Case Study

Beyond the Ordinary: How MacMillan Found Success in Consultation Campaigns


Through creative campaigning and segmentation, find out how Macmillan Cancer Support discovered that they could ask their supporters to take part in unusual and more difficult actions online to great success.


A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and there’s a lot to process and navigate your way through. Macmillan Cancer Support (Macmillan) aims to make this as simple as possible. Having only started campaigning on a significant scale in the past 5 years, Macmillan now has a network of 19,000 campaigners fighting for the voice of those living with cancer to be heard.

Cancer can impact in various ways on a person’s life. For example, it is usual to have to take time off from work for treatment, and so finance can quickly become an issue. Macmillan helps by guiding people through the benefit systems but also by campaigning for a fairer system for people cancer overall.

Macmillan has found that campaigning with consultations can be a great platform for influencing industry bodies and their policies. By encouraging their campaigners to have their say, they are directly influencing policy to include the opinions of those living with and affected by cancer.

Challenges With Consultation Campaigns

There were 3 main areas for concern with their consultation campaigns. Firstly, unlike a nicely templated email-to-target action, consultation campaigns rely on external and sometimes difficult-to-navigate websites. This also would mean that Macmillan would not be able to accurately see how many people had responded to their campaigns. Another problem faced by Macmillan was that their campaigner base had been hugely depleted following GDPR. Finally, the timeline was crowded. These 3 actions fell within the same 6 month window. Macmillan needed to spread them out over time and segment their audience carefully.
CAMPAIGN 1: NHS Long Term Plan

NHS England released a public consultation so that organisations and individuals could feed into the outcomes of the NHS Long Term Plan. This was a unique opportunity to influence the plans for the next 10 years and so Macmillan set about creating a campaign for their supporters.

Campaign Part 1: Supporters

Segmentation Success

Macmillan segment their supporters based on:

  • What kinds of actions they take
  • How active they are

From this, Macmillan invited 1249 top level campaigners to have their say in the Long-Term Plan by responding directly to the consultation. Consultations are not widely understood and so Macmillan wanted to test consultations actions with those people who are most active. They were surprised to see a great open rate, and click-through rate;

  • 130% increase in open rate 
  • 445% increase in click rate

Buoyed by this success, Macmillan produced a guide on the website and suggested how they could respond to consultation. This hopefully would help supporters work their way through the tricky consultation site in order to have their say.

Instant Success

As a result of careful segmentation and responding to the strong desire from their supporters to take part, Macmillan found that all campaign calls that they were hoping for made it into the NHS Long-Term Plan.

This was not only a positive result for this campaign, it was also a clear sign that our campaigners understood the significance of consultation.

Campaign Part 2: NHS Workforce

Meet the Minister

With the New Secretary for State and Social Care in post, Macmillan invited supporters to send a message to Matt Hancock to “Meet the workforce challenge in the upcoming NHS long-term plan”. Although not a consultation campaign it itself, it built on the previous campaign and gave Macmillan supporters a way to introduce the new Minister to their cause and issues.

More Segmentation Success

Again, Macmillan segmented their list wisely and only sent the action out to their most engaged supporters, which was a segment of 1295 top level campaigners. By doing this, they saw an incredible increase in their average conversion rates:

  • 116% increase in open rate
  • 725% click rate increase


This Email-To-Target action had a template email but supporters could also send a personal message in a separate field. This not only increased the impact of the message but also meant that Macmillan could read the personal stories. This extra information that the supporters provided confirmed how important this campaign was. The result was impressive as 53% of supporters who took the action also included a personal message

Campaign Part 3: A Financial Duty of Care


A cancer diagnosis can cause a huge impact on an individual’s finances. Macmillan believes that the financial sector has a part to play in making sure that anyone who is impacted can navigate the system fairly. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) agreed to a public consultation.

Macmillan had previously campaigned for a Legal Duty of Care and 20,000 campaigners signed the open letter. They knew that there would be appetite for this kind of campaign. Ideally, they would approach these same open letter signatories to campaign for the Financial Duty of Care also. The next task was to ask everyone who had taken this action to respond to the public consultation on a Financial Duty of Care.


Although 20,000 people had taken part in the Legal Duty of Care campaign, this was pre-GDPR. The number of supporters they followED up with this new action was just 1200. Again, this action relied upon the external websites that hosted the consultation. These were off-putting and Macmillan had no control over them.


Macmillan focussed on creating helpful guides to assist their supporters in understanding the issue. Macmillan used Engaging Networks pages wherever they could. The help pages that they created on Engaging Networks mirrored the consultation format and fit neatly on the page. This method provided help and ideas for how to respond to each section in turn.

Macmillan decided to test two different actions: one with a template response and another with a guide to how you could write your own response. From the segment of 1200 campaigners;

  • 95 sent a template response
  • 53 sent their own response using the guide

Although there were more responses using the template, the Macmillan team were pleasantly surprised how many people were prepared to write their own response and tailored message.


Although being on a third-party site meant that Macmillan could not accurately see how many people had responded to the FCA consultation, they were fortunately able to rely on relationships with the organisation to gather this data. In total, the FCA received 200 responses, and from those 150 came from Macmillan campaigners. A great success is knowing that Macmillan’s campaigners had had their say.

Big Win

The Treasury Select Committee went on to release a report that backed Macmillan’s call for a Financial Duty of Care. Macmillan was mentioned many times throughout the report. This was a bigger win considering that at the time of the campaign a lot of the political focus had been on Brexit, and demonstrates that creativity in campaigning can be successful.

A Big Thank You

At Engaging Networks, we take pride in serving and working with our community of clients to help make this world a better place. Many thanks to Macmillan Cancer Support for sharing this case study. If you’d like to learn more about the exceptional work of Macmillan Cancer Support visit their website or watch the video below.

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