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Tools for the European Citizens' Initiative to End the Cage Age

Compassion in World Farming established an alliance of over 100+ organisations across Europe to end cage farming. More onion provided consultancy and developed the campaign platform, including supporter generated campaign pages.

Working with the team at more onion over the past couple of years has been both effective and instructive. We developed a platform that has seen us achieve 50% over our target and learned a lot about how agile development works in the process - we always knew where we were headed but not always the specific route. And although the route was far from straightforward, more onion have been great co-pilots.

quote.portrait_alt Dave Beynon
Head of Digital Marketing
Compassion in World Farming

What the “End the Cage Age” ECI campaign achieved

The End the Cage Age campaign set out to run a “European Citizens’ Initiative” (ECI) to end caged farming in the EU. The ECI is a heavily regulated process for citizens to lobby the European Commission on an issue they care about.

To run a successful ECI you have to collect over 1 million signatures in various EU member states within one calendar year. The “End the Cage Age” campaign has passed the 1 million signup mark after 7 months of campaigning, with more people signing up every day.

The campaign recruited supporters in 28 countries and all elements of the campaign have been translated into 22 EU languages.

On top of regular ECI signatures over 4000 people have taken the next step and have created their own personal campaign landing page, inviting their friends and family to join. This element of supporter driven campaigning helped engage supporters and recruited many more ECI signatures.

What more onion did to help win the campaign

More onion helped Compassion in World Farming over a number of years and consulted on how to run an ECI; the strategy, the user experience and how to best develop a digital platform that will help the campaign succeed.

To ensure that the hard deadline of the campaign launch was met we created a first version of the platform (MVP) fairly early in the process. Based on the first version we worked in monthly iterations to improve the platform, roll out new functionality and review how requirements have changed.

The core piece of the system was the “ECI signature collection system” officially certified by the German Authorities. We decided to use the tool “OpenECI” as a starting point, then optimised the user interface and extended the functionality to allow a more flexible and robust integration with other elements of the system.

The official ECI system to collect signatures

Since ECI regulation doesn’t allow campaigns from using any of the personal data submitted to the official ECI signature form we decided to build a platform around the official ECI. This platform allowed the campaign to publish flexible landing pages with sign-up forms where supporters can also opt-in to receive further updates via email. This allowed participating organisations to build their movement while supporting this campaign.

Form to sign a European Citizens' Initiative

Landing pages to collect opt-ins

These landing pages provided a fully tracked and easy to set up integration with the official ECI form. This way Compassion in World Farming could quickly roll out new partner pages, including the 22 translations.

Managing data and opt-ins for 100+ partner organisations

More onion worked with Compassion in World Farming to ensure the entire data flow is not just compliant with GDPR but also easy to set up and maintain.

Every new partner received a user account to download the opt-ins as CSV files. This way partners could keep their supporters up to date about campaign activities.

For Compassion in World Farming we built an integration with their email marketing system and made adjustments to ensure the integration with their Salesforce CRM would work smoothly.

Personalised landing pages and the leaderboard

We extended the landing page system to empower supporters to set up their own pages. They could upload an image and write up a quote that’s shown on the page.

To inspire some friendly competition we built a leaderboard that shows which supporter has collected how many signups to date. The listing can be filtered by country and by partner organisation to allow a consistent user journey for supporters.

Login form to create personalised landin gpages

How we did it

More onion delivered the platform in close collaboration with the client using agile processes. Through constant review of the requirements, rigorous prioritisation of user stories and frequent meetings we made sure the platform was meeting real user needs.

On average we released updates and new features once a month.

A particular challenge was to master both the ECI regulation and the resulting complexity of the software architecture. Our goal was to ensure a great user experience and to stick to best practice campaigning, despite the ECI regulation restrictions.

To stay flexible and adapt quickly to new requirements our team decided to implement standardised interface elements that could be used on every platform (the official ECI tool, the landing pages, the personalised landing pages and the administrative interface).

Through adopting a micro-services architecture we could often release new features without any downtime. This architecture also allowed us to identify time-critical elements of the system where we optimised for high performance and a high load, while other elements of the system could take their time to digest the data that was flowing in.

The architecture also allowed us to make hosting decisions based on the type of service, whether the service was part of the official (and externally certified) ECI signature collection process and whether personal data was being processed or not.

We used on a number of external services: to manage translatable strings, creating a smooth user registration and signup process; and to optimise performance through a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

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