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4 Key Lessons From the Campaigning Sector

Tali Caspi

Tali Caspi

A few weeks ago I attended the 2015 FWD conference, where digital campaigners and technologists from around Australia came together to share lessons on how to better communicate with their respective communities.

Attendees came from progressive NGOs, unions, political parties and some religiously-aligned organisations. All of whom engage with their communities both on- and offline on a daily basis to raise awareness of various advocacy topics, to fundraise and to further build a strong and engaged community database.

Whilst some of the needs of community engagement professionals may differ, they also pose many of the same dilemmas and solutions offered by the digital campaigning sector, some of which will be shared below.

4 Key Lessons From The Campaigning Sector

#1 Data Matters & Can Be Sexy!

Whilst speaking about data and databases doesn’t seem like the most thrilling of topics, it was actually one of the most interesting talks of the conference. Learning how to utilise your database is crucial for ensuring that an engagement campaign reaches as many people as possible.

Some steps to doing so include the following:

Segment your database

At the conference, there was a lot of talk about base supporters or engaged participants, which are the people that always support your campaigns and are likely to take actions such as filling in a survey or sharing a post, versus “persuadables” or informed participants, the people interested in the topic but may not know it or are yet to engage or are waiting for the right incentive to engage.

Give them the incentive to engage!

Once you have segmented your database, you are then able to target different segments of your database with different messaging to encourage user participation. For example, a message to your core engaged audience will look different to a message to your persuadable audience.

Taking the new energy company Powershop as an example, in its initial marketing drive, the energy company used the ‘save the environment by using our product’ message to gain initial support from a core group of environmentally aware supporters who signed up for the service and shared the message with family and friends. Further incentivised by having decreased power bills for every referral that signed up via a shared link.


In subsequent campaigns, Powershop appealed to a wider audience with a price differential message of ‘use our product to save money’. Both campaigns were extremely successful in increasing sign up through a well-thought out messaging strategy.


#2 Test, Test, Test

A/B test your content and headlines. A/B testing allows you to test what messaging is and isn’t working, which then can be adjusted accordingly. It is worth taking the time to devise different content and headlines that may appeal to different members of your database.

An integration with an email system like Campaign Monitor allows for testing different headlines according to which headline gets the highest level of engagement (for example highest click-through rate).

You can select a percentage of your database for testing (usually 2-10%), with the winning headline then chosen automatically for sending out to the rest of your targeted campaign database.

You can also A/B test social media updates by trying out different headlines at different times of day to test and adapt messaging in order to increase engagement.

#3 Databases Need Updating

Databases are not static assets.

They are constantly expanding and changing as different users are added to the system and preferences constantly changing. As such, a database should be a dynamic instrument, which allows you to tag and change segmentation according to differing needs (stay tuned for more ways to segment your database via EngagementHQ in early 2016).

One way of segmenting your audience is to update the database when action is taken. If someone has taken an action in the last 30-60 days they can be considered part of a core audience or engaged participants. If not, they should be in the persuadable or informed basket and approached accordingly.

Develop a re-engagement strategy for people that have become inactive. It can be cheeky, such as “where have you been” or more serious in nature. Try to ascertain what was the trigger for re-engagement by looking at levels of engagement and database growth.

Campaign effectiveness can be measured via the action and reactivation rate (people taking an action and coming back to take an action after 30+ days) plus the measure of database growth (new people signing up to the database).

#4 Good Content = Higher Engagement

In today’s information overloaded world, good content is key to getting people to your site and achieving breakthrough from all the trash. Take the time to develop your messaging and content to suit your audience.

Ask yourselves who is your audience and what do you want them to do? If you do not have in-house content production skills, you can syndicate other high-quality content from other news sources to appear in your feed.

The best content generally gets 90% of your overall engagement (on social). Be sure to get the most of this content by re-sharing your best content every 6-8 weeks on varying days and times of the day to reach different audiences.

Use surge social advertising. If a piece of content is getting engagement, it is better to put $50-100 on a good post once per week, then wasting $5 or $10 on less engaging posts daily.

These are just some tips to help you get the most out of your community engagement database and messaging strategies. How do you engage better with your audience?

Thanks for getting all the way to the bottom! Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date about the latest community engagement news and views. Also, take a look at our specialist community engagement software solutions:  EngagementHQ and BudgetAllocator.

Published Date: 15 December 2015 Last modified on March 9, 2018
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