As 2017 comes to a close, we are turning the page on a year that has ushered in a new era of civic engagement across our country and around the world.
Just as the Presidential election has shuffled the deck in Washington, DC, and statehouses across the country, 2017 has been a transformative time for civic technology. For us, this past year signified the turning point that we envisioned five years ago when we launched Phone2Action - a time when citizen engagement, coupled with the right technology, would become mainstream.
From the beginning, we set out to solve the problem that citizens face when they want to engage on issues that matter to them, but don’t know how. They generally don’t know who their lawmakers are, much less how to contact them. We created Phone2Action to solve this problem, giving advocacy campaign managers a new way to create and run advocacy campaigns that doesn’t require an expensive consultant or digital expert.
We focused on integrating tools that enabled constituent communications through various channels, uniting social media, petitions, traditional emailing tools, and patch-through calls into one platform that leveraged SMS messaging, event engagement, and a drag-and-drop campaign page builder. We built robust technical integrations with leading platforms like Salesforce and MailChimp - meeting our clients where they are, fitting within their existing tech ecosystems - rather than forcing them to abandon all of their legacy tools to adopt our technology.
When Ximena and I founded the company five years ago, we took a bet with the name “Phone2Action” because we felt that engagement on mobile devices would become ubiquitous. Now, more than 81% of American adults have smartphones. In 2017, the intersection between smartphone adoption, the access to information, and the natural desire of people to engage has changed the game for advocacy. For politicians, this is “uncharted” territory; for constituents, this is finally an opportunity to get a seat at the table.
The Trend Toward Self-Service Campaign Management
Along the way, we have seen a few important changes happening in the world of advocacy that are still shaping the industry.
Many leaders of grassroots advocacy programs are no longer content paying expensive consultants to run their advocacy campaigns and reporting for them. These leaders and their teams - which are increasingly being filled with digitally-savvy staff - are demanding more self-service platforms they can use to manage their communications and campaigns in-house. Content editing, web applications, and website creation are no longer the realm of “the techies.”
We’ve seen a similar revolution happening in the online advertising and lead generation space. For years, expensive lead generation campaigns have been the key behind the growth of some of the world’s biggest advocacy programs - but they came with a big price tag. Organizations used to allot hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase email addresses of advocates - only to find that those advocates were not very committed to their cause over the long-term.
Expensive consultants and digital experts were necessary to help run these complex campaigns, build targeting profiles, implement ads, develop, test, and optimize landing pages, and report on the results. But there is a great change stirring in the online advertising world, a shift that is allowing everyday users the ability to launch effective lead generation programs - no complicated technology required.
How We’ve Responded
Grassroots leaders and campaign managers have asked for new tools to help them manage their campaigns themselves. We heard and responded. To meet their needs, we:
- Developed an integration with Facebook Lead Ads, which makes advocate acquisition, obtaining email and mobile opt-ins, and driving actions off of Facebook more cost-effective than it has ever been before, bringing the cost from what could be as high as $9.00 per conversion to under $2.00 in some cases.
- Launched SocialPulse to help advocacy organizations triangulate social media data on their advocates to drive engagement
- Integrated with Alexa, allowing anyone in the country to easily call their lawmaker using an Alexa-enabled device.
Our Partners’ Success
Over the past year, our partners have tackled some of the most important issues to the American people - from healthcare to education to tax reform, surfacing opinions and feedback that might not otherwise have been heard by our elected officials. Here are some of their key achievements:
Watch our year-in-review recap video below!
What’s next in the first part of 2018
As the pioneer in the advocacy space, we continue to set the bar for digital engagement technology. However, being first is not enough. We remain committed to innovation and retaining our spot as the preferred platform for digital stakeholder engagement. We have an aggressive roadmap for 2018 that includes new campaign templates, a refreshed Civic Action Center for GOTV and Midterm Elections, and much more. If you are interested in hearing about our plans, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People in the US and overseas are poised to engage in public policy. The time when people would not hesitate to act is now a reality. Technology is power and civic technology is empowering. We look forward to the continued momentum of civic engagement in 2018, as well as more companies getting actively involved in public policy campaigns, following the example of companies like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s, as grassroots advocacy becomes second-nature to all citizens.
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