Can Controversy Drive Change?

One of the most fascinating things about our online behaviors is that they’re directly indicative of the things we care most about.  If the traffic to change.org is any indication, we cared a-whole-lot about the Casey Anthony trial verdict. Once the verdict was released, people flocked in droves to petition a law deemed Caylee’s Law that would, “make it a felony for a parent or guardian to not notify law enforcement of a child going missing within 24 hours.”

If you take a look a the petition timeline, you’ll notice it was drafted shortly after the verdict and reached the first 15,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. In addition, the graph below corresponds with the timeline’s 200,000 signatures milestone on July, 6th and the 500,000 signatures on July, 7th.

As curious data lovers, we might wonder where did all of this traffic come from?

July’s Inbound Traffic Report

Facebook alone drove over 1.4 million visits
Facebook and other Social networking sites – over 1.75 million visits
Email Services like Yahoo Mail and Gmail – over 354 thousand visits
Search Engines  over 365 thousand visits

With search driving a significant amount of attention we might wonder, what kind of keywords were driving traffic to change.org over the past 90 days. I’ve taken the liberty of creating a word cloud to give you an idea of what keywords people used to find the petition. You’ll see that words pertaining to Casey Anthony and her daughter Caylee are quite bold.

In contrast, you can compare this sit another word cloud of common terms associated with change.org’s blog content.

While the verdict is still out on whether change.org will see prolonged lift from the success of this petition, year-over-year Unique Visitors from the month of August are up 6.73% from the same month the year prior. It’s likely that many of the petition signers will start becoming engaged with the email marketing from change.org. Though, I wonder if I managed the email marketing how I might position my email communications differently for this segment of users.

Consider what A/B testing the new subscribers might prove? By sending communications normally to the control group of new subscribers and catering communications around cultural and family issues to the other group, we might wonder if this would affect engagement month-over-month.

What are your thoughts on how change.org might take engage the signers of petitions like this one to lay the foundation for long-term engagement with other causes?

Feel free to share in the comments below.

About Lindsey Mark:
Lindsey Mark works in Client Relations at Compete and is responsible for the strategic development of client retention and support policies for compete.com, with a focus on education and training efforts. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY so she's a certified technology junkie and open source advocate. When she's not thinking about marketing or training digital 007's at compete, she's doing yoga & blogging about gluten-free diet and lifestyle. Find Lindsey on Twitter as @linji, Google Plus as Lindsey Mark or connect with her via LinkedIn.