*This is a guest post from our friends at Salsa Labs.
Large-scale public issues are constantly at the forefront of people’s minds. The coronavirus pandemic, its economic impact, ongoing social disruptions, and elections represent just a few examples of situations that have recently occupied our daily lives. If your nonprofit’s mission directly relates to any major public conversations, you’re already in a position to strengthen your connections through an advocacy campaign.
Advocacy is the driving force behind positive change in our communities. These campaigns channel your supporters’ thoughts and energy toward collective actions that enact real change. Whether your campaign is designed to reach legislators, CEOs at major companies, or other decision-makers, one that’s well-run can have major impacts. It can raise awareness for your cause, educate people, attract donations, cultivate stronger relationships, and build your nonprofit’s brand.
If you’re running an advocacy campaign, you’re clearly dedicated to the mission behind your goals. Logically, you want to do everything in your power to make the most of your efforts. Convincing people to support your advocacy campaign will naturally empower your work and launch social change forward.
To accomplish this, you’ll need to focus on getting individuals to convert. Converting simply means that someone takes an action. In traditional fundraising campaigns, someone “converts” when they donate, but what’s considered a conversion looks slightly different for an advocacy campaign. When it comes to advocacy, the action you push people to take could be signing a petition, Tweeting or messaging a CEO, or calling a legislator. However, it can be challenging determining the necessary steps for boosting campaign conversions.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach for every advocacy campaign. Each campaign’s core message and goal can differ. However, there are several common practices that can improve conversions for any advocacy campaign. These are the three strategies we’ll dive into:
- Optimize your campaign landing page.
- Refine your approach to marketing.
- Track campaign progress and adjust accordingly.
At Salsa, we empower nonprofits with the tools they need to run effective multi-channel advocacy campaigns. From optimizing online petitions to proactive marketing and depending on whether you are pointing your campaign at lawmakers or corporate CEOs, there are several moving parts that work together. We understand that boosting conversions and securing support doesn’t come without plenty of hard work. Leveraging what we’ve learned from our time in the nonprofit advocacy space, we’re confident that these strategies will launch you toward your goals.
1. Optimize your campaign landing page.
Ideally, everyone who arrives at your campaign site will follow through with the call-to-action—whether that’s emailing their legislator or signing a petition. Realistically, that’s not always the case, and many would-be advocates drop off after landing on the campaign page.
While there are several reasons why someone might end up not converting, it’s rarely because they no longer care about the advocacy issue anymore. Usually, a lack of conversions is caused by a subpar user experience on the campaign page. Maybe the call-to-action is unclear or the page is cluttered with excessive information.
Instead of allowing people to fail to convert in one of the final stages, take time to optimize your landing page. A high-converting advocacy campaign page is incredibly straightforward—the content is easy to digest at first glance. This all starts with an easy-to-follow process. Too many pages, form questions, or confusing features will drive supporters away.
From here, take a few additional steps to fully optimize your landing page, such as:
- Brand the page design to your organization. Landing pages often require advocates to provide contact details and other personal information. If the landing page doesn’t look credible, some individuals will second guess whether they want to take action. Everything from your logo to the colors and text font should match the rest of your website and marketing materials.
- Keep the mobile experience in mind. A large percent of advocates come to advocacy campaigns via mobile devices. In fact, this statistics report estimates that half of all nonprofit website traffic in 2020 came from mobile and tablet users. Using finger-friendly input fields, hard-to-miss buttons, and a mobile-optimized design will ensure they can take action wherever they are.
- Put the call-to-action front and center. If your campaign’s primary goal isn’t crystal clear, how can you expect people to get on board? Contextual details can get people amped up, but don’t bury your primary call-to-action. Otherwise, people won’t know what step to take. Tell individuals exactly what they need to do, whether it’s filling out a petition, participating in a click-to-call campaign, or conducting social media outreach.
Intuitive and user-friendly advocacy software will make designing a conversion-optimized landing page easy. Depending on the nature of your campaign, you can leverage your software to push advocates toward actions like completing a petition and Tweeting or calling a representative.
After putting effort and resources into drawing new advocates to your site, it’s frustrating to have a low campaign page conversion rate. With careful attention to the user experience, you can maximize conversions, resulting in a more successful advocacy campaign.
2. Refine your approach to marketing.
During a time when multiple causes must compete for people’s attention, effective marketing strategies for your advocacy campaign are more important than ever. It should go without saying that the marketing materials you produce should drive supporters to take action.
As explained in Salsa’s complete guide to advocacy campaign planning, “people [should] always feel like your organization is speaking directly to them and values their support personally. When individuals are confident that your team takes their support seriously, they’ll be more likely to take action for your cause today and in the future.”
This advice is backed by testing countless nonprofit campaigns: an A/B test by CaringBridge found that using donor-centric language rather than organization-centric language on their landing page led to a 36% increase in conversion rate. While this study is specific to fundraising, supporter-centric language extends to all sorts of campaigns.
Beyond being incredibly clear, supporter-centric, and empowering with your messages, there are several other major considerations to take into account. Two of which include the channels you use and the individuals you contact.
Contact people using the right channels.
Naturally, you want your campaign to reach the largest audience possible, which requires a multi-channel approach. However, it’s not enough to spread generic appeals across as many outlets as possible. Part of cutting through the clutter and deepening engagement is matching people to the right marketing methods and social networks.
Consider each supporter’s contact preferences, whether that’s email, social media, phone call, text message, direct mail, or face-to-face outreach. If you have a big supporter pool, you likely won’t be able to take a highly-customized approach for each contact. However, you can leverage segmentation to create groups of supporters who share similar contact preferences, allowing you to provide a reasonable level of personalization.
For a more generalized approach, reference previous advocacy campaign history. Check past response rates to form educated generalizations about which means of communication are most effective.
For instance, let’s say your last advocacy campaign yielded high response rates from your email series. You’ll know to continue down that general path when conducting outreach for your next campaign.
You can dive a bit deeper by investigating what sorts of emails were most effective in driving people to take action. Consider factors such as subject lines, the amount of copy, the level of personalization, and the types of multimedia used. Given enough time, you may be able to conduct A/B testing, where you take one element to analyze and experiment with different approaches to see which works best. Overall, the more personalized and optimized your communications are, the better. In fact, studies show that more personalized and humanized emails drastically outperform emails that look and sound like marketing.
Consider constituents who could make a notable difference.
Double the Donation’s guide to advocacy explains that networking is one of the primary ways to set your campaign up for success. When exploring your constituents’ data and solidifying your segmentation strategy, capitalize on the connections your existing supporters already have to strengthen your campaign.
You might consider focusing on supporters who could be highly influential on your advocacy efforts. This could be someone who has the capacity to make a major donation or who has personal connections with a policy maker you’re attempting to reach. Another example of a potentially impactful advocate is a past peer-to-peer fundraiser who reached a large audience. These individuals have the power to spread petitions like wildfire.
Create a segment for influential supporters like this and implement extra cultivation measures. For example, you could arrange a face-to-face meeting or host an informational luncheon. Investing time into those who are most likely to convert and have a major impact can help you make major headway.
3. Track campaign progress and adjust accordingly.
Thanks to technology, advocacy directors never have to wonder if their campaigns are mobilizing people.
While digital advocacy efforts don’t replace face-to-face actions like in-person visits to lawmakers, they do amplify individuals’ voices to cut through the noise. Supporters can engage with lawmakers through Facebook, Twitter, email, and phone calls. Even offline campaigns leverage tech to reach their campaign goals, like live Tweeting at in-person events.
Your advocacy software will automate the data collection process across all efforts, allowing you to quickly analyze your campaign and make adjustments to increase success.
Advocacy software should automatically store campaign data in order to help locate opportunities to boost conversions. At a glance, you should be able to view metrics like:
- Total number of advocates. This gives you a glimpse into how effective your core advocacy message is, how well it’s spreading, and whether people are inspired to act.
- Total number of actions taken. This number will likely differ from the total number of advocates, given that individuals may take more than one action. The metric includes information like the number of petition signatures and messages sent to legislators.
- Petition and targeted action form views. Compare the total number of form views with the total number of actions taken to determine if there’s a significant amount of dropoff. You can pinpoint potential problems that cause would-be advocates not to convert.
- Top engagement channels. This gives you an idea of what channels most inspire people to back your campaign from emails to phone calls. You can take a closer look at which types of messages are most effective on each platform.
Understanding where your campaign is excelling and where it’s falling short will help you make the right adjustments to boost support. The technology you employ is a major part of this, so be sure to choose your advocacy software carefully. With the right platform, you’ll be able to gather and dive into all of the metrics you need about your community and what inspires them to get involved.
Your mission depends on affecting governmental or corporate policy as quickly as possible, and to make a real impact, you need to engage supporters and motivate them to make a difference. After all, an advocacy campaign is only as effective as the individuals who act on it.
Figuring out the best ways to inspire action can be tricky. Each campaign appeals to a different audience and thus requires different methods to be successful. Fortunately, with careful attention to the right metrics and the effectiveness of your campaign’s landing page and marketing, you can successfully boost conversions and make a difference in your community.
Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits.
Gerard’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.