Take a look at the calendar in 2020 and it might make your head spin. Forty-four states are holding legislative sessions beginning in January. The primary season begins in February. And all year long, candidates will be campaigning hard in an election that will determine who controls the White House and Congress.
Smart organizations are preparing their teams now.
While much goes into that, from setting priorities to messaging, one crucial piece should be a hard look at the systems you use to communicate with your grassroots audience. Modern tools can help you cut through the noise. If your systems are dated or don’t perform, now is a good time to upgrade.
Because this can be a daunting task, we asked our staff for the lessons they have learned over the years and compiled them in our latest white paper, How to Shop for Advocacy Software. Inside, you’ll find information on how to manage a process, complete with checklists and examples, based on decades of advocacy experience.
Shopping for Capabilities
What do you get when you upgrade your tools? The truth is that advocacy software has made huge advances in the last few years, and there are capabilities that are well worth your consideration. Here are some examples:
- Text messaging. Many advocacy programs still depend on email, but it is rarely a high-performing channel. Text messaging cuts through the noise, with a 99 percent open rate and conversion rates that can regularly top 15-20 percent. Text messages can also be incredibly powerful to deploy at events when you want to generate sign-ups. More organizations employ text in their advocacy program every year. It should be a prime consideration in your search.
- Stakeholder management. The ability to manage and maximize your list, identifying high-value supporters who are enthusiastic, well-connected or otherwise capable of helping your efforts, is a vital feature. Without it, you may be blind to some very helpful resources.
- Social media ads. Every organization needs to grow its list, and one of the most reliable tools is social media lead ads. An advocacy system that integrates seamlessly with social media ads allows your organization to grow its list regularly and manage the process easily, whenever you like.
- Chatbots. The ability to interact with supporters and point them to information dramatically increases engagement. But hiring staff to do so can get expensive. The answer is artificial intelligence “chat bots,” that can address questions from supporters, give them information and help draw them deeper into your organization.
- Custom Messages. If you are interested in giving your advocates, employees, or members tools to customize messages (which is something that helps make messages resonate with lawmakers), make sure you can easily deploy this feature from your platform. It should not be a heavy lift.
- Analytics and Reports. You should expect to get the precise information you need to fine-tune your campaigns without doing any data transfer or manual work. You should also be able to display and export this information easily, so that you can report the result of your efforts and the value of your program whenever you like.
A Manageable Process
Of course, there is much more that goes into upgrading your advocacy software than simply shopping for features. Moving to a new system requires working with stakeholders in your organization to reach a consensus on a system that meets multiple needs. That system may be in place for years.
The process that you use to make decisions matters a great deal. An orderly process can be completed in a relatively short period of time (as little as 30 days, if your organization is determined). But a disorganized process can stretch on for months, with little to show for the effort.
How to Shop for Advocacy Software explains how to assess your needs, assemble stakeholders, take a demo and make decisions based on factual information. In short, it can help you conduct a manageable process and dramatically reduce the time it takes to upgrade your advocacy tools.
“Moving to a new system does not have to be a tectonic shift,” said Jeb Ory, CEO of Phone2Action. “We see organizations do it every day. It’s one of the few things you can do to energize your program in a way that lasts. Adding modern advocacy tools is like finding a sustainable source of fuel for your program.”
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