Seed swaps: illegal soon?

Gardeners, farmers and growers exchange their seeds because of their interest in old, rare or particular varieties of crops. However, for some of them, seed swaps and seed exchange might soon become illegal. A new EU regulation threatens small-scale farmers and local producers while industrial seed companies would extend their dominance.
Read more about the EU regulation.

Lots of nonprofits campaigned against this regulation and - wohoo- the European parliament rejected the first proposal by the commission! A great success!

Anyhow, here is the story.

Campaigning against this regulation

In April 2013 we started beta testing Campaignion with a few clients. One of them was Global 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria). This NGO joined forces with Arche Noah and campaigned against this proposed regulation and managed to collect over 250.000 signatures within 2 weeks! By now the petition has crossed the 500.000 supporter mark.

Screenshot Global 2000 Petition

How it began

In 2013 Global 2000 prepared a “small petition” with us, we came up with a design for their petitions and spend some time optimizing it. Nothing out of the ordinary.

But after the launch this campaign suddenly turned into a serious Campaignion stress test. Without even sending one email to their list, they managed to mobilize thousands using the built in "social share" tools. During the first weeks of the petition the conversion rate was between 70 and 80 percent!

Of course the website went down for a few minutes evey now and then while we did our best to withstand the flood of signatures. The hosting setup was fairly standard and we wanted to make sure to tackle performance issues on the Drupal side first.

Some of the things we had to tweak to increase performance were:

  • The webform got very slow at checking if the email address was "unique": we had to put an index on the email address table of the form.
  • The import from the webform into the CRM system was a bottleneck, so we decided to switch it off temporarily. Later we fixed the underlying problem and now it's very fast.
  • We decided to build our own "activity" module to track interactions between you and the supporter - the existing Redhen CRM activity didn't scale very well.

How did they mobilize more than 500K supporters?

The campaign applied best practices:

  • The language was simple and clear, the content on the landing page was short. Keep it short and simple!
  • The forms and the page was well designed and well tested to increase conversion rates
  • They pursued a mix of traditional media penetration, lobbying work and online actions.
  • Showing that a lot of people are taking action too, increases the likeliness of people signing up - "social proof" was important to increase the conversion rate. In the case of the Save our Seeds campaign, the supporters could see a big progress bar above the form, showing how many others were signing up as well.
  • A clear and prominent share ask on the thank you page and in the thank you email worked very well (using the built in share tools).
  • They never ever asked for more than one thing per email. For each ask - sign, share, donate etc. - they used one email.

The large majority of the supporters was mobilised by other supporters. The petition was shared a lot. 44% of the supporters were mobilized via Facebook and 32% via email shares.

The distinct call to share the action via email on the thank-you page worked out better than expected. Nearly 110.000 people came directly from Facebook to the website and around 80.000 users landed on the site because they received an email from a friend. Twitter, on the contrary, didn’t bring a lot of signatures at all.

Want to see more stats? Victoria did a presentation at the re:campaign 2014 in Berlin. You can find her slides here, however, they are in German. She also gave a short presentation at the ECF Europe, and the English slides are here.

Campaignion learned its lesson

The Save our Seeds campaign relied on Campaignion as a technology platform. This campaign taught us quite a few exciting lessons. We're also very happy that our servers and the tool itself could master this first major stress-test and  we now have a clear picture of how to scale it, to work with millions of supporters.

Screenshot Campaignion Petition Setup

Online actions are at the heart of Campaignion and petitions are a great tactic to gain support for your campaign. With Campaignion you can create petitions just as easily as writing a blogpost on Wordpress. You can use drag and drop to create forms and show social proof to increase your conversion rate. Add a thank you email that will be sent to your supporters and setup a thank you page. That’s it!

Want to know more? Take a look at more features Campaignion offers.