Have you ever heard the term “inbound marketing”? Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy based on making your product or business easy to find on the internet and using your website to draw people in by producing content that they value, and converting them from causal visitors to customers. Now, you may ask yourself, “What does this have to do with Grassroots Advocacy?” Your organization already has an established audience of potential advocates; for an association it may be your membership list, for universities it may be alumni, for a non-profit it may be a donors list. The challenge for advocacy managers is growing this audience and engaging them to convert bystanders into advocates. By implementing a few of these inbound marketing principles into your advocacy network you can improve the way you convert members into advocates and create new audience members by drawing people to your website. Here’s how:
Make Your Network Easy to Find
It is impossible for your audience to become part of your advocacy network if they don’t know that it exists. The first step in the Inbound Marketing Process is simple: make your audience aware of your network. This doesn’t take a large amount of work or a huge advertising budget. Simply make sure your Advocacy Network is easy to find by putting links to it on your main website and on all of your emails and news stories. Or if you already have an audience for your issues, try emailing them an invitation to your network with the proper links to let them see it and join. You would be surprised how much something simple as a link on your main page or at the end of an email can help advertise your network. A portion of your established audience that already receive updates is likely to be willing to step forward to join your advocacy network, they just have to know how.
Publish Informative Content
The second step in the inbound marketing strategy is to publish valuable content for your audience to keep them engaged on the issues and drive traffic to the advocacy website. Many grassroots advocacy managers already publish content in the form of a weekly update from the Capitol or a monthly newsletter to their advocates, so it is just a matter of putting this content up on your advocacy website. In the age of the Internet, you should be looking for integrated tools that enable you to publish news and turn it into a blast email so you can also push it out to your advocates instead of only waiting for them to come and read it. Additionally, the more content you publish on your site, the easier it is for people to find your website using search engines like Google or Yahoo. Remember that you are trying to keep people interested, so update your website with news from the capitol year round. Your updates about specific legislation can keep advocates informed on what the issues are, and news about your organization keeps them seeing the entire picture of how legislation affects them. The more valuable information you publish, the more you position yourself as a thought-leader on an issue, turning your advocacy site into a go-to resource for those that are interested in your issues.
Convert Visitors to Advocates
Now that you are publishing content and generating visitors to your website, you need to convert these casual visitors into informed advocates. Your updates draw people into your website when they are looking for the latest news on your issues, and when they are on your website you have the opportunity to recruit them into your advocacy network. The easiest way to do this is by making the process of joining the advocacy network easy. If a potential advocate has to jump through hoops to join your network then they are less likely to do so. The most effective way of converting visitors into advocates is to design your pages to “funnel” traffic down to your call to action (in this case, joining your advocacy network). This can be done by simply adding a join button to the bottom of all your news stories. Each update should have a call to action at the end; even if it is something as simple as “If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to help, join our advocacy network.” You have an opportunity to reach people when they read your articles; make sure to use it!
Are you using a Grassroots Advocacy Network to improve your voice at the capitol?