The American Cancer Society, generates a 5.4% lift in revenue with Google Analytics

For over 100 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has worked relentlessly to save lives and create a world with less cancer.

The goal of the American Cancer Society (ACS) is to eliminate cancer as a major health problem by helping people stay well, get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back. To support this effort, the ACS has created several websites and mobile applications to provide cancer detection and treatment information, to accept donations to cancer research, and to provide volunteer opportunities.

In early 2012, the ACS began working with Search Discovery to help understand how users are interacting with their sites and applications, and to address data quality concerns with the Google Analytics implementation on several sites.

The Challenge

When the American Cancer Society started working with Search Discovery, it quickly became apparent that users of the websites owned by the ACS fall into three main personas:

  1. Cancer Information Seekers: Users seeking cancer signs and symptoms, or information on what to expect from a cancer diagnosis.
  2. Event Participants: Individuals who are seeking opportunities to participate in an event to fundraise for cancer research and support services.
  3. Donors: Those users who simply want to make a donation to the fight against cancer.

Each of these segments is defined by the unique goal that the user intends to achieve on the website, but it can be challenging for the digital marketing team to isolate these customer segments to help users achieve those goals, monitor how these behaviors change over time or remarket to these segments after they have been identified.

The Process

In order to accurately classify the three main Personas, the American Cancer Society started by capturing the necessary data using Google Analytics to identify each segment, and then determine if they are successful at completing goals.

First of all Custom Dimensions were used to capture information necessary to understand which segment a user belongs to:

  • Donor = User has made a donation
  • Participant = User has registered for event
  • Cancer Info Seeker = User has viewed pages in the cancer info section

Secondly, website events that indicate when a user is successful or unsuccessful at meeting a goal were mapped, and Custom Metrics were used to send a score for each:

  • Recency Score = 1 point awarded if the previous session was within the past 7 days
  • Engagement Score = 1 point awarded for every three pages viewed
  • Conversion Score = 1 point awarded for each transaction, event registration or view of an entire article on cancer information
  • Revenue Score = 1 point awarded for gifts larger than the average size ($70)

This scoring method allowed the marketing team to monitor the overall health of the site for each user segment as it trends over time, and dig deeper into the data when abnormalities arise.

acs ga

More importantly, the American Cancer Society can now remarket to their users based on any combination of segments and scores using DoubleClick Campaign Manager.

Below are some of the ways this integration can be used:

  • Target cancer information seekers with an invitation to donate to cancer research.
  • Share fundraising ideas with event participants.
  • Encourage event participants who have not donated to make a personal donation in addition to fundraising.

The Results is the primary site used by the American Cancer Society to distribute cancer research and information, but there is a separate site called Making Strides Against Breast Cancer that is used to raise money for breast cancer research.

In Oct 2014, the site performance score for began to increase dramatically over the prior month. Following a behavior analysis, the team determined that this was due to an increase average transaction size and average time on site during Breast Cancer Awareness month. However, they had expected breast cancer donors to arrive on the Making Strides site, and was not optimized to receive this traffic. In response, the team at ACS created promotions on to drive traffic to the Making Strides site which were used by more than 39,000 during that month. Also, they created a breast cancer focused donation form on that restricted funds to breast cancer research, generating a 5.4% lift in revenue over the prior year.

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