4Ps Marketing

Persona Driven Content Marketing For Search With The ACF

The Army Cadet Force provides action, adventure, fun and friendship for around 39,000 cadets (aged 12-18) and 9,000 adults in over 1,600 locations in the United Kingdom. It is one of the UK’s largest and oldest voluntary youth organisations, tracing its history back to 1859.

The ACF is one of four cadet organisations sponsored and supported by the Ministry of Defence. Although they are sponsored by the MoD, there is no obligation for cadets to join the Armed Forces.

4Ps work with the ACFA, the charity arm of the ACF, so they are a client in our Third Sector team.

The Problem

The ACF needs many volunteers to help with its smooth running. As a major youth organisation spread across the UK, with many people regularly taking part, volunteers with a diverse range of skills are required. The ACF welcomes volunteers from all walks of life, not just ex-armed forces.

There is also naturally a large turnover of volunteers. The heavy time commitment required makes it tough to keep permanent volunteers.

The ACF came to 4Ps with two challenges:

  1. to help increase the number of people applying to become adult volunteers (AVs)
  2. to bring in volunteers who hold a range of backgrounds and skillsets

The Solution

In addition to a full SEO audit and site restructure, we recommended a content-led approach to achieve the ACF’s aims of appealing to a diverse range of adults. To achieve effective targeting, we developed several marketing personas (based on existing research into why people apply) to help us understand the content needs of these potential volunteers.

Utilising the Awareness, Consideration, Conversion marketing model, the content we produced would target people during the Awareness phase, sowing the seeds of the benefits of volunteering with the ACF. The later stages of the journey, Consideration and Conversion, would be targeted through other channels.

We hosted a brainstorming session with key ACF personnel to help us understand their existing volunteers. It was also an opportunity to discuss skill and experience gaps currently missing, which could be filled by some of the diverse groups we would aim to reach.

We took data that the ACF had on their existing volunteers and tied this to behaviour insights from Google Analytics to create 6 different persona types:

  1. A university leaver who used to be a cadet
  2. An Army leaver in his mid-40s
  3. A woman approaching retirement with an interest in giving back to the community
  4. A mum with military connections, whose children have moved out of home to go to university
  5. An Army Reserves leaver in his 30s
  6. A woman in her late 20s wanting to expand her social life outside of work

Once the personas were developed, we researched all aspects of their lifestyles to understand the search market around those activities. This allowed us to make informed recommendations for articles to be produced as part of a content strategy, which would meet the search needs of these potential volunteers. Our content specialists then created selected articles that were added to the website over a period of six months.


We had to ensure that content recommendations and the articles created from them, were interesting to the targeted audience. In addition, the content had to introduce the possibility of volunteering with the ACF. Articles that were clearly advertising the ACF would have limited appeal and would be unlikely to be widely shared.


Following implementation of audit recommendations, coupled with the creation of 20 articles, we have seen an 11% uplift of organic traffic. This increase includes motivated visitors – resulting in a 69% increase in Adult Volunteer enquiries via organic search.

We have seen an increase in traffic from different Persona groups, with as much as a 28% increase for Persona 6. There has also been an increase in Cadet enquiries of almost 9%, assisted by implementation of the audit recommendations.

This data-driven approach to strategy is just one of the reasons why 4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how to use user-driven query targeting and data-based persona insights to grow your organisation, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and technology across all inbound channels. What could a 4Ps content marketing strategy do for you?