Revving the engine
Engineers Australia, the peak body representing engineering professionals, is charged with advancing engineering and looking after the interests of its 85,000 members.
A benchmarking study conducted in May 2009 found that, despite high levels of advocacy (at 59% engineering came in second behind medicine as one of the most respected professions), engineering as a discipline was poorly understood by the broader public (only 37% of people knew what engineers actually do).
Engineers Australia devised ‘Make It So’, a national publicity campaign with the tag, ‘If you can imagine it, engineers can make it so’. The campaign had the key goals of:
- changing the public perception of engineering
- educating the public on what engineers do
- creating a stronger cohort of career advocates amongst the general public, and
- attracting more students to the profession.
‘Make It So’ would involve a national competition, accessible at the association’s website, inviting Australians to share their dreams and ideas, with the winning idea being turned into reality by a team of engineers. The competition would showcase how engineering teams solve problems with creativity, innovation and the application of science, and would deliver on the primary goals of the campaign.
Yet Engineers Australia knew that a traditional campaign approach would require heavy advertising to get the public on board and it lacked the budget for this.
Bienalto, the digital consultancy steering the campaign, recognised the immense value that Engineers Australia’s own members could bring to the campaign and recommended a six-month mobilisation phase before any public phase was launched.
Campaign: Make It So
Campaign dates: July 2009 to February 2010
Client: Engineers Australia
The primary objective of the first phase of the campaign was to mobilise Engineers Australia’s members and, in the process, fully refresh the database. The members, to be recruited as advocates for the campaign, would be tasked to spread the word about ‘Make It So’ and would become responsible for many of the operational aspects of the public phase.
Without the support of these members, the success of the campaign would be compromised. Only once Engineers Australia had a strong cohort of advocates on board to support the campaign, would the public competition have any chance of success.
Bienalto implemented a range of highly targeted digital activities, recognising the power of the digital channel to build relationships. These digital tools would leverage CRM intelligence to achieve significant, ongoing engagement with members.
It was critical that the engagement with members was timely, relevant and compelling – to encourage them to throw their weight behind the campaign and keep them coming back once the public phase was implemented.
A series of step-by-step micro-campaigns galvanised the support of engineers. Each micro-campaign was meticulously planned to collect content for the website, and to ensure the advocates would be ready for action once ‘Make It So’ was launched to the public in February 2010.
The six-month mobilisation campaign would initially target the entire Engineers Australia database and their extended engineering networks, and then would focus on strengthening relationships with the advocates themselves.
To capture as many advocates as possible, and to generate wider buzz, the campaign was promoted in a range of cost-effective ways via the digital channel, including:
- social networks: specifically Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
- digital campaigns and competitions: promoted by eDMs, social media and web channels
- monthly enewsletters to advocates, and
- regular blog posts.
One of the highlights of the campaign included the creation of the ‘Make It So’ website. From July 2009 to February 2010 this was the focal point from which all other digital marketing activities stemmed. Targeting engineers, it was continually refined and expanded to encompass micro-campaigns and competitions, links to social media sites, a campaign blog and more.
A barbecue competition, with a prize of a Beefmaster Barbecue worth $1500, asked members to provide ‘BBQ descriptions’ of engineering and their specific discipline. Engineers Australia’s goal was to create an engineering taxonomy – keywords and descriptions – to use in the public phase of the ‘Make It So’ competition.
Another competition, offering tickets to the Big Day Out, engaged with student engineers – a large percentage of the Engineers Australia database. Engineers Australia lacked significant student data and wanted to capture more intelligence for its CRM.
The ‘Make It So Champions’ micro-campaign identified the advocates who would willingly volunteer their time and expertise to ensure the competition’s success. Information gathered in the application process would later be used as content on the public site.
Each month, a segmented eDM was sent to the growing advocate database, ensuring ongoing engagement with the campaign.
Following a social media survey, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook were identified as valuable tools to reach new advocates and engage with existing advocates. Social media activities included:
- Twitter: a week-long competition was held, with an engineering-related question tweeted every hour; the first correct response to each question won a double movie pass
- Facebook: it was identified that many advocates regularly used Facebook; a dedicated Facebook page was established and simple ‘Share on Facebook’ buttons added to the ‘Make It So’ website, and
- LinkedIn: a ‘Make It So’ community was created as another avenue for promoting the campaign to more engineering professionals.
The six-month mobilisation phase exceeded expectations and generated exceptional results for Engineers Australia.
Intelligent, ongoing use of the CRM produced a range of quantitative and qualitative results for Engineers Australia. The scientific and technology-driven approach to each step in the campaign ensured that no CRM data was wasted – and that Engineers Australia far exceeded its initial expectations in building relationships with its members.
Most significantly, more than 8000 people signed up as advocates, smashing the initial target of 4000.
Furthermore, from these 8000 advocates, Engineers Australia gathered a rich body of content that could be used to populate the public ‘Make It So’ website and provided a solid support base for the public competition.
For example, the barbecue competition, which received 5676 entries, provided rich information that was analysed and filtered to provide:
- a 45-page engineering taxonomy, with eight colleges and 92 professions identified
- 2790 keywords
- 32 types of engineering, and
- 92 professions to be used to connect keywords to type of engineering.
In addition to providing valuable CRM information to Engineers Australia, the ‘BBQ definitions’ taxonomy was subsequently used in the competition phase to apply scientific rules to every aspect of the competition website.
In another example, before the campaign, the bounce rate on the database was high. Following the campaign, 6000 permanent bounces – or 7% of the database – were cleared.
The database now holds 52 fields per contact (many of which represent new data such as graduation dates), so campaign managers are more responsive in using the data to shape strategies on an ongoing basis.
Overall, the six-month mobilisation phase of the campaign has proved to be highly successful for Engineers Australia.
In the short-term, the pre-launch campaign to mobilise members supplied valuable data to drive the competition website’s engine. It also generated a rich array of analytical tools that are being put to good use in the public phase of the competition.
In the long-term, Engineers Australia has achieved a deeper level of engagement with its members that will have positive repercussions for some time to come. It now knows who its ‘champions’ are and has activated low-cost channels of communication like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Following that six-month campaign, Engineers Australia was poised to launch ‘Make It So’ to the general public with confidence.
While the figures from the public campaign aren’t finalised, Engineers Australia has already achieved success in its original goals.