How to Increase Advocacy Participation by 116% and Grow Your Membership List in 10 Days Using the C-A-M-P Method

by Ann Dermody // Dec 16, 2015 Engagement

processChartFlowAcquiring new members isn’t easy. And getting those members to participate in your advocacy or donation campaigns, on demand when you really need them, can be hit or miss, and thus a bit frustrating.

We get it.

Growing your membership base and advancing your issue shouldn’t be competing agendas. You should never feel like doing one comes at the expense of doing the other.

Your membership, government relations, fundraising, communications or marketing teams shouldn’t feel they are competing with each other for resources.

If you’re serious about dramatically growing your membership base AND advancing your issue, there is a technique you should be aware of that combines the precision and scale of modern marketing tactics with the soul of advocacy.

We refer to it as the “C-A-M-P” Method: Campaign-Advocate-Membership-Prospecting.

Why the “C-A-M-P” Method Works for Advocacy and Membership Growth Strategies

The concept is basic, yet powerful: Build out your membership base through the advocacy campaigns you’re already running, but on a much larger scale – such as the scale of the web – using systems that you probably already have.

The best thing about using this approach is that it accomplishes two things simultaneously:

  1. Advances your issue through effective, targeted advocacy, and
  2. Builds your membership list

A Quick “C-A-M-P” Method Success Story for Advocacy Acquisition

Earlier this year, the American Farm Bureau Federation was facing a regulatory battle involving water jurisdiction.

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They identified five specific U.S. Senators they wanted to target through their advocacy campaign, but they faced a problem – their current national membership, though enormous, did not have enough regional members in specific areas in those senators’ respective states to move the needle.

Leveraging the “C-A-M-P” Method, the Farm Bureau got 5,800 new advocates from those senators’ states to participate in their advocacy campaign – in only 10 days. This was a 116% increase over their existing regional presence.

Also, they captured comprehensive contact information for all 5,800 prospects, which was used to build out their membership list.

Curious? We thought so. And we’re going to show you how they did it below.

First, though, ask yourself if your organization has ever faced any of these problems building membership or launching an advocacy campaign.

  • Common Advocacy Problem: “It’s hard to know exactly how many people will engage in our advocacy campaign – and it isn’t easy to get a majority of our existing members to participate at all, never mind all of them, on demand, and in unison. We send out a campaign, and hope it does well.”
  • How C-A-M-P addresses it: You don’t have to guess or hope at the number of people who engage in your advocacy campaign. In fact, it’s the opposite. As we explain further below, you request the number of advocates you need, and that’s the number you get.
  • Common Membership Problem: “People respond to requests to perform small tasks, like a Retweet request, but that doesn’t give me enough contact information to do proper outreach to get them to become a member. I need first and last names, email addresses, home addresses and phone numbers.”
  • How C-A-M-P addresses it: You obtain full contact information (provided voluntarily) of all your new advocates, so that you can do outreach to them after your advocacy campaign to build out your membership list.
  • Common Advocacy Problem: “It’s difficult to get new people to our website, or even our reliable contributors to visit, let alone getting them to donate. They might be sympathetic to our cause, but they don’t have any reason to visit our site regularly. Plus, you can only email your regular donors asking for funds on occasion so as not to annoy them.
  • How C-A-M-P addresses it: Precision targeting means your call-to-action appears on websites where future donors likely to be open to your cause frequent. You go out and find them, so you no longer have to rely on their coming to your website. Plus, you only pay for the people who donate to your cause.
  • Common Membership/Advocacy Problem: “Some of our advocacy campaigns are very targeted, and as a result lawmakers need to feel like their hometown constituents are impacted. How do we get people from a lawmaker’s hometown to take action? If we get a bunch of random people contributing, that’s fine and we’ll take it, but not only will it not resonate as strongly with the lawmaker we’re trying to influence, those folks are likely to be one-and-done and not contribute beyond that.”
  • How C-A-M-P addresses it: Digital advertising is capable of very specific geo-targeting, down to the city and ZIP code level, which allows you to pinpoint on a U.S. map which lawmaker states or Districts you’d like your response to come from.Additionally, your new advocates are, by definition, terrific prospects to become new members because they were not tricked into joining your campaign, and you didn’t buy their names off of a list – they chose to act with you based on your message, and they chose to provide their contact information, which means they are aligned with your issue.

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  • Common Advocacy Problem: “It’s tough to make a splash, get people to notice, and move the needle. We are competing for attention with everything and everyone else.”
  • How C-A-M-P addresses it: Using C-A-M-P, your advocacy campaign will move the needle – a large number of people are taking action on your behalf all together. Lawmaker staffers get a sprinkling of calls from constituents on a medley of issues every day. What really stands out, and what they remember years afterwards at reunion happy hours, is when they got a deluge of calls about a single issue for five days in a row.

Here’s How the C-A-M-P Method Works to Build Your Advocacy Base

Step 1: Select a Call to Action from your advocacy campaign (e.g., Sign Our Petition, Write Your Lawmaker, Donate to Our Campaign).

Step 2: Run it through a display ad network on a pay-per-advocate basis.

Step 3: As each new advocate responds to your Call to Action, capture their contact information in your membership or advocacy software.

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If this sounds like it touches a lot of moving pieces that takes you out of your comfort zone, don’t worry.

In its simplest form it’s a natural progression from CPM (cost per 1,000) or PPC (pay-per-click) models you have likely already used.

The most important thing is to be aware that this approach exists, and how the pieces work together – if it makes sense for you to pursue, you can always contact an advocate acquisition provider to do all of the heavy lifting for you.

But as we said, this approach works well because it simultaneously addresses the toughest, most common problems about building members and about executing an advocacy campaign:

Let’s walk through C-A-M-P, conceptually, step by step, using screenshots and pictures to really drive it home.

Step 1: Select a Call to Action from your advocacy campaign

The most important thing here is to pick a compelling, specific Call to Action.

Because you’re also building up your member base at the same time, you want to pick a Call to Action that – by its very nature – pre-qualifies any participant as someone who is aligned with your cause and thus a good prospect to become a member.

If you pick a non-specific Call to Action, there’s no assurance that the thing that triggered them to take the action is core to your mission.

Examples of compelling versus non-specific Calls to Action:

Compelling & specific: “Sign the Petition: Tell Congress to deny the EPA’s authority to regulate CO2.”

Non-specific: “Businesses don’t need more federal regulation.”

Compelling & specific: “Keep pesticides out of our waterways. Call your lawmaker today.”

Non-specific: “Protect our nation’s natural resources”

Compelling & specific: “You, and 3 out of 4 Americans want to raise the smoking age. Write and tell your Senator to take action!”

Non-specific: “Smoking is bad for your kids.”

Compelling & specific: “16 million kids in America go to bed hungry every night. Buy a child dinner today.”

Non-specific: “Help America’s starving children”

Step 2: Run your Call to Action through a Pay-Per-Acquisition display ad network

The pay-per-advocate model is what provides your on-demand, predictable scale. If you already have a media services provider – a company that takes your messaging and turns it into a digital ad, then runs that ad on various websites – then you’re already halfway there.

If you don’t, no worries. A good advocate acquisition program will already have that lined up and ready to go.

Digital Advertising Knows What You’re Wearing Right Now

The targeting capabilities of digital advertising have gotten very sophisticated and very accurate.

If you’ve ever shopped online and, say, put a pair of shoes in an e-commerce shopping cart, you might have noticed those shoes following you from site to site on the web.

With digital ad campaigns, you can essentially order up the kind of person you want to target, down to income level, gender and certainly geography.

This becomes particularly valuable when, for example, you need to engage people from a particular lawmaker’s state or district to take immediate action.

You don’t have to be an expert in digital targeting to use the C-A-M-P Method, but it helps to understand the common digital advertising models and what you’re actually paying for when you run a digital campaign.

Here’s a quick overview of the differences between the most common digital advertising models (CPM, PPC and PPA), and why the last one, PPA (pay-per-acquisition), is the one that makes the C-A-M-P Method work so well.

Quick Explanation: CPM Model – Cost Per Thousand Impressions

CPM is shorthand for Cost Per 1,000 Impressions.

An “impression” occurs when a web page loads and displays your messaging. If your messaging appears in multiple ad units on the same page, then that counts as multiple impressions.

Your ad will display on those sites throughout the day for the duration of the campaign, until all of the agreed upon impressions have been served.

The cost, which is referred to as the “CPM,” is the flat dollar rate you pay for every 1,000 impressions.

For example, a $5 CPM means that you’ll pay $10 to get 2,000 ad impressions:

  • $5 for 1,000 impressions + $5 for another 1,000 impressions = a $10 CPM

The industry click-through rate for digital display ads is 0.1%, which means for every 1,000 impressions, you’ll get about 10 clicks.

Let’s push that math out even further and bring it back around to cost:

Assuming a $5 CPM, for every:

  • 10,000 impressions, you get 100 clicks, paying $50
  • 100,000 impressions, you get 1,000 clicks, paying $500
  • 1,000,000 impressions, you get 10,000 clicks, paying $5,000

When should I use the CPM model?

The CPM model works great for awareness campaigns. You’re looking to make people aware that your issue exists, first of all, so that you can educate them on the impact and consequences.

With the CPM model, you get guaranteed placement (i.e., it will appear) and wide distribution (i.e., it will not only appear, but lots of times).

The primary limitations of the CPM model are:

  • No guarantee of engagement (i.e., getting a click)
  • No guarantee of action when engagement does happen – when a person does click, there’s no guarantee that she will do anything on your site, such as participate in your Call to Action (Write Your Lawmaker, Sign the Petition, etc)
  • No guarantee that you will capture contact information to do subsequent membership prospecting outreach
Quick Explanation: PPC Model – Pay Per Click

The PPC model goes a step further than the CPM model in that it guarantees a certain number of clicks, serving as many impressions as needed, to get those clicks.

The advantage that the PPC model has over the CPM model is that it does guarantee a certain level of engagement – i.e., a person didn’t just see your ad, she both saw it and clicked on it.

The cost of PPC depends on how competitive the desired keywords you’re looking at are. Non-competitive keywords or phrases can cost anywhere from a few cents, to upwards of $50 for certain highly competitive ones.

The click through rate for PPC has hovered between 0.5% and 0.9% for the past four years.

When should I use the PPC model?

The PPC model works well for awareness campaigns that also require a minimum level of engagement for the campaign’s objective to be deemed successful.

For example, if a bill or reg pops up that you need to defeat, simply creating awareness isn’t enough – you’ll also have to make lawmakers aware that there is significant grassroots opposition.

To do that, you’ll need to compel people to reach out to lawmakers in some way.

PPC at least guarantees that you’ll get a minimum number of people to go to your Call to Action landing page (and hopefully they will take action).

So, you are at least guaranteed a certain level of engagement.

You pay for each click on your ad, and your campaign runs until you get the agreed upon number of clicks.

The primary limitations of the PPC model are:

  • No guarantee of action when engagement does happen – when a person does click, there’s no guarantee that she will do anything on your site, such as participate in your Call to Action (Write Your Lawmaker, Sign the Petition, etc)
  • No guarantee that you will capture contact information to do subsequent membership prospecting outreach
Quick Explanation: CPA Model – Cost-Per-Action

The CPA model is the linchpin of the “C-A-M-P” Method because it not only guarantees a certain level of engagement (i.e., a click on your ad) but it also guarantees that engagement will include the follow-through participation in your Call to Action.

You’re guaranteed not just impressions, and not just clicks on your ad, but also a minimum number of people who will sign your participation, write their lawmaker, etc.

You determine up front how much you’ll pay for a certain number of actions taken, and your campaign runs until you get that number of people.

The PPA system ranges from $1 to $6.50 per advocate depending on how specific and difficult those advocates are to obtain.

When should I use the CPA model?

The CPA model works particularly well for advocacy and donor campaigns for which creating awareness is good, but not enough, and you don’t want to rely on hope and luck that people will take action on your behalf.

The CPA model is a guaranteed rally, where you choose the size of the rally in advance.

You only pay for the people who not only see your ad, and not only click on your ad, but who also participate in your Call to Action.

Now you can essentially order up the scale of participation you need, on demand. It’s as close to guaranteeing success in an advocacy campaign that you can get.

Additionally, because digital advertising can target very granularly (as we mentioned above), you can now not only guarantee actions get taken, you can guarantee that those actions get taken by people from a particular geographical area – just like the American Farm Bureau did, as you can read in the case study below.

Another advantage is that at the end you own a whole new list of genuine contacts that you didn’t have to buy. A good advocate acquisition program will never re-sell that list.

The Farm Bureau used CQ’s advocacy acquisition program for steps 2 and 3 of the C-A-M-P method, to increase advocates in five states by 116%

Step 3: Capture contact information in your membership or advocacy software and start your outreach

When your potential advocate sees your ad/Call to Action, and clicks through, they’ll visit your landing page.

To have the best chance at converting that visit into an action, your landing page should contain the following:

  • A reiteration of the Call to Action, and why
  • Supporting material
  • The full text of a petition (if signing a petition is the Call to Action)
  • A web form that requires all contact fields to be filled out in order to execute the Call to Action

Here’s an example:C-A-M-P-05

Your membership or advocacy software should offer an easy way to build landing pages (if it doesn’t, we recommend you check out Engage).

The web form should have enough contact fields to allow you to do proper membership prospecting – that’s the “M-P” in the “C-A-M-P” Method.

We recommend the following fields:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Street
  • City
  • State
  • ZIP

Once a potential member has filled out the form and taken the action – bam! – not only did they contribute to the success of your advocacy campaign, now you can start recruiting them to become full members.

Be sure to tag all of the new campaign advocates you capture with something unique to them, so that you can track them when you start your membership outreach.

If you’ve run the “C-A-M-P” Method through an advocate acquisition program, they’ll supply you with the list of prospective members who have taken action.

What does an “Advocate Acquisition Program” do?

We’ve mentioned this several times in the post.

Basically, this is a service provider who does all the heavy lifting for you.

You provide the following:

  • A description of what your advocacy campaign is trying to accomplish, and the time frame
  • A description of the people you want to participate in your advocacy campaign
    • For example, from specific geographical areas, or of a specific political persuasion
    • The number of people you want to participate in your Call to Action
    • The Call to Action specifics

And the advocate acquisition services provider does the following:

  • Arranges all of the digital ad stuff
  • Captures all of the information for you (essentially, fulfills the role of your advocacy or membership software)
  • Provides a list, with complete contact information, of all the people who took action in the campaign, and thus have become member prospects (i.e., advocates)

Now, let’s revisit our Farm Bureau friends and take a more detailed look at their Case Study.

“C-A-M-P” Case Study: The American Farm Bureau Federation

Background

The American Farm Bureau Federation was started in 1919 by a group of farmers from 30 states who gathered in Chicago to form their own national organization. Today they have six million members and count 90% of the estimated two million farmers and ranchers in the U.S. among their fold.

“We have members, farmers and ranchers, in every single state and in Puerto Rico,” says Cody Lyon, director of advocacy and political affairs programs at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“We can say fairly certainly that we have a member who grows some type of product that is eaten or used in every type of food, fiber or fuel product. We have farmers who are involved in conventional row crop agriculture, to individuals involved in local farmers’ markets, to organic, and farm-to-table. You name it, we have members involved in every type of agriculture.”

The Issue

The Farm Bureau used the “C-A-M-P” Method with the help of an advocate acquisition program to rally in opposition to the broad Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS) earlier this year. The rule determines which rivers, streams, lakes, marshes and groundwater falls under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Along with small business, oil, agriculture, home-building and other industries, the Farm Bureau argued that expanding the EPA and Army Corps’ regulatory authority, under the Clean Water Act (CWA), will cause harm and make it more difficult to farm or change a farming operation, and more difficult to remain competitive and profitable.

The Targets

The Farm Bureau identified five senators in five states – Virginia, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Missouri – whom they wanted to influence with boots on the ground.

Their goal was to reach 5,000 non-members from those specific states to take action for them. These would be in addition to the voice of their existing membership in those states.

“We knew we needed to get a certain number of messages to these Senators within a short period of time,” says Lyon.

The Farm Bureau was clear on who would likely mobilize for them.

“We wanted people of a more conservative political persuasion, who were landowners and had business-related focuses,” says Lyon.

Discovery Based on Crisis

For Lyon, the discovery of the pay-per-acquisition model was crisis meets solution. The Farm Bureau was already using CQ Roll Call’s Engage advocacy platform to engage its members on WOTUS, but needed a broader push.

“A lot of things combined and sold us,” says Lyon. “One of those was the timing and the quick turnaround period. The ability to target and set the criteria for those we wanted approached was also very useful to us.”

“The geo-targeting capabilities of the program were also high on the Farm Bureau’s list. We could look at it by state, which was important to us,” says Lyon.

“It fit right in with the tactic we were exploring, and it was the right timing because we had this issue and need to engage. It worked very well.”

Cost Considerations and Price Per Acquisition

The previous year, the Farm Bureau executed an advocacy campaign using “patch-through” calls.

“Patch-through” calls are telemarketing calls that seek out people sympathetic to your issue; when a live person answers, they are urged to take action by pressing a number on his or her phone, or the person can be patched through, on the spot, to their elected official’s office.

The cost per successful “path-through” call was upwards of $20 per call, whereas the cost per acquisition using the “C-A-M-P” Method was orders of magnitude less expensive.

“The fact that it tied into our Engage system was a plus for us, too,” says Lyon. “And that we were able to capture the people who took action, so we could then ask them if they wanted to be members of the Farm Bureau, or engage them in other ways.”

Time Frame

The Farm Bureau wanted 5,000 non-members in the targeted states to take action for them – and they needed them in two weeks.

“We asked how much X and Y number of contacts would cost, and from that we were able to decide, OK, this is what we want to try, and this is what we can do,” says Lyon.

The Result

In 10 days the Farm Bureau received 5,800 new advocates from all five states, 800 more than they requested, in less time than the 14 days they had requested. None of those new advocates were yet members.

The 5,800 new advocates represented a 116% increase in advocacy campaign participation, relative to their existing membership presence.

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“If we were getting a lot of traction in one state, the program allowed us to determine that, shift focus and move our efforts to the other states that needed more help,” said Lyon.

“Within 8-10 days everything was completed. Those advocates had taken action for us, and we far exceeded our minimum goal. Through the Engage platform we were able to get good measurement and good feedback each day on what messages were going in to the Senators, and it allowed us to get specific on where we wanted those messages going,” said Lyon.

“It allowed us to reach others, who cared about the issue, as much as our farmers or ranchers did. In a sense, that really enhanced the message coming from farmers and ranchers, because it was beyond just a “farmer message,” said Lyon.

Complete contact information was collected for each of the 5,800 new member prospects.

“We shared the names of those acquired through our initiative with their local state Farm Bureau and then we asked them to follow up with the membership information,” says Lyon.

Lyon says the Farm Bureau will consider using CQ Roll Call’s Advocate Acquisition Program as a tactic in future similar campaigns.

What Should You Do With Your New Membership Prospect List?

After a successful advocacy campaign using the “C-A-M-P” Method, you’ll have a list of new-member prospects.

Now it’s time to turn them into full members.

CQ Amplify

Digitally acquire new advocates, donors, and members – without guessing or overpaying

CQ Engage

The all-in one advocacy software to grow and mobilize supporters, grassroots, members or employees