Welcome to 2018! It’s a new year and a great time to reflect on the successes and challenges from your advocacy efforts last year, so you can develop your goals for this year. Before the Congressional session really begins and the mid-term elections shift into gear, it’s important to take the time to determine what strategies and tactics worked, what needs to be adjusted and what needs to be added or removed. This is a great way to learn and build a stronger program for 2018. Are you ready for your best year of advocacy yet?
Below are 5 tips that can help you boost the effectiveness of your advocacy program this year:
1. Know your advocacy database.
Make it your top goal to review your database dashboards almost daily or, at the very least, weekly. If you don’t have dashboards, have them built as soon as possible. It is amazing to me how few advocacy professionals understand their data, and therefore, miss the insights that can be derived. This should be a critical piece of your advocacy playbook. It is imperative for you to know top-level stats at all times so you can make data-driven decisions. Make sure you keep up on the number of active advocates you have, the number of legislative connections that have been made, how active your campaigns are on social media, and who your top advocates are. If don’t do this, you are essentially flying blind. When you analyze your own data, you also gain a better understanding of your advocates and learn basic trends like the best time to send emails, if the messaging in your ad buys is resonating, if you are getting a good ROI on your advertising investment, and if you are attracting supporters in the right states and Congressional districts in order to impact your agenda.
2. Create an amazing advocate experience.
We’ve all heard the axiom, “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” It’s no different for advocacy. Ensure that you always treat your supporters like potential customers, which means understanding the experience they have when they interact with your organization. If you create campaigns that require too much information, or require too many clicks to complete, you will likely reduce your conversion rates significantly. In today’s day and age, advocates, particularly millennials, want to take action how and when they want. Don’t try to force a complicated process on them. Also remember to offer multiple channels through which advocates can communicate with legislators. Social media advocacy is becoming more and more relevant, and you are missing opportunities to influence decisions if you aren’t participating actively.
3. Think mobile.
Start collecting mobile numbers so you can text your advocates. This really works (I know from first-hand experience!) and is the most evergreen data point you can gather. Think about it…when was the last the time you changed your mobile number? We’ve seen the success of leveraging texting to drive advocates to take action time after time, including higher open rates, virtually no unsubscribes, and the highest conversion rate as compared to other channels. I would rather have thousands of key advocates in the right states and Congressional districts than millions of emails. I’m very proud of the work my team did at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to collect thousands of supporters’ mobile numbers in key manufacturing states. These people became our biggest advocates.
4. Facebook advertising is key.
Use your ad budget on targeted Facebook ads. Where else can you target your perfect advocate? The return on investment is better than any other advertising channel. If you haven’t yet used Facebook to acquire new supporters, make it a top priority in Q1 for your team to learn as much as possible about it. Make sure to learn specifically about Facebook lead ads. They are game-changing for mobile and traditional advocacy, and, with the Phone2Action and Facebook Lead Ad integration, allow supporters to sign up for your organization’s email list and take action without ever leaving Facebook.
Elections are the Super Bowl of activity for issue advocacy. It is the optimal time to recruit new supporters and grow your advocacy database. Make sure you build a user-friendly GOTV website with easy-to-find information, and invest in targeted ads in top Senate states. Why? Employees and members look for information on candidates and voting locations, and are willing to provide their personal contact information to get it. I’m always blown away by the amount of traffic that good GOTV sites get – don’t miss out on this limited-time opportunity!
6. *BONUS TIP – Get your data house in order.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with a bonus tip. It is crucial to perform a data audit across your entire organization. At NAM, this project made the biggest impact on the effectiveness of our advocacy efforts. We collected all the data from the different systems spread across our many departments and consolidated it into one advocacy database. With everything in one place, it was easier to figure out which contacts were still supporters so we could re-engage with them. We were also able to uncover better insights with our newly expanded data set, which helped drive our advocacy strategy, resulting in a tenfold increase to the number of calls and emails to the Hill in a very short period of time. But, even beyond being better organized and more effective, this project helped uncover the different ways individual departments were handling data, resulting in the creation of an organization-wide data policy in order to standardize our processes. This is a difficult thing to achieve, and requires buy-in from everyone in the organization – from the CEO all the way to the interns. It needs to be a priority of the entire organization.
Hopefully, these tips will help you as you build our your plans for this year. If you have any questions about this post, or would like to talk about advocacy strategies and tactics for your organization, please email me. Happy New Year – here’s to a wonderful 2018!
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