Save the Bay logo
Cyril Manning

Act-On Success Story

“Our Bay Day campaign reached nearly 1.7 million people, added 4,000 new contacts, and raised nearly $80,000. I’m not exaggerating when I say we never could have achieved this kind of success without Act-On.”

Cyrill Manning

Director of Communications

Save the Bay Raises Brand Awareness and Community Consciousness with Act-On

  • Act-On multi-channel launch across email, web, and social reached nearly 1.7 million people
  • Email and web campaigns added 4,000 new contacts
  • Fundraising emails and corporate sponsorships raised nearly $80,000

160% INCREASE IN WEB TRAFFIC

 
 

Overview

Non-profits that want wide-spread exposure for their cause often have to think outside the box. Save the Bay, an organization committed to preserving the health of the San Francisco Bay, did just that when they launched Bay Day – an event that immersed participants in the beauty of the Bay as a way to garner their support. With the help of Act-On, Save the Bay ran a marketing campaign that increased Save the Bay’s web traffic by 160%, raised almost $80,000, drew in 4,000 new members, and touched nearly 1.7 million residents.

Challenge

Anyone who’s been to San Francisco has seen the spectacular beauty of its bay, with its dramatic coastline and iconic Golden Gate Bridge. But they may not know that the Bay is also one of California’s most important ecological habitats – an estuary surrounded by a wide expanse of tidal marshes teaming with life.

Save the Bay knows all this and more. Scientists have recommended restoring more than 100,000 acres of marshes to ensure the bay’s long-term health, and Save the Bay is striving to meet that goal. They’ve led countless projects to fight pollution, educate youth, shape public policy, and preserve the bay’s natural beauty.

But in 2016, they decided to add to their more traditional methods of influencing change by launching Bay Day, a celebration of the Bay and the vital role it plays in the area’s quality of life. They believed that if people experience the magic of the Bay firsthand, they will be inspired to protect it.

“Growing our list of supporters and raising money were important, but an event like Bay Day gave us the chance to touch the hearts and minds of our constituents and draw them into our mission.”

CYRIL MANNING
Director of Communications
Inaugural "Bay Day" news segment on KTVU Fox 2
Inaugural "Bay Day" news segment on KTVU Fox 2

With more than seven million residents spread across nine counties, it was an ambitious undertaking. And while marketing the event might have overwhelmed even the most seasoned professionals, Cyril Manning, Save the Bay’s director of communications, embraced it.

“I saw the tremendous potential Bay Day had to humanize our organization,” Cyril said. “Growing our list of supporters and raising money were important, but an event like this gave us the chance to touch the hearts and minds of our constituents and draw them into our mission.”

The Save The Bay team was small but determined. They realized that to get and keep Bay Day top of mind, they would have to leverage the power of email and social media, and strategically engage local partners to amplify their efforts. They knew that marketing automation would be critical to their success, and they turned to Act-On for help.

Solution

As soon as the organization began working on Bay Day, the event took off. They secured a wide range of high profile sponsors, including Facebook, PG&E, and the San Francisco Giants. And they partnered with numerous recreational businesses and organizations that wanted to participate and coordinate ancillary events.

“Bay Day captured everyone’s imagination, and activated dozens of sites that turned into centers of celebration,” Cyril said. “It quickly became a powerful way to foster collaboration and unite the community.”

One of Cyril’s first marketing victories was to secure a trade with Yelp, who agreed to promote Bay Day in two newsletters that reached 1.4 million people. The emails drove users to Bay Day’s website, BayDay.org, which provided event details and a chance to sign up for the organization’s newsletter.

Email Campaigns

The Yelp campaigns put Bay Day on the map, and helped Cyril garner the support of local celebrities like Doug McConnell, an environmental journalist who offered anyone who joined Save the Bay exclusive access to his audio tour of the Hayward Regional Shoreline, a breathtaking, 1,700 acre park.

Save The Bay used the audio tour and other donated incentives to create email campaigns in Act-On that also drove people to BayDay.org, and encouraged them to join Save the Bay’s contact list. And the team ran additional campaigns to raise money by selling Bay Day t-shirts and soliciting direct donations.

Save the Bay’s newsletters
Save the Bay’s email campaigns generated a 27.7% click-through rate and helped bring in 4,000 new members.

“Act-On served as a command center from which my team could create and monitor all these campaigns.”

CYRIL MANNING
Director of Communications

They also leveraged their own newsletter by using it to promote individual Bay Day events and the partners that sponsored them. For example, San Francisco’s Exploratorium offered residents a rare chance to view the Bay’s marine life from their Fisher Bay Observatory, followed by a panel discussion on the Bay’s future with Save the Bay’s executive director and other experts. Events like these generated excitement about Bay Day, and introduced new audiences to Save the Bay and its mission.

“Act-On helped us see our audience as a collection of distinct individuals, and it empowered us to segment our list and deliver targeted messages that moved them to action.”

CYRIL MANNING
Director of Communications
Save the Bay’s email campaigns
Save the Bay’s newsletters promoted partner events like the one held at San Francisco’s Exploratorium to raise awareness about issues threatening the San Francisco Bay.

All told, Cyril’s team implemented ten email campaigns and three newsletters. He was thrilled by the awareness they generated, and cites Act-On as the driving force.

“Act-On served as a command center from which my team could create and monitor all these campaigns,” he said. “The software made it simple to segment our list by region and event, so we could deliver the most relevant content to our audience, such as promoting local activities to nearby residents. The platform also gave us tremendous insight into the effectiveness of our programs by tracking and reporting on how recipients interacted with each email. Act-On was indispensable at every turn.”

Web Campaigns and Social Media

Cyril further extended his marketing efforts by working with websites like FunCheap and Weekend Sherpa that highlight local events. FunCheap promoted a contest where readers who joined Save the Bay’s mailing list could win a kayak excursion for two. And Weekend Sherpa featured Bay Day on their website, and highlighted several Bay Day hikes in their newsletter. Altogether, these recreational websites exposed nearly 300,000 people to Bay Day and brought more than 11,000 visitors to BayDay.org.

Facebook was the lead sponsor of Bay Day, and Save The Bay fully leveraged the platform. The organization ran ads promoting numerous activities, such as a slew of regional bike rides, and highlighted special Bay Day offers, such as discounts on sailing adventures and aquarium admissions. His team boosted their effectiveness with geo-targeting, for example, by displaying the bike ride ads to members of local Facebook cycling groups.

Save the Bay also posted a petition on Change.org inviting people to “Help Claim Bay Day for the Entire Bay Area.” And while these external web campaigns weren’t implemented with Act-On, Cyril said using the platform ensured their success.

“When we work with Change.org and other websites, we never have to worry about user activity or contact information being improperly collected – Act-On accurately captures the sources of all our web traffic,” Cyril said. “It’s very reassuring to know we can trust the integrity for our data.”

Results

Bay Day’s reach was phenomenal. Save The Bay partnered with more than 40 organizations and promoted more than 50 activities throughout all nine Bay Area counties. The event generated massive goodwill, raised Save the Bay’s brand awareness, and created an incredible foundation of support for future initiatives.

Photo Credit: Vivian Reed

“Bay Day brought the spirit of our organization to life and gave our audience a visceral experience of our mission. Our campaign attracted people who might not have known about us, but who care about the bay and have a stake in our success.”

CYRIL MANNING
Director of Communications

The results of the Bay Day campaign quantified the success. The email programs reached a total of nearly 1.7 million individuals, and the emails Save The Bay implemented through Act-On had an enviable 27.7 percent open rate and a 2.6 percent click-through rate. Save the Bay’s Facebook ads reached more than a million people and had a strong engagement rate of 2.3 percent. They also generated a 17 percent increase in Save the Bay Likes.

The email and ad campaigns added more than 4,000 contacts to Save the Bay’s list, and generated an unprecedented level of web activity. In the month leading up to Bay Day, traffic to SaveTheBay.org and BayDay.org increased by a whopping 160 percent. And visitors spent an average of 55 seconds engaging with the content – a striking length of time when you consider that recent research indicates more than half of viewers leave a web page within the first 15 seconds.

The money Bay Day raised was just as impressive. The emails soliciting donations and selling t-shirts, combined with sponsorships, brought in nearly $80,000.

By all accounts, Bay Day was a sweeping victory – especially as an inaugural event. But Cyril says the campaign’s most enduring gift is the experience his team gained solving the marketing challenges they faced. And he unabashedly credits Act-On for supporting their growth.

“My vision for Bay Day is to make it as well-known and celebrated in the Bay Area as Earth Day, and I’m confident that with the help of Act-On, we’ll realize it.”

CYRIL MANNING
Director of Communications
Photo Credit: SF City Kayak

About Save The Bay

Save The Bay is the largest regional organization working to protect, restore and celebrate San Francisco Bay since 1961. Save The Bay engages more than 50,000 supporters, advocates, and volunteers to keep the Bay Area’s most important natural resource clean and healthy for people and wildlife.

Contact Save The Bay

Photo Credit: Mike Oria