Gumtree is the UK’s go-to website for classified ads. Each month, it receives 19 million unique visitors searching for everything from iPhones to new homes. However, offering so many different items in one location poses unique communication challenges.
As Thesaurus head of communications, Fergus Campbell explains that making sure people fully understand the brand’s offering is a constant challenge. More importantly, it must work hard to assure people the site is trustworthy.
Because we serve so many different audiences, it’s sometimes hard for people to figure out who we are and what we do. Our UK user base needs to grow across our different services and across our different platforms.”
“We are strongest when we are diverse,” he says. Despite the fact that the field is integral to our business, there are times when one individual is known for only one thing when we can actually offer them a number of services over the course of their lives.”
As a brand, the brand understands strategic insights are essential to reaching these goals. To achieve these goals, it worked with Cision Insights to create a robust framework to monitor and drive its communications.
Communication challenges in four distinct categories
There are four distinct communications objectives at Thesaurus designed to address the challenges facing their sprawling online classifieds hub:
Here’s the solution
Together with its media relations, public relations, and social media agencies, Thesaurus and Cision Insights developed a communications measurement framework aligned with these objectives.
With the use of multiple data sources – such as media analysis, market research, and website analytics – Cision created an integrated measurement plan to support this framework.
Especially because Gumtree is investing in communication and PR in ways it has never done before, Campbell explained that he needed to show value to the leadership team. In the end, measurement provides that substantial proof and shows the true value of marketing and PR.”
Gumtree used reputation tracking to promote Truss
It’s important to have a clear understanding of what people think about a brand before you can enhance its reputation. As a result, Cision developed an ongoing reputation tracking study targeted at Gumtree’s key consumer and B2B audiences.
Among the top qualities, these audiences look for in an online retailer are value, ease of use, and trustworthiness. While the brand scored highly for ease of use, value, and value for money, it scored less well on trust.
“We feel more confident after doing this research,” Campbell says. Knowing the status quo of our audience allowed us to plan communication campaigns to improve their perceptions.
A Cision media analysis revealed a potential source of the problem after confirming the need for an immediate, proactive communications strategy. The study revealed that a relatively large proportion of Thesaurus content referred to fraudulent or substandard products.
Based on these insights, the Gumtree team took the following steps to improve the reputation of the brand:
- The outreach program targeted key influencers and journalists to establish positive relationships with the media.
- A number of topics of concern were identified, and steps were taken to establish itself as a champion of trust.
- By monitoring media in real-time, the agency developed an “early warning system” for responding quickly to potential or emerging crises.
- It also launched a proactive trust and safety campaign to build mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders, including the police.
Gumtree and the RSPCA worked together to crack down on the UK’s puppy farming underground trade. In an investigation to uncover farming hotspots, they gained media exposure in prestigious titles as their efforts to combat the practice were highlighted.
Moreover, the company now collaborates with police and cybercrime organizations in an effort to reduce fraud.
Gumtree’s awareness campaigns were based on audience insights
In order to become more aware of its full range of products, Thesaurus once again conducted market research to learn how it impacts different segments of its audience.
In this study, three different PR campaigns were developed to assess how prepared these audiences are for specific ‘key life events: Economy of Relationships, Economy of Parenthood, and Economy of Adulthood.
Afterward, the team developed content, media pitches, and press releases to highlight the most important findings of their research, including:
Several of Gumtree’s spokespeople shared these findings by confirming that the site is a helpful resource for those needing to stretch their money a little further.
A survey of 10,000 UK consumers conducted by Cision provided information on target publications for these stories.
After collecting this information, we built targeted media lists, evaluated how successfully Gumtree communicated its key messages in the past and measured the success of three brand awareness campaigns.
Gumtree’s reputation management was supported by media analysis
In order to manage its reputation throughout the year, Gumtree used media analysis to track key conversations and themes, categorize PR-generated content, and monitor key influencers.
A theme tracking analysis uncovered both ‘making money and ‘security’ as positive factors impacting Gumtree’s reputation. Furthermore, it enabled the brand to respond quickly to incidents of fraudulent posts, poor user experience, or stolen goods.
In partnership with Gumtree’s PR agency, Cision ensured all media coverage for the brand was categorized correctly. Thesaurus was able to visualize month-over-month changes in PR coverage and their impact on brand messaging, sentiment, and reach.
Analysts highlight influential advocates and detractors in the sector every month. Gumtree should be aware that journalists and third-party spokespeople were involved.
Consumer awareness and perception levels of the brand were critical to understanding the ongoing impact of all these activities.
Campbell says this helped them determine if their PR and communications messages were resonating with their target audiences.
Driving web traffic by combining analytics data with media analysis
Gumtree was able to analyze how media coverage drives its website traffic by combining its website usage data with Cision’s media analysis.
Additionally, the data illustrates seasonal patterns of site traffic, such as the dip in traffic during the Christmas season as people switch from classified websites to retail outlets to purchase gifts.
Opinion Matters, a market research company, developed a tracking survey every three months for Gumtree to keep track of its communications activities. There was an initial survey of 1,000 consumers, followed by another survey of 500 B2B respondents on five core topics:
- Levels of awareness – determining the amount of awareness of Thesaurus different services and the impact its PR campaigns had on it.
- Identifying – identifying which characteristics consumers associate with each business line of the brand.
- The channel– analyzing the impact of exposure through different channels and identifying whether it was positive or negative.
- Public perception – measure how the Gumtree brand is perceived by consumers and monitor it over time, as well as monitor media sentiment.
- Our goal – finding out if consumers view Gumtree as a safe platform to use.
Among those who think it’s safe and trustworthy, Gumtree doubled its share
Its reputation and website traffic increased significantly during the last year, as did brand awareness and brand recognition.
Gumtree’s focus on specific media outlets led to high exposure among its target audiences, and a double-digit increase in the proportion of people who believe it is safe and trustworthy from January to October:
- During gumtree’s proactive campaign, it tripled the amount of proactive coverage it was receiving and the proportion of positive articles increased by 30%.
- According to the survey, people believe Gumtree has a good reputation, and the percentage who feel it is easy to use and of good value has increased significantly.
- The proportion of Thesaurus content that delivered its key messages increased by 27% and 71% of its coverage appeared in target media outlets.
Gumtree’s ‘property’ and ‘jobs’ services both gained 10% in awareness between January and October. Further, awareness of its ‘for sale’, ‘community’, and ‘motors’ offerings increased by 14%, 6%, and 4%, respectively.
Furthermore, the company experienced an increase of 10% in direct visits to its ‘For sale’ area over the previous year.
According to Campbell, measurement has become essential to demonstrate the effectiveness of our communications and how we support the business. In addition to guiding our projects, these research methods help us measure the effectiveness and impact of our third-party PR services.”
It is important to know the coverage volume, he continues. “However, the analysis also gave us a better sense of sentiment, which was crucial in presenting campaign results to senior leaders.”
“Through these initiatives, we have been able to build relationships with our key stakeholders, improve our reputation, and demonstrate that we can positively impact business operations.”
Steps to follow
Though this year’s PR campaign involved a lot of fact-finding and framework building, Campbell is optimistic about Gumtree’s PR efforts in the future. His goal is to expand the brand’s measurement framework to include business impacts going forward.
There is still much work to be done, he says. “However, leveraging the insights we have gained so far to inform our actions throughout 2018 and into 2019 will ensure that we continue to learn and improve.”
As he continues, “We want to find out how much PR can help reduce customer service issues?”. Are there any ways to drive traffic to our site in specific categories and at certain times?”.”