The 5 Steps of Engagement


There is a term floating around online marketing blogs at the moment: the ladder of engagement. I know what you’re thinking - this sounds like a convoluted strategy model you might hear in a business class…

Never fear. It’s a simple idea that your nonprofit will be more successful at gaining new supporters if you ask them to engage in quick and easy ways before asking them to take bigger and more meaningful actions over time, rather than bowling in with a ‘donate now!’ approach.

First rung: Hook them in, usually by getting them on a mailing list or to follow your social media updates. At least twice a year, give people an easy, quick way to take action. The trick here is to make it feel both easy and meaningful; the action has a clear impact or a clear value. This could be the potential to lead to interesting information, answers, or just a heartfelt way to express your dedication. (Facebook does this brilliantly - think about those Paris flag profile pics.) The key for you is to make sure you get the most out of it by capturing a small amount of contact information from anyone who takes action: an email address, a "like", an address, etc.

Second rung: Stay in touch. Once someone is on your list, it will take a while for your organization to become familiar to them. You can speed up this process if you create regular ways for them to see and hear from you. Then they’ll be aware and ready to act when your next fundraising appeal rolls around. Please note - you don't have to stay in touch with a big monthly e-newsletter or daily emails…that’s a good way to find out that people are ‘unsubscribing’. What about shorter monthly or weekly communications via social media, or even good old-fashioned snail mail? Or even a video newsletter! (see below). Just make sure your regular communication offers a way to take action again and that it is content your audience will value.

Third rung: Ask them to share your story. Any time you give people a way to take action or use your resources, encourage them to follow up that action by sharing with their friends or going public with their support. "Share" links and tell-a-friend emails are great ways to do this, but we've seen plenty of innovative share graphics on Facebook, and you could consider printed shareables as well.

Fourth rung: Now ask for donations! Once someone has joined your list and taken action, getting them to give a first gift is your biggest benchmark of success. A welcome series that ends with an appeal is a tried and true way to work new list members up to donating, but there are lots of other ways to target your most promising prospects than email. Think of some creative tactics: Ask first-time donors to make a very low-level gift of a specific or symbolic amount (Like Create Jobs for USA's "Indivisible" wristband $5 ask or the Bronx Zoo's Valentine's Day Name a Roach for $10 campaign. (That last one is totally worth checking out, trust me.)

Fifth rung: Get them to give more… or even monthly! If a segment of your list has given before, they've already proven their dedication, so be sure to avoid under-asking! Ask these donors for at least as much as they've previously given, or encourage them to take the next step and become monthly givers. Segmentation is your friend here–break out these donors and try some creative tactics to get them onto those highest rungs.

Film is your friend: In our blog post, The Power of Video Marketing, we explored the reasons why video should not only be incorporated into your video strategy, it should be a core element. Video has the power to engage your audience and promote a call to action in a way that they find entertaining and immersive. Using video in the right way makes people feel like they are a part of something, and they are able to understand and identify with the story behind your organization more fully than they ever could by reading an e-newsletter. So we offer a visual alternative to the ladder of engagement: a video newsletter!

1. Give your organization a voice. Introduce your organization to your audience in an emotive and intriguing way through a short film, with a simple call to action at the end: If you want to know more, visit our website or sign up to our video newsletter.

2. If they sign up, send them a personal ‘welcome’ video! Thanks for showing interest, we’re excited to have you in our community.

3. Tell them a personal story, and ask them to share it. Say, for example, your organization promotes healthy eating for kids. A short film that tells the story of an individual child or family whose life has been changed by your organization demonstrates your business’ importance…and if all you’re asking at the end is for them to share the film with others they start marketing your organization for you.

4. Visually communicating your story is far more likely to connect with audiences emotionally, and encourage financial donation. Make this appeal a video too!

5. Another video with a personal tone would accomplish this ‘rung’ best. If the individual has already donated, a message from someone within the company - maybe even the CEO if they are comfortable on camera! - thanking them and encouraging them to make that donation regular would make them feel more valued and more a part of a community than a generic email.

At One Story we are fluent in the power of video as a tool to achieve the goals of your organization. We not only know how to produce visually stunning work, unique to every client, that voices the story of a company, we know how to use that content to increase a client’s reach, donations, event attendance etc. To learn more about the importance of video in your organization's digital marketing strategy check out our other blog posts, or if you’re ready to start changing how people engage with your cause, call us today for a consultation and let us tell your story!

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