Mercy Corps

The Role

To provide Digital skills at the UK Headquarters in the newly created position of Online Marketing Manager

Websites – Mercy Corps UK


Mercy Corps are a US based International Aid Agency with a European operation based in Edinburgh. As the first UK Online Marketing Manager my remit was to provide an online strategy to assist in their fundraising activities.

“Sometimes in life there are times we are all powerless to make things happen even though we know what to do to make things right”

Stephen Cullen


  • Increase donations from an existing website which:
    • Achieved a conversion rate of 0.04% when compared to the total number of site visitors
    • Could not be found on Search engines outside use of the term “Mercy Corps”
    • Was controlled by a digitally naive US Web Team who questioned the value of a site optimisation (SEO) policy when competing against sites using heavier levels of content
    • Rejected the value of a customer journey aimed at building donor relationships, preferring to generate income through one-off customer donations – a policy at odds with UK donor culture
    • Were unfamiliar with page formatting and usability techniques including “writing for the web”
    • Failed to employ negative keywords in ppc campaigns delivering high bounce rates and a high proportion of irrelevant traffic
    • Made no reference to Google Analytics to ascertain site performance – the understanding of which would provide the clues to remedial action
    • Believed site engineering should be delivered through page content rather than a site navigation tree
    • Failed to employ usability testing prior to a site revamp

On reviewing the site statistics it became immediately evident the site failed to adopt the necessary pillars of best practice web design: navigation, SEO, page formatting for the web, usability testing, a customer journey. On the request of US management a report was submitted on site performance.

Marketing Proposals

  • A Digital strategy which would make Mercy Corps UK less dependent upon our US colleagues
  • A plan which would shift emphasis from an underperforming website to alternative digital revenue generating activities
  • An aspiration which would bring Mercy Corps, Donors, and Beneficiaries closer together therefore increasing customer loyalty and donations
  • Activities which would enhance our “findability” in search engines
    • The creation of a separate optimised website based on Charity “Events”
    • The launch of a new Social networking campaign incorporating the results from keyword analysis
  • A timed and fully costed Digital Plan based on the principles of Campaign Management
  • Subscription marketing
  • Campaigns designed to increase all year round revenue streams lessening dependence on one-off natural disasters
  • Customised Facebook Pages which are estimated to double the level of returns from Facebook
  • A CEO Blog to support our social networking strategy
  • A strategy for the employment of LinkedIn targeting Corporate Donors


  • Acceptance of my Digital Marketing Plan at Executive Board level
  • The introduction of a new Twitter account together with Facebook
  • Recognition that the existing site would not deliver donor revenue and that other activities would have to be created to compensate


Despite acceptance of the Business Plan at Executive level it became evident control over the budget would remain elsewhere – and for unidentified adhoc expenditure – frustrating the delivery of any marketing strategy. With the website remaining under a US team opposed to change, and core activities “bounced” without reference to myself in my capacity as OMM, it became evident the organisations business approach undermined the value I could add to the Charity and with the loss of a channel to express my core skills I intimated my intention to leave. Shortly afterwards the role was made redundant.

To review successful examples of my business strategies follow the links to Depression Alliance ScotlandEdinburgh Solicitors Property CentreStoneridge ElectronicsScottish Borders Council and VELUX.

View my CV or this.
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Contact me

0785 234 9011

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