Grassroots advocacy in the digital age

Using software to help your campaign succeed

September 27, 2021
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[Advocacy campaigns today require a digital strategy. Learn how Megaphone by Bloomberg Government provides a comprehensive set of tools for grassroots advocacy professionals to make the most of their campaigns.]

The grassroots advocacy world today is much larger and noisier than ever before. It is a field that is no longer dominated by non-profits now that corporations are going beyond conventional lobbying or direct relationships with lawmakers to leverage grassroots advocacy to achieve their policy goals.

The tactics are also constantly changing. While door-to-door canvassing, direct mail and phone campaigns are still essential, the advent of digital organizing has created new opportunities for organizations to find and engage advocates. And with the rise of social media and a changing media landscape increasing awareness about advocacy, audiences are more available and ready to act.

But with all the noise and competition in the market, the true challenge for organizations is breaking through to the right audience at the right time.

What is grassroots advocacy?

Grassroots advocacy is the process of communicating with the general public and asking them to contact local or state or federal officials on a certain issue. Rather than engaging a lobbyist to meet directly with a member of Congress, grassroots professionals activate a group of constituents to contact their member of Congress.

Grassroots professionals are similar to lobbyists in that they act on behalf of a company or organization to build political support for certain interest areas or issues important to them. The benefits of grassroots advocacy are threefold:

  1. Strength in numbers. Members of Congress can be swayed on an issue when they hear from a larger number of constituents than an individual lobbyist.
  2. Personal touch. Individual advocates often have personal anecdotes, stories, or evidence that can have an impact when shared directly with lawmakers.
  3. Voters. Most times, advocates aren’t just people – they’re voters. Hearing from voters in their particular district or state can hold a lot of weigh with members of Congress.

What makes a successful advocacy campaign?

While government affairs professionals, lobbyists, and other means of developing direct relationships with lawmakers are still valuable tools for influencing policy, they are incomplete without grassroots advocacy.

The success of a grassroots advocacy campaign depends on one major factor: data. To build a successful campaign, grassroots advocacy professionals need to track and analyze as many data points about their advocates as possible.

Collecting a breadth of data allows organizations to create precise, targeted campaigns that reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. With the right tool, a successful grassroots advocacy campaign is simple to build and execute.

Bloomberg Government’s Megaphone is one of the most sophisticated data-driven advocacy software in the market. As a fully integrated data platform, it enables organizations to make smarter decisions about who to engage and how. The platform offers a 360-degree view of constituents and their engagement, allowing grassroots advocacy professionals to make data-driven decisions and choose the right tactics to have maximum impact.

Megaphone provides a dynamic, quantitative measure of the engagement, influence, and civic health of constituents. It presents insights such as voter propensity, engagement with elections, and likelihood to take a civic action like volunteering which will enable an organization to mobilize the right constituents for its initiative.

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Track contact information, demographics, civic engagement, opinion data, and interactions with your organization.

Don’t miss your moment to build your movement

Only Megaphone by Bloomberg Government combines everything you need to reach your audience into one easy-to-use advocacy software.

How do you choose the right advocacy software to succeed?

In the last couple of years, there’s been an explosion of apps and other software solutions to help grassroot advocacy professionals connect with citizens, constituents, or supporters to take action.

The market for grassroots advocacy tools is composed of two classes of products:

  1. All-in-one platforms, which offer all of the features an organization needs in order to plan, execute, and/or measure advocacy campaigns.
  2. Point solutions that provide a specific feature or capability an organization needs to plan and/or measure one specific aspect of an advocacy campaign.

But many of the tools available to execute grassroots advocacy campaigns have limited effectiveness, especially in an era where the tactics used are highly pervasive and constituents and influencers are becoming increasingly numb to them.

With most available solutions, users can compile a basic profile such as name and zip code and whether or not they have taken a particular action, such as contacting their member of Congress. This shallow understanding of an advocate can limit the effectiveness of advocacy campaigns.

Even if an organization does collect significant data on its audiences, the barrier to entry for an advocacy or communications professional to develop meaningful insights about a constituency or campaign is too high, and requires the assistance of engineers and data scientists, which most organizations do not have.

Lack of integration between various tools also makes management and analysis of advocacy campaigns difficult. It is difficult to get a deep understanding of the constituents engaged within a campaign because the data is stored in many disparate systems.

Bloomberg Government’s Megaphone is an all-in-one platform that provides the core tools you need to effectively engage your constituents, including advanced CRM/data management capabilities with a sophisticated query tool and list segmentation, detailed tracking, in-depth profiles on constituents, a drag-and-drop form builder, automated emails, and third-party integrations.

Megaphone is also the only advocacy software to offer supporter-centric outreach tools to unlock the potential of your grassroots constituency.

How do you measure if your campaign is working?

Collecting data in and of itself is not enough; it’s how you analyze and learn from it that makes the difference in a successful campaign. Megaphone offers detailed tracking to give you a 360-degree view of your constituent engagement and the ability to quickly gauge success and change strategies if needed.

First, use our tracking code to build profiles and track interactions with your supporters on your digital properties. This allows you to create in-depth profiles on constituents, collect data on interactions, interests, political affiliation and voting history, and any number of custom attributes. Default and custom scores allow you to track the level of engagement of your supporters to determine which are the most likely to take action.

Megaphone’s proprietary Civic Health Score allows you to measure the civic engagement level of your audience – whether donors, advocates, members, or a new audience you’re trying to reach. Using first- and third-party data, including voting history, donations to causes and campaigns, and volunteering, this score will help grassroots advocacy professionals to better understand their audience and target their advocacy campaigns based on the civic participation of the people they’d like to reach.

Then, develop visuals to track progress towards the goals you set for a specific campaign or your organization overall. For example, you can set goals for web traffic or signups for peer-to-peer traffic.

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Organize charts, goal tracking, task lists and more into custom dashboards on Megaphone.

Megaphone’s custom reports feature allows user to create charts based on any activity or profile data you have on your supporters. Choose from a number of different charts and customize the look and feel. Organize charts, goal tracking, task lists and more into custom dashboards to make analytics accessible and relevant to any area of your organization.

If you’re not hitting specific internal benchmarks, seeing low engagement on certain channels or underperformance on emails, the dashboard helps you quickly track performance and test out new tactics. Data also helps organizations fine-tune messaging to help move issues in the right direction, at the right time, on the right channel.

Reliable data to pinpoint, activate, and build momentum

Megaphone’s clean and updated data lets you refine your efforts – giving your campaign the precision to perform.

What are the different ways to engage advocates?

One of the key benefits of a robust all-in-one, data-driven advocacy software like Megaphone is the ability to make smarter decisions about who to engage and how. With many options for advocate interactions and detail tracking capabilities, Megaphone allows grassroots advocacy professionals to easily learn about their audiences’ preferences.

  • Online and offline forms

Creating online forms is simple with Megaphone’s drag-and-drop form builder to set up custom webforms that collect all the relevant data you need and send autoresponders to people who complete them to drive further engagement while you have their attention. These forms can be embedded on your website or hosted in a custom landing page easily designed to look and feel just like your website, with custom subdomains and themes.

Use Megaphone’s drag-and-drop form builder to set up custom webforms that can be embedded on your website or hosted in a custom landing page.

You can also use Megaphone to create custom forms for offline gathering of information from your supporters, including email acquisition, petitions, quizzes, registration forms, and more.

  • Email

Once you have an advocate’s email address, you’ll want to alert them of campaigns that require immediate action. Send one-time emails to any custom audiences using Megaphone’s fully drag-and-drop WYSIWYG email editor. Prepare emails in advance and schedule to send to supporters at a future date and time.

You can also use email automation, which uses artificial intelligence and data-driven insights to deliver your message to the right person, at the right time, and with the right message. As a result, more emails are opened and clicked, ultimately generating a higher engagement rate.

  • Peer-to-peer SMS and phone banking

Megaphone is the only advocacy toolset with constituent-centric SMS and call tools, which let you put the power of mobilizing supporters of your cause in the hands of your constituents.

Send text messages to your supporters or empower your supporters to text each other, then respond to supporters in a centralized inbox built from within the tool. Finally, use customizable reports to see how your SMS efforts are performing from a centralized dashboard.

With built-in phone banking, Megaphone enables your organization or supporters to call your target audiences to inform them about your issues or get them to take action. Equip your volunteers with custom scripts to guide their conversation with your constituents. You can also build custom questionnaires that will capture responses from phone calls made and save that information directly to a person’s profile in your CRM.

What if I’m looking for a very specific type of advocate?

Data is the greatest tool in identifying and engaging with the right advocates for your campaign. The more you know about your audience and what motivates them, the better you can find more people just like them.

For example, with federal legislation often slow-moving or deadlocked, many companies and organizations are focusing their grassroots advocacy at the state and local level. You might be looking for a strong advocate in a particular district or town, but you don’t have their contact information in your database.

With in-depth, detailed profiles on the constituents you do have, you already have a better understanding of the persona you are targeting. Megaphone’s advanced audience builder and segmentation tools allow you to do just that.

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Megaphone offers the most in-depth profiles on constituents than any other platform, with data collected on interests, political affiliation, voting history, and custom attributes.

Run searches based on interests, political affiliation, civic engagement, memberships, interactions with your organization and any number of custom attributes, and see a live count and preview searches as they are performed. You can also build advanced queries with AND and OR statements using a point and click interface. Save your query as a list so you don’t need to rerun searches.

There is also an option to make these dynamic lists, which will update when new people who meet that criteria are added to the database.

Advocacy campaigns today require a digital strategy. Megaphone is comprehensive software for grassroots advocacy professionals to make the most of their campaigns. 

Learn more

What if I’m already using advocacy tools?

Making the switch to Megaphone couldn’t be easier. Transferring data over to the platform, saving any historical information on your audience, and even connecting third-party tools is simple.

Megaphone offers an open API that enables organizations to enable seamless integration and data flow between their various systems. The API can be leveraged to connect to Mailchimp, EventBrite, Facebook lead ads, WordPress, Hustle, popular email platforms and more. Build custom integrations with your external platforms to enable seamless flow of data across all your mission-critical systems.

Migrating existing data over to Megaphone is also easy, as data is automatically standardized to our platform – there’s no need to work with complicated CSV files.