Blood site cybertaps donors

It's been a long time in the making, but the Canadian Blood Services' (CBS) foray into building an online community of donors/potential donors is beginning.

It’s been a long time in the making, but the Canadian Blood Services’ (CBS) foray into building an online community of donors/potential donors is beginning.

Called Operation LifeBlood Community, the project piloted in London, Ont. in 2005, and aims to build an ‘intender base’ of potential donors and encourages them to sign an online commitment to donate blood within the year.

Potential donors are driven to the site by a DRTV spot that features testimonials from recipients. They can register at, after which they receive three e-mails over two weeks driving them online. They then get quarterly e-newsletters, as well as e-alerts when blood is in high demand. Just launched in Alberta, the program will roll out regionally across English Canada over the next year.

‘The pilot was [for] insight. From there, we crafted the strategy,’ says Steve Mast, VP/MD at Toronto’s Delvinia Interactive, adding they made the e-newsletters less content-heavy to serve more as launch pads to the online community. The pilot exceeded expectations by 50%. The donor rate jumped from 10% to 16%.

The primary target is 25- 54, university-educated homeowners, outside of urban centres. ‘The idea is, in a major emergency, we have [intenders'] e-mails [and] blood types,’ says Mast.

We asked Kathy Kohn, CCO/partner at Toronto’s Henderson Bas and Mitch Joel, president of Montreal’s Twist Image, to share their thoughts.


KK: Overall, I really like the use of online to support Canadian Blood Services. Given everyone’s busy lifestyle, it’s a great use of the medium.

MJ: I really like the personal commitment concept here on the registration. If you take the time to fill this out online, my guess is you’ll remember it and, even without the e-mail reminders, you’re making a contract with yourself.

DRTV spot

KK: It’s well executed – it’s clearly on brand and you know you are watching a spot for Canadian Blood Services. I think two spots would have been more effective – one for donors and one for non-donors and subsequently tailoring the call-to-action to the target.

MJ: I’m a big fan of the human testimonial section of this DRTV. I liked the flow of information and the clarity. I also appreciated that this is targeted towards people who have never given blood before. That statement truly made the spot memorable.

Online strategy

KK: A contact strategy for ongoing communications is a smart use of data and interaction. I really liked the ‘storyboard reasons’ display ads – I think they do a brilliant job of providing interaction to address barriers and they effectively target non-donors.

MJ: Given the chosen channel and use of the term ‘community,’ I would expect a more human voice in the communications and less PR-type language. I think the e-mail reminders have the right spirit, but should be much more about how the individual who signed up can make a difference, and how the community is doing so far, in a first-person-type voice.

Execution of online community

KK: The community is an effective retention and [growth] tool for donors. I would market to [non-donors] using acquisition strategies, not including community. I would focus acquisition on the site (without registration) segmented by a gateway and focus on addressing barriers and making the initial donation as easy as possible – like providing a tool to make an appointment online.

MJ: Because it was called Operation LifeBlood Community, I continually found myself looking for places to interact with the site. Even in the Stories To Share section, it was testimonials and there was no place for me to share the one-way communication with others. Simply including ‘e-mail to a friend’ or ‘add your own story’ would add dimension.

Client – Canadian Blood Services

Jeff Moat, director of marketing

Interactive agency – Delvinia

Steve Mast, program and strategy lead; Andrew Brady, client service director; Randy Matheson, Grace Marquez, creatives; Rebecca Muller, interactive and e-mail specialist; Anya Galkina, senior designer; Simone Fried, project co-ordinator

DRTV agency – Northern Lights

Ian French, creative/copywriter; Vice Heney, director; Pippa Nut, producer; Scott Daniels, media buy