An international non-governmental organization, WaterAid’s mission is to make water, toilets, and hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere. Alongside its supporters, the organization works toward a common goal: getting these basic human rights to the millions of people still living without them. The organization was set up in 1981 and, as of 2018, operates in 34 countries.
Understanding that effectively reaching its supporters is critical in helping the organization achieve its goals, WaterAid knew it needed its website to be personalized with highly relevant, engaging experiences. Understanding the needs and interests of website visitors would help WaterAid move people closer to the brand. WaterAid knew that increasingly relevant experiences would lead to an uplift in performance metrics.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic put a special strain on WaterAid — its teams around the world had to start working urgently to stop the spread of coronavirus, through safe water, sanitation, and good hygiene. The organization needed a way to quickly increase awareness, urgency, and donation revenue while making COVID-19 emergency appeals.
Before enabling personalization on its website, the organization faced several challenges. First, a “one size fits all” approach to its websites meant that the organization was providing a single, broad website experience to every visitor with little understanding of its supporters as individuals or even meaningful segments. And although the organization’s on-site strategy focused on the interests and needs of supporters, there was no technical follow-through that holistically adapted website content and digital journeys. The WaterAid team realized that to tackle these challenges, they needed a platform that would help them better understand their supporters and their place in the engagement framework journey toward “brand love.”
The WaterAid team adopted a “crawl, walk, run” approach with personalization to transform their website experience from a one-size-fits-all approach to a “segment of one” experience. Forming a project team of members from the organization’s digital product, digital content and experience, performance and insight, and digital marketing teams, WaterAid brought on partners at Acquia and Access to assist in the transformation.
Together, the teams developed WaterAid’s personalization strategy, aligning it with the organization’s “crawl, walk, run” engagement framework. Specifically:
- Crawl | Proof of concept: WaterAid launched simple “targeted personalization” campaigns to personalize the homepage experience for visitors who had shown an interest in either running, cycling, or trekking events to increase registrations to join Team WaterAid and fundraise for the organization. WaterAid also developed a streamlined workflow for the creation of personalized content.
- Walk | Test and iterate: Next, WaterAid focused on increasing the donation conversion rate. Based on user journey analysis, the teams saw that people who visited the donation page would often move away from the page without donating, most commonly navigating to the homepage. After hypothesizing that a stronger ask on the homepage with a call to action to return to the donation page would capture lost donations and increase conversion rate, WaterAid devised numerous A/B test campaigns with different messaging and CTAs.
- Run | Integrate personalization into marketing planning and processes: WaterAid launched several campaigns to support acquisition marketing campaigns, including paid social and PPC. For example, the organization personalized the website for traffic coming from its #BringWater campaign on social media that promoted its COVID-19 emergency appeal and raised awareness of crucial coronavirus-focused hygiene messages.
WaterAid achieved significant results during each phase of its personalization approach.
“Crawl” results: WaterAid’s normal clickthrough rate of 3.8% skyrocketed to 14.1% using the personalized call-to-action.
- “Walk” results: The organization’s A/B test around abandoned donations provided interesting insights. After running the campaign for 77 days, variant 1’s clickthrough rate had an uplift of 37.3% with a confidence score of 98.3%, making it clear that this messaging and CTA significantly increased the number of users returning to the donation page. However, when the team reviewed the actual donation rate, the results were not significant. This insight showed them where to focus their next tests: optimizing the next page in the journey — the donation page — for the highest conversion rate.
- “Run” results: Since the beginning of the organization’s personalization journey, WaterAid has set up 16 targeted personalizations, 57 segments, 9 goals, and 22 custom events giving it insight into its supporters' interaction with its websites. Additionally, it has tracked more than 1,100 donations as completed campaign goals on both its UK and global websites and implemented custom tracking between Acquia Personalization and Google Analytics.