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The 6 Strategies You Need to Increase Engagement in Advocacy

Recent innovations in technology and data collection have reshaped the face of advocacy in America. People are participating more proactively in the democratic process, and with the midterm elections coming up, advocates are eager to have their voices heard around statewide ballot initiatives.

Today’s advocacy professionals have unprecedented access to information—and more tools to analyze and leverage that data.

For an inside look at how advancements in technology have affected engagement in advocacy, Crowdskout, along with our partners at APCO Worldwide and Grassroots Professional Network, produced an eBook: The Intersection of Innovation and Advocacy.

The eBook features tips and insights from top advocacy practitioners on how to use data tools and technology to reach supporters.

Though these tips were catered to advocacy professionals, the takeaways can be applied to any industry to increase user engagement.

Here are 6 strategies from our contributors on how to reach supporters and keep them engaged.

1. Utilize peer-to-peer text message outreach

Adults spend nearly three and a half hours per day on their mobile devices. Savvy advocacy professionals have shifted to accommodate a mobile-first population and peer-to-peer text messaging is at the forefront of this movement.

Peer-to-peer text messaging, according to Jesse Barba, Vice President at Cassidy & Associates, “is one of the best ways to mobilize and activate grassroots participation. [It’s] generally cheaper, targeted and highly effective.”

Singer Crawford, Digital Tools Manager at 50CAN, also asserted:

“Texting has the greatest opportunity to improve the [advocacy] industry. With a new generation of advocates emerging from the 2016 election, it’s important we meet these young people where they are: on their phone.”

2. Execute multi-channel outreach

When it comes to outreach, the most successful advocacy practitioners utilize multi-channel outreach strategies in which each method of contact informs the others.

When it comes to multi-channel outreach, advancement in next-gen technology like Iterable means fewer hours spent on manual tasks, more time spent on strategy, and result in more cost-effective outreach.

Davon Gray, Manager, PathPAC, Legislation & Political Action at College of American Pathologists, stated, “Ultimately, whatever tools you use, that should be the goal: maximum effectiveness with minimal cost.”

Andrew Fullerton, Government Relations Manager at National Kidney Foundation, added:

“Building a database of advocate data is not just about hoping people respond to a survey anymore or that you can afford to contract with a data-mining company. There are many tools available to mine many sources of information on a continual basis.

For example, what are your advocates Tweeting/posting about and what are their friends liking/sharing? Are these people potential advocate recruits? What other platforms can you utilize to activate these advocates, now that you have improved data on them?”

3. Create dynamic audience segments

Data and technology allow advocacy professionals to create audience segments based on previous interactions and relationships with the organization to maximize effectiveness.

Joshua Habursky, Director of Advocacy at Independent Community Bankers of America, said:

“Segmenting is the key to message development. A lot of times the message is similar, but we change a few things to resonate better with our target audience. [As we’re now diligent about segmenting,] not only have open rates gone up, but we have experienced exponential growth in action and even new advocates.”

4. Influence supporters through targeted messaging

It’s now common knowledge that mass-produced messaging is ineffective in cutting through the noise and keeping your audience engaged. Hyper-targeted messaging made possible by increased access to data and is more effective in influencing supporters to take action.

Data and technology, according to Dan Meyers, Senior Director, Head of Advocacy at APCO Worldwide, “…allows us to tailor and micro-target information to each individual, increasing the likelihood of engagement. This increase in knowledge about our users’ online habits allows us to ask them better questions and understand their willingness to engage. Broadcast communications and calls to action no longer work like they used to and certainly are less effective.”

5. Figure out the most effective channels

Even if messaging is targeted, if you’re delivering content through the wrong channels it will fall upon deaf ears. An important strategy to increasing engagement, according to the eBook contributors, is using data to uncover what works best.

Michael Bezruki, Director, Grassroots Programs at National Association of Home Builders, said:

“Your best strategy to reaching those who matter most to your organization is to find out how they’d prefer to communicate with you. By examining new mediums and technology to find out how your supporters want to be contacted, you can virtually guarantee a better response rate.”

Another way to figure this out is by simply asking. “Want to know what your audience cares about and what they’re comfortable doing? Ask them!” asserts Jessica Cooper, Grassroots Director at NFIB.

She adds, “Ask what issues are important to them and how they’re willing to get involved, such as communicating with elected officials, attending or hosting events, speaking to the media, etc. Once you get a member engaged, then you can work on raising their advocacy lid.”

6. Aggregate data in a central platform

In an age where an unprecedented amount of data is available at our fingertips, practitioners recognize that keeping data under one roof with platforms like Iterable and Crowdskout, allows them to see the full picture of their audience, what makes them tick, and how to keep them engaged.

Todd Van Etten, Chief Digital Strategist at The Herald Group, noted:

“The proliferation of inexpensive tools to analyze and understand large sets of data has the greatest opportunity to improve the industry. When configured correctly, modern CRMs collect so much information about HOW a user engages with your organization. This then helps inform what will motivate those supporters on an individual level.”

Whether you’re trying to reach users, constituents, supporters, or customers, you can use these strategies to increase engagement. Interested in learning more tips? Download your free copy of the eBook, The Intersection of Innovation and Advocacy!

Nicole Tanoue

Nicole Tanoue is the Marketing Manager at Crowdskout, the CRM platform that powers campaigns and advocacy.

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