineman! I know it will brighten her day when she sees how many people are supporting her in Saturday’s competition.

We’re sending our card to Alexis on Saturday morning, and we want to get as many signatures as possible. Will you help spread the word? Just take a moment to share her card on Facebook and Twitter, or forward the message below to five friends.

Thank you,

Cameron Robbins
Easter Seals

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DELETE TEXT ABOVE THIS LINE AND FORWARD TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
———-

Hi,

Did you know that the next Miss America could be the very first person with autism to wear the crown?

This Saturday, 18-year-old Alexis Wineman could make history as the first person with autism to win the Miss America title. But what really makes her special is the message she has for young people: We should celebrate our differences, not feel ashamed of them. If Alexis becomes the next Miss America, she’ll be able to spread that message to even more people – so I really hope she wins!

I just wished Alexis all the best by signing Easter Seals’ good luck card – will you sign it too before Saturday? Let’s cheer her on to the Miss America crown – add your name to her good luck card!

Thanks!

The plain text email contained only one call-to-action, an appeal to share.


Best Practices:

Easter Seals demonstrated best practices by not only identifying opportunity, but by maintaining focus upon their primary objectives and not minimizing Alexis’ story.  The organization’s intent was to first and foremost offer a sincere congratulations to Alexis and secondarily, use her story as a way to increase awareness for a condition that affects 1 in 88 children in the US.  The organization demonstrated a knowledge of the autism community, in understanding that thousands of supporters would share the campaign, without direct prompting.  Through using a minimalist design in their initial email, a focused landing page, and custom sign-up responders, the Wish Alexis “good luck” campaign provides an example of the power of a creative, well thought out outreach campaign.

In summary, let us all Wish Alexis Good Luck!

Jarid Brown is the owner of HCM Brown, a digital marketing firm, and the Director of Online Interactions for The Hope Institute in Springfield, IL. Connect with Jarid Brown on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.

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