How do you use data to build a groundswell of public support?

A coalition of Internet providers joined together with the heroic mission to improve broadband across the UK. How? By pushing the regulatory body known as Ofcom to remove the monopoly that a single company has on the broadband infrastructure. Legally, this would involve separating specific organisational entities—but emotionally, this is about better broadband for everyone, an area in which the UK is lagging behind.

Blue State Digital helped this coalition with a data-driven digital campaign to gather public support for the cause, resulting in one of the largest responses Ofcom has ever received to a public consultation—over 100,000 responses. After the successful campaign, Ofcom proceeded with a formal notification to require the legal separation of the entities controlling the broadband infrastructure—paving the way for better service for all.

Harnessing passion

Blue State started where we often do, with audiences. Rather than blanket the UK with a big overarching campaign message, we researched every audience that may care about having better Internet, and understood their specific pain points.

Through a combination of industry research, focus groups, social data, and Global Web Index we prioritised eight audience groups and defined their role in the campaign, actions they may take, insights and behaviours. These groups included gamers, who struggle constantly with bad internet affecting their ability to play online games, and people living in rural communities who suffer from a lack of Internet access.

We delivered targeting messaging relevant to each segment’s needs, testing what resonated best. As usual, it was those that were most passionate that showed a higher propensity for action, with a strong response from the gaming community.

Testing to the nth degree

As we honed in on the audiences most likely to support our cause, we also tested two creative identities for action: “Better Connected Britain,” representing optimism; and “Fix Britain’s Internet,” which conveyed urgency. Fix Britain’s Internet performed better by 30%, an empirical result which helped secure consensus across the client coalition and its numerous agencies such as PR and events. Rather than a wide launch of all creative and content up front, we took a data-driven approach to start small and learn what works, then scale up based on performance.

We tested everything, from copy, imagery, graphics, audience segments and time of day. The two main test learnings were that geographical content and gamer-specific content were the most cost effective. Learning this allowed us to create highly tailored images relevant to each audience group, including hyperlocal variations. A Gaming audience of young males (18-24) were the highest converting audience overall, and we created bespoke content for this group, featuring a popular influencer to offer authenticity and increase reach.

Through continual optimisation we ensured our clients received the highest return on their investment, reducing the cost per acquisition (CPA) of the paid social content delivered by the campaign. Testing resulted in over 80 micro-campaigns, each one targeted to a specific audience, and 1,430 different social ad variants, which resulted in 57,894 reactions (827 per day), 16,115 comments (230 per day) and 19,496 shares (279 per day).

Making the case with data

It’s one thing to tell Ofcom and other government figures that the campaign is building support, it’s another to show it with real numbers. Along the way, BSD kept a performance dashboard showing real time success of the campaign and enabling us to forecast future results and identify needed optimisations. Data isn’t just about numbers, as we showed responses from the community, such as “If our Internet stops working less than five times a day we consider ourselves lucky,” and “I have had better Internet connections in remote jungles in Cambodia than in Cornwall or Wales.”

Empowering supporters to act

Powered by our BSD Tools platform, our audience were able to also send a message to their MP at the same time as sending an email letter to Ofcom. This enabled the campaign to show members of parliament that people in their constituencies wanted better Internet, and gave us regional breakdowns of people taking action—with Scotland in particular showing a high response.

The campaign resulted in 103,870 submissions to Ofcom, one of Ofcom’s highest responses ever. The campaign website had an average conversion rate (those submitting an email response to Ofcom) of 31%, and there was an average of one email per minute sent during the campaign.

A big response leads to a big win

Within two months of the campaign completion, Ofcom announced plans to reform the companies controlling the broadband infrastructure in the UK, responding to the public response to the campaign: “These views underline the critical role that digital communications play in people’s lives, and the importance of the steps Ofcom is taking to deliver better telecoms services for people and businesses.” This was a great win for everyone who took action to Fix Britain’s Internet.

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