Doris Xu – Acquisitions & Analytics Lead @ Starlight Children’s Foundation

1. Before we dive into your role at the Starlight Children’s Foundation, what has your career journey looked like so far?

Whilst studying my undergrad (a triple major in Marketing, Psychology and Human Resource Management), I completed a few internships – first in research and journalism in the US and then in FMCG in Australia. 

They gave me valuable insights and experiences which helped me land a seat in the marketing graduate program at Lendlease, Australia’s leading property and construction company. 

There, I worked across all of our property assets (retail, retirement living, master-planned communities and urban regeneration) with roles in multiple departments including project marketing, digital and research.

One of my highlights at Lendlease was my secondment in a shopping centre in regional Queensland, where I got to cultivate and deliver unique experiences to the local community. The joy and purposefulness I experienced in this role later brought me to pivot to the for-purpose industry and take up my current position at Starlight.

2. Transitioning into work, what does an Acquistion & Analytics Lead @ the Starlight Children’s Foundation do?

What is the Starlight Children’s Foundation? 

Starlight Children’s Foundation is Australia’s broadest reaching and number one trusted children’s charity with the vision that everyone experiences a happy childhood, because happiness matters. 

Established over 30 years ago, Starlight has used play, social connection and creativity to support seriously ill children and young people in some of their toughest times and to positively change their healthcare experience. 

Our programs include:

  • The Starlight Express Room: an area filled with activities and games and much needed respite in every major children’s hospital in Australia
  • Wishgranting: an incredible gift of happiness to give sick kids something fun to look forward to and create new memories to treasure forever.

How is the marketing function structured? 

We have a central marketing team with designers, PR and digital specialists who service the broader business. 

There are also project marketing teams who sit under a specific branch of fundraising activity, such as Community Fundraising where I am.

What does your role entail? 

As the Acquisitions & Analytics Lead in the Community Fundraising team, my role is focused on driving year on year growth of our campaigns through creative, unique and data-driven strategies

There are two key parts to my role:

(1) Growth marketing, which includes:

  • Developing multi-channel acquisition strategies to achieve campaign objectives
  • Creating, testing and scaling paid and organic campaigns throughout the funnel, including SEO, SEM, email, display, social and in-product
  • Leading the creation of acquisition landing pages and run A/B tests to improve website conversion rates

(2) Research & analytics, which includes:

  • Leading the prioritisation and planning of campaign performance and reporting, customer research and insights
  • Designing, evolving and managing reporting dashboards
  • Mentoring and empowering team members with data proficiency

Besides this, I also launch and implement some of our digital fundraising campaigns, such as Stream Raiser, a challenge to encourage streamers to go live and raise money for sick kids.

No two days are ever the same in my role, and it’s so gratifying knowing that everything I do helps to brighten the lives of sick kids and their families all around Australia. This fuels me every day.

3. What’s an example of a campaign that you’ve worked on and what was your role in bringing it to life?

Project/Campaign Name: The Go BIG Challenge

What was it?

The Go BIG Challenge (GBC) was Starlight’s inaugural walking, running and rolling challenge which launched in November 2021, encouraging Australians to take up their biggest challenge for 14 days to help raise money for sick kids. 

What was your role?

I was the Project Lead for this campaign, which involved overseeing it from start to finish in two phases:

Phase 1 – Working behind the scenes to develop GBC

  • Brand conceptualisation and asset rollout: GBC was a new challenge for Starlight so we created everything from scratch with our very talented internal design teams and external consultants – from the logo, to hero imagery and creative devices.
  • Finalising details and fundraising mechanisms: Whilst we have a lot of experience in fitness fundraising challenges, this was a first for Starlight. As a result, there were a lot of internal and external stakeholder management with discussions around finer details e.g. length of challenge, key messaging.
  • Website design and build: Both working with web developers and doing some content updates myself!
  • Merchandise design and dispatch: Working with our merch partners on the look and feel of fundraising rewards and designing a smooth dispatch process.
  • Partnership support: We were lucky to have many external partners backing our campaign. One of my roles was to support the team responsible for acquiring and managing our partners and ensure a clear line of communication.

Phase 2 – Driving growth for the GBC

  • Acquisition: Developing a media plan and AB testing plan for the campaign across paid channels and executing these strategies.
  • Engagement: Managing and supporting our fundraiser engagement team and content specialist in their nurturing of fundraisers.
  • Analytics: Conceptualising and building the Google Data Studio Dashboard for this campaign to track performance, producing weekly reporting to senior executives and completing the end of campaign report.

4. What do the entry level pathways for marketers in not for profits look like?

Whilst I haven’t started my career in the for-purpose industry, I can see there are a lot of coordinator-level roles in marketing. You can really get your hands dirty, learn more about the industry and progress.

Starting by volunteering at the organisation is also a great pathway. It will help you get familiar with the work environment and organisational structure, build valuable networks and gain great experiences which will help you get your foot in the door.

5. What’s one thing you recommend an aspiring marketer do right now?

I took part in a lot of psychology experiments in my undergrad. You start with a hypothesis, then you test your theories. If you fail, you go back and try something else.

Looking back, it always amazes me how I never saw my career this way. When I started out, I was terrified to make the wrong move, as if it would lead to the impending doom and shatter any future success.

Don’t think that way. This is the perfect time to experiment! Go out there, try different things and be bold. There are no definite right or wrong answers for what you will love, what suits you and how you will succeed. You’ve just got to take the plunge and find out for yourself. 

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