Mobile App Installs Result In 52K+ Qualified Leads


Case Study: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The goal of this campaign was to utilize nonprofit mobile advertising to acquire cost effective leads using the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app. The bird identification app allows bird lovers to identify some of their favorite species. Offered free of charge, the Merlin app was designed to be a lead acquisition tool for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We leveraged the “free” user friendly interface to acquire leads. Our strategy for this consisted of three parts:

Targeted online advertising

Website retargeting

Community building and nurturing

Over the course of a year, the Cornell Lab gained 52,086 new email leads via the Merlin app.


Year-Over-Year Growth in Installs


Average Cost Per App Install


Average Conversion Rate

{Media Cause's} thoughtful, data-driven strategies have helped the Cornell Lab grow its email list and soar beyond its online fundraising goals year over year.

Melissa Tinklepaugh, Manager of Online Fundraising, Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Captivating Words & Images

Powerful work deserves powerful communications. Copywriting, infographics, email headers, landing pages—the list goes on—all help you move communities toward organizational goals.

Build & Engage Communities

Our clients need help to change the world. Getting the right supporters on their side, and keeping them involved with the mission is critical to creating impact.

Multi-Touchpoint Campaigns

Momentum matters. When we need supporters to take action, we strive to meet them where they are—on their twitter feed, in their inbox or chatting with their friends.


  • Captivating words & images

    Leveraging captivating imagery from the Cornell Lab members, we utilized online advertising platforms (Facebook, search, and display) to drive mobile app installs and, in turn, acquire new leads. Campaigns were focused on using hyper-targeted imagery and seasonal messaging to reach target audiences with the right messaging at the right time.

    Example: Images of Spring birds and related messaging were timed to launch ahead of the spring migration to capture the attention of birding enthusiasts who were gearing up for spring birding.

  • Build & Engage Communities

    Based on the success of the interest-targeting ads, we knew that the app was a highly valuable piece of content. Therefore, we opted to utilize this collateral to engage an existing audience that had yet to sign on as a supporter with their email address — website traffic. Our efforts focused on retargeting campaigns directed at the Cornell Lab’s 2M organic pageviews per month.

  • Multi-Touchpoint Campaigns

    With a segmented email marketing strategy in place from the jump of our advertising campaigns, we sent a custom, automated welcome series for each target audience within our new Merlin Bird ID leads. Emails provided more information on their specific entry point and expanded into further information surrounding the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

    Through lead nurturing and solicitation asks we were able to convert 5% of Merlin leads into donors.


Content is king.

Media Cause has been successful at acquiring leads for the Cornell Lab by leveraging engaging, rich content geared towards hyper-targeted audiences. We’ve been able to engage with both those who have heard about the Cornell Lab and undiscovered audiences through Facebook and Google targeting.

In 2015 alone, new Merlin app users donated approximately $62,000 – that’s a 154% ROI.

Here are some big numbers.






App Installs


New Donor Conversion Rate

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