How a $500 Prize Led to a 23% Increase in Advocacy – in Six Weeks

by Ann Dermody // Feb 09, 2017 Success Stories

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 2.30.34 PMHere’s how Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation sent 4,335 letters to the U.S. Senate by offering a cool (literally!) prize.

The result? A huge uptick in brand new advocates – and almost a full quarter increase in their advocacy base.

And they did it when no major legislation was happening.

In the fall of 2016 Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation – an advocacy coalition of angler groups – wanted to grow their advocacy base.

But with no major bills moving through Congress that would get supporters energized and mobilized, they didn’t have much fodder for action alerts.

“We realized this was the perfect opportunity to focus on growing our advocacy base,” says Austin Roebuck, Government Relations Coordinator for Yamaha Marine Group, one of the coalition’s members.

Up to this point, they had had a little over 6,000 users send letters through the “Bass for Salt” advocacy action center, powered by CQ Roll Call’s Engage tool.

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“For previous issues we had typically focused on promoting advocacy through social media, trade shows, and email blasts,” says Roebuck.

But the coalition knew they’d need to find something sticky to get their supporters’ attention during this downtime, so after brainstorming new ways to promote their advocacy action center, they decided on a giveaway sweepstakes as a lure (pardon the pun).

“A YETI® Tundra 65 cooler was selected as our prize because it’s a popular product among our target audience, sportsmen and outdoorsmen,” says Roebuck.

At $500, the cooler’s retail value was also under the $600 threshold the IRS requires sweepstakes sponsors to submit a 1099 form for prizes and awards.

“Plus, our friends at YETI felt that we represent a worthy cause, and decided to donate the cooler at no charge to promote the sweepstakes,” says Roebuck.

The rules were simple: use the “sweepstakes engagement” on the action center site to send a prewritten letter to your U.S. Senator between October 13 and December 13, 2016, and you’d automatically be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win the cooler.

Bass YETI 4

Additionally, advocates were incentivized to share the sweepstakes with friends to receive additional entries. An alternative mail-in method of entry was also included that bypassed sending the letter to Congress. Just seven people chose to enter that way.

How They Did It

The sweepstakes was also cost effective. “In addition to the $500 donated prize, we spent about $300 promoting it with Facebook-sponsored posts,” says Roebuck.

“We used CQ’s Engage system to send out emails to our established advocates about the opportunity to send a letter and win through the sweepstakes. We also used the new (and free) Facebook Live tool, which sends a push notification about your video to every single fan of your page.”

For an additional net-zero-cost promotion, they advertised the sweepstakes in booth space at events they’d already planned to be at, such as fishing tournaments and trade shows.

“The opportunity to win a prize made our trade show promotions significantly more successful, with more people stopping to talk with us about our issue,” says Roebuck.

In total, they sent three email blasts to their advocacy base, urging them to enter the competition and send a letter to their two senators. They also posted about the competition about 15 times on Facebook/Twitter, and focused heavily on getting people to sign up at trade show booths.

“Since our primary goal was to reach new advocates, we focused most of our efforts on live event activation,” says Roebuck.

All of their sign ups, regardless of the channel they found the competition on, were ran through the back end of CQ’s Engage platform, which automatically sent the emails to the appropriate senators through zip code matching.

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The Results

At the end of the two months, Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation had 1,857 entrants send a total of 4,335 letters to the U.S. Senate by way of the contest.

Of those who participated, 1,410 were brand new advocates.

“That represented a 23 percent increase in the size of our advocacy base from just one engagement, almost four times our typical growth rate,” says Roebuck.

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How the Results Boiled Down

Roebuck says the biggest traffic came from live events, roughly 60 percent with another 25 percent coming from Facebook, and another 15 percent from email. The focus was not on email as most of the that traffic was to existing advocates, who were not the target of this campaign. 

“We had an opportunity for people to share the contest with their friends for additional entries, but this option was surprisingly underutilized – maybe 50 people came in this way,” says Roebuck. “For the most part, new users came from live events & Facebook.”

Our biggest traffic came from live events – I would say this was roughly 60% of the traffic.  Another 25%  came from Facebook, and another 15% came from the emails (but most of the traffic from emails were existing users – not the target of this campaign.)

Also, where did you see your biggest NEW advocates come from? The sharing with friends or from social?

The biggest chunk of new advocates definitely came from live event activation and Facebook.  We had an opportunity for people to share the contest with their friends for additional entries, but this option was surprisingly underutilized (maybe 50 people brought in this way.)  For the most part, new users came from live events & Facebook.

Going Forward

Due to its success, Roebuck says Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation will replicate this strategy again in the future with both smaller and larger prizes.

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