Interested in learning more about the strategies our quiz recommended to other teams? Scroll through to learn our beginner, intermediate, and advanced strategies for advocate acquisition, education, activation, and reporting.
Beginner — Growing your advocate list through newsletter sign-ups and email engagement.
With record engagement in the 2020 election, post-election and early 2021 are great times to grow your grassroots list to keep the momentum of civic engagement going. There are a number of acquisition strategies your team can use to get started.
First, introduce beginner acquisition tools like an advocacy sign-up on your website for contacts to opt-in to advocacy-specific communications. While you could skip this step and just send calls-to-action to your existing subscriber lists, you’ll have better engagement if you give your contacts a chance to opt-in specifically to advocacy opportunities. Contacts aren’t likely to take action if they aren’t used to receiving those kinds of messages, so warming them up with an advocacy-specific newsletter will make your eventual calls to action more effective.
When you’ve mastered this step of advocate acquisition, then consider moving on to more advanced techniques like texting campaigns, organization partnerships, or social media lead ads.
Intermediate — Growing your advocate list through partnerships and social media
Your team isn’t a beginner at advocate acquisition, but more advocates mean a greater impact on the issues your team cares about. So how do you move beyond the low hanging fruit and continue growing?
First, consider the organizations your team partners with who are working in similar or adjacent policy areas as you. Find out if there are ways that you can cross-promote your advocacy campaigns on partner channels to tap into their lists. If your policy areas align, your advocates will likely align as well. If they share out a link to your campaign in their newsletter or on their website, you can capture their audience in your campaign.
Second, consider adding social sharing buttons to your campaigns or website so your existing advocate base can share their activity on their social profiles and convince their friends and family to take action as well.
Mastered these techniques? Consider going a step further with lead ads on Facebook and Linkedin that target the exact type of contacts you’re looking for. A lead ad is a unique type of advertisement on social platforms that allow visitors to fill out a form without leaving the site. So, for example, they can sign up for your advocacy email list without ever leaving Facebook.
Advanced — Expand your audience through social media lead ads and events
You’re an acquisition expert! But you want to go even further and grow your list with the right contacts who are most likely to participate. Rather than casting the widest possible net, it’s time to get targeted with lead ads on social media that attract the right kind of advocate who is most likely to take action.
Lead ads give the opportunity to target specific categories of potential advocates, like those who have “liked” certain pages or have certain job titles. To get even more advanced, you can create “lookalike audiences” who fit similar qualities to people who are already on your contact list.
The best part? Advocates don’t have to leave Facebook or Linkedin to give their contact information, it all happens natively within the site, increasing conversion rates.
A second strategy to consider to fuel acquisition is events. Grow your list by promoting unique webinars, panels, roundtable discussions or social events that attract new contacts. Then after the event you can continue to nurture attendees with advocacy engagement.
You can also use texting to connect with advocates who attend your events. With a digital grassroots tool that includes inbound texting, you can pick a buzzword for your advocates to text to a predetermined phone number. Advertise that number all throughout the event – on signs, slides, tickets, anywhere advocates will see. Then, when they text that number, they’ll automatically receive a follow-up link to register with your campaign.
Beginner — Building high-level resources that focus on data storytelling and compelling visuals
Advocacy is new to a lot of people, and for that reason, education is critical. To be successful, you need two types of advocate education — education on how and why to participate in advocacy and education on your issues.
Sending a letter or making a phone call to your legislator can be intimidating, so it’s important to break down those perceived barriers to action through advocate education. Education on your issues is important to empower advocates to share stories on how a policy will affect them—if they don’t understand the policy, they won’t provide compelling messages to legislators.
If you’re just getting started, your advocates might not yet be bought into participation. Start with quick snippets they can digest quickly to understand your issues. Data can be a quick way of convincing advocates of the importance of their participation—all you need is a compelling graphic to catch their eye, rather than getting them to read paragraphs of explainer content. Consider creating graphics with data on the impact a policy has on the community or how fast it is to participate in advocacy.
Then, think about the channels you’re using to promote those education resources. As your team gets more advanced, you can think about segmenting your audience based on which issue in your policy portfolio they are most interested in or how frequently they participate in campaigns. But first, focus on getting the most eyes on your educational resources as possible. Embed your graphics in your website and in your newsletters.
Intermediate — Segmenting your audience to share unique resources based on an advocate’s top issues or past advocacy behaviors
To segment by issue area, add a field to your next campaign with a drop-down for advocates to select which of the issues within your portfolio they are most interested in. Then, create resources that go deeper on that specific issue area than what you might have been sending to your full list.
It can also be helpful to segment by past advocacy behaviors. You want to start an advocate off with actions that have a low barrier to entry, but you may wish to ask for a deeper level of engagement as you deepen your relationship with an advocate or as they get more engaged with your issues and action centers. To segment by past advocacy behaviors, divide your audience based on the number of campaigns an advocate has participated in before. Then, send content that teaches them about more advanced ways to get involved. For example, if an advocate has taken action in their very first campaign, send them resources about the different kinds of actions they can take—like adding phone calls to their actions rather than just sending emails. For more advanced advocates who have participated in many campaigns, teach them about how they can become leaders in your organization’s grassroots programs through in-district meetings with legislators or lobby day opportunities.
Segmenting by issue area or level of engagement allows you to send only the most relevant information to each advocate, meaning they’ll engage more with the content and thus are more likely to take action.
Advanced — Ensure advocates are taking in the resources you’ve created through quizzes and gamification
You have created great resources for your advocates to learn from. Now make sure they are taking them in.
One best practice the American Society of Anesthesiologists uses to ensure that advocates are taking in the lessons they create is by creating a quiz that advocates take after watching one of ASA’s videos.
A second way to ensure advocates are engaging with your content is by using gamification. Toyota uses gamification as part of its grassroots program and assigns points for advocates listening to podcasts or watching videos as well as actually taking action. Then, when advocates receive a certain number of points, the company rewards them with prizes.
Beginner — Optimizing your email senders and subject lines to drive engagement with calls-to-action
You have a full list of advocates who are ready and excited about your policy areas, but they don’t always act when you need their voices. To get advocates to take action at the right time, send emails to your list with effective engagement strategies.
First, make sure the person the email is sent from is a name they recognize. With a name they know and trust, they’ll be more likely to open the email.
Next, make sure your subject line is enticing — consider using all lowercase letters or emojis to make your subject line stand out in their inbox. Then, provide a short and sweet explanation of what you need them to do and a clear button to take them to bring them to your advocacy site.
Finally, optimize your advocacy site for conversion. The biggest factor here is how many steps it takes to take action — how many form fields and how many clicks? The fewer steps, the more people will take action.
Intermediate — Optimizing your landing pages and utilizing combined campaigns
You have your basic activation strategies in place, but now it’s time to use technology to help decrease the barriers to entry for driving advocate action.
Once an advocate lands on your advocacy page, one of the things most likely to cause them to leave the page is a complicated form with lots of fields they have to fill out before they can actually take action. To improve the percent of advocates who complete your campaigns, look for a system that offers magic links—meaning once an advocate has filled out a form once, they’ll never have to fill it out again.
Additionally, you can drive more action from your advocates with a strategy of combined campaigns. Combined campaigns drive advocates to take multiple actions with only one click. For example, have them send an email to their representative, two senators, and their governor all in one click. This allows you to multiply the impact of your efforts without making things more challenging for the advocate.
Advanced — Driving more action to your campaigns through texting and gamification
Did you know 95% of text messages are opened within 5 minutes of receipt compared to an industry average email open rate of just 20%? This means if you text your advocates that they need to take action, there’s a much higher likelihood they’ll see your message and follow through.
Gamification is the process of assigning points to specific actions within your campaign. An organization may assign five points for sending an email to your legislator, but 10 points for a phone call because phone calls tend to be more impactful.
Adding gamification to your grassroots program will create advocate loyalty, so they’ll want to return and take action on your campaigns based on the incentive of game levels or prizes.
Beginner — Tracking engagement rates for each campaign and comparing results
You’ve got your activations down, and now it’s time to share your results with leadership.
Start by tracking engagement rates on your call-to-action emails with open and click rates. Then, track how many actions you drive to each campaign and how that number changes for each campaign. Which campaigns drove the most actions?
Once you have those numbers, look at what you did differently in the campaigns that succeeded or failed. Did you use certain phrasing in your call-to-action that drove more clicks? Cut back on form fields that led to more completions? Send more emails that drove action? What best practices can you replicate or negative factors can you avoid?
Intermediate — Breaking down engagement rates by different segments and sources
With a basic reporting system already set up, you should move to reporting with segmentation. For example, are your campaigns in a particular issue within your portfolio more successful at driving engagement than another issue? Do certain types of advocates participate more often than others? Are you effectively reaching legislators in a particular region and not others? With segmentation of your advocate database, you can bring that segmentation into your reporting.
With a spreadsheet tracking source information and engagement metrics for each advocate, you can then use filters to dig into the data for each particular subgroup.
Advanced — Move beyond the volume of actions and look at advocate acquisition costs by channel
It’s time to take your reporting to the next level. Beyond the raw numbers of how many advocates are taking action, look at the sources that are driving engagement and how you can boost those.
If you are using social media ads, or other paid means of driving action, look at your advocate acquisition costs or the cost to drive an action. To do this, divide the total cost spent on a channel by the number of advocates for the cost to add an advocate to your network. Or, to track the cost of driving an action on your campaign, divide the total cost spent on a channel by the number of actions by advocates sourced from that channel.
When you break down engagement rates and cost by channel, you can be sure to get the most bang for your buck on each campaign.