RNLI: Communication Saves Lives

A microsite to support the RNLI's implementation of an opt-in only marketing database.

RNLI Communication Saves Lives


The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) are the much-loved charity that save lives at sea. They are committed to reducing drowning by 50% by 2024 through the implementation of prevention strategies that educate those people at risk from drowning.

In 2015, the RNLI were the first charity to take the decision to move towards a permissions-led marketing strategy whereby from January 2017 they would implement an opt-in only marketing database. The journey to opt-in was all about doing the right thing by RNLI supporters and future proofing the organisation against the forthcoming EU legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

A hard deadline of 31st December 2016 was set for completing this opt-in journey and to assist in the process, RNLI appointed Yoyo to develop the opt-in focused microsite.

RNLI Communication Saves Lives


Overall campaign creative had been set and there was a full plan in place to contact the existing warm and engaged database of 900,000 supporters with various communications across both online and offline channels. Our brief was to take the creative direction and implement it into a secure and robust microsite, the sole objective of which was opt-in conversion. It was essential that the site and user experience was simple, quick and easy to use, no matter what device or browser it was being accessed from.

Those supporters contacted received a unique opt-in code which could be entered into the microsite and by entering this, any data associated with that supporter would be pre-populated to reduce the need for manual data entry. The supporter only needed to verify or amend this data ahead of opting in. The microsite also supported cold user opt-in, although acquisition wasn’t an objective of the overall campaign. Their journey was slightly different as no data was stored for this group however it was still essential to make their process as streamlined as possible.

The central part of the microsite was the opt-in forms which contained basic personal detail requirements. There were then separate forms for Address, Email and Phone with an opt-in option for each. One of the challenges of the project was how to present this to the user without it being overwhelming, as we all know how off putting lots of form fields can be.

RNLI Communication Saves Lives - Form Design

We focused on capturing the minimum amount of data possible, with supporting in-form messaging that clearly communicated any form validation issues. In all, there were around 30 different validation messages that were customised to meet the specific user needs.

Another key element of the project was data processing and security. Supporters could opt-in via phone and online. We needed to ensure that the very latest data was available to both channels, therefore there were daily data updates to and from the microsite to the RNLI’s CRM. Data security was of utmost importance and all data files were not only encrypted but were also tested by an external partner to ensure that this was the case.

The microsite development was completed in 6 weeks, which was an incredibly quick turnaround for a project of this nature and all teams worked closely together to ensure that the hard launch deadline was met. The site underwent external penetration and load testing ahead of its full public launch in April 2016.

While the microsite formed just one part of a bigger campaign, it was an essential part of it. Traffic peaked on 3rd May 2016 where the site had 1,517 sessions in one hour.

RNLI Communication Saves Lives


The initial target set for opt-in was 255,000 opted-in supporters by 31st December 2016. This target was smashed by 130%, and the total number ended up exceeding 450,000. This included a high number of new donors, despite the campaign not being acquisition based. Another unexpected outcome was the number of donations made during the opt-in process. Again, not a campaign objective but a fantastic outcome for the project.

Overwhelmingly the message from supporters was that they were happy to keep in touch and that they found the entire opt-in process quick and easy to follow.