How the NRMA Encourage Heartfelt Travel Stories and Easily Collect Valuable Public Opinion Using Stackla

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Launched in 1920, the National Roads and Motorists Association (NRMA) is one of Australia’s largest mutual organizations, with over 2.7 million members to whom they provide a range of services, including roadside assistance, tourism experiences, travel and lifestyle benefits and an electric vehicle charging network throughout Australia.

It was the NRMA’s 100-year anniversary in 2020. Leading up to that monumental year, they had planned out several large events and celebrations to not only mark the special occasion but also engage their member community, deepen relationships and grow excitement around being part of the organization.

But how would they continue to make an impact on their 100-year celebration in the midst of social distancing and the spread of COVID-19? What they did was turn to user-generated content (UGC).

Not only did making the voices of their members and staff a prominent part of their centenary campaign keep the momentum of the celebration going, but the NRMA also found other valuable uses for UGC in growing long-term engagement and gathering public opinion on important policy issues.

Keeping 100-year anniversary celebrations going during a worldwide pandemic

Daniel Alexander, Senior Manager of Digital Communications at the NRMA said that they “knew UGC would be a really important part of demonstrating engagement with NRMA members in both a digital and visual way” for the NRMA’s 100th-year celebration.

He was challenged to come up with a solution that would bring in-person events to life virtually. Alexander said, “A really important part of that was making sure we could leverage UGC at scale so we didn’t have to only rely on photographers on the ground.”

They also required a UGC solution that allowed people to submit content directly to their organization, instead of just aggregating it from social networks like Instagram or Facebook. Luckily for them, Stackla’s Direct Uploader functionality is the most advanced on the market.

They decided to go with Stackla to get the enterprise-grade scalability and the direct upload capabilities they needed from a UGC platform. Knowing how heavily they’d be relying on Stackla’s Direct Uploader and how costly coding a similar in-house solution would be, Alexander said that specific feature alone made the platform worth the investment for them.

Alexander said, “It was easy for us to get up and running quickly with Stackla. The overarching objective was to demonstrate engagement based around events and the key themes of our centenary year, and be able to playback that engagement on our own channels like email, social and our website.”

Even after most in-person events were canceled due to COVID-19, the NRMA was able to keep the momentum going through a variety of UGC campaigns and competitions. Alexander said, “We asked people for their favorite road trip stories, we had a road trip ‘top spots’ competition as well as a road trip pet stories contest and we even added a local heroes piece during the pandemic where we asked people to submit stories about how we were working in communities,” Alexander said.

Road trip tales UGC contest

The NRMA decided to collect member and staff stories across the country to share and promote the amazing work they do, their community’s passion for road trips and to commemorate their 100 years of service.

“There was specifically a lot of excitement around our UGC campaign Road Trip Tales,” Alexander said. “We had so many strong entries from people who shared some beautiful stories.”

To capture these story entries, the NRMA used Stackla’s Direct Uploader forms, where they then chose the best submissions each week and published them back out through the organization’s marketing channels like their website and social accounts.

On the contest webpage, members could search for their own story as well as view all the great road trip tales others had submitted by location.

The NRMA was even able to reach out directly to members with the most compelling stories to get more details and turn them into lengthier articles on their site. These real-life stories were curated and promoted in an above-the-line brand campaign.

Receiving nearly 2,000 amazing member stories about the “magic that happens on the open road,” the NRMA also created a webpage to feature all the most memorable road trip tales their community had shared—leveraging Stackla’s single tile embed capabilities to do so.

“It was really the first time we were able to showcase a creative, UGC-led campaign like that with images that charted people’s relationship to the NRMA,” Alexander shared.

Share your road trip ‘top spot’ competition

The NRMA didn’t stop at their road trip tales contest. They also ran other UGC competitions that tied in with their centenary.

With their road trip ‘top spots’ competition, they wanted to know which road trip stopovers, detours and destinations mattered most to their community. Asking members to upload photos of their favorite road trip spots (via a Direct Uploader form) for a chance to win a $2,000 voucher to NRMA Parks and Resorts, the NRMA sought to engage their members and inspire others to discover the open road.

From the best campsites and wildlife encounters to the most beautiful beaches and waterfalls, NRMA received 399 UGC photo entries they were then able to feature on their website, email and social channels.

Road trip pet stories competition

Another UGC competition they ran was likely their cutest campaign of them all: Road Trip Pet Stories.

People were asked to upload photos (via Direct Uploader) of road trip adventures with their pets. The winner would receive a $250 gift card for car fuel, 12 months of premium-level roadside assistance and additional insurance coverage for their furry friend.

Over 350 adorable UGC visuals of NRMA members’ furry co-pilots were shared.

#WhyWeRoadTrip UGC Campaign

Since travel is a key component of their business, the NRMA uses much of their UGC to inspire road trips across Australia. This includes a UGC-driven Road Trip Inspiration website page and a very popular UGC campaign called #WhyWeRoadTrip.

With international borders closed due to the pandemic, the NRMA recognized that road trips “hold the key to recovery” for people looking to “reconnect, discover and help others.” To celebrate #WhyWeRoadTrip, the NRMA asked people to share stories of their most rewarding and revitalizing road trip journeys. UGC from this specific campaign was used to develop longer-form content on their website and for their community.

Using Stackla to gather public opinion and inform policy

Something the NRMA team didn’t initially expect to do with Stackla was gathering valuable public opinion from their members. A core competency of the NRMA is its Advocacy team, who regularly survey NRMA members to be sure the organization has an accurate idea of which policies to advocate on behalf of members to the government.

Before, the NRMA put out surveys in very controlled environments. But with Stackla’s Direct Upload forms, they were able to innovate this process by adding a commenting function on pages of their website to get targeted feedback direct from members.

They send out emails that include a simple question and a comment feature, to which they receive many responses on issues like school zone safety, mobile phone detection on roads and speed cameras. Alexander said, “We just asked our members through email if they agreed with the direction the government was going on both issues, with a link to the policy or initiative webpages on our site and received over 5,000 responses.”

On the Stackla side, the NRMA was able to moderate and approve comments before they were published to the corresponding web pages so that the conversations remained productive. Alexander said, “I think the next step is that we need to demonstrate we’re listening and using all of those responses to inform the policy we take on these issues.”

Because the NRMA has a strong track record of making changes to legislation and influencing decisions in the government, Alexander said, “We want to open up that feedback loop more, and Stackla presents us with a new and convenient way to do that. We’re currently exploring this capability right now and experimenting with the things we can potentially do with it to further gather public opinion.”

Future UGC campaigns with Stackla

Overall, the NRMA’s future plans with Stackla are largely experimental. “We’re trying to evolve it this year and see what else we can do,” Alexander said.

A new campaign they have coming out will be “This is Roadside,” which aims to encourage people to share their experiences with the NRMA’s roadside assistance program and bring more UGC to that part of the business.

They’re also starting to explore having members leave reviews of different NRMA products by placing direct upload forms on certain product pages and incentivizing customers to leave a review.  Wanting to raise the visibility of their reviews that sit on external sites, NRMA has connected Stackla’s API to certain review sites, like www.productreview.com.au, so they can pull in reviews and present them back on relevant product pages.

As the NRMA continues to move into new phases with Stackla, Alexander said, “I’m focused on ensuring we continue to grow our pipeline of UGC content and activity, and that we’re also digging into the metrics on our site to further demonstrate success.”

While they are still developing the KPIs they want to measure, Alexander shared, “The data is pretty clear; we’re seeing lower bounce rates and higher time on site on every webpage that has Stackla-powered UGC.”

Working with the experts at the Stackla team

When asked about the NRMA’s working relationship with the Stackla team, Alexander said, “Is excellent; I would even go so far as to say exceptional. I can’t speak highly enough of the team.”

He went on to share, “The team understands the product, they are always available and consistently offer advice on updates to new functionality with Stackla. They not only possess the technical know-how, but they also have such a friendly demeanor and are so approachable. Stackla has definitely been one of my top two experiences in dealing with software tools and onboarding processes.”

Just the experience of working with Stackla as a partner, it’s easy. The results so far have been so strong that it’s easy to justify the investment.” – Daniel Alexander, Senior Manager of Digital Comms at the NRMA

Alexander added that he feels the Stackla team is continually helping him learn how to better use the product so that the NRMA can continue to see the expanding benefits of UGC.

What he likes most about the platform is “it’s not oversold. Stackla’s one of those few platforms that delivers on what it says it will. I love that they are continually evolving the user experience to make things easier. There’s always a bit of a delight for me when I go in to create a direct upload form and it’s been updated in a more user-friendly way.”

When the year was done and the UGC results with Stackla were in, Alexander said, “The easiest presentation I’ve ever had to do was extolling the virtues of Stackla because I just had all these beautiful stories and images—too many to choose from. I just displayed them and said ‘this is what our Stackla partnership has enabled,’ and it was really well received. The value of Stackla was clear and it definitely wasn’t hard to justify the investment.”

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