How Platypus helped Barnardo’s achieve a 3.2 ROAS through paid search during a coronavirus crisis appeal

10-second summary

  • Founded in 1867, today Barnardo’s supports hundreds of thousands of children, young people, parents and carers across the UK.
  • To help young people who were struggling to feed themselves and access support during the coronavirus pandemic, Barnardo’s launched a crisis appeal
  • As their retained search agency we supported this with a search marketing campaign and display activity and delivered a 3.2 return on ad spend

What was the challenge?

In March 2020, when the UK went into a nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Barnardo’s had to cancel all their face-to-face fundraising events. Their 700 retail shops had to close and the charity had suddenly lost a third of its monthly income. 

But the need for their services was greater than ever. The young people who had previously relied on food banks and reduced-price food now needed food vouchers. 

Barnardo’s also needed to quickly redesign many services. That included providing virtual counselling sessions for vulnerable young people facing additional stress and anxiety as a result of the pandemic.

To fund this, the charity launched a coronavirus crisis appeal. We helped deliver this in our role as their retained search agency.

What did we do?

Our search team set to work building campaigns that would tap into donation intent searches in response to the impact of the first few months of the pandemic, focusing on terms such as coronavirus charity appeal. The aim was to attract people who were most likely to support a COVID-19 appeal towards the charity.

  • We did keyword research to find new donation intent search trends relating to COVID-19
  • We drew on that research to help Barnardo’s build custom donation landing pages that presented the most relevant fundraising ask for each donation intent. 
  • We worked with Barnardo’s to create responsive display ads using their imagery and our experience to craft compelling copy, this allowed us to gain a high volume of reach for the campaign. 
  • We ran display activity to drive awareness of Barnardo’s Coronavirus Crisis Appeal among new and existing audiences.


What did we achieve?

  • We reached over 2.5 million users across the search and display network
  • We drove 37,000 users to Barnardo’s Coronavirus appeal, 83% of which were new users 
  • We generated a record number of donations at 3.2 ROAS helping Barnardo’s 

We were able to further improve the return on the campaign by identifying the keywords with the highest conversion rates, and building them into our ongoing strategy to acquire regular givers.

“Platypus was such an incredible help to us during this really challenging time. Lockdown had hit and everyone was adapting to totally new circumstances. The Google Ads team at Platypus planned a way forward for us, were responsive and got our campaign live incredibly quickly. The results were brilliant and made a massive difference to Barnardo’s. Thanks for your amazing support.” 

Esme Jones, Head of Marketing, Barnardo’s

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